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December 18, 2017


By Mimi Pettibone

What do the invention of the sewing machine, the song Satisfaction, the scientific discovery of the structure of the benzene ring, and the book and movie series Twilight have in common? The people who brought them forth into the world received these ideas and creations while in the dream state.

Many inventions, literary works, musical compositions, scientific discoveries, and creative ideas have manifested because they originally appeared in a dream. Most of us have gone to sleep with a problem or question on our mind and woken up with the answer at some point in our life. Even if we don’t remember a dream upon waking, our dreaming mind has been processing during our sleep, and so it is possible to wake up with an answer regardless of whether or not we recall a dream.  

Dream incubation is the process of asking our dreams for insights. It can be an amazing tool for problem solving, coming up with creative ideas, understanding relationships, and even offer new perspectives into health issues. It has been used since ancient times; in fact, the ancient Greeks had entire temples devoted to dream incubation.

Here are some steps to help you learn how to incubate a dream:

  1. Decide on a specific question or topic you would like to inquire about.

Stay away from yes/no questions, as dreams will answer with a story. They may give you new perspectives and ways of looking at things that you hadn’t considered before, that are beyond the scope of yes or no. Here are some examples of dream incubation questions:

  • How can I find a romantic relationship that is in my best interest?
  • Show me some insights into what is going on with my health.
  • Help me understand my relationship with _______.
  • Show me how I can better connect with my life purpose.
  • How can I reach the next level in my career?
  • I need a new marketing idea for the Johnson campaign.
  • Send me a creative idea for my next art piece (song/book/recipe etc).


  1. Write down the question on a piece of paper next to your bed.

Repeat the phrase over and over as you go to sleep. Some people find it helpful to do some writing about the matter before bed, but this is not required. Another option, before you repeat the question, is to consider the situation from all different angles: what have you done so far, what have you thought about but not done, what has happened, what would you like to happen, and so on. Then repeat the phrase/question over and over as you drift off to sleep.

  1. Write down or record your dream as soon as you wake up.

Most dreams will be gone in less than 10 minutes if we don’t do something to record them. Whether you write it down, use a digital or tape recorder, or an app on your phone, capture the dream before it slips away. Even if you only remember a short fragment, a song lyric, a thought or feeling, document it. It may hold highly valuable information, regardless of how insignificant or irrelevant it may seem at the time. Also note the date; this is especially relevant with dreams that turn out to be precognitive. You will thank yourself later for noting the date. If you remember a song, or one is strongly on your mind upon waking, be sure to look up the lyrics as chances are they will offer pertinent insight as to what is going on with you at the time, and can be very emotionally poignant.

When asking our dreams for information, the answer may be obvious upon awakening, or it may be encrypted in the metaphorical language of the dreamscape. In this case working with a dream professional, joining a dream group, or learning how to interpret the messages of your dreams can offer tools to connect with your own greater wisdom and higher self knowledge.


Mimi Pettibone is a professional dream worker and creator of the Enchanted Art Oracle Cards (available at East West Bookshop and on Etsy). She offers private consultations at East West Bookshop and by phone including dream interpretation, relationship and life path coaching, tarot and oracle readings. Her background includes humanistic and social psychology, relationships and communication skills, linguistics, spirituality, and consciousness. Mimi is also a monthly dream columnist for the New Spirit Journal Online. For more info on Mimi, or to book a consultation: 

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