Here are some thoughts on Dream Incubation - my own and my wife's, followed by a 7-step approach to dream incubation.
My wife, (a minister), gave a sermon on Sophia (In the Apocryphal books of the Bible, Sophia is the personification of wisdom.). What she said about wisdom made some lights go on for me. I had already been thinking about dream incubation as a topic for a dream group I participate in that has been meeting regularly since March, and when I read what she was saying about Wisdom and about cultivating a healthy relationship with Wisdom, it sounded very much like a healthy relationship with the psyche / or the (Jungian) Self / or the unconscious, where dreams come from.
But before I share my wife's words I would just like to say that the challenge with dream incubation is, we must first get out of the framework of our waking mind. An issue or problem (to our waking mind) might look very different to the psyche, which is why I will be elucidating the process of getting our problem or issue as close to the dreaming state as possible before we "sleep on it" by seeking a lower, slower vibration or frequency for our intention because the brain waves of our sleeping mind are much slower than that of our wide-awake mind.
When we contemplate an issue or problem it is in relationship to our ego-self, but to the unconscious the issue or problem that we want to resolve is seen from the perspective of the larger or deeper Self, and from that wiser more holistic perspective, the Self (or psyche) might see us as not quite ready to move beyond something that is unpleasant to us but with dream incubation, it might show us how our issue or problem looks in terms of the larger perspective of, not just who we have been or who we project or think we are, but in terms of who we have it in us to become and who we are at our core.
From my wife's sermon:
Wisdom is a thread that runs very deep in life, and it expects us to go deep as well or at least as deep as we can before we seek wisdom as an oracle.
Wisdom is a way of being. It is something we embody with our whole selves, if we are truly wise. Wisdom is not just located in the mind, but lives in the heart and in the ways we use our hearts to love (or to steer us through tough times). (True) wisdom (the wisdom that we tap in dreams) permeates every cell and aspect of who we are. Wisdom becomes a part of us, shaping us and forming the ways we live in and interact with the world.
If we will just begin look for Wisdom, she is willing to meet us more than halfway. (As we enter into dream incubation we might imagine wisdom as she was referred to in the Apocrypha as) waiting for the seeker of wisdom at the gate (of the dream world).
Who hasn't lain awake at night worrying over one thing or another? . . .a person who lies awake at night consumed with thinking, not about an issue, but about wisdom will soon be set free from worry.
As I puzzled over this, turning it this way and that, trying to understand what it means, I realized that the key is where we focus our attention - whether on wisdom or worry. When we are lying awake trying to figure out what to do in a difficult situation we would do well to spend our energy seeking out the wisdom within that situation rather than playing out the various worries that relate to it.
Seeking wisdom is not necessarily looking for a specific answer to a specific question. It is more about seeking a deeper understanding of life in general (which is much easier to accomplish when we are about to fall asleep). This deeper approach to life, an approach based on wisdom, becomes so much a part of you that it colors and informs everything else you do. Every decision and choice gets set in the context of this larger wisdom perspective. (Putting ourselves at the gate of wisdom) has to do with a particular frame of mind. It has to do with setting our hearts and minds on finding wisdom, with being ready and waiting for it, being receptive.
And, even when we don't know exactly what might be required of us, wisdom teaches us to hold the desire for wisdom in our hearts, to seek it with all that we have.
Or, picture the process as a cider press, where the juice is what we are after but the peels and the pith are the literal issue or problem that is generated by our brains. Or picture the old way of making wine where the grapes (of our waking consciousness) are gathered into a big vat (our brain) and to make the wine of dreams we tread on the grapes to extract the juice from the pulp.
Now here are the 7 steps for one approach to dream incubation:
1) Pick an issue: Bring the issue or problem to mind throughout the day.
2) Be certain that you genuinely want to receive a dream that addresses your issue.
3) At bedtime get comfortable, relax however you do that, burn incense, take some relaxing breaths, sink into a semi-meditative state while remaining lucid.
4) Focus on your issue or problem. Develop a phrase to repeat that expresses the issue. (Hypothetically: I seek healing for my migraines.)
5) Associate the phrase with an emotion (work it down from the head to the heart).
6) Get a visual for the emotion.
7) Fall asleep prepared to recall and record your dream or dreams.