Whenever others ask me how to have more lucid dreams, my first question is how often they remember and write their dreams, the foundation of a steady lucid dream practice. There are loads of useful tips to foster more dream recall and become familiar with your dreams, for instance, by getting enough sleep, setting an alarm to awaken you from dreams, recording the dream immediately, keeping a pen and paper at bedside, etc.
Though journaling your subconscious escapades can be gratifying in countless ways, such a habit takes time, energy, and motivation to cultivate, especially when you have to be awake at your desk by 8 o’clock in the morning. Even if you long to become a frequent lucid dreamer, it is easy to neglect the art of dream journaling if you are juggling the multiple demands of a busy life and perhaps even finding it hard to fit in a full night’s sleep. Those who have gotten a taste of lucid dreaming’s potential, however, will not hesitate to emphasize that the time and effort are well worth your while.
I must admit that, after I’ve hit the snooze alarm three times and bolted out the door with just enough grace to avoid spilling coffee on my shirt, one of the last things I think about is writing in my dream journal. While I know taking a few minutes to write down my dreams is best practice, it’s not always practical. Yet lucid dreaming is so inspiring to me that I am motivated to get creative with the little time I have. To compensate for time constraints and quickly fading dream memories, I have incorporated small, simple habits into my daily routine that allow me to maintain a running record of my dreams no matter the pace of life. Greatly because of this, many of the dreams I have journaled are lucid. Below, I share how I sometimes adapt conventional dream recall methods to suit my own lifestyle in order to plant the seed in others that there are plenty of ways to squeeze in the time to write their dreams.
Bullet Point Key Details
When I am not up for writing pages upon pages in my dream journal, then I just bullet- point key parts of the dream, especially recurring dreamsigns or themes. I don’t extract as much meaning from my dreams this way, but I stay aware of what my dreams are like, creating more opportunities to recognize cues that I am dreaming in the future. If it is still hard to find the time, then I at least write down my lucid dreams because I learn and gain so much from them.
When I am too lazy to write by hand, typing my dreams on a computer often feels less effortful and more convenient. Sometimes when I am stuck working at a desk, I will even e-mail myself a dream I had the previous night as I sift through the junk of my inbox. Smartphones these days offer a variety of convenient applications to record dreams.
Use Brief Spurts of Idle Time
When waiting in line for a coffee or bored at a meeting, I use the notepad function of my cell phone to write my dreams. Often on my morning commute, I use the voice memo application to document my dreams. When I am in traffic, I plug in my phone and play these past recordings on my car stereo.
Try Voice Recording
Similarly, tape recording my dreams on my cell phone can be easier and quicker than writing them down in the middle of the night, and less sleep is sacrificed. A bonus to using a recording device is that I can recall many more beautiful and telling details of my dreams that I tend to skip or not recall when I write them. A disadvantage is that it can be hard to speak clearly if I record while half-awake, and sometimes I am left with only a voice memo of incoherent mumblings. Also of note, art applications available on smart tablets offer a fun and convenient means of drawing your dreams if you don’t have any paper handy.
When you wake from a dream, time is of the essence. The longer you wait to record dream details, the more they evaporate. Save precious moments by using a pen with a built-in flashlight so you can quickly and conveniently write dreams down in the dark. These pens can also be quite handy for people who prefer to avoid turning on a light so they don't disturb their bed partners. Red is recommended.
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Consolidate and integrate
Since we all remember just a fraction of what we dream of nightly, I feel it helps to salvage what little I can. When I eventually get some time, I condense the dreams I have recorded in various places into a single, computer document saved on my desktop, reviewing it periodically to remind myself of common clues that I am in a dream.
A Growing Garden
It is true that writing dreams immediately following them is the best way to breed a rich, fertile, and lucid dream life. Still, if I can devote even a little time tending to the gardens of my dreams in some way, the lucid dreams that stem from this practice bloom in much more abundance. I continue to be amazed by how my dream recall and the quality or frequency of my lucid dreams flourishes just by planting a few, little seeds whenever I get the chance. When others seem overawed by my commitment to lucid dreaming, I am left feeling puzzled. Weaving my dreams into my waking life hardly seems like work but, rather, like play — something most of us do not do enough in neither our waking nor dreaming lives.