The next step in lucid dream time travel is learning to influence your dreams through the thoughts and images you have just before falling asleep. This potent technique, known as dream incubation, has been practiced all over the world in one form or another since ancient times.
Dream incubation may be as complex as spending days in a special environment meditating and practicing elaborate cultural rituals, or it may be as simple as quietly telling yourself to dream about your chosen historical destination just before falling asleep. The first part of our dream incubation process involves sanctifying your dream environment — imbuing your regular sleeping habitat with the emotional ambience and artifacts or art conducive to the induction of desired dreams.
Begin this step by reflecting on the psychological atmosphere of your usual sleep environment. Consider the possible influence that any objects or images within this setting may have on your dreams. Are your immediate sleep surroundings filled with blatant reminders of the current era, like digital clocks, computers and a flatscreen TV? Or is your bedroom sterile, marked by stark visual images and piles of paperwork you’ve brought home from the office? Do you sleep and dream in generally quiet surroundings, or is the atmosphere frequently jarred by traffic noise or the sound of a music from another room? Is the usual temperature of your sleep environment comfortable? Is the ventilation adequate? Is the color of your room soothing to your spirit, or do you find it overstimulating or just plain boring? What does that environment say about your personal relationships and values, and what does it reflect about your attitudes toward sleep and dreaming?
Most important, what emotional and historical (or futuristic) messages do you receive from your sleep environment? Does your sleep environment take you back (or forward) to your historical period of choice even before you go to sleep?
After you have created a dream sanctuary in the privacy of your home, sit in that consecrated spot and focus on the historical period about which you would like to dream. Having made sure your dream journal and pen are safely under your pillow, select one or more symbolic objects that reflect the underlying mood, historical era and focus of your intended dream, with an emphasis on the materials and images you collected in step one.
As focus on the subject of your intended dream, gently excluding all other thoughts from your mind. Calmly tell yourself that you expect to time travel in your dream, and that you’ll remember the dream when you awaken.
Once you’ve selected the appropriate dream incubation objects, carefully arrange them in an aesthetically interesting fashion within your special dream room. You may even place one or more of these objects in bed with you, if you wish. You may also enhance the atmosphere by burning incense or playing music particularly conducive to the intended subject matter of your incubated dream.
Just before you turn off the light for the night and go to sleep, take a few moments to follow the “phrase focusing” technique developed by San Francisco dream psychologist Gayle Delaney and based upon a suggestion originally made by psychologist Carl Jung: Articulate the destination of your prospective dream in a single sentence, such as, “I’m going to a 22nd century space colony in low earth orbit,“ or, “I’ll survive the Bronze Age crash atop Tel Megiddo.” Then, using your special pen, write the phrase in your dream journal. If you wish, you might also draw a picture to illustrate the issue at hand. As soon as you’re finished, turn off the light and go to sleep.
Continue focusing on your historical period, and quietly remind yourself to dream about the subject at hand. Remind yourself also that you will remember all related dreams when you wake up.
Upon awakening, record any dreams, whether related to your historical era or not. Then spend some time during the day allowing your thoughts to roam freely over your dream destination of choice. Calmly tell yourself you will travel through time to that place in your dreams and, just as you did the day before, immerse yourself in stories, art and artifacts that stimulate more thoughts of the time and place you hope to conjure later on. Before going to sleep, tell yourself that you will have a relevant dream and will remember it immediately upon awakening.
Remember to practice dream recollection techniques when you first wake up, and to write down any and all impressions of your remembered dreams as quickly as possible.
After practicing dream incubation for a few days, you should find you are influencing the subject matter of your dreams. But you’ll also find you are a dream captive: able to enter the dream, but not control the action. What kind of dream trip would it be if you are just are just buffeted about like so much flotsam and jetsam. You’ve got to learn to be in control.
We’ll address that subject in Step Three.