Reality checks are one of the most helpful tools you can develop if you’re trying to understand and practice lucid dreaming. Just think about it! How could you possibly be lucid in a dream unless you test reality to know that you are, indeed, in a dream?

What are reality checks?

You’ve probably been told before that you need a “reality check.” It’s a phrase we often use for bratty teenagers who need to get with “the real world.” In this sense, reality checks are simply an awakening to reality – to the way things truly are.

When you’re practicing lucid dreaming, reality checks are similar. You’re simply asking your mind to see if the state of consciousness you’re currently in is physically or mentally induced. Once you find out that you’re in a mentally induced state, you can come alive to the fact that you’re in a dream. By that point, you’re lucid enough to have a real lucid dream and to start becoming active in your own personal dream world.

Reality checks can be difficult

When I first started to learn about lucid dreaming, reality checks were difficult. This is because it’s hard to remember to use a reality check when you’re in a dream, particularly when the dreams start out like mine do, as very realistic. I would simply think I’m in reality and let myself float along, unaware that I could become lucid and really begin experiencing my dream world.

Luckily, there are a few simple ways to start building the habit of checking reality. The best and quickest way to train yourself to remember to do reality checks during a dream is to train yourself to do them regularly when you’re quite sure you’re awake.

This might seem silly. “Why would I want to do a reality check when I know without doubt that I’m not dreaming?” you might ask. Well, the basic premise here is that you simply want to train yourself to do reality checks so that you’ll remember to do them in a dream.

Look, unless you remember to do reality checks when you’re dreaming, you’ll be unable to experience the true state of lucid dreaming. You can’t wake yourself up if you’re assuming everything in your dream is real or, worse, if you’re simply failing to question your dreams at all!

Techniques to remember to check reality

Luckily, there are a few ways to make reality checks easier when you’re in a dream. One popular option is to start checking reality regularly during your waking hours. Now, this doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily check every hour on the hour. A better option, instead, is to let certain stimuli lead you to a check of reality.

One way to do this is to figure out what stimuli often come up in your dreams. I, for instance, often see my best friend and my cat in my dreams. I also am often driving during my dreams. So now, whenever I see my best friend or my cat after a period of separation, I do a mental reality check. I also do this whenever I get into my car.

Come up with your own list of a few things, places, or activities that appear often in your dreams, and do reality checks for those things when you’re awake. Then, when they come up again in a dream, you’re more likely to automatically do a reality check.

How to do reality checks

It’s a good habit to use the same reality checks every time. One popular test is to find something with writing on it. Read it once; look away, and then read it again. If the writing has changed or become unreadable, you must be dreaming. Digital clocks will also tell you if you’re dreaming, as they won’t behave properly in the dream world.

By using reality checks, you’ll be able to see if you’re dreaming or in the waking world. Once you find that you’re dreaming and are lucid enough to even do a reality check, you’re in a lucid dream and will be able to do amazing things!

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"The result of the struggle between the thought and the ability to express it, between dream and reality, is seldom more than a compromise or an approximation." - M. C. Escher