Dream incubation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years. In the ancient world, the technique involved repeating incantations and prayers in order to have a dream that would answer questions about a particular subject or problem. The potential dreamer would then sleep in the sleep temple, and the next day the dreams that came to him that night would be interpreted as answers to the questions that were asked.
There were many sleep temples, also called dream temples, in ancient Egypt around 4,000 years ago. In these places, a lot of therapeutic techniques were used that we would now call hypnosis. But a mainstay of the treatment involved patients gaining insight and being given remedies in their dreams.
These techniques also were popular among early Christian sects and are still practiced in some Greek Orthodox monasteries. The following Scripture passage is sometimes quoted by those who believe that God may still speak to us in dreams.
“Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream” (Num. 12:6).
The first dream incubation technique you will learn here is based on the bedtime self-hypnosis technique that is described elsewhere on this website. Recorded instructions and practice are also available here. This technique works well to encourage your awareness of what your sleeping unconscious mind has to say about a particular issue or problem. The technique also works well if you wake up from a troubling or negative dream and wish to invite your unconscious mind to bring you a more positive dream that will help you to resolve whatever is troubling you.
In my book Your Genius Within there is a story of how an inmate in a maximum security prison used this technique to transform a haunting and negative dream into a hopeful and positive experience.
So, if you’d like to try dream incubation, you can use the bedtime self-hypnotic procedure and create some phrases to say at bedtime that might help you encourage your dream work in a positive direction. Some general phrases to start with are: “I welcome and remember my dreams,” or “I welcome the wisdom of my inner mind.”
You might have specific issues you want to work on, and you can design a positive phrase to help take you there in your dreams. One way of asking is to use the phrase: “I welcome dreaming about my work, or my marriage, or my child, or my finances, etc.” So pick a topic and ask your dreaming mind to dip into its inner reservoir of wisdom and bring up some helpful material for you to look at. Always remember, however, that your unconscious mind has a wisdom of its own and may not comply with your request immediately. It may have other things on its mind that take priority. But sometimes, your unconscious mind will respond with dreams that bring you fresh insight and understanding.
If you really want to get into using dreaming incubation, here is a step-by-step set of instructions.
I invite you to share your experiences of dream incubation here.