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Dream Incubation for Healing and Guidance

Armen Hareyan's picture

Dreams and Healing

As far back as recorded history and probably further, dreams have been employed for guidance and healing. The dream temples of ancient Greece are a classic example where the ill would visit a specialized healing temple and perform a sacred ritual before sleep. The Greek god Asklepios would often appear in a visionary dream, perform a symbolic operation, and the seeker would awaken healed or having received guidance.

Closer to home, many native North American peoples such as the Ojibwa of the Great Lakes, have expanded their use of incubation beyond healing. Young adults would embark upon a dream or vision quest into the wilderness as a rite of passage into adulthood and would fast and pray until the anticipated dream was received. Blessed by the dream with guidance or revelations about latent personal talents, the youths would return to the community with the responsibility to apply and share their gifts for the benefit of the community.

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The process of incubation or suggestion is the basis for many practical applications of dreams. Although perhaps a forgotten art in our culture, it is natural and neither esoteric nor difficult, and often operates automatically as we fall asleep with a problem in mind. How often have you heard a friend with a pending decision, problem or question say, "Let me sleep on it"?

To consciously incubate a dream, simply hold your question or problem clearly in mind as you prepare for sleep. Then ask (rather than command) yourself to have and clearly remember a dream which reveals the answer as either an insight, an actual experience, or both. In the morning, record any dreams or thoughts that you have upon waking for later reflection. The answer may be either obvious or not immediately apparent, but trust that the process is working and try to put any insights you get into practice. This last step often involves drawing upon courage and self-discipline to face personal fears and/or overcome present personal limitations.

It is however very important, as explained by the following analogy: if you ask someone for a gift and they grant your wish, they won't be overly impressed or nearly as generous next time if you lose, ignore or forget about it. So try to maintain a grateful appreciation for having received such guidance and it will likely promote further insight and future success. Eventually, you begin to trust that you