Your World Inside-Out: Increasing
Lucidity by Questioning Your Assumptions
by Beverly (Kedzierski Heart) D’Urso, Ph.D.
Presentation for the International Association for the Study of Dreams
PsiberDreaming Conference, September 2008
I often speak and write about lucid
dreaming [1.] Lucid dreaming means to know I dream while I dream. When
asleep and lucid dreaming, I do not view any dream environment, bodies,
or actions as “true,” particularly in relation to my waking world. I
usually experience my waking world as more “solid,” with many laws of
nature. In a sleeping lucid dream, I can take off my dream head, still
walk around in the dream, and not experience any problems with my
physical head when I wake up.
How would you compare your normal waking state to your dream state?
I like to use a simple dream example to describe how my focus on a
thought can help create my experience. Suppose I watch a movie
about a fire, or I actually see a fire in my waking state. Then I go to
bed thinking of fire, and in one of my dreams I see fire. After waking
up, and sharing my dream, someone might say, “Oh, you had ‘fire’ on
your mind.” Of course, someone else might say that my dream of fire, or
even my waking experience of fire, has a different, underlying meaning.
I, however, do not wish to analyze dreams, but merely use them as a way
to demonstrate how thoughts can become actualized in the world I
experience around me. When I dream of fire, and know I am
dreaming, I enjoy tasting the fire because I know that I can easily do
so in a dream. Eating the fire also serves as more evidence that I am
dreaming, and it tells me that I actually can’t call the fire “real.”
Can you think of a time when you focused on a thought and it seemed to
appear in your dream or your life?
Although I have many non-lucid dreams and learn from them as well, my
mere recognition of a dream as a dream while it occurs gives me freedom
and expands the possibilities of what can happen. I experience many
levels of lucidity. With a relatively high degree of lucidity, I do not
feel fear when “attacked” by monsters. I can fly through walls or
communicate with characters that seem to represent people who have
died. [2.] I can have these experiences because I don’t see the
monsters, the walls, or the “dead people” as real, solid, or true. My
response to what happens comes from my inner, expanded mind, and not
the brain located in my dream body’s head. My inner mind has the
awareness that what it focuses upon seems to happen.
I believe that I can NOT know with absolutely certainty that I am NOT
dreaming at any time [3.] When I recognize that I am dreaming in my
life, or become lucid in my waking state, I call this “lucid living.”
This means I also don’t think of my waking world as “true.” I see it as
a type of dream as well. By “dream,” I mean an an experience of an
outer world made up of characters and actions that my inner mind has
helped to create.
With lucid living, I constantly ask myself if I am dreaming and
question my world and my assumptions in the moment. I look for clues
that I am dreaming, such as strange or impossible changes in my
environment. I also look for evidence that I have focused on limiting
thoughts that I originally saw as true.
If I believe that I am NOT dreaming, I often feel limited, especially
when my experience seems uncomfortable or unloving. In this case, I see
my world as true and unchangeable. In a sleeping dream, I might try to
run away from some scary witches that seem to chase me. In a waking
dream, I might feel justified in feeling hurt that my husband always
seems to arrive late and therefore must not love me. If I go as far as
assuming he will leave me and I will perish, I might feel very
depressed. I might actually act in such a way where this scenario
becomes my life, or at least my experience. Without lucidity, I might
go on helping to create such painful dramas or dreams.
Have you ever felt a victim of someone else whom you believed caused
you pain, and you acted in a way to extend the drama?
If I question my assumptions, especially when I do not feel positive
about what I am experiencing, it can help me find new ways to respond.
I have done this many times in sleeping dreams right before a head-on
collision with another vehicle and in my waking state when a doctor
told me something I didn’t think I wanted to hear. My fear reduced, my
head cleared, and I responded in more appropriate and creative ways.
When I DO believe that I am dreaming, or in a world that represents
aspects of my inner mind that I don’t see as true, I begin to
experience a more expanded self. I notice that my view of how others
act toward me seems to represent how I act or have acted toward them,
others, or myself. I listen more carefully to what others have to say
to me and perhaps change my own actions. If I do see something that I
don’t like, I can still pay attention to it and fearlessly accept it as
a part of myself that can teach me what I need to learn. When I really
“get” the lesson, my world seems to change again, showing me on the
“outside” what seems to exist “inside”
Have you ever judged someone else who has a habit similar to one you
have as well?
In my “highest” levels of lucidity in sleeping lucid dreams, I no
longer have a body nor an environment. I do not experience any
separation, only a sense of “nirvana” that I can’t explain in
words. When I have a great deal of lucidity in my waking life, I
experience an expansion of myself and more fulfillment. I still seem to
have a body, which has not yet flown on its own, but even small
frustrations disappear quickly with lucidity. Lucidity has also seemed
to help me fulfill many lifelong goals, such as finding a mate, having
a child, dealing with grief, and healing my body [4.] I now attempt to
focus on lucidity in every moment, whether asleep or awake. The more I
experience lucidity, the more I see others experience it as well.
What do you suggest for experiencing lucidity in your life?
This past May 28, 2008, I became aware of an approach that seems very
similar to my lucid living work. It comes from a woman named Byron
Katie, the author of a book called: “Loving What Is” [5.] I have tried
to word my presentation to remain consistent with her concepts, as well
as my own.
Katie’s website: http://thework.com/index.asp describes her work as “a
simple yet powerful process of inquiry that teaches you to identify and
question thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. In its
most basic form, The Work consists of four questions and a turnaround
[below] to help you to understand what's hurting you, and to address
your problems with clarity. The Work is meditation. It’s about
awareness, not about trying to change your thoughts.”
[Katie’s Questions and Turnaround]
“Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it's true?
How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without the thought?
Turn the concept you are questioning around. Be creative with the
turnarounds. They are revelations, showing you previously unseen
aspects of yourself reflected back through others.”
I know that many others, from ancient traditions to modern times, have
taught this “mirroring” approach to life. I personally like A
Course in Miracles  and the Seth work , as well.
Please let me know your personal favorites.
1. “Lucid Dreaming/Lucid Living,” Online Publications, D'Urso, Beverly
(Kedzierski Heart), 1982-2008.
2. "Dream Speak: An Interview with Beverly (Kedzierski Heart) D’Urso: A
Lucid Dreamer - Part One, Two and Three", The Lucid Dream Exchange,
Numbers 29, 30, and 31, 2003 - 2004. [Also in E.l.e.c.t.r.i.c
D.r.e.a.m.s, Volume #11, Issue #7, 8, 9, 2004.]
3. Lucid Dreaming: A Bridge to Lucid Living, D’Urso,
Beverly (Kedzierski Heart), Ph.D., Workshop Before the International
Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) Conference 2007,
Sonoma, California, June, 2007.
4. "I learned to use my dreams to improve my life", about D’Urso,
Beverly (Kedzierski Heart), First for Women Magazine, Volume 8, Issue
26, June 24, 1996.
5. “Loving What Is: Four Questions that can Change your Life,” Katie,
Byron, and Mitchell, Stephen, Harmony Books, New York, New York,
7. “A Course in Miracles,” Foundation for Inner Peace, Tiburon,
8. “The Nature of Personal Reality,” Roberts, Jane, Bantam Books, New
York, New York, 1974.
Dr. Beverly (Kedzierski Heart) D’Urso, an “extraordinary” lucid dreamer
all her life, originally worked with Dr. Stephen LaBerge at Stanford.
Numerous major magazines, such as LIFE, Smithsonian, and OMNI,
television specials, books, and radio talk shows have featured her life
and her dreams. Using her practical philosophy called lucid living, she
has taught her own workshops and presented at conferences for decades.
Working with Stanford University Professors, she completed her Masters
degree in 1980, involving Cognitive Psychology, and her Ph.D. in 1983,
focussing on Artificial Intelligence. Prior to working as a researcher,
consultant, and a college professor, she created several startup
companies. Dr. D’Urso has over fifty publications and has won several
awards, often placing well in IASD dream contests.