Why Can’t I Remember My Dreams?

When I talk about dreams as being important to our well-being and that it is very healthy to work with and remember dreams, perhaps the most common question is:  Why Can’t I Remember My Dreams?”

There are many possible answers to this question and here or some to consider:

  1. No one told you how important dreams are so at some point in your life, perhaps as a small child, you chose to ignore them. Often parents will tell a child who has just woken up from a nightmare that it was “Just a dream!” and ignore the significance of it, sending a message to the child that dreams are not to be discussed, valued or remembered. As a result, at an early age, you may have made a habit of forgetting them.   A better parenting approach would be to listen to the child’s dream and explore his/her feelings around the dream in a non-judgmental manner, giving a message to the child that something important just happened that he or she can learn from.
  2. Our society values the day dreams but not the night dreams. Western society always encourages people to follow their dreams, i.e., the stuff of their fantasy such as the “dream job” or the “dream house” but it rarely encourages anyone to write down their night dreams or try to resolve issues in those dreams.  In some sects of Christianity, dreams are even thought to be the work of the devil—so unlike traditional societies where dreams were highly valued and heeded.
  3. Some dreams can be frightening, illogical and outlandish so it is often easier to just forget about them than to try to understand them. Dreams tend to run counter the logical, predictable ways of the waking rational mind, often presenting challenges many people either don’t want to face or find irrelevant to the demands of their lives.   Dreams will quite often question the dreamer on how her or she is living their life and this can be troublesome.
  4. Do you get enough sleep to dream? Studies have shown that you need to enter a deep sleep in order to dream.  Dreams that we remember usually occur when we are coming out of the deep sleep stage.  Sometimes they can come just before we enter that stage, making the dream hard to remember.   If you do not get enough sleep, chances are that your body is not going through the stages it needs in order to produce dreams you will remember.  You may not have remained in the post-deep sleep stage long enough for a dream to form.  This is very likely if you are habitually awakened by an alarm clock, rather than allowing yourself to come awake naturally.

Looking back on 40 years of Recorded Dreams: What Can Be Seen?

We all dream every night but few of us actually try to remember, much less record, these messages from the Unconscious. Some people may jot down important dreams or keep a dream journal for a few months. A very small percentage of people, I among them, have made a lifetime habit of recording on a daily basis almost every dream remembered, resulting in a collection of dreams numbering in the thousands. What can be seen from reading and reflecting on all these dreams?

Many Dreams are Prophetic

As I read the dreams in chronological order as I would a novel, I see that a large percentage of the dreams are either telling me something about my current situation or are prophetic messages of something happening in the future. The dreams that relate to the present usually offer some sort of insight such as clarifying feelings I have or indicating a process I am going through. The ones that relate to future usually are a bit hard to understand in my current situation so I have learned to take them to be indicators of something that may happen later in a different situation. For example over ten years ago I had many dreams occurring over several months that had me living in Hawaii—at a time when I did not even consider making my home there. Three years later, I ended up moving to Hawaii. Because of experiences like this, I believe that déjà vu is often the remembrance of place, events and people we have already seen in dreamtime. Seeing this congruence between dreams and the future gives one a tremendous sense of awe at the power of the Unconscious to connect us to the future.

The Real Power of Dreams

In dreamtime, setting the stage for the future we may walk into and the making choices among several presented to us, is an important awareness that puts the conscious dreamer at a great advantage. I believe, after a lifetime of seeing this process take place, that we all live our lives twice— like the James Bond movie says—once in our dreams and once in our lives. In dreamtime we are already negotiating the future. Edgar Cayce noted that dreams are the answers to tomorrow’s questions. In dreamtime, we make the choices, experience the transformations, and meet the people we will meet later. If we tune into our dreams and become aware of the process, we can be prepared with foreknowledge to face the future. We will know that we can get through that awful transition or survive a breakup of a marriage because we will have already experienced and remembered doing it in dreamtime. However, the real power of dreams is not that they can predict the future. The real power lies in knowing we don’t have to make the decisions we made in dreamtime. If we weren’t happy with the decision we made in dreamtime, we can make a different decision in waking life. We have a second chance. But that only happens if we remember the dream. Otherwise, we are like computers playing out a code that has already been programmed—and live with the consequences.

Sustained by a Greater Power

Years of recorded dreams will show times when guides and healers appeared in periods of crisis to sustain and support the dreamer. These figures bring insights and healing power that far exceed the abilities of the waking mind. Once these helpers are recognized for what they are, they can be accessed and employed for intentional purposes of the dreamer, again making the dreamer realize we are in the hands of loving and profoundly powerful forces that are ready to help us. And in dreams we can even see their faces!