Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Soft Attention

"Soft attention" is the approach I take to remembering my dreams. When I cross back from sleeping to waking, I try to linger in dreaming consciousness as long as possible and replay the dream in my mind as I'm waking. Whether I get an image, a person, an action or a complete dream story, I write it in my journal.

It helps not to be startled awake by an alarm, etc. Soft attention is easiest to practice on those mornings when you don't have to set the alarm and can claim some personal time.

Soft attention is right brained, image oriented. Instead of asking myself the left brain, analytical question, "What did I dream?" I ask myself, "Where was I? Who was I with? What was I doing?" - questions that recapture dream experiences in images with feelings attached.

My advice on dream recall is stay as long as you can in that "in-between" state, between sleeping and waking. Open yourself to the adventures you've just had and write their story in your journal, honestly, unselfconsciously, just for yourself, the dream as you experienced it.

Here's a beautiful love poem I found in my favorite calendar, "We'Moon 2011", (a women produced calendar/journal filled with beautiful art, poetry and prose, all by contemporary women artists); it evokes for me soft attention on waking in an intimate, shared way.

"Forgotten Seeds"

the dark shape of your body in this bed
adds substance to the fast approaching dawn.
while planets tread their courses overhead,
my hands make out the landscape of your form.

there's something pure about this time of day.
dreamspoken, truths pass lips and settle deep.
molded tight, our bodies bend and sway,
following the orbit of our sleep.

fresh from your underwater wanderings,
you wake at once both sleepy and surprised,
and slowly slipping, disentangling
you turn to kiss the valleys of my eyes.

the night uncloaks a pure thing in the mind
dark curtains of forget that have been parted,
and close to morning, in the dark I find
you've been revealed to me as dolphin-hearted.

as long as we can lie here the whole unniverse is ours.
I'm unfolding all my secrets, once encoded in the stars.
it's too early for pretending that there's nothing that we need,
your dreams and mine are mending all of my forgotten seeds.

by Danielle Rainville, quoted here with her permission.


  1. Terrific post. I like the idea of soft attention!

  2. Thanks, Trish.
    I'm sure you remember Castaneda's use of that concept. It works well for me. I'm enjoying the "Everything Dreams Book" by you and Rob. I love how many topics you've obviously explored in depth.