Inception Technique for Lucid Dreaming (Totem Technique)

In the realm where reality intertwines with the subconscious, lucid dreaming unveils a dimension where the dreamer becomes consciously aware and can often manipulate aspects of their dream. Drawing inspiration from the cinematic labyrinth of Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” a unique approach to fostering lucid dreaming has surfaced, termed the “Inception Technique” or “Totem Technique.”

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This method, influenced by the intriguing use of totems in the movie, has been cultivated and elucidated by lucid dreaming expert Daniel Love. Love provides a roadmap that bridges the fantastical portrayal of dreams in the movie with the practical application of inducing lucidity in one’s dreams, grounding the extraordinary concept into a tangible practice.

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A Gudie On the Inception Technique, also known as the Totem Technique, for Lucid Dreaming

The article unfurls by delving into the core aspects of the “Inception Technique,” decoding its intricacies and utility in pursuing lucid dreaming. In a parallel exploration, the article unveils the subtle divergence and commonality between Love’s real-world technique and the Hollywood dramatization of dream exploration in “Inception.” A profound analysis is conducted on the function and philosophy of the totem, evaluating its transformative role from a cinematic device to a practical tool for lucid dreaming enthusiasts.

By probing the conceptual foundations and the community’s engaged discussions surrounding the Inception Technique, this piece aims to provide an enriched perspective, blending the allure of cinematic creativity with the empirical approaches of lucid dreaming practices. As we navigate through the synthesis of these two realms, the article seeks to unlock nuanced understandings, strategies, and reflections that echo the broader quest of mastering the mind’s limitless potential within the dreamscape.

The Inception-Totem Technique for Lucid Dreaming

Find a small object you can carry everywhere, ideally something with text and texture. A coin would be a perfect choice. Once you have your coin or small object, you will become incredibly familiar with it. Examine every detail: every lump, bump, word, image, weight, and texture. Spend 15 minutes before starting the technique, memorizing every aspect of your object.

Once you are familiar with your object, you can begin the technique. Here are the steps:

  1. Carry Your Object: Keep the object with you at all times. It should always be within reach. This is why a coin is ideal.
  2. Examine Regularly: If you notice the coin in your pocket during the day, let it be a trigger to check for differences. Take it out and thoroughly inspect it. Investigate if there have been any changes.
  3. Critical Thinking: Maintain a clear and critical mindset, ensuring you notice the slightest differences. Always question, “Could this be a dream right now?”
  4. React to Anomalies: Throughout the day, if anything unusual happens, or you find yourself in an intense mood, distracted, or on autopilot, use these moments to check your object and question whether you’re dreaming.
  5. Nightly Routine: Before bed, place your object under your pillow. Remind yourself to check your object periodically through the night.
  6. Morning Routine: Upon waking, the first action should be grabbing your object, scrutinizing it for changes, and questioning, “Is this a dream right now?”

By doing this, you regularly train yourself to question reality using your totem object. As this becomes a habit, it will eventually carry over into your dreams, allowing you to recognize discrepancies, realize you’re dreaming, and experience lucid dreams.

Quick Summary of the Totem Technique for Lucid Dreaming

The Inception-Totem Technique for Lucid Dreaming involves carrying a small, detailed object, like a coin, with you at all times to foster the habit of questioning reality, aiming to induce lucid dreaming.

Regularly, especially during unusual or strong emotional moments, you inspect the object, noticing discrepancies and questioning whether you’re dreaming.

Before sleep, place it under your pillow, reminding yourself to check it during the night and upon waking, fostering a habitual reality check that eventually translates into the dream world, facilitating lucid dreams.

Learn about the Inception-Totem technique in Daniel Love’s YouTube video – How to Lucid Dream for Beginners – Easiest Technique (Very EASY):

What are the benefits of the Totem Technique?

General Benefits

This technique, often used for inducing lucid dreams, carries several benefits:

  1. Enhanced Mindfulness: Regularly questioning reality and inspecting the object encourages a state of mindfulness and presence. It makes one more aware of their surroundings and mental state.
  2. Improved Dream Recall: Since the technique involves a conscious check on reality before sleep and upon waking, it could help in better-recalling dreams and their details.
  3. Facilitation of Lucid Dreaming: By cultivating a habit of questioning reality, the likelihood of recognizing a dream state increases, which is essential for lucid dreaming.
  4. Stress and Anxiety Reduction: By fostering mindfulness and awareness, the technique might also aid in reducing stress and anxiety levels as individuals become more attuned to the present moment, potentially making it easier to manage negative emotions or thoughts.

Lucid Dreaming Benefits

This object-focused technique offers some unique benefits as a lucid dreaming induction method compared to other techniques:

Simplicity and Accessibility:

  • Objective-Based: Having a physical object as a basis makes the technique straightforward.
  • No Special Skills Required: It doesn’t require advanced visualization, meditation skills, or wakefulness at odd hours, making it accessible to beginners.

Reality Testing:

  • Physical Reminder: The object is a tangible reminder to perform reality checks, ensuring consistency.
  • Enhanced Discrimination: Utilizing a detailed object for reality testing might enhance discrimination between the waking and dreaming states.

Flexibility and Consistency:

  • Adaptability: It can be seamlessly incorporated into daily routines without specific timings or conditions.
  • Frequent Practice: Allows multiple, brief practice sessions throughout the day, enhancing habit formation and consistency.

Mindfulness Promotion:

  • Enhanced Awareness: Promotes mindfulness by encouraging a focused, investigative approach to the present moment.
  • Integration with Daily Life: Since it can be practiced informally during the day, it can be integrated into ordinary activities, promoting continual awareness.

Direct Physical Interaction:

  • Tactile Engagement: Having a physical object to touch and examine may improve engagement and focus during reality checks.
  • Detailed Inspection: Encourages a deeper, more detailed inspection of reality, which might enhance lucidity triggers in dreams.

Comparison with Other Techniques:

  • Compared to Wake Back to Bed (WBTB): This object-focused technique is less disruptive to sleep as it doesn’t require waking up in the middle of the night.
  • Compared to Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD): It doesn’t rely heavily on memory or mnemonic cues, making it more straightforward for some individuals.
  • Compared to Wake Initiated Lucid Dreams (WILD): It’s less complex and doesn’t necessitate maintaining awareness while transitioning from wakefulness to sleep.

In conclusion, this technique’s simplicity, adaptability, and physical engagement might make it a more accessible and practical choice for many aspiring lucid dreamers.

What are the drawbacks of the Totem Technique?

Here are some possible drawbacks of this object-focused reality-check technique:

As a General Technique

  • Loss or Forgetting: If the object is lost or forgotten, it might disrupt the practice.
  • Attachment: There might be an over-reliance on the object, making it challenging to perform reality checks without it.
  • Visibility: Carrying and checking an object might be noticeable and distracting to others, making it less discreet in public or social situations.
  • Monotony: The repetitive nature of the technique might lead to boredom or lack of interest over time.

As a Lucid Dreaming Technique


  • Inconsistency: The technique’s effectiveness in inducing lucid dreams is not guaranteed and may vary significantly among individuals.
  • Adaptation: The mind may adapt, making the object check less effective as a dream sign over time.


This is a Dream...
  • Overemphasis on the Object: The focus on the object might distract from other aspects of dream awareness and recall.
  • Compartmentalization: There might be a tendency to rely solely on the object for lucidity, neglecting other valuable lucid dreaming practices and awareness techniques.


  • Artificial Element: Since the object is an external element, it might be challenging to integrate it naturally into the dream landscape.
  • Limited Transfer: The habit might not transfer into the dream as effectively as other more mentally focused techniques.

Limited Exploration:

  • Narrow Focus: The technique primarily focuses on a reality check through a physical object, potentially limiting the exploration of lucid dreaming’s various mental and imaginative aspects.

Comparisons to Other Techniques:

  • Passivity: Compared to more proactive techniques like Wake Initiated Lucid Dreams (WILD), it might be somewhat passive, relying on spontaneous realization rather than a more direct entry into lucidity.
  • Lack of Direct Dream Interaction: Unlike techniques like Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD), this method might lack direct, intentional interaction with dream content and recall.

While this technique offers simplicity and a tangible approach, it might also present challenges regarding lucid dreaming practice’s effectiveness, adaptability, and depth. Different techniques resonate differently with individuals, and exploring various methods might be necessary to find what works best for one’s unique dreaming mind.

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Why is it called the Inception Technique?

The technique is called the “Inception Technique” or the “Totem Technique” due to similarities with concepts presented in the movie “Inception” by Christopher Nolan. In the film, characters use a “totem”—a small personal object with unique characteristics—to help distinguish between the dream world and reality.

In the movie “Inception,” several characters had their unique totems. Here are the notable totems from the film:

  1. Cobb’s Totem: Cobb used a spinning top. In the real world, the top would eventually fall over, but in a dream (particularly someone else’s dream where they wouldn’t know the specific characteristics of his top), it would continue spinning indefinitely. This continuous spinning would signal to Cobb that he was in a dream.
  2. Ariadne’s Totem: Ariadne, the architect, chose a weighted chess piece. The specifics of how she used it to distinguish between dream and reality aren’t exhaustively detailed in the film, but it’s implied that the weight and balance of the piece were unique.
  3. Arthur’s Totem: Arthur, Cobb’s right-hand man, had a weighted red dice. Similar to Ariadne’s totem, the specifics aren’t elaborated on, but it’s assumed that he could tell from the weight and feel of the dice whether he was in a dream.
  4. Eames’s Totem: the forger used a poker chip from a specific casino. One detail of the chip would be different in the dream, allowing Eames to determine if he was in reality or a dream.
  5. Saito’s Totem: While not explicitly shown as a recurring totem, there’s a scene in the movie where Saito holds a double-barreled shotgun, noting its unique balance and weight. This suggests it might be his totem, though it’s not confirmed in the narrative.

Does Inception Accurately Portray Lucid Dreaming?

Daniel Love, a lucid dreaming expert, has pointed out some misconceptions and inaccuracies in how “Inception” portrays lucid dreaming. Here are a few critical points that Love and other lucid-dreaming experts have often highlighted:

Control Over Dreams:

  • In the Movie: “Inception” often showcases the dreamer having god-like control over the dream environment.
  • Reality: While it’s true that lucid dreamers can exert a degree of control over their dreams, it’s usually not as absolute or consistent as portrayed.

Dream Layers:

  • In the Movie: Dreams within dreams are a central plot point.
  • Reality: The concept of multiple layers of dreaming is fascinating but lacks scientific grounding and practicality in lucid dreaming.


  • In the Movie: Totems are used to distinguish between dreams and reality.
  • Reality: This is a creative concept, but it’s not a commonly used or necessary practice in lucid dreaming. Lucid dreamers usually perform reality checks that don’t involve external objects.

Perception of Time:

  • In the Movie: Time in the dream world is considerably dilated compared to waking reality.
  • Reality: While dreams can sometimes feel longer or shorter than they are, the extreme time dilation presented in the movie is exaggerated.

Dream Architecture:

  • In the Movie: Dream environments are meticulously constructed, and changing them requires significant effort.
  • Reality: Dream scenes often change spontaneously, and lucid dreamers can sometimes influence or change the dreamscape with varying degrees of effort and success.

Lucidity Triggers:

  • In the Movie: Lucidity seems to be a given for the dreamers.
  • Reality: Becoming lucid in a dream typically requires practice and often occurs due to specific triggers or reality checks, which aren’t prominently featured in the movie.

What did Inception get wrong regarding the Totem Technique, as hinted by Daniel Love?

Daniel Love, a lucid dreaming expert, has conceptualized the totem technique with an understanding that involves reality checks and lucid dreaming principles. When comparing Love’s approach to the depiction of totems in “Inception,” there are a few discrepancies:

Purpose of the Totem:

  • In the Movie: Totems are primarily used to differentiate between someone else’s dream and reality.
  • Daniel Love’s Concept: The totem (or small object) is used for reality checks to discern between the dream state and waking life, focusing on inducing personal lucid dreams rather than navigating someone else’s.

Personal Knowledge:

  • In the Movie: The totem’s characteristics are supposed to be secret and known only to the owner to prevent manipulation by others within dreams.
  • Daniel Love’s Concept: The secrecy aspect isn’t emphasized. Instead, the focus is on personal familiarity with the object to facilitate reality checks.


  • In the Movie: The totem behaves differently in a dream than in reality (e.g., Cobb’s top spins indefinitely in a dream).
  • Daniel Love’s Concept: The objective is to find anomalies through detailed examination, encouraging critical thinking and awareness rather than relying on a predefined unusual behavior of the object.


  • In the Movie: The totem is crucial for characters to determine whether they are dreaming.
  • Daniel Love’s Concept: The object is a tool, among others, facilitating reality checks but not being the sole determinant of lucidity or dream recognition.

In conclusion, “Inception” presents totems as secret, personal objects with distinct behaviors in dreams, focused on navigating shared dream spaces. In contrast, Daniel Love’s concept emphasizes personal familiarity, critical observation, and reality testing to foster lucidity in one’s dreams. The movie’s portrayal is more about dream espionage and manipulation, while Love’s technique focuses on personal lucidity and awareness in dreaming.

Community Feedback Regarding the Totem Technique

The comment section of Daniel Love’s video about the Inception / Totem Technique reveals an engaged audience interacting with the content and Daniel Love himself. Here’s a detailed summary of the main interactions:

Questions and Answers with Daniel Love

  • Choosing a Totem: A user inquired if the item (totem) should be small and not too noticeable. Daniel responded that any item could be used. The technique’s effectiveness improves if the item is somewhat complex and contains text.
  • Name of the Technique: One user pointed out that the technique did not have a name, and Daniel humorously named it “TWANILD.”

Experiences Shared by the Audience

  • Some users discussed their experiences and associations with the term “Totem.” One mentioned that after watching Inception, they created their spinning top totem. However, it didn’t seem to work as expected in their dreams.
  • A viewer shared their preference for using a wristwatch as their totem, considering it an excellent tool for reality checks because the numbers often behave unusually in dreams.
  • Another user recounted their experience trying the technique after watching the video. They mentioned using a detailed object to enhance effectiveness, reflecting an understanding and application of the advice given by Daniel in the comments.

Suggestions for Improving the Inception Technique for Lucid Dreaming

The Totem Technique, as inspired by the movie “Inception,” has its roots in reality-checking within lucid dreaming. Here are some suggestions to enhance the effectiveness of this technique:

  1. Detailed Totem Selection: Choose a totem with intricate details or moving parts. A more complex totem can offer multiple focus points and observation, increasing the chances of recognizing inconsistencies during a dream.
  2. Totem Diversity: Consider having a variety of totems and rotate them. Different totems can help keep the practice fresh and engaging, preventing it from becoming routine or automatic.
  3. Personal Connection: Choose a totem with some personal significance or emotional connection. A personal attachment could make it more potent as it is more robust in your subconscious mind.
  4. Journaling: Keep a journal of your observations and experiences with the totem. Writing down your experiences can help in recognizing patterns and improving awareness.
  5. Mindfulness and Awareness: Engage in mindfulness practices when interacting with the totem. Try to be wholly present and observant of the totem’s characteristics and behavior.
  6. Consistency and Frequency: Try using the totem regularly throughout the day. Consistency will help integrate the technique into your daily routine and subconscious mind.
  7. Adjustment Based on Effectiveness: Be willing to adjust or change your totem if it doesn’t seem effective after a reasonable period. Flexibility allows you to find what works best for you.
  8. Educational Expansion: Continuously educate yourself on lucid dreaming techniques and practices. Staying informed and exploring new ideas can help refine your approach and understanding of the totem technique.
  9. Community Engagement: Consider engaging with lucid dreaming communities online or offline. Sharing and learning from others’ experiences can offer new perspectives and improvements to your practice.

Implementing these suggestions could help enhance the effectiveness of the Totem Technique, contributing to a more fruitful lucid dreaming experience.

Other Lucid Dreaming Tips from Daniel Love

Here are the detailed, practical tips for Lucid Dreaming from Daniel Love:

  1. Reality Checks for Lucid Dreaming: Perform at least 10 good quality reality checks daily and integrate the concept of questioning reality into your waking life.
  2. Dream Journaling Essentials: Maintain a dream journal and record your dreams regularly.
  3. Preparing Your Mind Before Bed: Spend at least half an hour winding down before bed, avoiding screens, and engaging in calming activities like meditation or reading your dream journal.
  4. The Best Sleep Schedule for Lucid Dreaming: Go to bed an hour earlier than usual to increase the chances of dreaming and lucid dreaming.
  5. Setting Lucid Dreaming Intentions: Before falling asleep, set an intention to perform a reality check during the night using your prospective memory.
  6. Be Prepared Techniques for Lucid Dreaming: Decide on a lucid dreaming technique and a goal for your dream before going to bed to increase your chances of success.
  7. Will I Lucid Dream Tonight: Perform word associations on waking to assess if you’re likely to enter REM sleep; strange, surreal associations indicate a higher chance of dreaming.
  8. How to Increase Lucidity: If waking up groggy, take time to wake your mind with activities like having a glass of water or deep breathing for a clearer mind conducive to lucid dreaming.
  9. How to Focus for WILDs: Stay conscious with a light touch when performing your lucid dreaming technique, avoiding trying too hard or too little.
  10. Failed Lucid Dream Technique: Record non-lucid dreams in your journal and learn from them by analyzing what might have gone wrong and adjusting your approach.
  11. Using Morning Naps for Lucid Dreams: Take a morning nap if you haven’t had a lucid dream, staying awake for 15 minutes to an hour before napping and then try a lucid dreaming technique.
  12. Lucid Dreaming is Fun: Keep a positive and enjoyable perspective on lucid dreaming, treating it as an exciting exploration of the mind.
  13. The Right Lucid Dreaming Mindset: Ignore the hype around lucid dreaming, trust the process, and understand that feeling unskilled is normal.
  14. Your Lucid Dream Journey Starts Here: Engage with lucid dreaming content, like videos or articles, to enhance your learning and practice.

These tips, combined with regular practice and patience, can increase the likelihood of experiencing lucid dreams.

The Inception-Totem Lucid Dreaming Technique: Conclusion

The “Inception Technique” intertwines movie magic with the realities of lucid dreaming, creating a captivating method for exploring the mind. Inspired by Hollywood, Daniel Love has transformed this concept into a practical tool for achieving lucidity, turning mystical totems into real instruments for awareness and reality discernment. This technique is unfolded through careful exploration, revealing practical insights and expert analyses enriched by community experiences.

In conclusion, “Inception” vividly depicts dream control and navigation. However, as described by Love, its real-world application focuses on personal exploration and mindful awareness. The “Totem Technique” urges dreamers to employ mindful observation, enabling a deeper connection with the subconscious. This exploration unveils various strategies and insights, illuminating ways to master the dream state.

The Inception Technique invites us into a dialogue between fiction and reality, offering new paths for lucid dreaming mastery. It showcases the boundless potential of the human mind in navigating consciousness, dreams, and reality.

Bottom Line

The Inception-Totem technique is excellent for anyone with a special connection with a specific object. Using a digital watch or even their hand as an object to use for reality testing might be preferable for others.

Please share your experiences with the Inception-Totem Technique for Lucid Dreaming in the comments below!

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