Wednesday, January 30, 2008

TO WRITE: Dream a Little Dream
We have them multiple times every night, researchers say -- but what do we really know about our dreams? I agree with the standard wisdom about remembering more of those slippery experiences: keep a dream journal by your bedside and record whatever you recall immediately when you wake, even if it's just an image or a feeling. Indeed, when I've practiced this for even a few days, I've found that I begin to remember more and more of my nighttime adventures.

Then, of course, there's the issue of what to do with these often bizarre movies with emotions. Many types of psychotherapies use dreams in various ways, but I think it's really up to you to use these journeys as you see fit. They may amuse, frighten, inspire, explain, or call you to action. But usually -- usually -- I feel better after I've written a dream down and examined it.

Play with this. . .
Write continuously for 20 minutes about a dream you've experienced. It might be from last night or a long time ago; it might feel trivial or life-altering. Describe what happened, including all of the sensory details you were aware of. Then see if any connections or ideas occur to you.

For example, I often find that I dream about my life at the moment in the form of a house -- a simple or complex layout of rooms, a messy or tidy interior, maybe worries I should be spending more time in the office or the kitchen. There's the common dream theme about taking a trip too -- maybe the road suggests your life journey? But you may make completely different connections to these sorts of events and symbols, and that's what is most important for you.

After you've written about your dream and your impressions about it, write for five more minutes about whether there are any ideas about your waking life that you'd like to take away from this exercise -- maybe even insights about handling your depression or the happenings around it.

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