Released in 2016, the movie Inception is definitely one of the mind-boggling, other-worldly, and incredibly next-level sci-fi that challenges our beliefs of dreaming. Dream in a dream in a dream in another person’s dream to extract information sounds as confusing as it is, but the movie beautifully explains how it was possible. Again, it’s just a movie made for entertainment, isn’t it? But what if we were to tell you that Inception is possible in real life, will you believe it?
According to experts in the science of dreaming suggests that the phenomenon is much closer to reality than sci-fi.
Dreams are the certain types of hallucination that occurs during our sleep. People don’t remember the dreams as complete but only the fragments of them. We don’t remember the dreams when they are completed and only remember fragments of those that were happening while we wake up. Thus, what a dream, in reality, it could be much larger than just our submissive thoughts.
The blockbuster storyline of Nolan’s movie revolves around Lucid Dreaming, a concept where a person is aware that he is dreaming. In other words, the consciousness of the person is awake while he dreams. Do you remember that Cobb before dreaming always reminds himself that he is dreaming and what he wishes to solve in his dreams. That is why in the beginning he always ended up recalling his deceased wife Mal in his dreams to an extent where it becomes impossible for him to control his own dreams. The concept of Lucid dreaming in the movie is correct yet vague.
To Lucid dream, your mind should be more attentive and rehearsed in self-suggestion. For instance, before going to sleep if you constantly try to tell yourself that today you want to dream about your mother, the chances are- that you will. However, after waking up, you might not remember the exact details, as while you were dreaming your consciousness was not awake. But if you practice the same regularly and try to keep your conscience awake, you might remember what you dreamed. According to the study, almost 90% of the world’s population had Lucid dreamed at least once in their lives.
The five techniques of excelling in Lucid dreaming involve Reality testing, where you ask yourself “Am I dreaming?”, check your surroundings, and confirm that you are actually dreaming by pinching yourself. Wake back to bed involves going to REM sleep while you’re still conscious. Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams is a practice of reminding yourself what you have to do later like recalling yourself that you are dreaming. Wake-initiated lucid dreaming happens when your mind stays conscious while your body goes to sleep. And lastly, keeping a journal. Make sure you put a pen and paper beside yourself when you sleep so that as soon as you wake up, you can write down all the details of your dream.
Nolan himself practiced lucid dreaming and dream manipulation since his teenage years. “I wrote the first draft of this script seven or eight years ago, but it goes back much further, this idea of approaching dream and the dream life as another state of reality,” Nolan told The Los Angeles Times in an interview.
Scientists have found that dreams can be manipulated. Researchers at the Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution in Paris have conducted an experiment on a mouse to manipulate his dream. The experiment was done by placing electrodes in parts of his brain called the hippocampus, a part that sends electric signals. The result was astonishing, as researchers were able to manipulate his dreams.
This was possible, thanks to our modern science. Through Cognitive neuroscience techniques, scientists can monitor 3-dimensional brain scans as it happens, thus making it possible to view a person’s dream. Based on the brain’s wave activity, the system can view the dream.
Researchers believe that our perception of the world is divided into two categories, first is just our simple emotions, and second that we are aware that we are aware. The gamma wave oscillations help study the movement of brain activity combined with our feelings and thoughts. Generally, the brain areas responsible for decision-making and memory are most active and are not linked with REM sleep. But when our consciousness is awake we can try to link them both and store the date of dreams in our memory.
A dream is usually a remaking of our activities. Our memories attached to our old memories and desires creates a dream. That is why we can dream about people we know. Thus with the help of Lucid dreaming, people with PTSD can recover from their traumas and take control of their dreams. It also helps in managing anxiety, the control over your dream may stay with you and thus can help control anxiety. This can make you feel more empowered and tame. Also when you are aware that you are dreaming, you can shape what happens next and perhaps the ending as well. It has more power to influence your life than you can possibly imagine.
Though the idea of having control over your dreams might sound amusing to some but the phenomenon has been in practice for years. In fact, Buddhists have practiced it for 1,000 years.
To conclude, there are 86 billion neurons in the human brain, all of which work together. Each neuron communicates with the other neurons to form circuits and share information. And proper function requires each neuron to play its part properly. But sometimes these synchronized events can be intentionally disrupted and one can experience things that they might find odd from day-to-day life but that doesn’t mean it’s not explainable.