Now you can control your dreams
From gorgeous George to a kiss with Kim, you can steer your unconscious mind anywhere you want, writes Ed Power
It's a gorgeous day in the South of France and you and George Clooney are zipping along a hair-pin highway in an open-top sports car, clinking champagne flutes and giggling at some hilarious witticism you've just cracked.
Or maybe you've scored the winning goal in the Champions' League final and have dashed to the touchline to blow a kiss to your girlfriend, Kim Kardashian. Afterwards, you've planned a candle-lit dinner, though there won't be much time for desert as you've got to pilot the Space Shuttle on its final mission.
We've all been there -- but only in our dreams, alas. But imagine if, instead of your dreams controlling you, the opposite were true.
Let's be honest: the ability to take ownership of our dreams is something we've all secretly wished for at one time or another. Now a leading psychology expert has claimed that, with the correct preparation, you can do exactly that.
Using some straightforward techniques, each of us has the power to influence our unconscious thoughts to an extraordinary degree, says Harvard professor Deirdre Barrett.
"It is possible to influence dreams with a technique called 'dream incubation'," states Barrett, an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.
"If you want to dream about a particular subject, focus on it once you are in bed. Since dreams are so visual, hold an image related to that subject in your mind as you fall asleep."
Placing an object or photo that represents the desired dream on your bedside table can also help you 'own' your dreams, says Barrett. It is also important to avoid jumping out of bed as soon as you awake. If you do so, chances are you'll forget most of your dream and fail to enjoy the benefits it may bring. It's like going on holiday and not bothering to take snaps.
"If you don't recall a dream immediately, lie still and see if a thought or image comes to mind," she says. "Sometimes a whole dream will come flooding back."
In addition to providing escapism, dream incubation can help us take stock of problems we are struggling to resolve during our waking hours, suggests Dublin-based dream interpreter Alison Byrne.
"We can control our unconscious mind more than we realise," she says.
"If you have a problem and haven't been able to figure out what you are going to do about it. . . if you programme your conscious mind to find a problem as you go to sleep, and think about it as you drift off, then you will be able to put the full resources of your unconscious to work. Simply say to yourself, 'I will find a solution in my dream'."
Byrne doesn't mean to suggest that you can dream your way out of negative equity or to a promotion at work. If, however, you are wrestling with an underlying emotional trauma, problems that may be harming your marriage or your relationship with your children, dream incubation can be extremely helpful.
"It could be something that goes back to your childhood," she says.
"If people go to the trouble of programming their dreams, it is because of something they haven't been able to manage at a conscious level."