“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.”Earl Nightingale
Coors Light’s latest Super Bowl ad campaign shows a behind-the-scenes of a study aimed to influence participants’ dreams. At a sleep lab participants are immersed in a relaxing –and heavily branded– audiovisual experience. They go to sleep and are woken up when reaching dream state (REM), then recorded recounting their dream. The experiment proves successful with participants dreaming of snow, waterfalls, mountains and other images from the video. One dream specifically includes images of “something to do with Coors”.
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While some media reports find this strategy clever and whimsical, the ethical question is obviously stated. It even gets raised –and goes unanswered– in the actual promo. Consumers are a bit alarmed: Comments on the YouTube video, which attracted 2M views within a week, show few consumers are amused, but most find the proposition of advertisers infiltrating our dreams daunting.
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What I find extremely encouraging, is Coors projecting a powerful spotlight onto the practice of dream incubation, thus creating an opportunity to awaken a dormant skill (pun absolutely intended) that can be easily possessed by every human and is proven to be highly beneficial to our mental well-being.
Dream Incubation is as ancient and powerful as mindful meditation. Simply put, it’s the practice of influencing our dreams to solve an emotional or practical problem. This technique can be used to help make a decision on a big career change, it can help you resolve an interpersonal issue, reach a logistical strategy, or have a creative breakthrough. With a little guidance, focus, and motivation many have rid themselves of recurring nightmares and even healed from deep trauma.
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The main function of dreaming is to make sense of the experiences of our day, figure out what we feel about them, and how they fit within the greater context of our life. In the process, highly charged emotions like stress, anxiety, or unresolved anger are being “worked out of our system” a little, losing some negative charge. It’s our brain’s way of preparing us to face another day.
There’s no wonder then, that over half of the population are reporting stranger, more vivid, intense, or bizarre dreams during pandemic months. As we face more daily distress and uncertainty, our dreams have to work on overdrive, there’s just so much to process. Incubating your dreams can not only help you get a more restful night of sleep, but it can also help you wake up to a more emotionally resilient you.
5 Simple Steps You Can Take Tonight To Incubate Your Dream:
- Frame The Problem: You want to articulate the problem you’d like your dreams to solve as an open-ended question. For example, if the problem is around love and partnership, you could frame it as “What do I need to do to love myself, attract the love of others, and ensure my relationships are harmonious and fulfilling?” The more specific you get, the better, so add names or any other details. Write it down on a piece of paper.
- Name That Feeling: To truly anchor this in your subconscious imagine how would having the answer or solution make you feel? Free? Accomplished? Accepted? Harmonious?
- Set The Intention: As you lay in bed, repeat this out loud or silently, three times: “I know I create my dreams. Tonight I will dream the answer to [enter your question here] and tomorrow I will remember my dream”. As you repeat this, be in the feeling from step 2.
- Dream On It: As you awake the next morning, try to lay still for a few moments. Even if you can’t remember the dream, observe any feelings, associations, or mental images that emerge as you slowly regain consciousness.
- Practice Makes Perfect: Approach this whole process with an open mind. You wouldn’t expect a life-altering breakthrough on your very first meditation, dance lesson, or any other practice. Don’t judge the outcome, be open to observe and accept.
Observing and reflecting on your dreams can open your awareness to triggers and unresolved feelings you may not be conscious of and are affecting your balance and overall mental health. When you transform your dreams, you can transform your life.