There are many documented stories about dreams and problem-solving — how a dream was key to solving a dreamer’s particular problem. One famous example is Elias Howe and the sewing machine. The story goes that he was perplexed about how to design a particular element of the machine, when he had a dream. Depending which version of the dream you read, what they all have in common is that he saw cannibals waving spears in an up-and-down motion, and in the head of each spear was a hole. When he awoke, he realized the solution to his dilemma, which was that he needed to put a hole in the tip of the needle in the sewing machine.
So then, how does this problem-solving thing work? One thing you’ll read about frequently is that most dreams have something to do with what was on our minds when we went to sleep. If you have a particular puzzle on your mind that you’d like some assistance with, dream on it!
Dream Incubation Process
In summary, there are four steps to using your dreams for problem-solving, or incubating a dream.
1) Choose a particular question or issue you’d like to dream about. Narrow it down by answering these key dream incubation questions.
2) Perform a pre-sleep preparation of relaxation and guided imagery. The meditation should include two clear suggestions:
a) You will have an important dream that will shed light on the issue you’ve identified.
b) You will remember the dream when you awake.
3) Before you go to bed, place within arm’s reach something to write on and with. (See Recalling & Recording Dreams)
4) Write your dream as soon as you awaken. Don’t judge it, don’t evaluate it, just write it down, and then review the Dreams.com page on Dream Interpretation.
On the evening that you incubate a dream, don’t drink any alcohol or take any sedatives before you go to bed. You’ll want an alert mind as you run through the incubation questions, and an alert unconscious mind while you sleep.
Incubated dreams will commonly fit one of four categories:
- The incubated dream may state your issue or question in a different way, which may help you see the answer more clearly.
- The dream may foretell the outcome of a course of action if you continue on a particular path.
- The dream may give you an unmistakably clear answer to your concern.
- The dream may not address the issue at all, but instead looks at another issue that may be more urgent than the one considered.
It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.
– Virginia Woolf