Tap Into Creativity: The Visual Dream Journal How-To

Just so you know, our power went out this morning in the wee hours, so I am writing the original of this post by hand, in my journal, while happily ensconced in the bed with the sounds of morning birdsong and snoring dogs, and the scents of a pineapple and papaya candle burning, and a steamy cup of coconut chai. I'm really hoping no early-bird tourists drop by to tour the studio :)

My dreams are guides, teachers, and mentors; mysterious daily companions, opening windows onto a parallel life. I've been blessed - sometimes cursed - with an extremely vivid dream life, and the attempt to understand and make use of this elusive and enigmatic aspect of self has been a lifelong challenge - a dance with a dark & strange partner. When I have taken the time to listen deeply to my dreams, I have been richly rewarded with insight, guidance, humour, and creative inspiration. Dreams offer insight into hidden aspects of ourselves, often the very aspects of ourselves we are searching for and yearning to manifest in our daily lives: our inner adventurers, artists, sensualists, leaders, and mystics! Dreams can help us bring these aspects to light in harmless and life-affirming ways - and we all know what can happen if we repress these beauties!! SO how do we work with something that arrives in such a mysterious package? What if we don't have, or remember, long vivid narrative dreams - just the occasional flash of an image or feeling? How do we work with that? Over the past few years, I've developed a wonderful tool I call Visual Dream Journaling. For many years, on and off, I kept a written dream journal. Over time I found that writing out my dreams became time consuming and cumbersome - and valuable insights were slipping through my fingers as I tried to translate dream flashes into daytime language. I began to explore ways to work with imagery directly from the dream to the page, without the interference of the critical mind. Drawing worked well, but was limited, slow, and not so easy when half-asleep! So I started working intuitively with found images. I kept a basket next to the bed with journal, pen, and a stack of old magazines (which I constantly refreshed so the images would be unfamiliar.) I didn't bother with scissors after a while, I found tearing to be quick & it left the door open for "accidents" which yielded insight. I want to emphasise that this is a way to work directly with the unconscious magic of the dream, a way to let the dream energy continue into waking activity. So here is how to do it:
  1. as soon as you wake from a dream, pull your basket on to the bed and open your journal to a fresh page.
  2. flip through magazines and begin, quickly, without much thought, to pull out any images that resonate with your dream images and feelings. You are not looking for images that duplicate what you saw in your dream. Instead, you are looking for images, words, and colours that strike the same chord in your mind and heart that the dream did. Go with your instinct, don't worry if the images seem "different" than what your dream looked like. Allow the dreaming mind to make the connections.
  3. once you have a nice pile of pages and feel finished, set the magazines aside and sort through the images again. Choose the three to six images that resonate the most deeply with the feelings in your dream.
  4. begin to tear the images down to size, and arrange them on the page. I like to leave plenty of white space around the images - this helps your mind to move freely when you contemplate the work later. TIP: to create a nice white deckle edge on your torn paper, hold the image you want to keep firmly down on a hard surface, and tear by pulling the discard able portion towards you.
  5. glue down your images, using a glue stick
  6. give the dream a title. This is a great way to discover the most important aspect of the dream. I like to stamp the title in with my alphabet rubber stamps, and the date, too.
  7. you may wish to supplement your images with a line or two of text, giving a synopsis of the dream narrative, if there was one.
  8. after a quick glance at your work, put your journal away for a while - at least a few hours. Be prepared to be surprised by the insights you glean when you come back to your images later.
Sweet dreams! If you make a special dream journal page that you want to share, send it to me (bbsimons@telus.net) and I'll post it! Here are a few of my pages for inspiration:
Artful Resources:
Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung
Dream On, A Dream Interpretation & Exploration Guide for Women
Stampington.com, for alphabet & other stamps

Artful Project:
Create your own dream journal page and send it to me!

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