An essential oil is a concentrated liquid generally removed from plants by distillation and containing intense aromatic properties. Essential oils are the primary tools in an aromatherapist’s arsenal. The medicinal effects of essential oils are widely debated, but I’ve chosen to write about their use in folk medicine to induce dreaming.

Many plants have supposed relaxing properties on the body and mind, making them popular in teas (some of the most commonly seen being lavender and chamomile). Some can be ingested safely raw, while others require other methods of use, like aromatic baths, skin oils, incense, and diffusion.

These essential oils are commonly used to induce sleep:

Lavender

Chamomile

Geranium

Jasmine

Lemon Balm

Rose

Neroli

Sandalwood

Marjoram

Ylang Ylang

These essential oils are recommended for inducing lucid dreams and improving dream recall:

Rose

Sandalwood

Patchouli

Clove

Mugwort

Clary Sage

Anise

Rosemary

Cedarwood

These essential oils are used to ward against nightmares:

Bergamot

Sandalwood

Tangerine

Blue Tansy

Rosewood

Orange

Lemon

St. John’s Wort

Lemon Balm

Chamomile

If you are considering adding essential oils to your dreaming tool kit, look around for local health food stores (Whole Foods carries a nice selection) or metaphysical shops. They typically come in small bottles, but rightly so–essential oils are highly concentrated, and can be extremely dangerous in large doses. When taking an essential oil, always make sure you are not allergic to the oil by dabbing a drop of oil onto your inner arm and observing for a reaction for two to three days.

To make skin oils, combine 2-3 drops of an essential oil (or several different oils) to a stock bottle of carrier oil (ie. Jojoba, Sweet Almond, Grapeseed). To make an aromatic bath, use around ten drops of an essential oil and mix into bathwater. Many diffusers are on the market these days for essential oils. Some require a traditional candle flame, others use electricity. It is easy to simmer oils in a pot to fill a room with the fragrance, but never use a pot used in cooking! Remember, it is almost always unsafe to ingest essential oils. Always consult an aromatherapist before using essential oils in teas. It is typically safer to steep dried herbs in water to create dreaming tea mixes. You can find dried herbs at your local health food store (again, my recommendation is Whole Foods).

Many of these oils have sedative effects, so use them around bedtime when you are ready to go to sleep.

Try using these remedies, comment, and tell me your results!

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Dream journaling is probably one of the easiest and most effective ways to increase dream recall and aid in lucid dreaming. It comes easily to some people, and less easily to others. But it’s something that you can implement, today, to aid in your dream recollection and chances of achieving lucidity.

Some of the advantages of recording your dreams is that you can come back on a later date and interpret them, providing insight about what was happening at the time. You may notice things that you didn’t originally see in the dream, and you may find that time has actually improved your memory of a certain dream as long as you have a summary to jog your memory. It’s also important to be able to remember your dreams for extended periods of time. Recording your dreams in a journal is just one way to immortalize them, so you never lose the valuable memory.

When recording dreams, make sure to record regularly. Recording on and off isn’t going to do you nearly as much good as it would to constantly record your dreams. You might also be able to figure out patterns that are occuring between dreams that are close together. And, of course, you don’t want to miss anything. Every dream you fail to record is one that you could lose to the depths of memory forever.

Here are some things to remember when recording dreams:

  • Keep a designated journal by your bed at all times so that you can record dreams immediately upon waking. Your memory of a dream often decreases as you go about your day, so making a habit of recording them as soon as you wake up ensures that you get all possible information out of a dream.
  • Always leave exra space on a journal page for notes to be jotted down at a later date–things that didn’t occur to you at the time of the dream, or notes on how a dream symbol may have unfolded in your waking life.
  • Record any emotions or abstract sensory experiences you may have had during the dream. Even if the experience is difficult to describe in the words we use in our waking lives, the symbols may trigger an accurate memory of the dream after long periods of time.
  • Don’t forget to jot down any characters or abstract symbols you encounter in your dreams. These are generally left to future interpretation.
  • Lastly, write any first impressions down AFTER you’re finished recording your full dream. Writing interpretations of the dream before establishing the concrete details may disturb the composition of the description and may be simply inaccurate. Write these reflections as notes on your dream, not as part of the dream itself.

Keep up these tips and your dream journal should be accurate and fruitful.

You may want to write in your journal right before going to bed to set the intention of remembering dreams that night. It essentially preps your brain for dream activity. Especially for people who don’t normally remember dreams, this can increase recollection just enough to get some notes in your journal. If you’re one of those people, don’t worry. Keep your mind open to dreams and after journaling for some time, your recall will increase significantly.

Remember, not everyone remembers it, but everyone (except in the case of severe psychological disorder) does dream.

You may have noticed I’ve added on a new page to the blog. Visit the Resources Page for a printable dream worksheet. When in doubt, Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Dreams are often unrealistic. This single, simple principle can keep your mind brisk enough through the hazards of a waking day to induce a lucid dream during sleep.

Let’s reflect on that simple principle. To begin with, dreams don’t always follow the laws of physics. We can often fly like birds or walk through walls. Personally, I breathe in water. Continuing that pattern, our perception is often warped. We sometimes see things larger or smaller than they usually are. Our reflections in mirrors look like an entirely different person. When we look at our watch, the numbers displayed are completely unproportionate to the time of day. You might have experienced all of none of these phenomena during dreams. Either way, the principle stands.

The way we can apply this principle is also relatively simple in nature: at random moments during the day, confirm that you are awake. If you find that you are dreaming… presto. You have just become aware of your dreaming state. You have just become conscious. You have just become lucid.

So how to we perform these “reality checks?”

The first step is to learn what constitutes a reality check. Here’s what doesn’t:

  • Checking for a physical body
  • Checking for clearness of sight
  • Checking for sense of touch

These are all things that occur commonly in dreams, and they don’t take particularly effectively to being your reality check perimeters.

Here’s what does:

  • Checking the time or a piece of writing, looking away, and checking again; written word and numbers frequently change during dreams. Digital watches are said to change numbers more frequently than analog watches.
  • Checking the lights. Light switches frequently fail to work in dreams.
  • Try breathing with your mouth and nose shut. This is often possible in dreams, but obviously not in waking life.
  • Try to put the finger of one hand through the palm of another. Hands are often ethereal objects in dreams, and therefore sometimes pass through other solid objects.

In order to make doing reality checks a habit, and in order to start doing reality checks in your dreams to start becoming lucid, you need to start performing them in your waking life. Some people choose to set their watches and perform reality checks every hour, others choose to perform reality checks when they perform other common actions such as opening a door. A handy minimalist method is to write a reminder on your hand to simply perform them frequently. Always perform reality checks after waking up, to make sure you aren’t having a false awakening.

Once you start doing reality checks in your waking life, it will inevitably become a habit and begin leaking into your dreaming life. You may suddenly remember to perform your hourly reality check while in the dream state, perform it, and realize you are dreaming. You may do the same when opening a door, or doing another associated action.

There is always a chance of a reality check failing, which is why you should always perform reality checks two or more at a time.

Reality checks have a very good reputation in the lucid dreaming community for being one of the most effective and least invasive methods of inducing lucid dreams. Start performing reality checks today, comment, and tell me your results!

For the past few months, I’ve been partaking in something I’ve come to call “The Dream Challenge.”

The background behind this is basically the curiosity of a friend and I regarding just how powerful conscious intent is in creating and affecting dreamscapes. We decided one night that we would pick something, an object or a topic, to dream about for the night, and keep track of who would have a dream including the topic first, at which point we would come up with a new topic.

This has trained me to the extent that I actually consciously ask myself in dreams “What was the dream challenge tonight?” Sometimes this brings me toward lucidity, sometimes lucidity precedes it, either way I become lucid. And though sometimes I get excited and distracted, I usually have the power to complete the dream challenge once I become lucid.

Sometimes the challenge is completed unconsciously; this typically happens the-night-of, when there is the most hype regarding the topic. The seeminly increased probability that I will dream about a given thing on a given night I don’t believe to be chance. It’s likely because each time I start a new dream challenge, I give my unconscious the instructions for my dreams for the night. Whether consciously or not, the content we intake during the day affects our dream output.

And thus, I have increased the purpose to each night of sleep I indulge in. I implore you to try and do this yourself. For one night, choose something to see or experience in your dreams. Keep track of it, surround yourself with it, leave a conscious intent to dream about that thing. Record your results each time you succeed, and form a new goal. See if this leads to any changes in dreaming patterns. You might be surprised what you come up with.

I should probably stop using words like “implore” when I’m trying to persuade people.

I’ll make it a point.

Improving Dream Recall

March 5, 2010

Improving dream recall is the first step to achieving lucidity, and is useful and fun for all dreamers. If you think you shouldn’t be grooming your rate of dream recollection, you’re missing out! Almost all people dream–the only exception occurs in severe psychological disorder–and can have around seven episodes of dreaming each night. The only obstacle is remembering them. In this post I hope to cover some methods for increasing your rate of dream recall so that you can enjoy each of the fantastical experiences you have each night.

Dream Journaling

Dream journaling is probably the most effective and most perscribed method of increasing your rate of dream recall. During sleep, the parts of the brain that control long-term memory shut down. That’s why when you wake up, you can sometimes recall a dream for a very short time, but your ability to recall the dream decreases over the course of the day. One solution that actually alters your ability to remember dreams is writing down your dreams as soon as you wake up. Keep a journal and a pencil by your bedside every night so that in the morning you can describe your dreams as best you can recall them. Some people choose to use a seperate journal specifically for dreams, or write in their general journal or diary. After a few nights of diligent journaling, your brain will be virtually re-trained to remember dreams more clearly.

Affirmations

Affirmations are phrases that are uttered or written to program a message into the subconscious. Any of you who are familiar with the power of positive thinking may have used affirmations to help you in your daily life. Affirmations are typically positive; never write an affirmation such as “I do not have nightmares.” Your mind will not register the negative and will only recognize “nightmares” as the request. Try to put them in the present tense: “I recall my dreams” rather than “I will recall my dreams.” If you put it in the future tense, who knows when your mind will decide to check out on the affirmation? Five years from now? Affirmations can be very powerful. Try writing them down or saying them aloud to yourself every night before bed, and create your own for other areas of your life you would like to improve.

Creative Visualization Techniques

I once heard a technique for dream recall described to me in the following way: Before bed, fill a glass of water and set it on your bedside table. Drink a sip of the water and say to yourself “I will remember my dreams tonight.” Upon waking up the next morning, drink another sip of the water and visualize the memories of your dreams flowing back to you through the water like a river. Creative visualization may seem New Agey, but it’s a very legitimate technique when dealing with the outer reaches of your psyche.

Keep watching the blog for updates on this post as well as new posts on Journaling and Affirmations. Comment and tell me what you think, as well as your experiences with dream recall!

Thanks for reading,

Adriana D.