Do you ever lie awake at night wracking your brain for a new idea or inspiration? Have you restlessly tossed and turned over an unsolved problem for hours on end? Perhaps your final thought before sleep is a longing to dream of something which might offer a clue. Well…it is not such a far-fetched wish! Sometimes dreams do come true! The great Albert Einstein once had a dream “..whereby he was hurtling down a mountainside. He sped faster and faster upon which he looked to the sky and saw the stars were altered in appearance as he approached the speed of light.” According to Einstein, this dream motivated him to develop his Theory of Relativity.

Albert Einstein is not alone. Since ancient times, dreams have been thought to be a catalyst for so many things including creativity. According to Brilliant Dreams, Paul McCartney maintains that the tune for “Yesterday” came from a dream. Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, Frankenstein, was stimulated by a dream. Jack Nicklaus, the golfer, credited a dream for developing a new golf swing. The list goes on. Some people even believe that dreams can be induced to cultivate mastery and innovation. This practice is referred to as dream incubation. It can be done on its own or through hypnosis.

Although the origins of dream incubation go as far back as the ancient Greeks, the psychologist Dr. Gayle Delaney pioneered the modern techniques of psychological dream incubation. In her classic book, Living Your Dreams, she discusses the steps involved to incubate a dream. Here is a brief summary:

1) Before you go to sleep, write some notes about your day to help clear your mind.

2)  Begin to think about the issue of concern.

3) On a piece of page of a journal kept by your bedside, write the date and a few lines about the challenge.

4) Compose a one-line phrase expressing your request.

5) Turn out the light and stay focused on your incubation phrase as you fall asleep.

6) Whenever you awaken, morning or middle of the night, write down whatever is on your mind and include any associations with it.

7) If you have time, jot down more about your dream or early morning thoughts and discuss it with yourself.

As described in the book, Deep Trance Identification: Unconscious Modeling And Mastery For Hypnosis Practitioners, Coaches, And Everyday People, dreams can be incubated with hypnosis. Some of the strategies mentioned are based on the model developed by Dr. Milton Erickson, founding president of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. Many hypnotherapists have modified techniques based on Erickson’s work.

I use a form of dream incubation in my own practice. After inducing a client into a hypnotic state which is often referred to as “trance”, a tactile gesture is made to have the client go deeper, and a suggestion may be repeated three or four times to incubate a dream. Some of my clients, intrigued by the idea of dream incubation, have been receptive to trying it. After experiencing it under hypnosis, many indicate positive results even if it is an indirect response to their issue.

Why would someone choose hypnosis for dream incubation? Well, as I have stated in other blogs, hypnosis is a phenomenon where consciousness is heightened and suggestions are made to the incredibly powerful unconscious mind. Undergoing hypnosis is not only an interesting alternative for dream incubation, but it has the potential to be extremely effective.

As with anything in life, there are never guarantees, but what does one have to lose by making an effort? Begin to think about your desire for a solution or new idea, and give dream incubation a try. If you are open to a more thoughtful journey, consider hypnosis. Who knows where it can lead?

Pleasant dreams! Remember, dreams can come true!

References and Suggested Readings:

Famous Dreams-Dream Discovery and Dream Creativity. Retrieved from htm.

Delaney, G. (1996). Living Your Dreams: The Classic Bestseller on Becoming Your Own Dream Expert. Revised Edition. San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

Carson, S., Marion, J. & Overdurf, J. (2014). Deep Trance Identification: Unconscious Modeling and Mastery for Hypnosis Practitioners, Coaches and Everyday People. New York: Changing Mind Publishing.