The number one obstacle to doing dreamwork is not remembering your dreams. For those who know that their dreams have something to offer them and want to utilize this natural healing tool, it’s vital to strengthen your dream recall. But to truly begin to remember your dreams, first, you have to honestly want to, and second, you have to accept your dreams as they come.
You may be thinking—well of course I want to remember my dreams! Why would I be reading this if I didn’t? If this is you, then congrats! You are 90% there. Like anything you want, to truly demonstrate your desire for something, put your intention on it. Write it down, sing it out, dance with it. Ask for help. Find an object that has some resonance for you and place it by your bed so you can remember your intention. Buy a notebook and write dreams on the front and put a pen on top of that notebook and right next to your bed. If you want to remember your dreams, and you are put your full and focused intention on doing so, you will.
Because I’ve found these simple practices to be so helpful, it has led me to another conclusion. 9/10, the reason someone is not remembering their dream—even when on some level they want to—is because on another level, they don’t.
Because dreams are reservoirs of all that we are trying to avoid in our day-to-day consciousness. Your soul’s calling. Your deepest desires. The rumbles of your passion and your creativity. The truth and depth of who you really are and what it really means to be a human in this world, right here right now. Your wounds and your trauma, and all the myriad ways you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling those specific, individual pains…and ultimately from feeling love. This is the stuff of dreams, if you really start taking a look. And, I’m convinced, this is the reason most people don’t remember their dreams, even if a part of them wants to. Because who wants to worry about all of that stuff? We all have lives to lead, right?
So yes, if you want to start remembering your dreams, you have to want to…you have to want to look within, and look hard. And be unflinching in your desire for the truth, for the thing that feels most real—even, or perhaps especially, when it hurts.
But there’s something else I’ve noticed happens once people set their intention on remembering their dreams—they place all kinds of expectations on them. They want their dreams to be particularly action-packed, or emotional, or have really beautiful images. Maybe they want to lucid dream or have some kind of visitation by a spiritual being. Whatever it is, sometimes when they do remember a dream, they immediately toss it aside. “Well, that wasn’t a significant dream, it doesn’t really count. I’m going to try hard tomorrow to remember a real, significant dream tomorrow.” No matter how many times I tell people how all of their dreams are precious and filled with wisdom, they remain convinced that only some of their dreams are worthwhile, and the rest of them are not.
It’s kind of a perfect metaphor for the way we treat ourselves, our deepest selves. At times it can feel that we spend the majority of our lives trying to prop up the parts of us that we think are worthwhile, and hide, avoid, or forget the parts of ourselves that we don’t think are valuable.
Learning to honor each dream in the exact form that it comes is an essential key to becoming a dream recall master. And, it’s excellent practice for what the dreams are trying to teach us on a large scale as well—to just accept and honor our selves, our full selves, every nook and cranny, simply as we are.
A couple of months ago a friend of mine told me that I do shadow work. When she told me this it startled me, since it doesn’t sound very nice. And there’s certainly a part of me that wants to seem nice. But the reality of this hit me over time. Yes of course—dreams are shadow work. Our dreams show us the parts of our being that we would rather suppress, deny, or avoid. When I do work with dreams, I’m there to support you in feeling courageous enough to take a look at those parts, and over time, release your judgment of them, and accept them as the gifts that they are, pieces that fit perfectly into the overall puzzle that is you.
Some people assume that shadow work means that you are going to look at the ‘bad’ or ‘shadowy’ parts of who you are. But I’m here to tell you the shadows have been getting a bad rap! Your shadow is ANYTHING that you aren’t allowing to be present in your consciousness. And what I’ve noticed is that people are often just as likely to be suppressing the reality that they are loved, that they have access to their own truth, and that they are capable of healing and transformation as they are to be hiding negative things about their personalities.
When you live without the love for long enough, the idea of it is terrifying. It’s certainly terrifying to the ego. The ego wants nothing to do with it. Because if we believe that this love exists—and not just that it exists—but we feel the particular way that it exists for us, and if we start to trust that more than what our mind is telling us about how the world works, well then everything has to change. And the ego hates that!
So if you’ve been wanting to remember your dreams, just check-in—Do you really want to? And let me be clear—shadow work is not for everyone all of the time. If you’re already living in a traumatic crisis—if you’re in a state right now where it’s just difficult for you to stay grounded for more than a minute…shadow work might not be the perfect step at the moment.
But if you’ve been on the path for a while, but you feel like there is more you need to learn, or if there are behaviors that you want to change, but you’re not sure how, or if there are things you deeply want in life but they don’t seem to come, the kind of shadow work dreams can offer may be what you are looking for.
Maybe your dreams are fuzzy at first, or seem mundane. Or maybe they are just really short. Maybe there were a bunch of parts that you can’t seem to remember at this moment. Maybe they were in reference to some movie you just watched and you already know what they are all about. What if for just a day, you let them all have a seat at the table, the table of your heart, and hold them dear.
From my dream world to yours, I want you to know, your dreams love you so, so deeply. Maybe even more deeply than any human ever could on this planet. They see you, exactly as you are, in the precise way that your soul longs to be seen. They want you to know that you matter, and that your dreams, those hidden dreams you have for yourself, they matter too. And if you want to remember them, you can. And if you can accept your dreams, and in turn your full self as you are, then you can make them come true.
Can you share with me a dream that you think is totally meaningless?? It would be fun to see if we can bring in the depth and healing your dream might be trying to offer you. With all of my love—and please do not hesitate to be in touch or disagree with me here! It’s such a pleasure for me to hear all of your perspectives and ideas.