Did you know it’s estimated that the average person spends almost 2 hours every night dreaming?
Dreams are perhaps one of the most bizarre and psychedelic experiences almost all of us share on a regular basis.
With one-third of our life spent asleep, why not use the symbology that emerges in our dreams for self-insight and life direction?
Renowned psychiatrist, Carl Jung, did a lot of research and reflection surrounding dreams and commented:
The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul …
Indeed, our dreams have an uncanny way of revealing hidden truths about ourselves that can lead to everything from simple shifts in the way we think and act, to tremendous life changes that empower us to live from the heart and soul instead of the “small” ego self.
I’ll be specifically sharing a simple beginner-friendly approach to starting your own dream journal.
However, if you want to go into exploring the contents of your dreams more in-depth or learn certain dream techniques, you might like to check out these free guides that I wrote:
- How to Practice Dream Work (& Decipher Your Psyche)
- How to Lucid Dream (The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide)
- How to Authentically Understand the Meaning of Your Dreams (No Fluff Guide)
You can also use the table of contents below to skip to areas of this dream journal guide that may be of interest to you:
Table of contents
What is a Dream Journal?
A dream journal is quite simply a notebook or diary that you’ve dedicated specifically to recording your dreams. (A dream journal can also be a space where you record your conscious dreams, desires, or goals, but that’s not what we’re exploring in this guide.)
You can either choose to create your own dream journal with a simple blank notebook, or you can buy pre-formatted ones.
To start a dream journal, the easiest approach is to simply begin recording your dreams as they occur and not overthink the process!
Benefits of Starting (and Keeping) a Dream Journal
Dream journaling for me goes back to the early 2000s, and I’m often surprised by the dreams I recorded and the patterns that can reemerge throughout the years (like tornados before big upheavals, oceans when I’m feeling sensitive, and traveling to mysterious lands when I’m ready to evolve).
Here are some of the main benefits of starting and keeping a dream journal:
- Increases your dream recall (or your capacity to remember dreams and reflect on them in detail)
- Relaxing and therapeutic
- Helps you to connect with deep unconscious wisdom
- Enhances your self-awareness and self-understanding
- Becomes a supportive resource you can turn to for guidance
- Sparks your creativity and improves your problem-solving skills
- Can lead to profound realizations and sudden epiphanies that may change the course of your life for the better
- Reconnects you with your Soul (or deep inner Self) and the messages it may have for you
To get your free dream journal template, you can access that below:
Free Dream Journal Template!
Want to download an easy template to start your own dream journal? Get our FREE printable!
Dream Journaling and Spiritual Awakening
I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?– Zhuangzi
One of the most meaningful aspects of dream journaling is the fact that it supports us through deep inner transformations, such as the spiritual awakening process.
No matter whether you’re going through an awakening, existential crisis, or big shift of some kind, starting a dream journal can help you to integrate what’s happening and gain a profound degree of insight.
To me, our dreams are the most accurate oracles or mirrors of our deeper needs, desires, dreams, and fears because they exist outside of the domain of the ego self.
Not only that, but the Soul – that deep and wise part at the core of all humanity – has a mysterious way of speaking to and directing us through our dreams.
For example, I often find that my Soul speaks to me through repetitive dreams of a certain nature. One repetitive dream I have in periods where I am resisting change and transformation is a dream of always missing my flight. In these dreams, I’m packing my bags furiously, applying makeup, and then as I rush to the airport I realize I’ve missed my flight!
How to Start a Dream Journal
So, what do you write in a dream journal? How do you even get started recording your dreams? Here are some simple pointers:
1. Keep your journal next to your bed
For easy access, it’s best to keep your dream journal right next to your bed with a pen, and perhaps even a little torch (if you don’t have a lamp or don’t want to wake up your partner). I sometimes scrawl words in the dark into my dream journal when I’m too tired (or lazy!) to turn on a light.
2. Record your dreams quickly
Dreams are kind of like ice cubes on a hot pavement – they dissolve and disappear before you know it! So the sooner you record your dreams, the better.
Ideally, you’ll want to record your dreams right after you wake up. So that might mean that you scrawl down a few sentences or keywords at 2 am. If you prefer to draw a little picture of your dream, you can do that as well.
3. Detail, detail, detail
Here’s one crucial point I want you to remember: the silliest and most insignificant details are often the most critical when it comes to understanding the deeper meaning of your dreams. So record your dreams in as much detail as you can!
For example, I had a dream this morning of visiting a cabin on the side of a mountain with a group of mysterious people. Some random details that stuck out to me in the dream were how steep the mountain was and how at one point I was holding on really tight to some kind of ledge in the cabin.
Other examples of seemingly insignificant detail (which paradoxically hold a lot of value and meaning) may be the color of an object, a strange sound, the shape of a person’s mouth, the size of a certain animal, the feeling of walking into a certain area, some nonsensical words you say in a dream conversation, and so on.
4. Leave your dream journal, then revisit what you write later
After you’ve recorded as much detail as you can muster (whether in the form of words or images), put aside your dream journal for a few hours. Go about your daily business. Then return at the end of the day or week to what you wrote. Can you pick up on any new connections? Do any realizations burst into your mind?
Often, the best way to understand the meaning of your dreams is to give them space to simmer in your subconscious. When you return to them later, you’re more likely to have a greater perspective than before because you don’t have the same kind of tunnel vision attention as you had originally when first recording your dreams.
5. Don’t overthink, go with your intuitive understanding
There are so many books and blogs out there dedicated to dream symbolism. But as I explore in my article on How to Authentically Understand the Meaning of Your Dreams, no two people will see the same dream symbol the same way.
For example, I might love snakes because my uncle bought me a harmless carpet snake when I was little for my 11th birthday. But someone else might hate and fear snakes because they were bitten by one when they were little.
Yes, some dream symbols are fairly universal (like the ocean representing our emotional state), but whatever appears in your dream is so nuanced and personal that the only one who can truly understand the meaning is you.
So don’t overthink your dream journaling and go in search of decrypting every single dream symbol based on others’ definitions – it’s just unhelpful and frankly disempowering to your dream work journey.
Instead, learn how to trust your intuition. Whatever insight you have that first pops into your brain is usually the most accurate one as you’re not operating from the level of the mind, but the heart or instincts.
11 Dream Journal Prompts
The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.– Sigmund Freud
To help you understand the meaning of your dreams, I’ll share a few prompts that you can explore below. By the way, don’t forget to check out my How to Practice Dream Work article if you want more guidance.
- List some of the notable dream symbols, and what you think they might mean. (Don’t overthink!)
- Have you had this kind of dream before? If so, when? And what was happening in your life?
- What was the strangest person, being, object, or situation in your dream? Why did it feel strange or out of the ordinary?
- What kind of emotions (if any) did you experience in your dream?
- What kind of thoughts (if any) did you experience in your dream?
- Was the dream set in the past, present, or some kind of future?
- If you could use one keyword to define the dream, what would it be (and why)?
- If you could use one image/symbol to define the dream, what would it be (and why)?
- Did anything sudden or unexpected happen in your dream?
- What patterns or symbols appeared in your dream that have shown up in previous dreams?
- If one of the dream characters could speak to you, what would they say?
If you’d like more guidance on how to get into the habit of journaling itself, see my free How to Journal guide.
7 Beautiful Dream Journals (+ Free Template)
There are many options when it comes to obtaining an actual dream journal.
You can opt to purchase a cheap notebook from a $2 store, download and print out the free template below, or get a snazzy preformatted dream journal – your choice! Do what works for you.
To get your free dream journal template, revisit the section above entitled Benefits of Starting (and Keeping) a Dream Journal and you’ll be able to access your printable.
Here are some of my favorite dream journals on Amazon (I have the second Celestial journal):
The magical thing about dreams is that they are an abundant source of insight, inspiration, and revelation – why not make the most out of them?
Dreams can reveal feelings, thoughts, fears, dreams, and desires within us that our conscious selves don’t know about.
Furthermore, our dreams are often a powerful portal to our Soul’s wisdom, and they can guide us through difficult life transitions.
I hope this guide helped or inspired you in some way. Do you have any advice, insights, or comments you’d like to share about keeping a dream journal? I’d love to hear them!
I am so glad to see in the comments that i am not the only one with a vivid dream world! Most people give me a glassy gaze, or think I’m crazy when i tell them about my bad dreams.
Since about 10 years I started keeping track of my dreams. At first on separate memo sheets i kept in my dream book, after a while that became messy, thats when I switched to a separate notebook. It’s nice to see that real diaries exist now. I am actually curious about them, they look great!
If your ability to recall dreams is nonexistent, what can a person do to improve that?
The info on this email is very valuable to me. I get profetical dreams as well as others. I also keep a dream journal, already a few years.
Thank you for all your time and effort putting it all together, much appreciation!!
I do not have time to study all of them, but hopefully one day! I keep them all. Although I am already 72, I must still work, but living my passion, like you. I am a health and weightloss couch.
Love and light!
I’ve been dream journaling for a while now.
And I have a suggestion:
Why not just use a tape recorder to quickly “scrawl” your dreams impressions , then transcribe it later?
I mean, just for times when you’re too drowsy to write or you need to jot something down quickly before you soon forget it. A tape recorder would be much easier in this endeavor.
Thank you both for the free dream journal download. It is always a chore to decipher my dreams. As often they are multi layered experiences and some what illogical.
May you both be wealthy, healthy and happy together now and always.
Regards John 👓😎🤓
I Had a Dream! A Reoccurring Dream! I travel to a meeting by train and lose my way in an old style city go to buy my ticket and find only a few coins in my pocket. But not enough to cover the cost of travel. So I am forced to beg help from strangers as to where and how to get from the station to my meeting. Then I wander into the main street full of shops and arcades, get lost in back alleys and forever finding steps that lead to business houses or office areas and have to turn back. So I call this type of dreaming the frustration dream. As everything from other people not caring, to lack of finance, to loss of direction seems to block my way. I often think this my way of letting out life or soul loss from previous lives. The other similar dream is where three persons meet with me and ask me to attend their meeting in the same or similar old style city. Here I am using my current vehicle (pride and joy) and travel into this unknown city about the size of Melbourne. As parking is locked up… Read more »
Dream journaling is very interesting and sometimes funny. I reread mine a few years ago and had a good laugh.
I dream a lot, I’m under the impression that I have four to six different dreams almost every night, should I write them all? And when I am lucid dreaming should I journal as well?
I love this website so much and I am very grateful to you guys for all the knowledge you share with us so generously.
I wish I could do that. Your article is great so thank you. I very rarely remember my dreams unfortunately
Thanks for this great article. I am also a person who has been practicing dream journals for 3 years. At first, it was just out of curiosity, to satisfy my hobby of taking notes, but later on, I felt that the information I recorded was more valuable than that. Somehow the things I dreamed in 2020 predicted a lot of things about 2021. And the dream diary 2021 reflects the vision of 2022. I didn’t know this before so I let myself immersed in a lot of negative thoughts, bad habits. It was not until this year (2023) that I learned how my mind works and creates realities. It’s been a long journey.
A card is in the post on its way to you, snail mail / boat.
I had to pull the wolf from the card so it went through the Royal Mail slot.
Still there is perfection in the imperfect.
Thank you for all, it’s been one beautiful ride that’s far from over.
Best wishes to you all from the UK 😎