Dream recall and exercising memory recall

I’m trying to see how I can exercise the ‘dream recall’ muscle in a more generic way.
Right now before bed I’m doing a review/journal of the events throughout my day.

Starting with looking at the memories from when I woke up and throughout the day until the moments just before starting the journal entry. Yet, I noticed when I had a more vivid dream recall, my journal entry actually was the opposite in that I was back tracking through each dream to see what preceded it.

Which means to exercise the ‘dream recall’ muscle for me, if I practice remembering the sequence of my day from the present moment backwards, it’ll be more helpful than trying to remember from the beginning of the day. Also, I imagine everyone is different too so what may work for me may be different than someone else.

So, how do you recall your dreams? what do you observe in the order?


Here is a followup on this…

So when I was writing my daily review journal before bed, instead of trying to recall the moments from the beginning of the day until the end of the day, I tested the opposite. I would sit and attempt to move through my memories going backward. Strangely enough, it was uncomfortable - viscerally uncomfortable.

I asked around to handful of people and it seems most people can easily remember thinking forward or backward in their memories.

Which leads to a few questions, thoughts and theories:

If it is hard to remember things that just happened even just 10 mins ago, that means I am forgetting. Forgetting is IMO a major problem for strong delusive types (me) since delusion can lead to confusion. Confusion, for me at least, seems to be strongly related to this forgetting process. This effects my ability to listen to people to, I’ll often forget what someone just said (especially at work) and the only way to remember something is if I am actively writing down what they say. This hints at there being so much discomfort in the present moment at work that I’m instantly forgetting what someone said - whoa!

There is also some personal history related to this coping mechanism of forgetting. In high school there were some very difficult emotional periods and the way I dealt with it was to very intentionally forget. I would imagine all the pay I had in my mind rip it up into confetti. Also, my dad tends to be very future oriented - always looking at what to do next and he seems to exhibit some of this similar behavior of confusion/delusion/forgetting. Trying to find happiness in the future and ignoring the past since it never actually fulfilled anything.

Anyway, I Googled around on how to improve memory and a lot of it seemed to be related to bringing more awareness to the present moment, so when memories are referred to back later on there is a stronger imprint. E.g., noticing the items in ones environment or remembering the color of an object. I also applied this approach during a lucid dream last night too and it helped to actually slow the dream down and leave a more vivid memory of it. In the dream there was a turtle, so I would note the texture of the turtles shell, or the density of the grass that I cut to feed the turtle.

Honestly this is a huge discovery because it is a more concrete understanding of what is both causing the delusive behavior and how to antidote it :key::test_tube:

Adapting to a technique:

When doing a reality check, at the same time also note “it’s a dream” (illusory form) and then note specific objects in awareness. The specificity seems to be important, e.g., the wall is blue, or it is a big wall. Objects in awareness are not just random blobs of sense data, they are things that are actually present in the moment and ignoring what is in awareness is ignoring the present moment.

When I’m able to recall memories really well at the end of the day, it is like I’m hitting rewind on my memory video tape. It seems if I am moving around a lot, I can remember things more easily but if I am sitting or working in one location a lot then I’ve observed that the memory is not as strong - a loss of awareness as the mind collapses into a confusion. Memories are stronger and more vivid when moving around because I must pay attention more to my surroundings but when I am by myself, this paying attention is weaker and the delusiveness is higher.


This is really interesting @claylimo. I too have a problem remembering what people said or recalling my day and I’m sure it has something to do with not being present in the moment. A calming trick for me that takes me out of my mind and into the presence is to really take note of my surroundings. Textures of walls, colours of trees etc. I’ve done this in lucid dreams to but mainly out of curiosity and not in a way to help remember them. I must try this technique and see if it helps.

Thanks for the tips :slight_smile:


There are already lots of good practices noted here. I whole-heartedly endorse the daily review. It is part of what I call my “unified theory of lucid dreaming,” where we should seek to live/be the same way during the night and the day – continuously paying purposeful attention to the present moment experience, reflecting upon experiences (for state determination – waking/dreaming), and frequently practicing recalling experiences (day review of waking experiences before bed, night review of dreaming experiences before getting up). I think also if you can manage several mini-reviews during the day (I usually go backward), that’s good extra practice.

I also concluded, as @claylimo noted, that the strongest memories are formed by paying purposeful attention to the present moment experience. So I strive to fully engage the present moment as much as I can throughout the day, and when I recognize I’ve drifted into mindlessness or distracting thoughts, just bringing myself back to the truth of the present moment (this is a moment of lucidity!)

This is thus my general motto: Pay attention, reflect, recall.

I believe the strongest recall is developed by consistent and deep delving for memories of experiences. Ideally, upon every waking, take several minutes (or as much time as you can) reviewing dreams, reaching back for more and more until you think you’ve covered as much as you can). I will spend sometimes 15-30 minutes on the final waking reviewing all the night’s dreams and those of the last waking.

Journaling immediately at each waking will result in most detail being captured, but it’s also quite disruptive to sleep, so what I do now is keep a mental running list of all dreams throughout the night (usually assigning each one a key phrase to help recall it), and review this list and add to it upon each waking. This does sacrifice some amount of detail (dialogue details usually suffers/degrades by morning somewhat), but balances it with more time actually spent sleeping and dreaming and a more restful night.

Another practice during the day related to the day review is that I chose noteworthy moments (or just any moment that I spontaneously choose) to specially remember during the evening day review. I’ll use a mnemonic method to catalog these moments, and in the evening I will review and try to recall these special moments that I chose. This approach can also be used in dream to mark particularly noteworthy dream events for recall upon waking.

By constantly (every single day and night) reaching for memories of experiences, we get better and better at it, reinforcing the neural pathways related to this recall.

My earlier writings on these subjects:




Great insight, thanks for that. I sometimes feel that I am not fully open to the present moment/experience. I need to remember to fully acknowledge the magic of each moment while doing illusionary daytime practice.


I really like the idea of assigning certain moments to remember as you move throughout the day in which you will recall in your daily review. It’s both helping your prospective memory and reminding you to be present, in turn helping with both day and night time practices. Thank you for that! I’ll be adding this moment to my review tonight :smile:


I find myself copying and pasting these suggestions onto a separate printed document so I don’t have to keep looking for them online. Thanks to the posters for such practical suggestions.


@Dream_Hacker Thanks for this greatly helpful summary of practices.


@claylimo, I’m on a similar venture.

  1. I’m trying to write in a dream journal right when I wake up. If I remember a dream, that is. The instruction I thought I heard is to still write date and “no dream memory” or some such.

Where it breaks down for me:

  • if I have to pee real bad, that gets priority. Then the ADHD has its fangs in me.
  • I do things inconsistently. I put some dreams in an app,and write the others down. For me, writing would be ideal. But now I’m face to face with discipline - not my strong suit
  • I have decided on a dedicated notebook (took me about a month to realize it didn’t have to be unlined, which I read in Claire’s book.) I make things WAY more complicated than need be. Possibly this “need for it to be perfect” program running in me.
  • Finally, some days I will remember but am in a grumpy mood and throw in the towel, so to speak. “Why bother?! I’ll never have lucid dreams” the narrative goes.

The second point you brought up is remembering your day. I haven’t heard this in dream instructions yet, but I tend to “go rogue” and dabble - wasting time but that’s my process unfortunately - until I get the WHY of things. Then I follow the tried-and-true. Much to my detriment.

However along those lines - I have “reward dharma” audios I get to listen to if I go for a walk. One is by Tulku Thartang on “Time”

He and his Sanga are now in a state of allegations of abuse of power now. How many communities are dismantling because of this! :broken_heart:

His teachings on part 1 of 3 are quite brilliant, regardless. (I don’t walk much :slightly_frowning_face:)

To get more in touch with time passing (vs living Fed-ex’d up in our heads), he offers the recommendation to sit at night and review your day thoroughly, preferably via meditation. The huge chunks of our day we forget - he says go back over and over the day till you remember most if not all.

The magic here is that when those ‘blank spots’ show up, they do eventually make themselves known. And they usually have some kind of ‘charge’. (you mentioned uncomfortable) The instruction is to feel that ‘charge’ until it dissipates.

The brilliance is if done, this is a way to stop packing more habitual patterns into our systems as energetic blocks. So by processing the day fully, we can then become aware of when we ‘check-out’ in daily life in real time - those blocks in our memory where - essentially - our habituated ego did not want to go.

And with everything brilliant I hear, I quickly forget or face monumental resistance.
“The bigger they are, the harder they fall” <-- (my big fat ego!)

That is what your post brought up for me, my challenges, and some things I’ve heard that make sense and I aspire to do… :-/


@Dream_Hacker, if I journal one scant dream memory in the morning, I’m 2-hours in! As I write, more of the dream memory unfolds. Even prior dreams I haven’t consciously remembered which are related come up. I also link them to IRL phenonemon (my bite guard visits in every dream, or if I’m tangled up in my t-shirt or soaking in sweat, etc, and always the ‘finding a usable toilet!’ phenonemon)

Also the player in the dream is a representation of (me) yet also a representation of a memory (last one was parents fighting while I was an infant in a swing trying to sleep - which had a nightmare quality). Then other tangents like ‘oh, this probably the original inner masc/fem in my head’. Limiting beliefs come up, or wonderful realizations.

Again I lack discipline! So next thing I know, half my day is gone, my hand is cramped, my head hurts, and I’m drained. :confused: Shower?! I need a nap!

Maybe because dream memories are so few and far between, I have to do all the “processing” still. And I have a lot of…“junk in the trunk” shall we say!

Thank you for sharing your process!



Why not just write an outline, bullet points, and not get sucked up into every little detail? I know that not having a lot of dreams makes every one we do have seem extra special, It does for me, but I find that if I write enough key points, I can recall the details that are important when I go back and reread the journal, despite my awful handwriting. I’m getting better at that because I realized that my putrid penmanship was just setting me up for pre-ordained failure, the last vestiges of an inner city public school education. I try not to be too hard on myself because compassion for oneself is the doorway to compassion for others. When I realize that we are all connected it doesn’t make sense to beat up on myself and hope to be kind to everyone “out there” when there is no “out there” there. Anyway, just a thought or three.


I know I’m a little late to the party here but anyway, I’ve found it useful to keep a digital recorder next to my bed (I don’t bring my phone into my room at night) as it’s much quicker for me to verbalize my dream memories than it is for me to write them down. I usually go back later to write down keys points when I have time. Also, I’ve found that taking 200mg of B6 right before bed has aided my recall a little.

Best of luck! :slightly_smiling_face:


I have an Apple Watch and it is perfect for “quick and dirty” recordings of key terms and ideas from dreams. I go back later with my iPhone when I wake up and fill in the dreams in my journal.


I ordered a box of saffron for my wife yesterday and when it arrived today I remembered/realized that I saw saffron being used in a dream, maybe last night or even a few days ago. People were perhaps burning it and breathing in the smoke for healing. Maybe it was incense or powder? My wife says it’s too expensive to burn. Weird to recall a dream after some time has passed. Maybe I’ll try it . . .

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