Yoga is a practice. It’s also a ritual, a reprieve, and a way to tune into your body’s innate wisdom. So, too, is the practice of dreaming. With its roots in ancient cultures, including Egyptian, Greek, Tibetan and Native American, dreaming remains one of the quickest paths to self-understanding — and one of the clearest ways to access your own inherent wisdom. The Egyptians and Greeks understood this so well that these two particular cultures created dream temples, which they used as sacred places for dreaming practices.
In the same way that your body strengthens itself in a yoga pose like Vīrabhadrāsana III (Warrior III), the mind, body and spirit become better aligned and strengthened with a regular dreaming practice. The more you dream, the more you dream. And the potential for more insightful dreams — even for those who don’t usually remember their dreams — becomes easy.
Dreaming has a flow just like a yoga sequence. It can follow patterns of balance or imbalance, cycles of the moon, astrological cycles and more. And, just as yoga is a path that can lead to greater self-awareness, so, too, can dreaming.
Just as yoga is a path that can lead to greater self-awareness, so, too, can dreaming.
Creating a dreaming practice is deceivingly simple. All you need are a few simple tools to get started and the openness to listen to the messages from within. A sturdy journal, a pen, some small sheets of loose paper and a small container with a lid are enough to begin.
Use a Journal
Your dream journal can be a place where you record both your dreams and the ah-ha moments of your waking life. When compared side-by-side you may even see a parallel between the two. Always choose a journal that you like — not just the way it looks, but also how it feelsin your hand. Try writing in the journal each morning to recount the stories of your dreams (and don’t forget to note the date). If you find yourself awake at 2 a.m., it’s a good place to jot a couple of notes during the wee hours, too.
Try the Dream Incubation Technique
If there’s something specific you would like to inquire about, try this technique. Dream Incubation is much like a dialogue process and you can use it with your higher self or with your subconscious mind. I recommend Dream Incubation as the last thing to do before retiring to sleep, by following these steps:
- Carefully craft a question, and write it on a small piece of loose paper.
- Read the question, silently or aloud, at least three times.
- Fold the paper neatly, and place it in the small container. Replace the lid.
- Sit at the edge of the bed with eyes closed and feet flat on the floor. Concentrate on the question that was written and placed in the container. Do this for at least five minutes.
- Immediately retire to sleep.
Make Dreaming a Ritual
Just as you carve out time for a yoga practice, make time for your dreams. The information that may be revealed each night can be profound. And, a dreaming ritual is no different than any other ritual for self-care. It honors your innate wisdom, it allows you to process emotions in a healthy way, it can provide greater access to intuition and it can even increase creativity.
Essentially there are two types of dreams: those that process daily events and those that are beyond daily events, such as lucid dreams. Learning to discern between these types of dreams can require a bit of practice. The dreamscape is unique to each person; it’s your own personal language of symbols. Understanding these symbols is an outgrowth of understanding the self — both are layered and complex.
Actively working with dreams allows you to take your personal growth process beyond the waking hours to incorporate the deeper layers of yourself and integrate these layers in a holistic way. In a relatively short amount of time, it’s possible to become adept at dreaming, decoding your personal symbols and creating more meaning during your waking life.
Photo by Eberhard Grossgasteiger.