Monday, March 30, 2009

Personal dream image inventory for your journal

Let’s say you’ve been journaling your dreams for some time now. Your recall and vividness of dreams are becoming sharper and your dream entries contain more detail because you remember more of your dreams. You will reach a point when you’ll feel ready to begin re-reading your entries. Keep an eye out for recurring themes, images and symbols. Underline them in your entries.

Start a new journal entry and list these images. Such images can be characters, themes, objects, locations, situations or sounds. Try to remember the context in which these images appeared and the emotions that surrounded them. What do these images mean to you personally? Do they relate to anything going on in your waking life? What do you think some of your dreams are revealing about yourself?

Most sleep and dream experts discourage “dream interpretation” books or dictionaries, insisting dream images are all extremely personal and can only apply to the particular person dreaming them. If you go to the bookstore and look through various dream interpretation books, you might notice that these books will usually not agree on the meaning of any one image! Many of the dream symbol interpretations are based on older cultures in more closed societies in which everyone thought along the same lines. And every different culture had their own interpretations. In today's mixed societies of individuals, it's a much more personal story.

Robert Moss, author of the highly recommended The Three “Only” Things, said, “You don’t want anyone telling you what your dreams mean. Dreams bring many gifts of power and you don’t want to give that power away.” You are the best judge and interpreter of your own dreams.

Dreams are not prophecies, largely, but are instead a means of finding out more about how you really feel about aspects of your own life. And dream journaling is a way to record and reflect on these dream issues.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Heighten Five Senses: Smell

The best writing employs the use of the five senses to explore metaphor, to show instead of just tell. In the book, "The How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci Workbook," the author Michael Gelb poses this self-assessment test to help you become more aware of your sense of smell:
-- I have a favorite scent. (What is it? Why do I like it? What does it remind me of?)
-- Smells affect my emotions strongly, for better or worse.
-- I can recognize friends by their scent.
-- I know how to use aromas to influence my mood.
-- I can reliably judge the quality of food or wine by its aroma.
-- When I see fresh flowers, I usually take a few moments to breathe in their aroma.

Gelb also suggests making "smells" a theme for a day. This could be a perfect journaling "date." Record what you smell and how it affects you through the course of a day. Spend a half hour at your favorite florist. Inhale the aroma of ten different perfumes or essential oils and describe your reactions. Others have suggested smelling a crayon, chalk, a rubber ball or other simple items from childhood. How does smell affect your mood or memory? Write down your observations. What does each scent remind you of? Comparing sensory reactions to real life experiences or memories is the core of metaphor and image. You might want to even create a poem out of these images.