Dream Journal Writing Exercises
with Professor Nori Muster

While you work through the Dream Workshop, you may want to come back to your dream journal to write, or to process a dream. The following exercises will help you unfold the meaning of your dreams using a pen and paper.

Write in Your Journal! Create a Dream Profile

Write in Your Journal! Exploring Symbols

Write in Your Journal! Symbol Dialect

Write in Your Journal! Extra Help if You "Don't Get" Symbols

Write in Your Journal! Analyzing a Dream

Write in Your Journal! Further Practice Analyzing a Dream

Write in Your Journal! How to Find Archetypes

Write in Your Journal! Identify Archetypal Themes

Write in Your Journal! Unusual Dreams

Write in Your Journal! Nightmares and Reoccurring Dreams

Write in Your Journal! Influencing Dreams

Write in Your Journal! Dream Art

Write in Your Journal! Gesalt Empty Chair

Write in Your Journal! Gestalt Journaling

Summary of Dream Analysis Techniques

Write in Your Journal!
Create a Dream Profile

       Open your journal and write about these questions:
Have you ever kept a dream journal? If so, when and for how long?
Do you easily recall dreams upon awakening?
Do you have reoccurring dreams? If so, describe them.
Do you have one dream that stands out in your life, even if it took place a long time ago? Describe it.
List the tem most important events that shaped your life.
List ten people who have been most important in your life (living or dead; real or fictional).

Write in Your Journal!
Exploring Symbols

       Look up a few symbols in your dream dictionary and ponder their meanings. Send in a few paragraphs describing how you think dream symbols work. This exercise will prepare you for analyzing your own dreams.

Write in Your Journal!
Symbol Dialect

       Page through your dream dictionary and look for symbols that might have a different meaning for you. Make a list of five symbols and explain why your meaning may be different from the meaning listed in your dream symbol dictionary.

Write in Your Journal!
Extra Help if You "Don't Get" Symbols

1. Make a longer list of turning points in your life. Include negative and positive turning points.
2. Make a longer list of people, including negative and positive players in your life.
3. Pick another dream from your journal, write it out again. If the dream is long, write a summary.
4. Circle the nouns and verbs, and write them in a list.
5. Look up and write down the meaning of as many as possible. Flip through the symbol dictionary for any additional clues. Write down whatever you find. Think of any personal associations and write those down.
6. Take a moment to contemplate each word and definition, and the dream as a whole.
7. Scan your list of events and people.
8. Empty your mind for a few moments. Now notice if the dream reminds you of something in your waking life, especially the events and names on your lists.

       If you set aside twenty minutes to repeat this exercise over several days using different dreams, something should come to you. If not, pay more attention to the feeling in a dream. Write down the gist of what happened, who was there, the environment, etc., then make a list of emotions you recall. Whatever the feelings are, that is probably what the dream is about.

Write in Your Journal!
Analyzing a Dream

       Choose a dream from your dream journal that holds mystery for you that you would like to process. Write your dream out. Include anything you forgot. If it is too long, write a summary. Circle all the nouns (people, places, things, and names) and verbs (action words like run, swim, fly). Every sentence has at least one noun and one verb.
       Using your dream dictionary, look up every word on your list. If a noun is not in the dictionary, look for objects similar in shape or use. If a verb is not listed, look up a noun that corresponds to the verb, such as swim/water, or fly/wings/airplane, etc. Also do some free association and write down what the symbols mean to you. Please note down any symbols you have trouble with and post at the bulletin board discussion.
       To process the dream, connect the symbols from your dream with the events and people on your lists. Try to notice any obvious associations.

Write in Your Journal!
Further Practice Analyzing a Dream

       Write your dream, word list, and definitions. Then write down any associations you make to your waking life. Try to guess what the dream is about and write down any ideas that come to you. You can check your work, and process the dream further after a month, several months, or a year.

Write in Your Journal!
How to Find Archetypes

       Following is a list of archetypal themes. Themes are messages, patters, or lessons in life. Try an experiment. Pick a dream from your journal and keep it in mind as you read over this list. You may notice that the dream is about more than one of these themes:
The hero / magic / initiation / rites of passage / death / creation / cosmology / relationship / sacred space / sacrifice / transformation / inner alchemy / androgyny / the trickster / sacred dance / the child / storytelling / education / music / silence / the shadow / obstacles / woman / earth / spirit / the goddess / progress / the mask / demons / sleep / dreams / sin / ceremonies / holy war / guilt / animals / mantras / theft / pilgrimage / food / wholeness / exile / the body / the witness / memory / sadness / mirrors / the hermit / addiction / forgiveness / sense of humor / creativity / renewal / questions / the mountain / the disciple / tradition / tree of life / triad / time / attention / liberation / hospitality / money / the hunter / craft / community / solitude / power / energy / crossroads / the city / calling / twins / clothing / writing / hidden treasure / the stranger / language / Eros / prophecy / the soul / peace / play / work / ways of knowing / conscience / consciousness.

       Of course, there are many more themes in life, so feel free to choose any theme that applies, even if it is not on this list. Use your imagination to discover what universal element your dream is addressing.

Write in Your Journal!
Identify Archetypal Themes
       Not every dream will include an awesome numinosum, but all dreams have intriguing features. Choose a dream and pick out the most interesting thing about it. Then look back at the lists of archetypal themes in this lesson, and pick several themes that apply to this feature of your dream. Next, write a headline and lead paragraph to summarize the who, what, when, where, and why of the dream. The why of the dream is the theme.

Write in Your Journal!
Unusual Dreams

       Describe an unusual dream you remember. Or, if you cannot remember a specific dream, describe the type of dreams you have had that you consider really far out. Write about the first thing that comes to mind.

Write in Your Journal!
Nightmares and Reoccurring Dreams

       Dreams may be troubling, and the dreamer may feel that the dreams contain an urgent message. To process a troubling dream, first be sure that you will accept the message the dream is trying to present. Accept that you may not be ready to hear it, and therefore, your conscious mind will not hear it.
       Write out your dream again. Add any details that come to mind as you write. Go back and circle the most vivid images in the dream, because they may hold the key to the dream's message. Make a list of the dream symbols you circle, then look in your symbol dictionaries and write down any meanings that ring true. Brainstorm on what else the symbols could mean, and write down your ideas.
       Look for associations, and when you find them, simply sit with the associations and accept them. You may also wish to talk to them, as explained in the lesson on Gestalt dialogue. Also, drift off to sleep, or into a daydream, and try to write a better ending, or general resolution to the dream.
       If you come to terms with any of the symbols, write down what you learned. This may help you resolve the nightmare. After processing your disturbing dreams, you may get another dream that speaks to the same subject, but in a different way. Be sure to write the dream down and continue to process the material.

Write in Your Journal!
Influencing Dreams

Pick a dream from your journal that left you with negative feelings.
Write a new ending that works better.
Relax for a while, then drift into a daydream where you imagine a better ending.
Write down what you remember.

Write in Your Journal!
Dream Art

       Look over your dream journal and pick a fragment of a dream that suggests an image. Draw the image you remember from the dream. Use the description from your journal as the caption.
       Dreams have universal significance. With many billions of dreamers on earth, our planet constantly generates billions of dreams. Dreams are stories within stories, with the ability to help us make friends with our subconscious minds. The conclusion is to learn to accept our dreams, learn from them, and allow them into our creative work.
       Art therapy and dream work build a bridge between the conscious and unconscious self. Gestalt dream work with art improves memories and feelings about unresolved life experiences. Studying dreams may tie up loose ends and lead to a more fulfilling life. Building inner integrity will make you feel more secure, balanced, and centered.

Write in Your Journal!
Gestalt Empty Chair

Choose a dream from your dream journal. Write it out again, then circle any elements of the dream that you could talk to in the empty chair.
Put each symbol in the empty chair and have a conversation. You may do this by writing or talking, but make notes on your discussion in your journal.
Write down what you learned about the dream through the empty chair technique.

Write in Your Journal!
Gestalt Journaling

       Pick a dream you want to process. Using any of the techniques listed below to work with the dream to move it forward. Write a short explanation of your dream and the method(s) you used. Explain how you feel about processing it.

Summary of Dream Analysis Techniques

• Write down as much as you can remember from a dream as soon as you wake up.
• Write in present tense and include any feelings or moods you remember.
• Make a list of nouns, adjectives, and verbs, then interpret these as dream symbols.
• Review a dream for references to archetypal themes.
• Read positive affirmations at bedtime.
• Write affirmative questions in your dream journal.
• Through lucid dreaming, consciously dream a better outcome to a dream.
• Use pen and paper to write a good dream ending.
• Communicate with a dream symbol using the Gestalt empty chair technique.
• Use pen and paper to write out a dialogue with a dream symbol.

Dream Workshop Index
Dream Index