Getting Started with Intentional Dreaming
At the Gnostic Society here in Los Angeles, I recently attended a lecture on Dreams and Soul Transformation by Dr. Stephan Hoeller. At one point he described dreams as “letters from your soul,” and not paying attention to your dreams as not opening that letter. This resonated with me on a deep level. Dreams can carry powerful messages, that when we listen, have the power of transcendence. They can bring us to our spiritual centers, connect us to the collective wisdom of the universe, and change us in profound ways.
But receiving this type of profound message from your soul is often not so simple as just going to sleep and waiting for it to happen. Dreams are difficult to remember and translate. They are often fragmented, non-linear, vague, and weird. And, not all dreams are transcendent. Some dreams are messages from our higher selves, but some are our fears speaking to us, or our shadows and anxieties, or the buzz circulating in our brain after we turn out the lights.
How do you know which it is? And what if your higher self never speaks to you in your dreams? Actually, that is perfectly normal. Because before you begin having transformative dreams with messages from your soul, you have to let your soul know that you are open to receiving them.
Sending an intentional message to your higher self before going to sleep is what Intentional Dreaming is all about. It is quite different from lucid dreaming, in that you cannot consciously control the narrative. To the contrary, it is asking your higher self to take the reins and guide you through your dreams. So, here are the steps to get started with intentional dreaming:
1. Set a notebook, or something to write on and with, within arms reach from where you sleep.
2. Get ready for bed as usual. Get everything done that you do before closing your eyes to go to sleep. That means, setting your alarm, kissing your partner (or cat or dog) goodnight, putting on your lip balm and hand lotions, etc, etc.
3. After you close your eyes, take a few breaths to center your focus, relax your body and clear your mind.
4. Picture in your mind what your soul looks like. It is different for everyone. I often imagine a glowing red, yellow or blue orb in my chest. Keep your attention on your soul, letting it fill the visual space of your imagination. Pay attention to how it feels in your body.
5. Now begin speaking your request to your soul in your head. No need to say it out loud (unless you want to). Keep it simple. Both of these are sufficient:
“I would like to request your guidance.”
“I would like to receive a message.”
6. If you have a specific question or issue that you would like to receive help with, now is the time to make that request. For example:
“I would like to know what will help me let go of my anger.”
If you don’t have a specific request and are open to receiving whatever your soul has to offer, skip this step.
7. Tell your higher self that you are open to receive:
“I am open to receiving your wisdom through my dreams. Please guide me.”
Your intention has been set!
8. Now all you need to do is go to sleep and be prepared to RRR upon waking: Recall, record and remember. You may wake from a dream in the middle of the night, or in the early morning, or when your alarm buzzes. Whenever you wake, no matter how groggy, return to your dream. The first dream you remember will be the message.
9. RRR: First, recall your dream. Go through it in your head, almost as if you are having it again. Allow all the little details to come back to you. Second, record your dream. Grab your notebook and jot it down. Both of these steps will prepare you to remember your dream. It will transfer it from your unconscious to your conscious brain.
It is essential to follow these steps immediately upon waking, because during those first few seconds, you are still on the threshold of sleep and wakefulness. Your unconscious has not yet fully closed its doors. Within a minute or two, if you do not actively RRR, you may forget much of your dream.
10. Sit with your dream throughout the following days. Allow its message to slowly and gently unfold within you. If you feel comfortable, share it with others. Journal about it, or pull a tarot card or two to help you learn more about it. Know that the wisdom you have received will stay with you a very long time.
What to Expect: When you request a message from your soul, you are sure to receive one if you are open to it. However, there are a few caveats to keep in mind:
1. You must actually be open to receiving. This means you must truly believe in the process and be open to change. If you are holding on to doubt or disbelief, this process will not work. You will block your soul from receiving the request.
This also means that you need to be in the right state of mind. If your head is full of deadlines and your morning conference call, it is not the right time to work with intentional dreaming. Choose a night when your mind is clear, when you will have a free morning and a fairly open schedule the following day.
2. You must be open to receiving whatever wisdom your soul has to offer. Go easy on your expectations, because our souls tell us what we need to know, not what we want to know. This may include tough love that is difficult to receive. Not all transcendent dreams are full of beauty and joy. But they are all important.
3. There’s no need to overdo it or rush it. When you receive a message, allow yourself to sit with it for a while before asking your higher self for another one. This means, only practice intentional dreaming about once every week or two at most, preferably on the weekend.
The message you will receive from your higher self will inevitably be deep and complex. Allow yourself to learn as much as possible from it, then when you are ready, allow a follow up question to evolve and come to you. And then begin this practice over again.