Dreams have been the topic of songs, poems, and pretty much any creative outlet you can think of. But what if you could create your own Wizard of Oz-level dream, and you’re in control of it? Welcome to dreamscaping.
What is Dreamscaping?
Unlike lucid dreaming, the act of becoming conscious during your dream, dreamscaping is being able to plan out the exact plot for the dream you want. It’s kind of similar to daydreaming, but instead of being awake you’re asleep.
While the exact definition of the word means a dreamlike scenario, its definition online is more similar to the Urban Dictionary definition, “A realm taking place in a dream. It can be shaped and changed by skilled dreamers. Basically, a blank canvas on which dreams are formed.”
I know it sounds too good to be true, can someone actually dreamscape? We talked with some experts to find out.
How does Dreamscaping Work?
Nancy B. Irwin, a licensed clinical psychologist and sleep hygiene/ dream analysis, explained that we can train our minds to deliver images during our REM phase of sleep, but that it often takes time and can be more challenging if you’ve suffered from sleep disorders.
There are two things that can help when beginning your dreamscape journey: dream journal and visualization techniques. And like we learned in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, don’t mess with someone’s dream journal.
The journal is for you to document everything you remember after waking up. By writing down the images or story lines you saw your mind is being trained to recall and pay attention to your dreams. You can also see if it worked by matching up your dreams to what you were trying to create.
Similar to daydreaming, being able to visualize what you want to dream is the key part. To begin visualizing start with short scenarios, like a conversation between two people or seeing someone walking away. Once you’re able to see these smaller scenes you can start adding in more details.
To put all of this to the test I tried dreamscaping for two weeks, but something I didn’t realize was that I have been dreamscaping my whole life — well, kind of. I have always struggled with falling asleep, so as a kid my parents would tell me to count sheep. As an obedient daughter I would visualize sheep jumping over my head until sleep came. While this isn’t exactly dreamscaping, it does help give an idea of how to approach the visualization aspect.
As I’ve gotten older I no longer count sheep, but I do create small “movies” to ease myself to sleep. Depending on what I was watching on TV or the kind of day it was, I’d start painting a picture of me being a lifesaving surgeon like I’m on Grey’s Anatomy or I’d create the perfect love interest, like I was in a Nicholas Sparks movie. These small stories would continue until I’d eventually fall asleep, but sometimes I’d be able to continue them in my dreams.
I’d never kept a dream journal until this experience, so I never remembered exactly what happened in my dreams. Having written documentation helped to see how much of my dream matched with what I planned out. Each day I would write out the scenario I was trying to dreamscape and after waking up write down everything that happened in my dreams.
The hardest part for me was actually remembering my dreams, especially on days where I didn’t want to wake up. Prolonged waking up often left me with no memory of any dream, so by week two I tried to wake up as soon as my alarm went off.
From my two weeks trying it, there was only one time that my dream kind of matched up with what I planned. The other times it was either something completely different or I couldn’t remember a dream. The longer I tried the closer I got to understanding the practice of dreamscaping, so if you wanted to try it I would recommend you have lots of patience.
Dreams are fascinating, with some saying they’re a gateway to our inner thoughts. Dreaming is also important because it can only happen during your REM phase of sleep. Irwin explained that this is a vital stage of sleeping and it is when we are able to process our thoughts. Without efficient REM sleep, you’re at more risk for health concerns and other sleeping problems can occur.
If you’ve ever been curious about dreamscaping or wanting to dream about something specific, I would recommend trying it out. It takes time to become the master of your dreams, but eventually you could be like Dorothy, clicking your heels back home.