Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dream Incubation

Dream incubation is a practiced technique of learning to "plant a seed" in the mind, in order for a specific dream topic to occur, either for recreation or to attempt to solve a problem. For example, a person might go to bed repeating to themselves that they will dream about a presentation they have coming up, or a vacation they recently took. While somewhat similar to lucid dreaming, dream incubation is simply focusing attention on a specific issue when going to sleep. Several studies have shown this method to be successful over a period of time.

For example, in a study at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Deirdre Barrett had her students focus on a problem, such as an unsolved homework assignment or other objective problem, before going to sleep each night for a week. She found that it was certainly possible to come up with novel solutions in dreams that were both satisfactory to the dreamer and rated as objectively solving the problem by an outside observer. In her study, two-thirds of participants had dreams that addressed their chosen problem, and one-third reached some form of solution within their dreams. Other studies have found this type of bedtime dream incubation effective in solving problems of a more subjective, personal nature. A study of prominent artists and scientists who get inspiration from their dreams found that, while most of these dreams occurred spontaneously, a small proportion of the respondents had discovered informal versions of dream incubation on their own. They reported giving themselves successful pre-sleep suggestions for anything from seeing finished artwork in their dreams to asking dreams to solve computing or mechanical design problems.

I first read about dream incubation about five years ago. The book related the story of a woman who wanted insight into moving to a different town. She "programed" her dream before she went to bed, asking the question of whether or not the move would be good for her. In her dream she saw herself walking down a forest path. The path got darker and grown-over with weeds. It became quite scary. She woke up feeling like her question had been answered and decided not to move to the town.

I have had success with this process in the past. Nearly every time I have tried it I have received what felt like an answer to my question.

Yesterday I was talking to my neighbor's girlfriend. She told me she sometimes takes her son to a particular day care and they like it there. I looked at the day care's website and couldn't tell what I thought about it. It looked like a nice place. They emphasized music and sports, which I thought would be great for my son, but I just didn't feel good about it. Normally, I would go with my first instinct, but in this case I couldn't tell if my reluctance came from it being the wrong place to leave my son or the fact that I don't want to have to take him to day care at all.

Before I went to bed last night I put it out there that I wanted to know whether we should use this day care or not. I had three short dreams.

In the first dream, I was sitting on the couch and my son was standing in front of me. He said, "I'm a werewolf. Aa-Oooo (like he was howling at the moon)."

The second dream was nothing more than a newspaper, but it was quite significant because the scene was in black and white. I have only had a black and white dream once before. The headline of the newspaper said something like this:
Aljk Kehfk Rlkansoih DEAD Vojsoh
Unintelligible words except for the the word dead which was in all capital letters.

In the third dream I saw Merryweather, the little fairy in the blue dress from Disney's Sleeping Beauty. She was mad and said, "OOO! This one didn't work out either!" Presumably referring to the fact that this isn't the first day care that hasn't worked out for us.

I don't believe that the newspaper dream was telling me that my son would die if I took him to this particular day care. I want to be clear that dreams are symbolic. However, I do believe that it is possible that some aspect of him could have died, leaving him changed somehow, as indicated by the werewolf dream.

I feel like my question was clearly answered through dream incubation. Success.

No comments: