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DREAMS Foundation

Dream Incubation Experiment Instructions

Dream Incubation Applications  |  Dream Incubation Experiment: Feedback Form


Getting Started with Dream Incubation


Step 1: Improving Dream Recall

Before attempting the incubation experiment, it might be beneficial to practice improving your dream recall for a few days. Dream recall and its benefits are significantly enhanced with intention, practice, and focus. Making a consistent effort to remember and to record your dreams will help your waking mind ally itself more closely with your dream experience. This will also increase your imagination and intuitive capabilities while preparing you for dream incubation.

Try this exercise: Before sleep, reread a couple of your previous dreams from your journal. This will allow you to connect with your dream memory. It's also an opportunity to interpret your dreams and spot connections to the day's events. As you go to bed, clearly suggest to yourself to remember any beneficial dreams when you awaken either in the morning or during the night. Remind yourself that it's a simple, natural process. Suggest to yourself to spontaneously awaken when you need to without using an alarm (which can be set fifteen minutes later as a backup), since alarms can inhibit recall. This method works well with practice.

Any time you awaken, keep your eyes closed, or shut them if already open, and remain as motionless as possible. If you moved since waking, return to your earlier body position. Gather as many images, feelings or impressions as you can, then rise and immediately record them using a bedside journal or tape recorder, no matter how brief or vague they may at first seem. You'll be surprised at how much more you can remember as you write, speak, draw, paint, etc.

Be playful, patient, and persistent. Although most people start having success the first week or two, dream recall is a mental muscle that may require some time to get back into shape. If your recall is poor, trust that it will come in time. Trying too hard or being too serious can limit your progress.

A few days of practicing dream recall should help ready you for successful dream incubation.

Step 2: Incubating a Dream

For this first exercise, select something that you'd like to bring into your life. It can be the answer to a problem that's troubling you at school, at work, or with a relationship. Perhaps you'd like to improve your health, your state of mind, or resolve a recurring nightmare. Maybe you'd like creative inspiration or an insight on how to better pursue one of your personal goals. What's important is that you truly want whatever you select and that you will honestly appreciate and make use of it once it comes. Incubation is a powerful process and should be given appropriate respect. For the purpose of this experiment, try to find something that applies directly to your life right now.

Sit on the side of your bed and quiet both body and mind. Next, hold your question or problem clearly in mind for a few minutes, then lie down. As you prepare for sleep, gently ask yourself to have and clearly remember a dream that reveals the answer as either an insight, an actual experience, or both. As you drift off to sleep, keep your question in mind, trusting that the exercise will be successful. If other thoughts distract you, return to your incubation focus.

The moment you awaken, whether in the morning or during the night, record any dreams or thoughts that you've had. At this point, do not judge content, simply record what you remember. After you get up, read the Dream Interpretation Primer accompanying this article. Then reflect upon any dreams and thoughts that you recorded, and make whatever associations, interpretations, and waking life connections that you can.

The answer may or may not be obvious, but trust that the process is working regardless, and try to put any insights you get into practice. This last step may involve facing personal fears or overcoming personal limitations. Try to maintain a grateful appreciation for any guidance you receive, as it will likely promote further insight and future success.

Even if you don't remember any dreams or have little success understanding the dream experience you've had, rest assured that your incubation and the dream experience itself, remembered or not, has had an effect. It may simply be simmering on unconscious levels and may come to you as a sudden revelation or as an insight to act upon during the day, though you may not connect such a moment with your incubation at all. The dream's meaning may also only become clear at some later date.

Make a report (typed) the day after your incubation, even if you remembered no dream (for statistical purposes) or felt no relation to your incubation goal. Include the information listed in the Dream Incubation Experiment Feedback Form. Rest assured that all reports received will be kept strictly confidential unless permission is given otherwise.

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