5. Take advantage of rebound sleep.
Most people have busy lives, and every now and then, something happens to shake up your normal sleep cycle. You stay up late for a party, you travel a long distance, you’re taking care of someone who’s sick—whatever it is, you don’t sleep well for a night or two. Fortunately, the human sleep cycle is flexible, so you can make it through such sleep-starved times without any lasting damage.
The one predictable consequence of brief sleep deprivation is that when you can sleep normally again, you will experience a “rebound” of more sleep than usual. It’s as if your brain is making up for the lost time.
Researchers have found that rebound nights can be especially dense in REM sleep. So if you can foresee a night when you’ll just be back from a tiring trip, or just finished with a big work project, or something like that, make sure you really give yourself a chance to sleep as long as you can. You will likely be rewarded with an especially bountiful harvest of dreaming.
6. Keep a dream journal, starting with dreams from early in life.
Once you start paying attention to your dreams, you’ll want to record them in some kind of journal or notebook. When you’re just beginning a dream journal, it’s helpful to write down some of the earliest dreams you can remember, from all the way back in childhood if you can recall any. This is a way of priming your dreaming imagination and initiating the process of bringing your dreams out into the waking world.
All sorts of good creative energies flow from the simple practice of keeping a dream journal.
7. Pay attention to patterns.
Once you begin paying attention to your dreams, you’ll notice recurring themes, images, and characters. These patterns are clues to your own psychological concerns, strengths, and vulnerabilities.
Many artists and innovators have found inspiration by honestly confronting the dark themes of bad dreams and nightmares, so don’t be discouraged if you find negativity in your dream patterns. Even the darkest dreams also have elements of light.
As you track your dreams over time, you’ll get better at seeing the amazing multiplicity of meanings, beyond simplistic dichotomies between light and dark.
8. Explore lucid dreaming — awareness, not just control.
Lucid dreaming is the experience of becoming conscious within the dream state. This can be exhilarating and transformative; it’s a kind of Enlightenment experience, realizing how we create the realities in which we live. Many religious and spiritual traditions, especially Hinduism, Buddhism, and Daoism, have pursued the creative potential of the mind in lucid dreaming, and this potential exists within everyone.
People in contemporary Western society should be careful, however, not to be misled by promises about controlling or manipulating dreaming, as if it were merely a virtual-reality construct. The waking ego can achieve a degree of control over the dreaming process, but far more is lost than gained by such efforts. Try to become more conscious and aware in your dreams, not more domineering and self-centred.
9. Experiment with dream incubation and pre-sleep intentionality.
Dream incubation is the practice of preparing oneself for a special kind of dream. Many religious and cultural traditions have developed dream incubation rituals involving a special place, or time of year, or prayers and incantations to elicit a dream response.
Today you don’t need anything more esoteric than a clear mind that focuses on a specific question, problem, or concern before getting into bed. If you go to sleep with the intention of opening yourself to whatever your dreaming imagination has to say in reply, you will almost surely receive something of interest when you wake up the next morning. It’s not an automatic process, but the mere effort of welcoming a dream like this is a creativity-stimulating practice.
10. Find someone with whom you can share dreams.
You can learn a lot by exploring your own dreams. You can learn even more by sharing your dreams with others and listening to their dreams in return. There’s no need for deep analysis or elaborate interpretation; just talking with another person about dreams helps bring your creative energies and intuitions more fully into the waking world.
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Written by:Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D Originally appeared on:Psychology Today Republished with permission