Saturday, 3 August 2019

The Dreamhacker Series | Reality Checks (3)

Hi, and welcome to the all-new, relaunched Dreamhacker Series, a beginner-level, back-to-basics, foundational course of tutorials, teaching you everything you need to know about dreamwork - from dream recall and dream incubation to lucid dreaming induction techniques and methods. 

This Dreamhacker Series tutorial concentrates on Reality Checks. A Reality Check is a technique used to check if you are asleep and dreaming, or awake. Reality Checks operate by increasing self awareness. 

Remember, every time you go to sleep, perform steps 2, 3 & 4 from the first tutorial - The Dreamhacker Series | Remembering Your Dreams (1)

Reality Checks involve using an observation - typically one which relies on sensory input and conscious awareness. This is because lucid dreaming usually involves some form of observation which triggers conscious awareness in the dream state. One form of Reality Check which can lead to conscious awareness (i.e. lucidity) is recognition of a Dreamsign - a Dreamsign is something  which might be highly subjective to the dreamer, or universal to everyone, which make the dreamer aware they must be dreaming. A Dreamsign is a bizarre, odd, extraordinary or simply impossible aspect of, or occurrence in a dream which alerts you to the fact you must be dreaming, because the Dreamsign could not possibly occur in waking reality. There will be a separate, detailed video and Blog post focusing specifically on Dreamsigns.

Using Reality Checks is fundamental to learning how to induce lucid dreams, and they are really simple, requiring little effort or time expenditure. The most difficult thing about Reality Checks is remembering to incorporate them into your daily waking life. Many beginner lucid dreamers skip Reality Checking or perform very cursory Reality Checks, because they are already aware they are awake and not in a dream and therefore do not appreciate the importance of performing the Reality Check properly to make sure. 

This misses the point of Reality Checks. The idea is to persistently and frequently perform waking Reality Checks so as to develop a strong habit which will hopefully penetrate your dreams. The aim is for the habit of Reality Checking to penetrate your dreams, so you are programming (or hacking) your brain into performing Reality Checks while in the dream state. This requires performance of waking Reality Checks even if you are 100% certain you are really awake. Remember, in a normal, non-lucid dream, it always feels like waking reality, even though it is not. Your dreaming self does not question whether you are awake or dreaming unless you are fortunate enough to spontaneously become lucid, and this is a reminder that performing Integrating Reality Checks into your daily waking life is vital, because even if you are sure you are awake, you want to train yourself to always be sceptical and take steps to ascertain (or 'reality check') to confirm this. It is also important to perform a Reality Check every time you wake up - remember that false awakenings (when you think you have woken up, but you are actually still asleep and dreaming) can be very deceptive, but also provide an excellent opportunity for entering into a lucid dream state.

Reality Checks are vital to lucid dreaming because they enable you to differentiate between wakefulness and dreaming - in a dream, a Reality Check will lead to a 'Eureka moment' which serves to trigger lucidity. 

Choose a suitable Reality Check as your first step. A Reality Check must be something which will lead to different results when performed in waking reality and in a dream. You should choose a Reality Check which always has the same predetermined outcome/result in waking reality. If you know a Reality Check can lead to only one outcome if performed awake, then if something different or unexpected occurs - this is your cue to trigger lucidity. 

Here are some common examples of Reality Checks with a brief explanation for how they work:

The Fingers-Through-Palm Method
This is possibly the most popular form of Reality Check, as it can be performed easily at any time, with no need for anything other than your own hands! This is my preferred form of Reality Check.

Simply try to push the fingers of one hand through the palm of the other. In waking reality, the predetermined singular outcome is that your palm is a solid object which provides resistance, preventing your fingers from sliding through it when you push them. There is no other outcome possible in waking reality. Therefore, if you perform this Reality Check and your fingers do push/slide through your palm, then you must be asleep and dreaming!

Be mindful of the fact, that while there is only one outcome possible in waking reality, your dreaming mind might play tricks on you when performing this method in a dream. I have performed this Reality Check in a dream (while already lucid, trying to prove this to a resistant dream character), and found that my fingers did not push through my palm, therefore behaving exactly as I would expect them to in waking reality. A Reality Check may fail in the dream world, because you have some form of mental barrier. It might also be that in a vivid dream, your Reality Check produces a bizarre or impossible result which should alert you to the fact you are in a dream, yet your dreaming mind just accepts events without the logical fact-checking part of your brain being activated. Therefore, it is advisable to perform 2 Reality Checks to provide you with a fail-safe - some dreamers combine 2 different forms of Reality Check for this purpose. 

The Hand-Gaze Method
Look at your hands - do they look normal as you expect them to? I have seen my hands appear to be long spoons in a dream. This is a sign you are dreaming. 

The Nose Pinch Method
This involves pinching the nose (or closing your mouth if you are a mouth-breather) and attempting to breathe. If you can breathe with this restriction, this is a sign you are dreaming.

The Reading Method
It is usually very difficult to read normally in a dream - even if you can decipher the meaning of text in a dream (i.e. you know what the text says), looking closely at the words/letters you see in a dream often yields bizarre results. The text might be gibberish/nonsensical, or move around on the page. Try to read the same text twice - you might find that it completely changes, which is a sign you are dreaming. 

The Numeracy Method
Try to perform a simple mathematical sum (2 + 2 is sufficient for a Reality Check, it doesn't need to be anything complicated - the easier the sum, the better!) If you try to add up or count something but find your answer is bizarre or impossible - this is a sign that you are dreaming.

The Mirror Method
Look in a mirror. In waking reality, you obviously expect to see your normal appearance. However, in a dream you often get bizarre or impossible results. Often when I happen to look in a mirror (in lucid dreams, as well as normal, non-lucid dreams), my appearance is often dramatically altered. I have had different hair, skin and eye colour; facial features; and body size/shape as well as changing age and gender. If you see something other than your normal, expected appearance in a reflection - this is a sign you are dreaming. 

The Light Switch Method
Try turning a light switch on/off - does it function as you would expect it to in waking reality? Often objects or devices operate very differently in a dream, providing you with a sign you are dreaming. 

The Jumping Method
When you jump in reality, you know gravitational force will pull you back down to earth. In a dream, jumping may result in you floating, levitating or being able to fly - a clear and indisputable sign you are dreaming.

The Clock Method
Looking at a clock or watch can be a decent Reality Check. Try and read the time - if you can't do this, or the numbers appear distorted or behave in bizarre ways, this can be a sign you are dreaming.

Programme yourself to perform regular, frequent Reality Checks throughout your waking day - it is advisable to perform as many Reality Checks as possible - at least 10 per day is a good starting point. The danger is that you might be tempted to only perform perfunctory Reality Checks - make sure each of your Reality Checks is done with the requisite care and attention. Don't make assumptions - reach a solid, logical, well-evidenced conclusion on each Reality Check. 

Some people use reminders for Reality Checks. You might use a specifically-designed app to guide you through regular Reality Checks, or set yourself your own reminders on your mobile phone, such as using an alarm or a screensaver (some people use a prompt such as 'are you dreaming?' to remind them to perform a Reality Check every time they see this message). You might prefer to combine Reality Checks with routine and regular every day activities, such as entering a different room, using a flight of stairs, going to the toilet or having a drink etc). You could draw a Reality Check symbol on the back of your hand as a trigger. There are no hard and fast rules here - the key is finding what works for you and motivates you to perform regular and frequent Reality Checks.

Increase your conscious awareness and mindfulness through questioning reality - this should be done at the same time as the Reality Check, and is equally important to the physical Reality Check itself. 

The brain creates neural constructs based on cognitive and experiential learning - i.e. patterns of thought which are shaped by your reality. In many waking situations, we do not question the nature of our reality or conscious awareness, because we are accustomed to it, and therefore take it for granted. This is also the case in normal, non-lucid dreams - we accept the reality we are in without critically thinking about it. Regularly questioning the nature of reality raises your conscious awareness - the very skill we are attempting to learn for successful lucid dream induction. Therefore, programming (or hacking) your brain into doing this while awake will enable this practice to transfer into the dream state and Reality Checks will become second nature. 

When you perform your Reality Check, engage with your immediate reality and actively question it. Use your senses here - sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Pay careful attention to your surrounding environment and what you are experiencing. Focus on your thoughts and feelings in the moment. Is everything normal and as expected? Are you experiencing anything bizarre and unexpected? Specifically ask yourself 'am I dreaming?' (or 'am I awake?' - either works!) and come to a definite conclusion based on your observations and reasoning. You might verbalise your answer to really consolidate it in your mind. Reality Checks in dreams sometimes fail because we have not adopted sufficient mindfulness to increase our conscious awareness. 

Combine Reality Checks with other lucid dream induction techniques/methods - Reality Checks might work in isolation, but in practice, it is best to combine them with other methods so as to optimise your chances of successfully inducing a lucid dream. The Dreamhacker Series will be providing you with a number of techniques and methods for lucid dream induction in due course, but at this stage, it is important to incorporate daily Reality Checking into your routine so that you begin the process of programming (or hacking) your brain and creating the right mental environment for lucidity. 

It can take a while for Reality Checks to work effectively, but don't give up hope if you do not have immediate success! Make sure you have good dream recall (see below), as if you don't remember your dreams well, it could be that you perform a Reality Check in a dream, but wake up not remembering this happened!

Here is the accompanying Dreamhacker Series | Reality Checks (3) video which provides this tutorial in audio-visual form:

Here are the previous videos/posts in the Dreamhacker Series:

The Dreamhacker Series | Remembering Your Dreams (1)
Here is the accompanying Blog post - The Dreamhacker Series | Remembering Your Dreams (1)

The Dreamhacker Series | Hacking the Sleep Cycle (2)
Here is the accompanying Blog post - The Dreamhacker Series | Hacking the Sleep Cycle (2)

Subscribe to the Tallulah La Ghash Youtube Channel -
Support me on Patreon:
Add me on Facebook: (this is a Facebook Page dedicated to my Lucid Dreaming/Dreaming Blog and Youtube Channel)
Follow me on Twitter: @TallulahLaGhash -
Follow me on Instagram @tallulah-la-ghash -
Snapchat: TallulahLaGhash
Follow me on Tumblr: tallulah-la-ghash
Follow me on Pinterest: Tallulah La Ghash 

No comments:

Post a Comment