‘Scene Shift’ Realty Check: A Lucid Dreaming Tip

You never really remember the beginning of a dream, do you?  You always wind up right in the middle of what’s going on.” 

-‘Inception’ Movie Quote


Lucid dreaming’s become a highly sought after experience, with many wanting to learn how to awaken in their dreams.  And for those who succeed, these dreams can be incredibly empowering, exciting and enlightening.

It’s a remarkable experience to visit your dreamscape with consciousness along for the ride.  In dreams your thoughts create worlds, making it quite the magical place to play, seek, co-create and explore.

I ventured into my own lucid dream journey out of sheer curiosity.  I wanted to know what this hybrid dream/waking state was like.  What I hadn’t realized was how life expanding it would become.  In my attempt to enhance my dream life, I was about to embark upon a master course in mindfulness.

Getting lucid in your dreams requires a presence of mind.  And staying lucid means maintaining mindfulness.

Let’s face it — it takes effort to be in the moment.  It’s very easy to slip into auto-pilot mode, where your unconscious takes the reigns and your mind’s free to go wandering.  Presence is so uncommon, in fact, Researchers estimate we’re thinking about something other than what we’re doing 46.9% of the time!

Wanna be more lucid in your dreams and in your life?   Cue the “reality check…”

Reality Checks are one of the first things you learn in any lucid dream tutorial, because they’re the key to “catching” yourself dreaming.  But, they also can improve your mindfulness in waking life.

As the name would imply, a reality check is intended to evaluate whether you’re in “reality” or in a dream.  (Seems a bit ridiculous, right?)

“Of course I’m awake,” is what you’re bound to think.  But that’s also what your dreaming self believes.

If you want to get good at lucid dreaming, you’ll need to develop a penchant for questioning reality.  And the key to success is making the practice a habit.  If you’re regular with reality checks while awake, you’ll carry that tendency into your dreams.

A reality check is a quick and easy process.  Any of the following will do:

  • Look at your hands.  In dreams they’ll morph and change quite quickly.
  • Try pushing your finger through your palm.  No problem in a dream.
  • Plug your nose.  If you can still breath through it, you’re in a dream.
  • Look at a digital clock.  Then look away and back.  The numbers will change in a dream.
  • Read anything.  Then look away and back.  The words will change in a dream.
  • Jump up.  In a dream you’ll likely float vs. land back down.

If you’ve never done this, it may seem just silly.  But trust me, it’s a pretty incredible experience when you do a reality check — confident you’re awake — to discover that you’re actually in a dream.  It’s a bit like falling through the rabbit hole and waking up in Wonderland!

Consistency is key, so create a prompt for when to do your reality checks. 

Some people set a timer on their watch or phone.   If your timer’s going off a dozen times a day, your dreams will start to repeat the pattern and give you chances to reality check while dreaming.

Rather than randomly timed, I prefer doing reality checks at moments I’m more likely to be dreaming.  For instance, I’ll do a realty check whenever something strange or unlikely occurs.  I also find it effective to pinpoint a symbol or theme that’s been commonly occurring in my dreams, then vow to reality check next time it surfaces.

And then there’s the prompting this post is named for.  It’s one I developed to take advantage of a phenomenon inherent to dreams, which is finding yourself suddenly plopped into a scene.

Introducing the ‘Scene Shift’ Realty Check:

In the blockbuster lucid-dream-based movie ‘Inception,’ Leonardo DeCaprio’s character asks the question of his protegee, “Ever notice how every dream begins with being all of a sudden in the middle of a scene or setting?”  And it’s so true — we suddenly arrive in the midst of some scene, without wondering how we got there.

This technique is about paying attention to the scene shifts in your life.  Perhaps you just got in the car, or to a location, or in a building; at your desk; on the couch; in the shower — wherever you may land.  At the moment you recognize you’re in a new setting, consider if you’re awake or in a dream.

Bear in mind, you could easily over-do this one if you’ve got a lot of locations you go in a day.  The point is really about catching those moments you’ve been mind-wandering and just became conscious of where you are.  (Like when you just pulled into the driveway and didn’t recall the drive home …that’s the perfect time to reality check.)

Ask yourself if you know how you got here.  

If you can’t recall what’s led up to this moment (such as what you were doing earlier in the day), then you either have a serious memory issue or you’ve just caught yourself dreaming.  Test it out with a reality check, and once you know for-sure you’re in your dreamscape, remain calm (to avoid waking up) and go get your lucid on!

As with all reality checks, mostly you’ll end up confirming you’re awake and not dreaming.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t get lucid…

Not dreaming?  Great!  Be really present and do some lucid living.  Take your answer, “I’m awake,” to mean you’re going to truly be in the experience.  Take in the setting; focus on your task; really listen to the other person you’re with.  Do whatever it was you were arriving in this scene to do, with mindfulness.

Once you start striving to have increased presence in your life and dreams, you’ll be amazed at how often you fall right back out of lucidity.  That’s why this this method is a win-win.  Whether dreaming or awake, with each reality check you’re bringing attention to the moment, so you can remind yourself to stay present and live more fully.

And soon your scene will shift and you get a chance to do it all again.

Let’s get lucid,


If you’re interested in more lucid dream tips, click over to my post:  4-Steps to Lucid Land.

Wish you had one-on-one support to advance your lucid dreaming abilities?  I can help you awaken in your dreams with my “Learn-to-Lucid” DreamDiscovery package.  Click here to schedule your free intro call.

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