Waking dreams are just as important as sleeping dreams when creating a dream practice.

Looking for synchronicities, dreamlike circumstances, and other signs while awake adds another dimension to dreamwork that hones your intuitive skills.

Here’s an example that happened to me this weekend.

Before going on a hike, I stepped into a Porta Potty. On the floor was a very small, purple feather. Since it was a Porta Potty, I wasn’t eager to pick the feather up, but I wondered if there was any way the feather came from a hummingbird (it was about the size of my index finger from the tip to the first joint).

I quickly dismissed this idea: I didn’t know of any local hummingbirds, let alone other local birds, with purple feathers. It looked natural; not like something someone would have in a boa. But I decided it couldn’t be a hummingbird feather.

Later that day, while sitting on a friend’s porch, a hummingbird came and hovered about a foot away from me.

Two nights later, I had this dream:

I am in the backyard of my childhood home. I see a hummingbird flying. Then I see someone holding a small purple feather (like the one I saw in the Porta Potty). I make the connection: I did see a hummingbird feather in there! Later in the dream I am given a hummingbird feather.

When I awoke from the dream, I felt certain that hummingbird medicine is coming into my life, especially because I was gifted a hummingbird feather in the dream.

My story shows how the waking life circumstances combined with dream work to give me more detailed and rich information about the energy coming into my life right now.

So what is a waking dream?

It is a combination of unusual circumstances, synchronicities, coincidences, overheard conversations, encounters with people or animals, messages on billboards or license plates, and things you read in books or magazines or your friend’s Facebook post that stand out.

When three or more of these things combine, that is something to really pay attention to. It’s a rule Carl Jung created when he first coined the term synchronicity to describe the occurrence of meaningful , but seemingly unrelated, events.

Another way waking dreams happen is to see a vision while you’re awake. This can happen in hypnagogia (the state you’re in as you fall asleep), hypnapompia (the state you’re in as you wake up), or in a shamanic trance.

You can also have spontaneous visions that occur without being in an altered state. This is what happened to Amy when she met Blue Elk in the woods, a waking dream she mentioned in last week’s post.

A waking dream can also be an unusual occurrence.

Once, after a powerful dream featuring a cat-hawk chimera, I took a walk in the woods at dusk and saw a screech owl. Although I often hike at dusk, it was the first time I’d seen a wild owl. The owl let me walk within two feet of it and we stared at each other for what felt like an eternity. Then it flew off silently into the darkening woods.

I came home and looked up owls in Ted Andrews’ Animal Speak. I nearly dropped the book when I read that owls are often called “cats with wings.” The screech owl was a waking-life representation of my dream animal.

How can you create a waking dream practice?

    1) Start by asking a question you’d like answered. Much like incubating a dream, think about information you’d like to get, and ask to receive guidance. You can imagine asking your inner wisdom, your Higher Self, Spirit, the Universe, your power animal … whatever feels right.
    2) Let go of the idea that there is a barrier between waking and sleeping. In truth, waking life events bleed into the dream and vice versa. Allow this flow to happen. This will prompt the waking dream.
    3) Look for a pattern or things in threes, like the hummingbird example above.
    4) Watch for the messages that are all around you. Pay close attention to signs and billboards you see, things you’re reading, what catches your attention when you’re out in the world.
    5) Leave the house. Although you can still have waking dreams when you’re cooped up inside, there is the potential for a lot more to happen when you engage with the world.
    6) Take time for quiet centering or meditation as much as possible. This helps you get into the flow.
    7) Relax and be patient. It may take a while for your question to be answered. Don’t force anything; just allow the information to come in its own time.
    8) Once a waking dream comes, look at it like it is a dream. See what information you can glean. Do any dreamwork technique you like to decipher the message.
    9) Take action on what the dream is telling you to do.

Working with waking dreams is exciting because it opens up so many more possibilities! It is not only your sleeping dreams that are sending you guidance; the world around you is also giving you information.

This practice can help you feel less isolated and alone because it helps you open to the idea that everything is truly connected.

It is also a great way to develop your intuition. The more you work with waking dreams (and sleeping dreams) the sharper your intuitive skills will become.

After a few experiences with the waking dream, I have a feeling you’ll be hooked.

Have you had an interesting or life-changing waking dream experience? Share it with us!