I started dream journaling when I was very young. I began more out of necessity than curiosity. I had reoccurring nightmares as a child that left me with many sleepless nights. The images of those dreams are still quite vivid in my mind today.
My mother always said that if we told someone about our dreams, they wouldn’t happen any more. That worked for some dreams, but it wasn’t a fool-proof method. Next we tried an authentic Dream Catcher made by a Native American. I believed in it so it worked for a while longer but after some time the dreams started to come back (perhaps my dream catcher was too full and couldn’t catch any more). By that point I was too old to go running to my mother in the middle of the night, so I needed another method.
I was already fond of journaling because it acted like an archive for me. Once I wrote something in my journal, I could just let it go. I thought that perhaps if I wrote down my dreams, it might have the same effect, allowing my brain to simply let the ideas and visions go. My journals were also my connection to God. I wrote down my thoughts as if I were writing a letter to God to tell Him all about the things I was going through. When I closed my journal, the thoughts were His to deal with as He saw fit. They were off my plate and no longer my concern. It made sense to try to do the same thing with my dreams. So every night I would set my journal on my nightstand with my pencil, ensuring that it was within easy reach should I need it.
Once I wrote something in my journal, I could just let it go. I thought that perhaps if I used my journal for dream journaling, it might have the same effect, allowing my brain to simply let the ideas and visions go.
It took a few nights before the dream returned, but when it did, I startled awake (unwilling to fall back asleep) and sat up. I turned on my light, opened my journal and began to write about my dream. It was easy to remember the details because I’d had it so many times. I wrote about what I saw, where I was, what I heard and how I felt. I asked myself questions about what it could possibly mean or why it kept happening. I also wrote about how I’d like it to stop. I thought it had worked, because the dream stopped and I went weeks without having it. I had started to think that maybe it was just gone and would never happen again, but then one night, it returned.
But this time was different. About half-way into it, I became aware that it was just a dream and I forced myself to stop dreaming about it before it got any further. I wrote down the bits that I did see and where I managed to make it stop (before the part that always started me awake). It felt good to have stopped the dream half finished. I was able to force myself to think of other things as I drifted off to sleep. I told myself that I didn’t want to dream about it and simply thought about other things instead. the dream didn’t return that night and I was able to sleep.
The next time the dream occurred was months later. This time I was completely aware that it was just a dream. I was able to pause the dream shortly after it began. I stood back as if watching it from a third person’s view. I told myself I wasn’t going to continue with that dream because I didn’t like it. If it didn’t stop, it was going change the dream to finish in a different way. It would end the way I wanted it to end or I would simply dream about something else. I can’t say I remember the dream continuing in either case, but I was able to take control to stop the dream and decide not to let it continue.
Dream Journaling Empowered Me With Choice
Writing down the dream empowered me to make my own decisions even while in a dream-state. I no longer feared my dreams or sleep. It was, for me, an amazing discovery. No matter where I was or what I was dreaming, I still had the ultimate power of choice. Dreaming or not, it was my imagination and I was still in control.
That dream nor any of the others I recorded after that have ever come back. That type of control didn’t happen over night. It took practice, faith, determination and a lot of dream journaling. Today I don’t need to journal my dreams. I can stop any dream at any moment whether it’s a new dream or one I’ve had before. I can either change the outcome or move onto something else entirely. Dream journaling was a neccessary step in understanding the thoughts and visions I had in my sleep in order to understand how I could control what was happening.
Everyone will have a different reason for dream journaling and your reason may be nothing like mine, but if you do suffer from reoccurring nightmares and sleepless nights, dream journaling may provide some help.