Though there is a realization, after so many years on the path, that the mind gets caught up in the world and the world looks so real. Is this natural, or one needs to put more effort?
Yes, the mind gets caught in maya (illusion). You have to remind yourself again and again, and bring the mind back, and see that this is all maya (illusion). Turn the mind inwards. It is very interesting. The mind is so amazing.