An “oneironaut” is someone who wakes up in their dreams. What do flying & falling dreams typically mean?

One reason the dreamy film “Inception” is so successful is wish fulfillment. Who doesn’t fantasize about waking up in someone else’s dreams, let alone your own? In the movie, “inception” is defined as the ability to enter another’s dream and plant an idea within the person’s subconscious. Of course, the real definition of “inception” is not quite so phantasmagorical.

Lucid dreaming is “a dream state in which one is conscious enough to recognize that one is in the dream state and which stays in one’s memory.” The study of dreams is one of those areas where science and New Age concepts get fuzzy.

Oneiroscopy is “a method of diagnosing a patient’s mental state by studying his or her dreams.” Oneirology is the scientific study of the physiological basis of dreaming. And oneiromancy is “the practice of predicting the future through interpretation of dreams.

The common root here is oneiros, Greek for “dream.” Hence the coinage oneironaut, -naut meaning “voyager.” This makes for a nice description of Leonardo DiCaprio and his dream team in “Inception.”

Since meaning is our chosen medium, let’s take a fun detour from words to dream symbolism. This is not a scientific or statistical analysis of dreams or dream content. These notions are based on popular conceptions and folk wisdom, for entertainment only. That said, here comes the oneirocriticism:

Flying dreams may suggest your mind working out an issue that feels limiting, either as a manifestation of hope or as an indication that circumstances are hampering your freedom.

Falling dreams may provide insight that you fear some type of potential failure. An oneiroanut might advise you to wake up in your falling dream and sprout wings, fashion a parachute, or simply land on the ground without harm. Perhaps that brand of subconscious self-empowerment echos the wish fulfillment behind “Inception.”

Now, is there a technical name for the state between sleeping and waking?