If you ever need to make a difficult choice, ask your dreams to help you.
The process is called “dream incubation” and it can help you find answers, life direction, heal illnesses or find creative solutions.
I discovered this accidentally years ago when my grandfather gave me a thousand dollars to buy a pottery wheel, but I didn’t know which one to buy.
There were two types of pottery wheels. One was white and aesthetically pleasing, but made of plastic. The other was sturdy, sporting a steel frame, but ugly with a mustard yellow coating.
Beauty and design meant a lot to me.
So did quality.
I had to choose between aesthetics and durability, and as silly as my choice seemed, I was at a total loss about what to do.
That night I had a dream:
I am presented with several potter’s wheels and I need to choose one. I choose the steel frame option because it will last a lifetime.
I woke up with clarity, no doubt in my mind that I’d buy the steel frame model.
Dream incubation can help you make tough decisions
If you’re not familiar with the concept, dream incubation is the process of asking a question and then dreaming a solution.
Many dreamers use a simple, three step dream incubation process:
- they ask a question prior to going to bed
- then process the imagery (rinse and repeat for a few days)
Some add a fourth step which is to create a dream charm in order to help deepen the experience.
This three or four step process works well, too.
In fact, according to Harvard dream researcher Dr. Barrett, about 50% of those who follow this technique will incubate dreams related to their question. 70% of those people will dream a solution.
What I’ve discovered over the past couple months, though, is that there is a way to increase the response rate.
The trick is to fully immerse yourself into whatever it is you want to know more about.
It’s a holistic process that encompasses more than sleeping and dreams. Instead, it includes:
- crafting a clear intention in the form of a question you want answered
- actively immersing yourself in the topic of interest through research, writing or any other activity
- being hyper aware, noticing how and when the theme of your intention appears in waking life
- cultivating sleeping dreams around that intention (following the above outline)
- recording dreams for weeks (even months) and noticing themes
Do this and your whole life may shift.
You may suddenly see things you didn’t see before.
Related blog posts, videos, and articles may appear as if by magic.
You might overhear conversations about your topic.
Or “hear” answers in your head while day dreaming.
And of course, you’re likely to have sleeping dreams about your theme, too.
This is certainly my experience, and anecdotal as it may be, I am not alone in having it.
In the dream, Howe is being held captive by African cannibals. As he tries to escape from a boiling cauldron, the natives poke spears at him to keep him in place.
When Howe woke from his nightmare he recalled an odd addition to the spears: they all had holes on their tips. As he came fully awake, Howe realized this was the solution to his sewing needle problem.
But the question researchers like to ask is, “Was Howe’s famous dream an actual solution to his problem, or did his waking mind fill in the blanks?”
In other words, was Howe only inspired by the dream scene or did the dream provide a definitive solution?”
What I’d like to suggest is that it doesn’t matter.
Howe invented the perfect sewing machine needle, and whether or not his dream came to him as the perfect solution or just inspirational imagery, he got the solution anyway, clearly inspired by the dream.
To illustrate further, I’ll use myself as an example.
Before we started discussing what whale dreams mean, I hadn’t had a whale dream in years.
Shortly after we started talking about whales, though, I had two whale dreams, both were quite profound.
The first dream came the night I asked the question, “What message is trying to come through our whale dreams?”
I dreamed that my cat had a whale rib cage stuck in his mouth.
But the dreams continued even though I stopped asking the question.
I was unintentionally incubating dreams.
This is what I did:
I wrote one blog post about my whale dream.
I discussed whale dreams with friends, even sharing my “whale dream envy” because I’d never dreamed about swimming with whales or making deep eye contact with dolphins like other people had.
I edited nearly a dozen whale related posts written by the other Dream Team members.
I read and replied to over a hundred whale related dreams and comments shared by DreamTribe members.
I researched other websites, looking for information and insight into whales and whale dreams.
And as a result, I had dream after dream that appeared to be a response to the original question “what is the whales’ message.”
(I even had a dream about playing with a dolphin, making beautiful and meaningful eye-contact and then seeing an ocean full of humpback whales. I no longer have whale/dolphin dream envy!)
But one dream, which feels integrally related, didn’t have a single whale in it.
Instead, it was about pollution, specifically about how automobile gasoline is killing the water.
Considering all of this, and reflecting on other Big dreamers like Elias Howe, it seems clear that total immersion in a topic will elicit helpful dreams.
We only need to pay attention and be open to the possibility that our dreams are guiding us.
Here are some more hints about dream incubation:
- After you create an intention, record your dreams for weeks, even months.
- Pick one question or intention to contemplate and focus on it for awhile. Immerse yourself in the theme.
- Your dreams may not reflect literal imagery related to your question. Instead, they may be metaphoric. Don’t look for the obvious, literal answer. Use your dreams like divination tools.
- When you want to dream solutions to problems the last thing you want is to get cryptic dream messages! I’ve had success incubating straight forward, more literal dreams by saying, “My intention is to dream about ______. Please send a dream I can easily understand!”
- Invite a friend to incubate dreams on your behalf, or do the same for a friend and share the results. Two people dreaming about one topic will double your results!