Friday, 11 March 2011

Why Inception for me and many others isn’t just a fantasy...

The subconscious world of lucid dreaming as highlighted in Christopher Nolan’s Inception last year is for many a desire, a hope, or a fantasy. But for me, it is very much a real phenomenon. Clambering into my duvet, pulling it over myself and resting my head into a soft pillow, takes me away to a whole new world… and a world that can look however I envision it to look.

For years I was unaware of the concept of ‘lucid dreaming’, all I knew was that I was, for some unbeknown reason able to control myself in dreams. I instinctively thought that everyone had this ability, but research taught me that the mind has to learn how to dream lucidly. WikiHow even has a section on ‘How to Lucid Dream’, which I am led to believe many people wanting to develop their dreams have used effectively. But of course explaining dreaming is almost impossible.

When I explain the ability of lucid dreaming to others they are often overwhelmed, seeing is of course believing, and it is pretty difficult to show someone else inside your mind. When I wake into a lucid dream I find myself in one of two places, a place I am familiar with, or a place I’ve never seen before - the latter being the most worrying. Much like in the film Inception, my mind re-creates scenes from my memory and can only depict the parts it can vividly remember. There may be mistakes sometimes, for instance a window placed incorrectly or an object missing from the room which I know should be there. These mistakes are often what trigger me to the realisation point, or the moment when I know I am dreaming. I often lift my arm to pinch it and feel no pain, I am then aware I have entered a lucid dream. The first few times this occurred, I immediately woke myself up, but as it occurred more often I built up more and more courage to go deeper into my dream world.

People often say to me ‘that must be amazing’ but the simple answer is ‘not always’. Granted, at times a lucid dream can be fantastic and gives me the ability to do things I have always wanted to do provided I have woken up in the correct setting. However on the other end of the spectrum when I wake in an unknown place, the thought of where to go brings fear. The scene is often dark and gloomy, seemingly on a street in the middle of nowhere. I often have people chasing me in these kinds of dreams and the feeling in that moment until you wake is so real it is incomparable. Although subconsciously you are aware you are in this dream it doesn’t make it any less tangible, the physical and mental feelings are astoundingly accurate. I can feel every feeling I feel when I am awake, the fear is more real than ever.

The easiest way to wake for me as always been to imagine the action of opening my eyes, this often takes a few tries but usually is successful eventually. However sometimes I can open my eyes into another dream (mind boggling, I know), for instance a dream that I am waking up, at first I may not be aware it is a dream, but much like before I will look around for objects or design of the room that is incorrect or missing, as soon as I find a floor I know I am in another dream and can again begin the waking process.

Although these dreams only come every few weeks, when they do I am always left with something to dwell on. Where does this ability come from? And how does my mind create them? Luckily, I enjoy them enough not to wonder for too long. Lucid dreaming is something I would recommend to anyone, like some sort of uncanny hobby if you will. Inducing lucid dreams can only lead to excitement and a world in which the imagination can run wild. Dreaming is such an unknown world, and one which is so close to home you can almost touch it. Only in my dreams can I fly off the Eiffel Tower, grant myself superhuman strength or float down a mountain. The imagination may truly be the limit where lucid dreaming is concerned.

So next time you fall asleep, if at any one moment you realise you’re dreaming – do not try to wake up, have the courage to continue and let your imagination do the work. I can promise you won’t regret it.

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