Years ago a lovely man I know took a new job where he had to step into the role of supervising staff that had been in place for years before his arrival. It did not take long for him to realize that two of the workers were a detriment to optimum functioning. Because he is a man of high integrity and a big heart, the idea of firing people did not come easily to him. He struggled with searching for the best way to approach the problem. Was there any way to avoid letting these people go?
I suggested he incubate a dream for insight.
He went to bed with the question "what is the best response to this work dilemma?" That night he dreamt that he was attending a wake and a funeral. As he explored the metaphors in the dream he realized that one person needed to be fired immediately (the funeral) and that he should wait a while before letting the other person go (the wake). The dream gave him a clear picture of the action that needed to be taken, but also indicated awareness of the grief and loss for everyone involved...including himself.
I have often had clients incubate dreams for insight into their life situations. It is possible to use the dreaming mind as a very practical source of guidance for personal, professional, interpersonal, spiritual and creative issues.
How to Incubate a Dream:
You can incubate a dream by using the following steps:
- Choose a problem, dilemma, or creative challenge that is important to you. Make it one, which is causing you difficulty, or an area in which you would truly like to have some change, insight, spiritual or creative inspiration.
- In a notebook which is kept right next to your bed, note down the date. Write out four or five lines about your problem or about the idea you need. What is your problem, what are the issues involved, where do you feel stuck, and what are some possible solutions? If you worry about this problem, write down you concerns. Note the feelings aroused around this issue.
- Write out a one-line questions starting with “I need a brief dream that clearly shows / tells me…” then clearly state what you want your dream to help you understand or solve. Questions like “What shall I do with the rest of my life?” and “What is the meaning of lie?” are too general and do not yield good results. Try questions that are more focused and specific such as:
- “What keeps me from finding a career I like?”
- “How might I be sabotaging myself without realizing it?”
- “What characteristics do I need in my next work setting?”
- “I need an idea for my project at school.”
- “Should I _____(do this)___or _____(do that)___?
- “What’s the most important thing I need to know about healing this depression?”
- “What’s the best response I can make to ______(this situation)______?
- “What can I do to improve my relationship with ______(this person)____?
- “Give me an idea for a drawing/song/poem.”
4. Repeat your incubation question or phrase to yourself over and over as you fall asleep. Every time your mind wanders, come back to the phrase you wrote down.
5. Write down immediately any dream or feeling you wake up with which you recall the next morning, or during the night. Do not edit or change the dream…write it down as is. Do not dismiss any dream as being “ridiculous” or as “having nothing to do with the problem”. Even the smallest recalled dream fragment can reveal significant insight and inspiration.
6. Explore the metaphors and feelings in the dream to reveal your dream’s message. (see recommendations below) If you are going to work with someone else with the dream bring a copy of your dream, double or triple spaced, with wide margins for the interviewer’s notations.
Caveat: When accessing the "right brain" for guidance we also then consult the "left brain" for balance and discernment regarding our insight / interpretation. The best of both worlds !
Still skeptical? Did you read the post Twenty-Six Famous Dreamers who got creative insight directly from their dreams?
Listen to these two free interviews (you have to create a password and login):