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Time to be critical

Dreams can be weird. Did you ever had this thought upon waking up?

That was a crazy dream!

When you dream often don't make sense at all. If you saw someone walking on the ceiling in real life you would freak out, but if it happens in a dream you are totally fine with it. Recent research gives us clue to why we don't freak out. When you dream certain parts of the brain become suppressed in their activity. These include parts responsible for our critical thinking, making someone walking on the ceiling super normal.

In this critical thinking lies the secret to doing reality checks, you train your critical thinking to change the first thought into this:

This is a crazy dream!

What is a reality check?

As you are reading this pause and ask yourself: "Am I dreaming?". Now how long did it took you to answer that question? And more importantly, how are you truly convinced you are not dreaming? This questioning of your waking state is what we call a reality check. It is a moment in which we investigate our reality and determine if we are awake or asleep.

Now how often do you ask yourself this question when awake? If you are new to lucid dreaming you probably never do it. Now if you never do it while awake you also won't do it while dreaming. To do reality checks while you are dreaming you have to make doing them a habit. Do them often enough awake and you will end up doing them while you are dreaming.

Asking the right questions

The simplest reality check is to ask yourself 'Am I dreaming?', but we now know that our brain is less critical when we are dreaming. So is this question enough? How can you make sure that you are truly awake? A simple one that will never fail is:

If I plug my nose, can I still breathe through it?

In real life it won't work, but in a dream you can almost always still breathe through it. Now there are endless possibilities for reality checks. Some of the standard ones are:

  • Push your finger on your palm, does it go through? How does it feel?
  • Check your watch or a clock, does it look normal? How many hours are there on the watch? Look away and back, is it still the same time?
  • Read some text, does it look normal? Look away and read it again, is it still the same?
  • Look at your hands, how many fingers do you have? Do your fingers look normal?
  • Look at where you are and ask yourself: where do you know the people around you from? What were you doing an hour ago?

Critical Awareness

There are a lot of possibilities for reality checks, plugging your nose, counting your fingers, checking the time. But how do you truly do a reality check? The answer is by using critical awareness and this is where a lot of people fall short. Let's define awareness and what it is to be critical.

Exercising or involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation
The ability to directly know and perceive, to feel, or to have knowledge of events. More broadly, it is the state of being conscious of something.

So critical awareness can be defined as carefully judging if you are dreaming by using your awareness, the awareness of your current reality. These two things are skills that you can train and become better at. For example, meditation involves training your awareness.

Meditation and lucid dreaming share a lot of common ground, which will be covered in a future article. You can subscribe to receive it when it is live 👇🏻

It is not enough to simply ask yourself the question 'Am I dreaming?', think about it for five seconds and move on. You have to be critically aware of your reality. You really have to investigate if everything is normal. Become aware of your surroundings (awareness) and truly ask yourself if everything is normal (critical).

How often should I do reality checks?

If you are a beginner, it is advised to at least do a reality check every hour. But like many things, it is quality over quantity. If you find yourself very busy and not taking the time to do them properly decrease the amount. As long as you make sure that the reality checks are done proper, by really focussing on being critical and your awareness, you will improve.

A great time to do a reality check is before going to bed. It is the perfect moment to set your mind to be critical of your reality, increasing your chances of reality checking while dreaming.

We know that dreams can be weird, so it is also advised to do reality checks in odd or surprising situations. Dreams can also be emotional, so another good moment is to do them when you feel strong emotions.

The bottomline is that you need to make doing reality checks a habit and that you need to train your critical thinking combined with the awareness of your reality. If you can at least remember one dream every night and practice diligently, you will see results.

🌙 This article is part of the mini course that comes with the 7 day free trial. Test out LucidDreamBot and get all the knowledge needed to kick-off your lucid dreaming journey. Click here to register.