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February 05, 2007

An Intro to Dreaming (Part II: Reality Checks)

Posted in: dreaming,dreaming techniques,guide to lucid dreaming,resources

Welcome to part two in the introduction to lucid dreaming series. This part of the series won’t be quite as easy as the last to do, but with some willpower it won’t be too hard. I hope I haven’t scared you off, because today’s topic is quintessential for DILDs. (Dream Induced Lucid Dream)

Reality Checks

Checking if you are really awake.

“A reality check is an action that works in reality but acts differently in a dream. These are used to check whether you are dreaming or not. The typical usage involves doing reality checks through the day; so that you will eventually do one in a dream and notice that it didn’t work. A few fairly common reality checks are: Looking at your hands, which are typically disfigured in dreams, holding your nose and trying to breathe through it, and looking at a clock or other writing and then looking back again, in dreams it will usually be nonsense and will change.” -An excerpt from my collection of dreaming terms, found here.

Reality checks are a proven method by themselves for inducing lucid dreams, but we’ll be adding other things on top of them for greater chances. That happens later though. Right now we’ll be focusing on developing the habit of checking reality frequently. This has a very subtle effect on dreams and on your overall consciousness. It will make you more skeptical in dreams over time, which will eventually culminate in you realizing more dream signs. Thus, the main goal of reality checks it to raise your awareness to the level where you aren’t just reacting to life, you’re actually watching it objectively and questioning it. So instead of being another pawn in the day to day happenings of your life, you’re an active participant. Now, what are the main building blocks for a successful reality check habit. I have narrowed it down to yet again, three basic things you should remember while doing reality checks, as well as a list of common reality checks.

Consistency
Establishing reality checks as a frequent habit.
The first and probably most difficult hurdle to get over is establishing the habit of reality checks. The idea here is to get into the habit of doing a reality check whenever something strange happens, or whenever you think of it. Granted if you just did one a minute ago, you probably don’t need to again unless something extraordinary just happened. A good number to shoot for in the beginning is ten a day or more, but anything is better then nothing. Once you’ve done it for about two weeks or so, the habit sets in, so it isn’t too hard to simply add more checks. However, the difficult part is mustering the willpower to establish the habit. A few ways to keep yourself thinking about reality checks are to write something on your hand to remind you, make a poster and put it on your wall, or maybe wear a string around your finger. Once you’ve hit the two week mark, these are simply extras. Just keep trying to do reality checks throughout the day, and remember that even if you only remembered to do three today, you can still do more tomorrow.

Diversity

Using multiple types of reality checks
This is a longer term goal to work on after you’ve established the habit. Remember that reality checks aren’t infallible, and can fail from time to time. For this reason, it is important that you either switch which one you’re using throughout the day or that you do your primary then a secondary. (Or perhaps even a third after that if you want to be more certain) This will increase the chance of reality checks alerting you to when your reality is waking life.

Seriousness.

Seriously asking yourself if this is real or not
This is a pre-emptive strike against apathy. If you get into the habit of reality checking, and even of using multiple reality checks, it still may not work or will work poorly if you don’t honestly ask yourself whether or not you are dreaming. If you become conditioned to it and let it ride on the back of your mind, it won’t be as effective at waking up your conscious. So make sure that you give it your full attention and truly consider that you might be sleeping, even right now.

Reality Checks
A list of common reality checks, with how effective they are next to them. (5 is most effective)

Looking at your hands, and consciously counting your fingers on each hand. (5)
Reading text and looking back a second later to see if it has changed. (5)
Trying to change text as you’re reading it. (4)
Look at a mirror, and see if it looks normal. (4)
Holding your nose and trying to breath through it. (4)
Look at a clock, and make sure that the time makes sense. (4)
Flipping a light switch to see if it works. (3)
Trying to fly by willing yourself to, or by jumping and trying to. (3)
Willing and expecting something odd that shouldn’t be behind you to be behind you when you turn around (3)
Look at your nose from one eye (3)
Try altering reality with powers, like telekinesis. (2)

A disclaimer
These techniques vary in effectiveness for each individual. These are fairly constant for most everybody, but if you find that one of these consistently doesn’t work you should probably try an alternate. I would only switch if you notice it failing in your remembered dreams though.

A few important points to reiterate:
Reality checks are used more to hedge your bets then as a primary induction technique, although they can be used as one.

Reality checks generally don’t have a large influence on dreams until about a month after they’ve become a habit. This is a very rough estimate though, so it will probably vary for you.

Keeping up with reality checks is paramount. Almost as important as dream journaling!

Well that’s all for now, but I hope to see you in part III as well. In case you’re just joining us, the introduction to the course is here, and here is part I.

You can always email me if you have questions regarding these techniques. Feel free to leave a comment as well.

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-Hatter

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