Dream Recall – Take your first steps towards dream interpretation

“Saito: You remind me of someone… a man I met in a half-remembered dream”


dream recall

Often, following a lengthy explanation on the purpose of our dreams, I get asked, “Well… if the brain is my bff and just wants to help out, why the hell can’t I remember any of it?!”

We’ve all had moments of frustration when a dream, so vivid and clear a moment earlier, dissolves in front of our mind’s eye, leaving nothing behind except the memory of having had a bizarre dream. You may also recall an entire dream with a sudden patch in between that is hazy and difficult to remember. The Super Ego censors strike again!

I do believe what Freud said was true, that the Super Ego intends to protect us from the at-times shocking and disturbing desires expressed by the Id. We often may not be ready to accept the darkness in ourselves and our protective Super Ego shields us from our animal self.  It allows the Id to satisfy itself while at the same time suppresses the formation of a long-term memory of it.

Wikipedia tells me two things;

‘Certain brain chemicals necessary for converting short-term memories into long-term ones are suppressed during REM sleep.’


‘People who score high on measures of personality traits associated with creativity, imagination, and fantasy, such as openness to experience, daydreaming, fantasy proneness, absorption, and hypnotic susceptibility, tend to show more frequent dream recall.’

The second statement may or may not be true; nevertheless I believe that every dreamer, creative or otherwise can train him/herself to recall dreams. It may seem frustrating at first but I can vouch from my personal experiences and that of my family and friends that with practice, you will soon start clearly recalling, on an average, 2 to 3 dreams a night.

So let’s look at how you can begin practicing the most important part of  dream interpretation – remembering your dream in its entirety. What I would like you to keep in mind is that remembering a dream isn’t as simple as stating, ‘I dreamt my boyfriend left me.’ Picking out a single occurrence and basing an interpretation on it is inaccurate and misleading. If you recall, I have already explained my stand on the available online dream dictionaries; my honest opinion being that every dreamer is unique and hence every dream is too, with occasional similarities across people.

What I propose may feel like an annoyance at first but hang in there! The ephemeral quality of dreams is such that the first moments in which you remember a dream become crucial.

  1. Preferably, maintain a Dream Diary. Having a record of your dreams over a period of time can be veryRemember your dreams revelatory especially in our attempts to decipher a series of similar or repetitive dreams. (If waking up and forcing your sleep-addled brain to help you write seems like torture, type it out on your phone while in bed; I’m sure a lot of us can type in our sleep ;)) An added benefit of this is that, at a later stage, it would aid in the practice of lucid dreaming.
  2. Before getting out of bed, stay still and go over the details of the dream in your mind; note everything from the beginning to the end, not leaving out even the most absurd of details. Either write it down immediately or recall it a couple of times in order to create a concrete memory.
  3. Make special note of the emotions and their intensity at all points of the dream. This includes how you feel due to events or towards people. Equally important are a lack of emotions.
  4. With regard to the people who appear, take notice of their appearance and behavior (Does your dad look and/or behave like he does in real life? Is there a woman who is a stranger but feels like your best friend?)
  5. If not immediately, then later in the day, try and see if you can link any of the events/people in the dream to your actual experiences from the past few days. (Did you dream of a person you haven’t seen in years and then on waking link this to having seen his or her Facebook post the previous night?)


Do not feel de-motivated if your efforts initially seem futile; I’m positive that after a few attempts, you will be able to train yourself to successfully recall your dreams.

In future posts, we will look at:

  • The actual process of analyzing and interpreting your dreams.

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