II. Remembering and Recording Your Dreams

How to recall your dreams and write them down. People don't remember their dreams because their dreams often seem like a nonsensical jumble. It's easy to disregard something that doesn't make sense. Yet there's a good reason why dreams seem jumbled.

I believe that dreams take place beyond time and space, in a nonphysical reality. In my books Otherwhere and The Unanswered Question, I call this nonphysical reality Otherwhere, because the rules that govern it are so different from (other than) those we’re used to here in our ordinary waking reality. I call the area of Otherwhere in which dreams take place the Dream Zone.

In Otherwhere, perceptions are received without regard for the time-oriented sequences of events we're used to in physical reality. Thus, dream events are perceived simultaneously and then translated into images and sequences as we wake up.

Often, that sequencing process continues as we think about the dream. Only when the dream is turned into language, through writing it down or through telling it to someone else, does it achieve a final form. For this reason, you'll find it difficult to interpret your dreams without making some attempt to turn them into language.

The translation process that dreams undergo has four stages. The first is immersion in the nonphysical reality of the Dream Zone. All experiences in this reality take place outside of time and space as we understand them. Such experiences are registered as a constant flux of energy.

Through immersion, your consciousness perceives this energy. It then translates it into images and events like those you might experience in physical reality. I call this second stage in the translation process representation.

After you've awakened, the dream can be further translated into language, through writing it down or telling it to someone. I call this process description.

There’s usually a message behind the flux of energy perceived in the Dream Zone. The final stage in the translation process involves interpretation of the images and events you’ve experienced there in order to arrive at the dream's symbolic meaning.

The order in which a dream's events will be remembered may have nothing to do with some kind of plot. For example, you may recall the strangest or most emotionally intense of such events first, and the rest in descending order of strangeness or intensity. For this reason, you may want to make a quick sketch of the dream, recording the images in the order that they come up. Just get the images into words. You can reorganize the sketch into a more sensible, plot-like order afterwards.

Often, I'll make quick notes about my dreams on a piece of scratch paper immediately upon awakening. Only later will I write these dreams down in my dream journal, reorganizing those of my jottings that seem to belong together into a story-like structure (i.e., with beginning, middle, and end).

For me, the hour I spend with my dream journal each day doubles as a writing exercise. I'm always trying to find the best words and sentence structures for describing my dreams, sometimes even crossing out and revising as I go along. I've found that one result of this hour-a-day spent writing is that I never suffer from writer's block when I'm working on more public writing projects.

When first learning to record your own dreams, you should write down everything that you remember from the dream. Eventually, you may learn that some details of your dreams are genuinely symbolic and others merely provide atmosphere or mood. You may be able to save time by not describing, for example, the details of the wallpaper in the dream room you visited--unless something about the design of that wallpaper struck you as unusual. Anything specifically noticed in a dream is guaranteed to have symbolic significance.

Over time, you may become so skilled at dream interpretation that you'll be able to use a shortcut--writing down only enough to figure out what a dream means, with no extraneous details. Having kept a dream journal for so many years, I no longer need to write down the dream's details at all. I know my dream imagery so well that simply thinking about the dream is enough for me to understand it. I usually write only the dream's interpretation in my journal.

Every so often, however, I'll have a stumper--a dream that I don't immediately understand. In such cases, I go back to the usual method of writing down every detail of the dream. The message will usually become clear by the time I've finished doing so.

A number of purely physical factors can have a negative influence on remembering your dreams--such as snoring. One’s own snoring is often a sign that the body isn't getting enough oxygen during sleep. That oxygen is essential to the mental processes that allow you to remember your dreams. Both dreaming and proper breathing are necessary for a truly restful sleep.

When the ego doesn't want to deal with the messages contained in its dreams, the soul may influence the body in such a way that snoring is the result. According to Charles, if the ego gives up this resistance, the snoring will stop. Not only will this person find it easier to remember his dreams, he'll also experience a more restful sleep. And the same will be true for his longsuffering mate. Thus, snoring could be described as one of the soul's incentive programs for remembering dreams.

The soul, working through the body consciousness, can influence your ability to remember your dreams in other ways as well. For example, the soul can use the pressure to urinate to wake you up after an important dream. It can raise or lower your body temperature, so that you'll become too warm or too cold. You'll wake up and adjust the bedclothes accordingly--once again remembering an important dream. The soul can also influence the threshold of hearing, protecting your sleep from loud noises in the environment, or allowing a noise that would ordinarily go unnoticed to wake you up because of an important dream.

The process of waking up can sometimes prevent you from remembering your dreams. If possible, try to sleep without an alarm. Any loud noise can negatively affect your dream recall. If you’re a hard sleeper and require an external stimulus to awaken, soft music on the radio or the gentle touch of someone who has already gotten up is best.

A change in the state of the physical body can make it difficult to remember your dreams. Going to the bathroom changes the state of the body, both by getting you out of bed, and by emptying the bladder. Because a dream may have been produced under the stress of accumulating waste in body, when urination releases that stress, it may be more difficult to remember the dream. The same thing can happen if you get up for a drink of water or because you're hungry. Sometimes you can reclaim a lost dream by returning to bed and lying down in the position you were in before you got up--whether on your back, belly, or one of your sides, curled up, or whatever.

Sometimes it's possible to maintain a half-awake state indefinitely, ignoring the need to urinate, to slake thirst, or to eat in favor of staying in bed as long as possible. Although changing the state of the body can make it difficult to remember your dreams, you can kill your dreams entirely through leaving any of these needs unsatisfied for too long. The stress of accumulated waste products or of running out of the food that fuels the body can create an unclear or unfocused consciousness, making it difficult to keep your dream images in focus upon awakening.

The soul may sometimes miscalculate your reaction to a dream image. Using imagery from the ego’s experience during the previous day risks pulling conscious thought processes into the dream. Or the ego may latch onto to a highly emotionally charged symbol in a way that’s contrary to the soul's intentions. The result may be a distraction from or distortion of the dream's intended message.

When such distortions or distractions occur, the soul will either attempt to awaken you before the dream message is entirely subverted, or cause you to forget the dream. The soul will often achieve this end by means of the body consciousness. Thus, awakening because of a loud noise that causes you to forget your dreams can sometimes indicate that the soul has chosen to abort a dream message.

When you make the commitment to write your dreams down every day, you may notice a pattern. For a couple days you may spend a long time with your dream journal, either because of a larger than normal number or greater than usual intensity of dreams. You may also experience a couple days of shorter, easier to interpret dreams, fragments, or no dreams at all. In the latter case, the soul has given you a day off. Such variations occur because the soul wishes to address every aspect of your life and every level of your personality, from the most hidden to the most mundane--but without exhausting you in the process. If you don't remember your dreams for more than two days in a row, however, you're probably blocking something that the soul wants to tell you.

Charles suggests a way to help you remember your dreams more clearly. Choose an image or action from a dream and make it real. For example, if you see a food in a dream, try to eat that food.

Charles calls such a dream action a trigger point. Trigger points serve two purposes. First, they bring the meaning of the dream into full waking consciousness, as a source of guidance or influence on your actions, regardless of whether you understand the dream's message. Second, trigger points bring something of the dreaming state into the waking state. This can make it easier for you to bring the waking state into the dream state. You'll be more able then to observe and remember your dreams.

Charles recommends that you make the trigger points dream action real within three days of having had the dream. Count the day on which you remembered the dream as the first day.

Once again, dreams often run in three-day cycles, in which the same or similar subjects will be treated. Beyond that three-day period the soul may have moved on to different subjects, and the effects of the trigger point will be weakened.

Besides being predicated on the various factors discussed above, the ability to remember your dreams is also influenced by your beliefs. If you don't believe that dreams have meaning, you're unlikely to pay enough attention to them to remember them clearly.

On the other hand, the more meaning you find in your dreams, the more dreams you'll remember--not only in number, but in detail. When first learning how to understand your dreams, you may not have very many dreams to work with. As your understanding improves, so will your recall.