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    Thread: Why the present tense?

    1. #1
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      Why the present tense?

      I don't know about you guys, but during the bitter beginnings of DJing I've been told to write my dreams in the present tense rather than the past. Why? Is there some rationalization? I suspect it's supposed to increase the quality of dream recall somehow, but I've switched back to past tense some 2 months ago and it hasn't affected my dream recall in the slightest. Also, I'm aware this topic already has many threads but they don't answer my question, just why do they tell you that?

      Edit: Expect that I'm not going to believe every single word you say, even if you're an authority I would otherwise trust on this topic. If there's any relation between different tenses and quality of dream recall, there had better be some proof for it. I just want to avoid placebo on this.
      Last edited by misotanni; 08-16-2017 at 10:04 PM.

    2. #2
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      I believe that comes from something called Neuro Linguistic Programming, or NLP for short. Apparently the unconscious mind (that part you want to get in and influence) doesn't understand tenses, and doesn't understand negatives either. For instance, if somebody says "Don't think about a purple elephant" - you're going to be thinking of one. That said, I'm not sure why you'd want to write your DJ that way. As I understand it, that's mainly for your mantras as you're going to sleep, because that's when you're communicating with the unconscious. Unless of course you write your mantras in your DJ before you go to bed - then I could see the sense of it.

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      ^^ That.

      The whole present-tense concept lies soundly in how you set your mind as you go to sleep:

      When you are settling into sleep it is very important to set intention and repeat your mantra in the present tense, because the last thing you want is to convince/program your unconscious to do something in the future tense (picture a series of NLD's, say, that confirm that you will be lucid later) when it comes time to activate prospective memory.

      But once you're awake after your lucid exoerience and are remembering, then hell, remember and write down your dream in whatever tense you feel like using; at that point it just doesn't matter!
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      The purpose of language is to communicate meaning. Past tense is used to communicate that something happened in the past. Present tense is used to communicate that something is happening right now.

      Reliving something involves imagining a past moment as if it were actually the present moment.

      A recalled dream is a past moment, but it can also be relived. To communicate that the dream happened in the past, the past tense is used. To communicate that the dream is being relived, the present tense is used.

      It is worth noting that there is a phenomenon called state-dependent memory. This is the theory that memory recall is more efficient when somebody is in the same state of consciousness as they were when the memory was formed. I'm not sure whether reliving a dream rather than simply recalling it puts somebody in a closer state of consciousness as they were in during the dream, but if it does, in theory recalling dreams would be more efficient that way.

      However, writing a dream in the present tense does not automatically make the person recalling the dream relive it, because they may be writing the dream in the present tense for some other reason.
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    5. #5
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      Thanks to everyone who replied, especially dolphin! I see now, so the difference in tenses kind of creates a different mindset towards dreams after they occurred. Still though, I just felt like stuff along the lines of "I am in a dark forest and a werewolf is chasing me" is simply absurd, because it's not happening right now. Perhaps starting with the present tense allowed me to get into this mindset of reliving dreams and right now it simply has no effect at all.
      Funny enough, I've seen some people complain that they try to write in the present but subconsciously switch back to past after a few sentences. I've had this problem as well. But the funny thing is I've also had the reverse problem when I switched back! Seems like I just want to stick to whatever I'm used to.
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      I've always written, and continue to write, my DJ entries in past tense, for the same reason I write events that have already occurred in my waking-life journals/diaries in past tense: Because it simply makes logical sense. Any time you're retelling an event that you witnessed, you're normally going to use the past tense.

      But an even more important reason I stick with past tense in my DJ is because writing everything in the present tense can result in a lot of confusing ambiguity. I frequently need to make references to current waking-life events in explaining the content of my dreams, since there is a significant relation between the two. Likewise, I need to make it clear whether the thoughts and feelings I'm describing were those that happened during the dream or are ones I have at the moment, in waking life. Simply using past tense for the former and present tense for the latter is usually sufficient to make this distinguishable, and I don't have to put a lot of conscious effort into it, as I use language this way intuitively. If I were writing everything in present tense, it'd be much more tricky to set them apart, and I'd have to be very careful to explicitly explain what realm I'm referring to every time. Apart from this potentially resulting in excessive verbosity, I could easily forget to do so, leaving me wondering upon a future reading exactly what I meant. Dreams are already difficult enough to remember and explain in many cases that the last thing I need is to needlessly introduce an even greater chance of not being sure in the future of what I meant to say originally.
      Last edited by Travis E.; 08-19-2017 at 07:36 PM.
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