Lucid Dreaming to Lucid Living
Beverly (Kedzierski Heart) D'Urso, Ph.D. Copyright (c) 2003
Workshop at the International Association for the Study of Dreams
(IASD) PsiberDreaming Conference September, 2003.
This paper explores the use of lucid dreaming techniques and
implications in our waking life. Lucid dreaming simply means being
"aware that we dream while we dream." Appendix 1 includes an expanded
definition of lucid dreaming. As in sleeping lucid dreams, we can
learn to awaken in our lives, to live with less fear, to experience the
joy of success, and to feel a sense of oneness with everyone and
everything in our waking life.
I have been a lucid dreamer continuously since childhood. In my
first lucid dream at age seven, I faced up to a scary witch during a
recurring nightmare (see Reference 12.) Since then, I remember about
half a dozen dreams per night, and I usually become lucid, to various
degrees, several times a week. Numerous books, magazines, conferences,
and TV specials have featured my work, originally with Dr. Stephen
LaBerge at Stanford University (see References 1 - 26.) I have
led lucid dreaming/lucid living workshops and groups for years.
(see my web site: www.durso.org )
DREAM SELF and PHYSICAL SELF
When discussing a non-lucid dream while awake, I refer to my dream self
as “me” or “I,” (as in: “I was flying”) and I refer to my
physical self (or part of my physical self’s “mind”) as the one who
creates the dream, whom I call the dreamer. By definition then, I can
not call my dream self the dreamer, although I recognize that
some people do. Note, that I do not feel my physical self’s brain
contains my physical self’s mind. I also assume that a “mind” is not
physical. In a lucid dream, although I also refer to my dream self as
“I”, I can sense my connection to the dreamer, and I feel like a
“larger, expanded self.” Sometimes I even feel connected to what
I'll later describe as the "Dreamer of life."
Who do you feel creates your dreams?
How would you define the “dreamer?”
Although I usually say that my dream exists in my physical self’s
mind, it usually feels as though my dream and my physical self exist in
separate dimensions, and when I “wake up”, I change dimensions
(or perspectives.) Most importantly, when I become lucid, I feel that
my thoughts definitely do not come from my dream self’s mind or brain,
but from my physical self’s mind. For example, my dream self will often
have a different life, history, motivations, and goals than my physical
So, to summarize, in a lucid dream I usually experience myself in
a 3-dimensional, vivid world that I believe my physical self’s mind has
created. Therefore, I feel safe because I feel I exist in my
physical self’s mind and not in physical reality (where my physical
body resides). Because I see the dream as being created by my physical
self’s mind, I also know that anything I (the dreamer) can imagine can
happen. By believing that everyone and everything around me in the
dream, including my dream self and other dream characters, exists in my
physical self’s mind, I experience everyone as “one”, or “made of the
same substance” and all “parts of a whole.”
What assumptions do you make
when you become lucid in sleeping dreams?
In a lucid dream, I feel free to do whatever I please, have fun,
experiment, solve problems, accomplish goals, and go wherever my
imagination takes me, taking care to balance spontaneity and control. I
have learned that sometimes it is better to surrender to the dream and
other times it helps to take control, change things, or carry out goals.
When I view my waking life as a dream, a dream in which I know I am
dreaming (to various degrees, of course), I call this lucid living.
Waking life may feel 'real' and unlike a 'dream,' merely because I lack
lucidity, just as non-lucid dreams can feel like physical reality,
until I become lucid. I try to view life as an “actual dream” and not
to merely use lucid living as a therapy or philosophy. The assumptions
that come from viewing life as a dream can be very powerful and can
expand what we feel is possible in life.
If I look at waking life as a dream, then I can also use lucid
dreaming techniques, that I learned from my sleeping dream experiences,
to more easily become lucid in my waking life. Appendix 2 contains techniques for
becoming lucid in sleeping dreams and in waking life. When lucid
in waking life, I can become more “free”, have fun, accomplish goals,
feel connected, and maybe even experience magic in my waking life, as I
have in my sleeping lucid dreams.
In lucid living, I think of our physical selves as dream selves
in a dream called “waking life.” I also imagine a Dreamer who is
dreaming our lives. Note the capital “D” to distinguish from the use of
dreamer as part of a physical self’s mind. Sometimes, I view this
Dreamer as some “Being” asleep in a bed in another dimension.
Other times, I view the Dreamer as a nonphysical “God” or an
Either way, when I am lucid in waking life, I sense a connection
to this Dreamer, whom I sometimes call my Higher-Self. I begin to
respond to things from the perspective of this Dreamer. As in a lucid
sleeping dream, I feel “safe,” I believe in “limitless
possibilities”, and I see everyone in waking life as “one” or “parts of
Do think there could be a Dreamer of
LESSONS FROM LUCID DREAMING
There are aspects of lucid dreaming that apply to lucid living
and can help us live our lives more fully. In waking life, we may
identify our physical bodies with our selves. The same thought
occurs in non-lucid dreams, where we identify our dream bodies with our
selves. We may believe that if our dream body dies, we die. We feel
this way because we are not aware of our physical self in
non-lucid dreams. We continue to feel this way until we wake up out of
the dream and discover that the dream happened in our "mind" and not in
"reality". We think, after the fact, that we could have responded
differently had we realized that we'd dreamed.
Of course, even in sleeping lucid dreams, we might not, for
example, jump off a cliff, if we didn't feel positive that we were
dreaming, and that we could, for example, merely fly away. We might
just continue to dream that we had a very bad accident.
In general, after waking up from dreams, we don't think that our
dream bodies have 'died,' but understand that we have merely switched
focus. Will we someday wake up out of our lives and merely change focus
Have you thought of death as an
Our goal, then, in lucid living, involves learning to respond
differently, at times, and with less fear in our waking lives. We do
not need to wait until 'after the fact' to realize that we could have
responded more fully and with more freedom in our lives. Instead, we
can 'wake up within our waking life!'
Anything can happen
Lucid dreamers have experienced the amazing feeling of having an
exciting goal for a dream and making it happen. We can experience the
joy of making things happen more often in our waking state, by learning
to become lucid in waking life and set upon accomplishing tasks with a
new outlook that anything is possible. At the very least, we can
probably gain an understanding of how we may block our selves and try
again, knowing we have endless possibilities.
An example, from an early stage of my sleeping lucid dream
development, illustrates this point. In my dream, I could not fly to my
destination because I kept hitting telephone poles. When I
decided that “this is my dream,” I was able to fly right through the
poles. I also realized that it was my physical self’s mind that
created the telephone poles to begin with!
We are all one
When we increase our lucidity in waking life, we can also feel a
sense of oneness with everyone and everything. We can live as if our
Higher-Self does indeed “create our own reality.” We can experience an
altered state of consciousness, and at the extreme, we can have what
one might call “mystical experiences.”
The next time we find ourselves in an undesirable situation in
our waking life, we can take action with the belief that other people
make up parts of our Higher-Self, the Dreamer. This can help us to stop
and listen to what others have to say, not because we have been taught
to, but because we want to understand the Dreamer. Like puppets who act
as though they are separate and disconnected, we often feel
disconnected. Using the puppet analogy, we can begin to identify more
with the puppeteer, realizing that it is the puppeteer who makes
Here are a few examples of how I have become lucid in my waking
life. Once, during an argument with my cousin, I suddenly stopped to
think, "If I look at this as a dream right now, then my cousin actually
expresses a part of the Dreamer (my Higher-Self.) At that exact moment,
I acted from the perspective of the Dreamer, and she actually started
to explain how our points of view seemed related instead of opposed.
Another time, a friend was yelling and hovering over me like the
witches from my sleeping dreams. I noticed the similarities to the
witch nightmares, and I saw this as a pattern in my life. The situation
actually happened in the same physical place in my house with different
people. I faced up to my friend, like I faced up to the witches, and my
friend suddenly stopped, walked away, and the pattern in my life ended,
in the same way my witch nightmares ceased. I’ve dreamed of the witches
in many more powerful ways, but that is another presentation (see
My marriage, my child, my degrees, my career, and my amazing
adventures, too numerous to mention, are all examples of how lucid
living has assisted me in having such an incredible and diverse life.
In my experience as a lucid dreaming teacher, my students found
it easier to become lucid in their sleeping dreams, once they
understood the concept and believed it possible. When they began to
question whether or not they dreamed and looked for evidence, they
often noticed something unusual and became lucid. Once they had
experienced results, they no longer had to believe, they knew they
could become lucid. We can do the same with lucid living.
Perhaps people would accept psychic phenomena, or synchronicities
in waking life, more readily if they viewed waking life as a dream.
Viewing life as a dream, gave me a foundation for understanding how I
could possibly have had my first amazing, precognitive dreams. Psychic
phenomena could also serve as clues for becoming lucid in waking life.
I believe lucid living can have a profound effect on all our
lives. Of course, as in our sleeping dreams, we can easily go on
automatic and lose lucidity. However, the more we practice lucid
dreaming skills, whether when asleep or during our waking life, the
more likely we will become lucid at all times. By practicing lucid
living, we strive to live the most illuminating, clear, and conscious
waking life as possible.
We can also obtain a greater understanding of what spiritual
practices, great writers, movies, fairy tales, and songs have been
telling us for ages.
Waking life is an illusion;
Philosophy of Connectedness;
Resurrection after death;
Course of Miracles:
Wizard of Oz:
There’s no place like home;
All the world's a stage and (we are) merely players;
The world has been pulled over your eyes to blind you to
The list goes on and on. My favorite is: Row, Row, Row, your boat,
gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but
1. Witches, the House, and Grief: Developing and Avoiding Lucid
Dreaming, D'Urso, Beverly, Paper at the Association for the Study of
Dreams (ASD) Conference 2003, Berkeley, CA, June, 2003 (Available
as an audio tape from ASD.)
2. Lessons in Lucidity: Explorations in Lucid
Dreaming, Waggoner, R., Webb, C., and D'Urso, B., Panel at the
Association for the Study of Dreams (ASD) conference, Santa Cruz,
CA , July 12, 2001.
3. Hidden Assets, Bryant, Mark, [Chapter 3: Reality and
Lucid Dreamers(Beverly D'Urso], New Leaders Press,1998.
4. Living Life as a Lucid Dream, D'Urso, Beverly, Bay Area
Dream Workers (BADG) Presentation, Palo Alto, CA , March 21,1998.
5. The Dreamer and the Dreamtribe, Halonen, Arto, (writer and
director), Documentary [includes Beverly D'Urso], A Mandrake
Productions/Art Films Production, 1997.
6. Living Life as a Lucid Dream, D'Urso, Beverly, Workshop
presented at the Conference 1997, Asheville, NC., June, 18, 1997
(Available as an audio tape from ASD.)
7. Lucid Dreaming Meeting, hosted by: D'Urso,
Beverly, Association for the Study of Dreams (ASD) Conference
1996, Berkeley , CA, July,1996.
8. I learned to use my dreams to improve my life, about D'Urso,
Beverly, First for Women Magazine,Volume 8, Issue 26, June 24,1996.
9. Lucid Dreaming, NBC's Next Step, May 1996.
10. A Lucid Dreamer: Beverly D'Urso, ABC TV: WLS Chicago 10
O'Clock News, May 11,1995.
11. What I ultimately learned from Lucid Dreaming is Lucid
Living, Heart (D'Urso), Beverly Kedzierski, Presented at the
Association for the Study of Dreams (ASD) Conference, Santa
Cruz, CA , June, 1992.
12. Facing the Witches, Heart (D'Urso), Beverly,
Autobiography Paper, February, 1992.
13. Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming, LaBerge,
Stephen, Ballantine Books, New York, 1990.
14. Dream Life, Wake Life, The Human Condition through Dreams,
Globus, Gordon, Page 60 [Kedzierski (D'Urso) , Beverly],State
University of New York Press, Albany New York, 1987.
15. The Three Pound Universe, Hooper, Judith and Teresi, Dick,
Chapter 11 - Chuang-tzu and the Butterfly: Dreams and
Reality [Kedzierski (D'Urso) , Beverly], Jeremy P.
Tarcher, Inc., 1986.
16. Stephen LaBerge: The Doctor of Dreams, LIFE,
17. Personal Exploration of Lucid Dreaming, Kedzierski
(D'Urso), Beverly, Lucidity Letter, Proceedings from the Lucid
Dreaming Symposium (ASD 1986 Panel), Volume 5, Number 1,
18. The Representation of Death in my Dreams, Kedzierski
(D'Urso), Beverly, Lucidity Letter, Dream Lucidity and
Death, Volume 4 Number 2, December, 1985.
19. Lucid Dreaming, New Age Journal, November,
20. Lucid Dreaming: the power of being awake and aware in your
dreams, LaBerge, Stephen, Ballantine Books, New York,
21. You can direct your dreams, Parade, February ,1984.
22. Physiological Responses to Dreamed Sexual Activity during
Lucid REM Sleep, LaBerge, S.P. , Greenleaf, W. , and Kedzierski
(D'Urso), Beverly, Psychophysiology, 20(1983): 454-55, Presented
at Asilomar Conference, Fall, 1983.
23. You're dreaming, but do you know it?, Smithsonian,
24. Design your own dreams, Omni, March, 1982
25. Discover the World of Science, Lucid Dreaming :
Television Special, 1982.
26. Two on the Town, A Day in the Life of Beverly: Lucid
Dreamer, Television Show, 1982.
When we become “lucid” in our sleeping dreams, we become aware
that we dream while we dream. Some people never remember their dreams,
some remember them after they have been awake for a while, and some
remember them just after or before they awaken. Lucid dreamers remember
they dream while the dream takes place. They do not necessarily
analyze the dream, or look for symbols, but directly and consciously
experience the dream, shortening the time it takes to realize they
To me, lucid dreaming does not mean merely “visualizing”,
“daydreaming”, “clear” dreaming, or even “controlled” dreaming,
necessarily. Also, I personally believe in levels of lucidity. I would
say I am partially lucid if I just remember to question if I am
dreaming. I’d call myself definitely lucid, if I knew I was
dreaming for sure. I consider myself very lucid, if I can control or
change things in the dream, not that I always do. Finally,
when I am most lucid, I often do not experience a body, but I
have a very powerful, spiritual-like experience.
Throughout my life, I have developed techniques for becoming
lucid in my sleeping dreams, and I have found there are many uses for
lucid dreaming. Some of these include: psychological development,
trying new behaviors, healing, and more. I’ve found that all of these
can apply, whether we find ourselves asleep or awake, i.e., in sleeping
dreams or in waking life.
To become lucid in my sleeping dreams, or in my waking life, I
often look for unusual or impossible situations. In my sleeping dreams,
I will often see someone who has died and that will clue me that I am
dreaming. At times, in my waking life, especially during tense
situations, I look for the unusual and wonder if I am dreaming. Without
knowing for sure, I begin to find more evidence, my reactions turn
powerful, and I began to relax.
Sometimes, I “act as if,” or “pretend,” I am dreaming. I often
ask myself, or others, if I am dreaming. I also make sure to “test” if
I am dreaming. An example of a test is when I try to float. If I do
float, I know I am dreaming for sure, and I become lucid. I have not
floated in my waking life, but I do not rule it out as an
impossibility. I have become more open, for example, to stories of
Another valuable technique is to review recurring dreams and
nightmares and practice imagining myself having new reactions. I
have learned to modify my reaction to a monster in a recurring
sleep-state nightmare. I have also changed my response to friends
at key times in waking life. (see some examples below.) The key
involves viewing the monster as part of my physical self’s mind, in the
case of the nightmare. In the waking life situation, I view my friends
as part of my Higher-Self, or the Dreamer of life.
When trying to become lucid in my sleeping dreams, and in my
waking life, I find it valuable to get myself motivated. For example, I
can teach or take a class on lucid dreaming or lucid living. It helps
to record, share, and visualize my sleeping dreams and my waking life
situations. I especially like to do exercises to help me become
lucid in both sleeping dreams, and in waking life.
An example of an exercise follows. I stop and I ask myself
if I could be dreaming, several times a day, perhaps every time I wash
my hands, or climb down steps, or do some activity that doesn’t happen
too often or too seldom. What I practice while awake, I eventually find
myself doing in my sleeping dreams, so this technique helps me become
lucid both in my waking and sleeping states.
One of the most valuable tools I have used for motivating me to
become lucid in sleeping dreams involves setting goals.
Sometimes, I become lucid and decide not to change the direction of
the, in order to carry out a goal. In this case, I go with the flow of
the dream. However, when I do have an interesting goal, I get motivated
to become and remain lucid. In my lucid dreaming classes, I suggest
that my students start with a simple goal to accomplish in their lucid
dream. I ask them to decide the first steps that they can accomplish
from wherever they might find themselves, and I tell them to do this
ahead of time, while awake. I find that a goal of “becoming lucid” does
not work as well as a goal of doing something fun in the limitless
world of dreams.
As a sleeping lucid dreamer, I learned to remain in my
dreams, to wake up out of them, to change them, to go back into them,
to become more lucid, and to accomplish intricate goals within
them. I would like to do this in my waking state as well.
What levels of lucidity have you
Do you feel a change in where your
thoughts come from when you become lucid in sleeping dreams?
How do you feel about control in
What benefits do you find in lucid
Do you have techniques for inducing
What kind of goals do you set for when
you become lucid?
How have you dealt with ways you block
yourself in dreams where you are not fully lucid?
What can you take from this
presentation and apply in your life following the conference?