“Remember yourself always and everywhere.”
Dream consciousness is not a single solid state but a fluid continuum of a million slightly different states. On one end of this continuum we find complete unconsciousness of our dreams - while we experience them as well as once we drift back to day consciousness. At the other end we find what is often called lucid dreaming combined with coherent dream recollection when we come back to day consciousness in the morning.
In between those two rather extreme states we can find all sorts of passages, thresholds and transitions. We find moments of clarity following immediate darkness of consciousness, we find recollection of dream images more vivid than many day experiences yet completely stripped bare of any context by the silent censor that guards trespassing between conscious and subconscious. We also find nights of lucid dream experience followed by months or even years of unsuccessful attempts to achieve the same state again.
Before we start I feel it’s helpful to set expectations: Our normal orientation towards action, results and competition is as useful for dream workings as throwing chalk against a wall to make our own shadow disappear. It simply won’t work.
The following article is written to support anyone who wants to practice magic in their dreams. The few essential preconditions to do so are the following:
Before you embark on this journey - or continue the one that you started already - let’s remember that nature does everything for a reason. If we have never remembered our dreams thus far we need to consider the option that this might be a good thing? If the censor between conscious and subconscious locks something into oblivion it normally does this for a reason.
In order to become able to remember dreams and develop a clearer form of dream consciousness we need to take a holistic approach. We first need to understand what keeps us from remembering our dreams today: Which of our actions during daytime foster a dull and dark dream consciousness, which of our daily habits require our subconscious to work undisturbed from our waking mind at night?
Developing a new skill is as much about unlearning an existing one as it is about acquiring a new one. In cases when we struggle to develop a new skill it is often because it is a complementary skill to a behavior that we are currently overusing. I.e. if we struggle to remember our dreams it might be because during daytimes we are feeding habits that are disadvantageous to it.
To give you a better idea of such potentially harmful habits during daytime, here is a short and certainly incomplete list:
In order to become successful at dream magic it is not uncommon to spend more time on daytime habits than on nighttime exercises in the beginning. The outcome once we are able to consciously work magic in our dreams is certainly worth the effort. Moreover, the therapeutic effect of building bridges between our nighttime and daytime experiences is incredibly rewarding and charged with healing and power in its own right.
While we are at sleep phases of Deep Sleep (or slow-wave sleep) and REM sleep (rapid eye movement) alternate. During phases of REM sleep our muscles are relaxed and cannot be used to move; exempt are the muscles supporting our heart, lungs and eyes only.
Dream during REM phases which last between 10 and 30 minutes are easier to remember as they occur ‘closer’ to our conscious. Due to its relative proximity to consciousness this type of dreaming is also called ‘paradox sleep’.
The moments that favor dream recollection are the moments of awakening in the morning as well as during nighttime which often happens subsequently to a completed REM phase. Both phases - awakening in the morning and at night - should be used to recapitulate the dream mentally and to take brief notes. An important pre-condition for successful recollection of past dreams is not to move one’s body during awakening. Remaining relaxed yet motionless in the position of awakening highly supports recollection and often allows to ‘catch‘ dreams in the net of our awakening mind before they re-emerge into our subconscious.
It is desirable yet not necessary to remember a whole sequence of one or multiple dreams during the phase of awakening. Remaining calm and relaxed in your bodily position will allow your mind to drift back to where it came from without disruption. Often snatchings of dreams which remained close to our consciousness will drift back into memory first. If we continue to stay calm and without intention, following their lead, we can often trace back more pieces and ultimately rediscover whole dream sequences from our subconscious. The trick is to find the right balance between silent attentiveness and focussed concentration to follow the lead of any snatching that re-emerges from the dark.
In other words: on awakening we need to ward off the old habit of projecting our thoughts into the instant future (e.g. the way to the toilette or the jobs of the day). Instead we need to allow them to return to the immediate past and let them rest there patiently waiting for the impressions of our dreams to re-emerge.
To break through this deep habit of mental future orientation we suggest ourselves the following while falling asleep at night: “I will be remembering my dreams tomorrow morning.” (Note: From personal experience I found it particularly effective to do this type of dream incubation in the following way: While lying in bed with all lights switched off in my sleeping position I allow my mind to drift away. Before my mind completely sinks into dream-sphere, however, I pull it back for a short moment, open my eyes as wide as possible in the dark and saturate my entire body with the sentence of my dream incubation: “I will be remembering my dreams tomorrow morning.”) Then I close my eyes again and while still feeling the echo of the words in my body I allow my mind to drown in sleep.)
In addition to this mental dream incubation we can also image ourselves as we awaken in the morning, see ourselves as we recapitulate our dreams mentally while still in bed and take notes before we get up.
Working with dreams basically requires a certain lead time. Your raised awareness towards dreams will take some time until it sinks into your subconsciousness and starts to take effect on it. Once initial dullness is overcome many dreams will stay in your conscious almost effortless. Only once your awareness towards your dreams starts to decrease again - as they might be taken for granted or because your dream exercises have become a pure habit without focus and intent - recollection of dreams might decrease rapidly. In order to raise quantity and quality of dream memory at this point again you need to shift back into constant awareness on your dreaming or waking consciousness until memory starts to return.
Ground rules for successful dream incubation:
“It is the greatest mistake to think that man is always one and the same. A man is never the same for long. He is continually changing. He seldom remains the same even for half an hour.”
The simple goal of reality tests is to raise our level of consciousness by deliberately challenging our common everyday life perceptions of reality. If performed over a continuous period our subconsciousness will adopt this new formed habit in our dreams - and raise the level of dreamtime consciousness.
Therefore the goal of any reality test has to be to unsettle our consciousness for a short period of time. The way we do this is to question perception of ourselves and of the reality around us in multiple situations - as nothing should be taken for granted for the waking mind.
One single form of reality test might not be sufficient to break the existing habits of unconsciousness - but multiple forms will work hand in hand to change and break apart what has probably been a well functioning part of our mind-machine for many years. Here is how we do it:
In order to get started with Dream Magic here is a helpful overview on the basic facts to observe. The goal of this first phase is to 1) achieve reliable dream memory on a daily basis, 2) to gather first experiences with the technique of dream incubations and 3) to understand what types of images, characters and stories our dream consciousness uses to answer our incubations.
End of First Part :: Continue with the Second Part