• Search

How Making More Effort Helped Me Wake up in Dreams

Experience Submitted by Nathan Greene

A number of years ago I was taking part in one of the online courses Belsebuub ran. The course itself had been really helpful with focusing deeper on the practices, and I got a lot of motivation from the feedback and advice other people were giving.

One week, we were looking further into doing reality checks as a method for astral projection. We were given two techniques to explore, to either pull our finger and see if it stretched, or to take a small jump and see if we could float.

I had been trying the techniques for a while, but to be honest, my efforts had been fairly lacklustre and not much seemed to be happening. I felt it was down to me to try to turn things around though, so  I decided to really try to implement the method more, especially one night where I decided to just go all out with it. I had had a bit of a busy day, but I wanted the day to go differently than the rest of the week before it. I decided to go for a walk just before heading home for the evening, trying to be as aware of the present moment as I could and to do the reality check practices.

An Awareness Walk through Familiar Places

I walked around my home town as everything was starting to quieten. I tried to really see the environment I was in, the old cathedral whose grounds I passed through, the clouds, stars and occasional people who came my way. I tried to use the things I saw as triggers for questions – was it really normal for me to be there? Were the things around me symbols?

Sometimes, when a feeling of awareness could be sustained for some time, a really natural, questioning feeling arose. It was almost as if there was a perceptible magic in the air and I really wasn’t sure whether it was actually a dream or not. This was harder to maintain though, and a lot of the time I found myself feeling quite certain it was the waking world.

I wandered familiar tracks, passing by places I’d seen throughout my whole life. Seeing them brought up a sense of familiarity that – to my mind – made it seem like it was the physical world. But how many of my dreams had happened in these places too? I felt like it was worth checking to be sure.


What motivated me most of all to keep going was simply the sheer amount of times I’ve been in dreams, and regardless of whether around me was bizzare or mundane, I’ve accepted it as real and never questioned it.

I continued to try the reality checks for some time before eventually making my way home. I spoke to my family for a little bit, and despite some reluctance from my night-owl self, I decided to have an early night to see if I could reach the astral.

Something out of Place

During the night, I found myself walking with two friends just outside a local shopping centre. Everything seemed very normal – it was a nice day and the three of us were walking towards somewhere we often spent a lot of time in. It hit me though after a moment that something was a bit odd. I knew both of the people, but I realised I hadn’t actually seen them for some time. It had probably been over 2 years by that stage since we had regularly hung out together.


I was still very doubtful about being in a dream – everything was so similar to the life I lived, but this one detail seemed strange. I almost felt guilty for questioning the situation, and not expecting anything at all to happen, I decided to pull my finger.

To my astonishment it stretched like rubber – and the whole scene suddenly melted away. I was back in my bedroom, but not physically. There was a special vibrancy and feeling to the environment, but my subconscious interfered with the experience and I fell back into a dream.

I was now in the house of an old friend, with a group of people celebrating his birthday. It was a small gathering and I mingled with the crowd, but again it struck me that apart from my friend, I’d never seen any of the other people there before in my life.

Thoughts crept up trying to rationalise the situation (as I often find they do in even the most bizzare dreams). I started thinking that they were just friends of his I’d never met before. It seemed strange to me though that I wouldn’t know a single person, even as being a ‘friend of a friend’.

It seemed even stranger that no one else from that ‘core group’ of us would be at his birthday. I was still pretty doubtful, but I pulled my finger to test if it was another dream. Once again, everything melted away and I was back in my bedroom fully conscious of being out of my body.

The night that followed had many lessons to it, some of which became a big impetus for changing things in my daily life. The dreams I had that night each had a special vibe to them, where it felt like I was being helped to question the reality of what was happening within them, something which I’m still very grateful for.

Leave a reply

  • Wonderful experiences. I also find reality checking amazing – so many experiences come out of it. I’ve had some of my most unexpected experiences happen as a result of reality checking. At times when I felt like I was consumed in my mind way too much to be able to have an astral experience. I still pulled my finger and took jumps to check, and sure enough I did the same things in the astral and was able to snap out of the dreams as a result.

  • Hi, Nathan! That’s a great example of how putting in the efforts to wake ourselves up in the moment and question reality pays off. Even though we might have spent the day in our thoughts or feelings when we give up for the day it is surely lost. When we put ourselves fully into it, we can get results as you show with your experience. It reminds me of how much those short walks outside or even in the house before going to bed help, especially when our main focus for that time is to wake up and question reality.

    Often I’m also with classmates or friends from high school or even earlier in dreams. It’s interesting to see how we have spent so much time apart, yet in dreams them being present is as obvious as breathing. Good thing you picked up on this twice and used it to wake up from the dream.

  • I feel inspired to try harder to wake up in the astral, and to question my reality during the day. I’ve been pulling my finger a bit more lately, and especially now as I’m on vacation in a new place. Even if I’m pretty sure I’m in the physical, just the act of pulling my finger makes me wonder a bit more.

    • I know exactly what you mean Anne Linn, sometimes they go together somehow – like a sense of wonder can make us check our checking can inspire a sense of wonder. I find sometimes checking can feed into awareness somehow as well, like it gives it a little boost.

      Hope you have a lovely trip away!

      • Yes. Stopping and checking where I am makes me feel how strange life really is. Strange and beautiful, to be here right now.

        And thank you 🙂

  • Thank you Nathan for your experiences and for sharing how you practically achieved your goal. I also find that putting more efforts makes a difference with the practices. I can recall a few times thinking I was working hard, yet nothing was going on. It was often only when I was finding the strength to push beyond what I had been doing that I could achieve a goal or part of my goal.

    • Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. I remember Belsebuub once mentioning in a talk (which I’m only paraphrasing) about how it’s easy to become used to a certain level of effort, but unless it’s increased, then after a while things can become static and we can get stuck internally. I’ve definitely seen that with myself at different times.

      It can be quite hard to sometimes take that extra step, especially if we’re not feeling all that strong for whatever reason. I don’t know what works for others, but sometimes for me I’ve found that taking the mindset of exploring the practice rather than just ‘doing it’, learning the little ins and outs of them, the small details and knowing that we could go into uncharted regions of our personal experience, has sometimes made a big difference.

  • I can really relate, Nathan. When I was a teenager my family moved continents and from then on all the way far into my twenties my dreams almost always took place back in my former country with my former friends — it was like issues currently going on in my life somehow transported themselves back to play out in the old environment in the dreams. When I learned about intentional dream recall, studying dreams, and astral projection I learned to take advantage of it as a cue to do reality checks. So if I suddenly realized hey, I don’t live here anymore! or Hey, I haven’t seen these friends in years! I’d use it as an opportunity to do a reality check. It worked well for the most part while it lasted 🙂

    • That’s really cool Jenny that you were able to get those triggers working for you fairly regularly. I actually had the same thing when I first moved abroad that my dreams were always set in old environments, and I know it’s been the same for different friends I’ve spoken to about it. I guess the psyche tries to follow the same routines wherever it is, and it’s just the ‘forms’ on the outside that change with a move. Being able to use noticing the repetition as part of breaking the cycle sounds pretty neat 😀

  • That persistence where we could’ve easily backed down in our efforts is also what stands out to me from this story. It’s all too easy to slide into a mediocre mode of practising… I remember there was a time where if I’d not feel like going for an awareness walk, that would be exactly the time I pushed myself to go for one. As soon as I was a hundred meters or so out of the door, ‘aah’ this feels so good! The fresh air, the coolness, my body moving. It was especially poignant when I had spend too long behind the screen of computer.

    I also remember one time, late one evening after a long walk, where I didn’t feel I ‘had’ the awareness yet. It was dark and I sat down on the ground in front of my garage and I sat there for hours (or at least 2 hours) just intensely trying to see, hear, feel, until I felt clear. Maybe I wasn’t doing it completely properly at the time, but I was putting in a lot of effort. It would have been easy to go inside, warm, easy, and be entertained by the tv like all the people I could see in their living rooms.

    Btw. early nights are such a great thing! (I should make sure to have them more often 🙂 though) Evening walks as well, they make a big difference to my nights.

    • Nice Karim, just sitting there trying to find the awareness. I find this is something helpful before going to bed … or something essential if I am to get much from the evening. Just the pottering around the house can start to take on a magical atmosphere when it becomes the ‘astral awareness prep’ time.

      I know what you mean too about that real struggle to go out for a walk and then the immediate gratification when you do, like your essence finally being given some food after all that time stuck infront of the computer/fascinated by something or other.

  • Hey Nathan,

    I like the emphasis in your account of breaking through in everyday, repetitive life, and also how simply improving our efforts improves the results – simple equation but one that’s hard to remember or get right when our level becomes static. I remember when it dawned on me that I couldn’t just pull my finger when on a designated ‘awareness walk’, as that took up 0.05% of my time (guestimation here) and the rest of my time is mostly made up of being surrounded by ever-so familiar scenes, people and places, with nothing out of the ordinary going on. So I’ve found I have to discover that questioning in those banal circumstances too, as well as ensuring every time something odd happens, that I question.

    It’s a really ‘simple’ way to increase lucidity and astral experiences … you’ve inspired me to put in more efforts – thanks!

    • Yeah, I think that simple equation can sometimes be the hardest truth to admit to ourselves 🙂

      You’re right about questioning the ordinary situations. I’ve had the same approach of only using an awareness walk to do the reality checks, and even then often only when prompted by seeing something strange during them, but a lot of the time it doesn’t really do much.

      I think the regularity of questioning and the sincerity/interest in the question are big factors in recording reality checks into dreams, although both are areas I often slip back on and become lax with too easily I find.

      • I’ve found that the morning and the evening are better – I start the day with a fresh intention, and then when things start to slow down/wind up, I become more relaxed and am able to question more. But it’s that massive chunk in between (most of my life!!) where the battle to step out of the consuming fascination of the mind is really on.

        Are you dreaming now? 😉

  • This is very telling, thank you for sharing Nathan! Your experience really shows how much help we can get if we only make some sincere efforts during the day. It looks like you had a very fruitful night thanks to your tireless questioning during the day.

    I remember one occasion when I woke up/became lucid in a dream as a direct result of just ONE questioning of reality during the day. But that questioning was really intensive, to the point that I really was not sure if I was dreaming or not and had to check several times to see if i was really in the physical world. And just as you said, things really start feeling magical when we start paying attention and question reality around us – where are we? what are we doing here? could the things around us be symbolic? (I really like this one :-))

    Wishing you many more lucid nights!

    • Wow, that must have been one proper special question Lucia 😀!

      Yeah, I’m quite a fan of that ‘symbol question’. I often find that not that much out of the ordinary happens when I’m practicing reality checks, but symbols are one of the main things I look for when I’m remembering dreams, so it becomes a nice way to really question with some interest.

      Wishing some lucid nights your way too!

  • Insightful experience Nathan. I can relate to how helpful doing several reality checks throughout the day while sincerely questioning whether I’m in the astral or the physical realm (a technique taught by Belsebuub) has been for me. I like to do the little jump and finger pulling techniques, and I also use a tactile approach to verify whether I can penetrate my hand/fingers through a hard surface, like a wall or a table (I have a tendency to walk through walls and structures while out-of-body). The reality checks have definitely increased the likelihood of me having a lucid dream/out-of-body experience. I like how you described that incredible moment of what you call perceptible magic which suddenly arose when you started to naturally question the world around you. It’s inspiring to read how in the end, with perservence, you were able to successfully become lucid more than once and gain many valuable lessons from the whole experience.

    • I can imagine seeing your hand pass through a wall like it was a puddle would make someone ask if they were dreaming 😀 (although I can just as easily imagine myself finding some way of accepting it as normal in a dream as well!)

  • Thanks for sharing those experiences, Nathan. It’s funny how reluctant we can be within a dream to question, especially in a social scenario like a friend’s birthday!

    It’s like we can start to come out of it, just noticing things are out of place, but then we start to feel a pull back into the dream, to let the notion pass by that we could be dreaming, to carry on in that environment, kind of like an elastic band pulling back when it is stretched. It takes quite a tenacity to carry on with investigating if we’re really dreaming.

    I wonder if part of the pull back into the dream stems from social egos: those that want us to identify with others or to perhaps not seem awkward pulling our finger or jumping…

    It sounds like your strong efforts to be aware and to question reality sincerely, even in familiar territory, were what paid off, allowing you to go more deeply in your questioning.

    • Hey Mike,

      I’d definitely agree that those social egos are big impairments to questioning things. In the dreams I mentioned above, a fear of coming across as strange is what made things somewhat ‘shakey’ as to whether I was going to carry through and actually test if it was a dream or not.

      It makes me reflect on the importance of being ‘inwardly detached’. I think it’s really normal to try to fit in with events and atmospheres, to vibrate with the tone around us, but I guess by doing so there’s a lot that we can miss.

      I think even subtle fear can be a really limiting thing, in what it does to us in life, but it’s amazing to think it could even stop us from waking up to wider reality, taking away a chance to explore another dimension.
      We need to balance things with common social sense obviously (like maybe not taking a jump while on a crowded bus for example 😃), but I mean it’s interesting to reflect on the impact subtle, ‘ normal’, inner states have on us.
      I guess lucid dreams, just like regular dreams, are bound up in the study of psychology too.

About Belsebuub

belsebuub mark pritchard
Image © Mark Pritchard
Mark Pritchard (Belsebuub) is a British-born spiritual teacher and author who has published several books on OBEs and spiritual transformation... Read more

More Experience Sites

More experiences with Belsebuub’s work:
Dream Guidance
Mystical Experiences

Read more about this series of sites here.