Electric Dreams

An Excerpt From The Lucid Dream Exchange
Lucy Gillis, Editor

An Interview with
Beverly D'Urso,
a Lucid Dreamer
Part Two

Robert Waggoner

(Electric Dreams)  (Article Index)  (Search for Topic)  (View Article Options)

Waggoner, Robert  (2004 August). DreamSpeak - An Interview with Beverly D'Urso: Part Two.
(An Excerpt From The Lucid Dream Exchange, Lucy Gillis, Editor.)  Electric Dreams 11(8).

LDE is pleased to present DreamSpeak: An Interview with a Lucid Dreamer. In this three part series, Robert Waggoner interviews long time lucid dreamer Beverly D'Urso. (Please note, as with all material in LDE, the author retains copyright of his or her material. In this interview, the questions are by Robert Waggoner and the responses are copyright of Beverly D'Urso.)

Questions by Robert Waggoner

Beverly D'Urso (formerly Beverly Kedzierski, and also Bev Heart) is an incredible lucid dreamer. She served as Stephen LaBerge's main lucid dream research subject in the early years of his research work, and helped provide key insights into lucid dreaming. Interviewed by magazines, national and local television, and other media, Beverly has promoted a greater understanding of lucid dreaming and "lucid living." The LDE is pleased to provide a multi-issue interview of this fascinating lucid dreamer.

Robert: So Beverly, you have been lucid dreaming regularly since you were a child, and helped Stephen LaBerge scientifically prove the existence of lucid dreaming as his main research subject. But did your time in lucid dreaming affect your other dreams, or were they everyday, normal dreams?

Beverly: In 1982, after becoming extremely proficient in lucid dreaming,I spontaneously began having precognitive dreams. These are dreams of things that happen later in the waking state. For me, these dreams usually had great detail, were very emotional, and the waking scenario would occur within a few days of the dream. However, my precognitive dreams usually have not been lucid. I was sure that they were not due merely to coincidence. I even described the events, in detail, to others, who were later present during the waking scenario. My previous view of the physical world as being "solid," and having precise rules, had turned upside down!

Robert: How did you respond to having your world view altered by your lucid and precognitive dreaming?

Beverly: These experiences caused me to explore other psychic phenomenon. I began reading books, such as Jane Robert's "Seth" work. I needed to make sense of what was happening to me. Again, I thought of life being a dream. It would explain how such things like precognitive dreams could occur. Maybe, I needed to become more lucid in life in order to really see it as a dream. My dreams often seemed as real as physical reality, sometimes more so. The more I thought of the implications of life being a dream, the more it made sense. We could all be dream characters in a dream we call life. Was there a Dreamer dreaming us all? However, during this time, I was still a scientist trying to finish my Ph.D. I did not want to be distracted by these ideas so much, that I never finished my degree. I decided to put them off for awhile.

Robert: That's understandable. So how did the dissertation go?

Beverly: In my waking state, I was having trouble writing my doctoral dissertation. I decided to try writing it in my dreams first. In one dream, I found myself lying in bed. The desk in the room was in the wrong place, so I realized that I was dreaming. I headed for my computer, to start writing. I found that I could not move. I was paralyzed. I told myself, "This is my dream, and I can do what I want!" I slowly made it to the desk. I looked down, and I saw that the chair seat was an opening for "the pit to hell." Flames swept up, and it sounded and smelled awful! I was, however, determined to succeed. Holding my breath, I sat down, ready to be sucked into the pit. Instead, I woke up, and within a very short time, I finished writing my dissertation in the area of artificial intelligence.

Robert: That's a great story. I recall being at an Association for the Study of Dreams' presentation, where one of the speakers admitted that his realistic dream of fighting the devil occurred when he was undergoing the oral and written defense of his doctoral dissertation! So what happened after you finished your dissertation?

Beverly: I finished my Ph.D. in 1983 and my career really took off! I was very involved in starting up businesses and traveling around the world. In 1987, I took a short break from this computer science work to help Stephen LaBerge form the Lucidity Institute.

By this time, we had been experimenting for awhile with lucid dreaming induction techniques to help others more easily become lucid in their dreams. At first, we tried to send clues to the dream world by using smells and sounds. In one experiment, I tape-recorded my own voice saying, "I am dreaming, now!" A technician would play the tape when I was in REM sleep, making it gradually louder. However, as soon as the sound became loud enough for me to hear in the dream, it would wake me up. This was when we decided to send light to the dream, instead. Light could be more easily incorporated into the dream and used as a clue to induce a lucid dream, for someone trained to look for the flashinglight in their dream.

Robert: So, forgiving my pun, you and Stephen saw the light. How did that work?

Beverly: We developed a mask that people could wear to sleep at night, which could recognize REM eye movements. If a person was in REM sleep, it would then flash a light, which would get incorporated into the dream. If users were trained to look for the light, they could learn to question whether or not the light was from the mask, and, more importantly, question whether or not they were dreaming. The light might appear as flashing stoplights in street scenes, or as lightning flashing in the sky. Many versions of this dream mask eventually got developed, including the Dream Light and the Nova Dreamer.

I created the first business plan to market this lucidity induction device. I also helped Stephen give lucid dreaming workshops. In 1990, I decided to lead my own personal groups and workshops on lucid dreaming, which soon became lucid dreaming/lucid living.

Robert: Interesting. When you started out on your own leading lucid dream workshops, did you feel like you had your own unique vision of lucid dreaming?

Beverly: Sharing a little of my introduction to lucid dreaming will clarify how I look at things. 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 dream.

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, as a spectrum. 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 know I am 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.

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. Other times, it helps to take control, change things, or carry out goals.

I have remembered, on average, half a dozen dreams per night, for most of my life. I'd say that between 2 and 20 dreams per week were lucid, to various degrees. So, I'd say a good estimate of how many lucid dreams I have had would be 20,000. Unfortunately, I am not a very good recorder of dreams, nor I have organized my dream reports very well. I have, however, kept track of the ones I consider most valuable.

Robert: A thousand here, a thousand there- at that point, who's counting? No, that's incredible. So how have you used your lucid dreaming knowledge and skills in your presentations and workshops?

Beverly: Here are a few examples of how I worked with my students in my groups. I would often ask my students to choose a goal for a lucid dream. One student told me he'd like to bike around the world. I told him to start simple. He first had to become lucid, remember the task, stay in the dream, and find a bike to ride. He accomplished this in several months. Finally, one day he reported that he had ridden his bike through Russia in his dreams. Shortly after this, he told me that he could no longer attend my group. He was quitting his job, selling his house, and taking five years off to bike around the world!

Another time, a friend I had just met asked me to dream for him. I dreamed I was in a theater and was watching a movie that he is in. Later, I told him the story, and I discovered that I had dreamed his life, including things he never told anyone.

Once, I told a friend's eight year old nephew about lucid dreaming. I helped him practice lucid dream induction techniques while awake. I asked him what he'd like to do in a dream. He said he'd like to meet a president of the United States. In a few days, he called me to tell me that he had a lucid dream. He didn't find Washington or Lincoln, but he did meet up with the artist, Leonardo da Vinci. He said that it was okay, because da Vinci was famous too. I asked him what happened. He told me that he asked da Vinci if da Vinci knew that he was in the encyclopedia. Then he showed da Vinci some of his own artwork. The boy was very happy with his lucid dream, and very pleased with himself.

Robert: Did listening to your students' lucid experiences and challenges inspire you to try out new things in your own lucid dreams?

Beverly: Yes, sometimes I would decide ahead of time to meet up with people in my dreams. I have succeeded in dreaming of the people, but none have ever told me that they had the same dream. That would be called a "mutual dream." It is easier for me to attempt a mutual dream when I am lucid, because I can stop and remember my goal. I have an easier time making it happen, as well.

I often try to accomplish tasks for my students so we can discuss issues that arise, and also to see if we could have a mutual dream. Here is a dream I had when trying to have a mutual dream with a student named Sharon.

I found myself in front of my childhood home and noticed that it looked strange. The door wasn't in the right place and the house was situated improperly on the block. This happens often in my dreams, so at that moment I became lucid. I knew I was dreaming and I remembered that I had a goal for this dream. However, I saw a neighbor, who I knew had died, and I first stopped to talk to her. In previous dreams, I would see her and say, "You are dead!" and try to get on with my goal. She would get upset and say, "I'm here now, so talk to me!" Unless I did, I learned that I would have trouble completing my goal.

My goal for the dream was to meet Sharon in the Bahamas. Immediately, I began to fly like superman heading south, because I was in the Chicago area at the time. It was dark, and I had a long way to go. By this time in my lucid dreaming experience, I could fly through electric wires that were in my way, but now I had another idea. I could make myself miniature, go into the wire as electricity itself, and get there very quickly. So I got tiny and popped into the nearest wire, which appeared like a large tunnel once I was inside. I was whisked very fast, shooting headfirst down the line, until I abruptly popped out the end of the wire. As my normal self again, I was somewhere at the southern tip of the United States, at the ocean's edge, where the electric lines stopped.

I realized I didn't have much time left, and I decided to travel the rest of the way underwater, doing a kind of superman swim/flying. I soon got distracted by the lovely underwater life and the joy of moving so fast, while breathing the water. I finally made it to a lovely beach in the Bahamas. I asked a guy, who was serving drinks to the sunbathers, if there was a restaurant nearby. This was the place where Sharon and I agreed we would try to meet. He pointed down the beach, and I walked to a resort type building, and then through a long hall. I was about to ask the host if Sharon was waiting for me, when I saw "her" sitting on a bench. She didn't look like she was expecting me, so I said, "Don't you remember that you said you wanted to dream of going to the Bahamas, and I said I'd meet you in a lucid dream of my own? Well, this is it. We are dreaming now."

I was thinking that this dream girl was "Sharon," a dream-body who was connected to Sharon, who was probably asleep in bed in Mountain View, California. If I had seen her as a projection of myself, I may have decided not to talk to her, believing that she wasn't connected in any way to the physical Sharon. In this case, I said to her, "Well, I'll tell you a secret, and we'll see if you remember it when I see you in our group next week." I whispered a secret in her ear, and soon afterwards I woke up.

Robert: So what happened after this lucid dream? Did she call you in waking reality or have any memory of the dream?

Beverly: When Sharon came to my lucid dreaming group that Sunday night, she had forgotten the goal and had never dreamed of me, nor the Bahamas. I am still waiting, as I am with others, for her to report a related dream or for her to tell me the secret!

Around this time, I had a dream where I was riding my bike down the street of my childhood home. I became lucid and started flying into the air. I was flying over the nearby river, when a cartoon figure of a dolphin floated in front of me. The dolphin danced around, and then asked me if I'd like to go on an adventure. After putting out its fin for me to hold onto, it proceeded to pull me down into the ocean, which was now where the river had previously been. Something similar had happened to me, with a whale shark, in the waking state, while I was scuba diving. The dolphin and I traveled deeper and deeper, faster and faster. I felt both ecstatic and somewhat dizzy, almost as though the experience were too intense. I woke up, however, feeling fantastic; very peaceful, yet energized.

Robert: That's great. Did you have any more experiences with dolphins in dreams or waking life?

Beverly: A few years later, I noticed an ad from a man who took people on dolphin expeditions. I contacted him, and we eventually did a joint lucid dreaming/dolphin swimming workshop on a sailboat in the Bahamas. On this trip, while I was in the crystal clear water of the open sea, one of the dolphins rubbed up to me. Underwater, its color and shape looked remarkably similar to the dolphin of my dreams.

Robert: So what other lucid dreaming stories come to mind?

Beverly: When I was thirty-seven years old, I became very anxious to find a mate, get married, and have children. During the Christmas holidays, while visiting my parents, I had the following dream. I met up with myself at the age of twenty-one, who was sad because she was about to leave her college boyfriend, so she could travel and have a career. I told my twenty-one year old self that I had done those things. I said that I now wanted a husband and children. She introduced me to my alternative self, who was also 37, and who had married my college boyfriend. They had three children, and now she wanted to divorce him. My twenty-one year old self and I decided that everything was as it should be. Finally, I woke up. As I am writing down the dream, I hear an inner voice, as if from a future self, who says, "Everything is perfect as it is!" I finally believed it. I trusted that I would find my perfect mate, when the time was right. I didn't need to worry about it. I decided that if life is a dream, then my dreams would come true. I imagined that anything was possible, even after I read a Newsweek article, which said that a woman was more likely to die from terrorists, than to get married after forty! I did, however, prepare my life for my future family by buying a house, getting a dog, which was supposed to be good with kids, and taking a job as a college teacher, which I thought would work well with being a mom. I met my husband two years after this dream.

Robert: It's interesting in that story how your conversation in the lucid dream leads to a strong conviction that "Everything is perfect as it is!" and following that revelation, you move ahead and buy a house and prepare for your future family. That is one thing that many casual lucid dreamers fail to see - how a lucid dream experience can be as powerful or more powerful than many significant waking experiences. Have you ever used waking reality to practice becoming lucid?

Beverly: In my groups, we would practice becoming lucid while awake. I would give my students exercises, such as, questioning if they are dreaming, several times a day. For example, I asked them to check if they were dreaming every time they washed their hands during the day. I jokingly said, "If your hand falls off, you are most definitely in a dream!" Around this time, I was also helping my mother with her dreams of my dad after he died, in 1992. She was having recurring dreams of my dad, who would appear next to her bed. She would fear that he was here to take her to heaven. I told my mom, "If you see dad, remember that he died, and therefore you must be dreaming!" A few days after I gave my group the hand exercise, she was able to get lucid in her recurring dream. My mother remembered that my father had died, and she knew she was dreaming. She was even able to take his hand, and his hand fell off.She did not know about the exercise when she reported the dream to me the next morning.

Robert: Beautiful. Did trying to become lucid while awake lead to any revelations?

Beverly: Yes, I saw how powerful it could be to become lucid in waking life. I met my husband, Chris, six months after my father died. It was the most lucid day I have ever experienced. We were at a party, and I saw him from across the room. I knew that he was my future. It was love at first sight. I was able to stay in the moment, without fear, and with total trust. I believed in magic, while been totally accepting whatever happened. I was able to listen to him, as if he were truly part of myself.

I was very sorry, however, that he never got to meet my father, when I had the next dream. I was in my childhood home, where my mom still lived, and I saw my dad on the couch. I remembered that he died, and that I must be dreaming. I went to sit next to him and told him that I loved him. I asked him why, lately, he hadn't appeared as often in my dreams. He said that he was helping me from under the bridge. I'm not sure what he meant, but I was happy to hear his voice and feel him close. Next, I embraced him, and after we hugged, I looked back into his eyes. He had turned into my husband, whom I so much wanted my dad to meet. I soon awakened and felt as though they had finally met, at some level.

Chris and I were married in less than a year after we met. We knew that we wanted to have a child. After much medical help to get pregnant, I decided to work on the issue in my dreams.

I decided to dream of our future baby. I would ask questions of the baby in the dream such as, "When are you coming?" I would also try to determine what year it was in the dream. Sometimes the baby would have messages.

Robert: It's fascinating how you seem to work on "the future" to some degree in your lucid dreams. Maybe it is not the future, so much as your hopes for the future. Did you have many other lucid dreams of trying to influence the future?

Beverly: One time, in waking reality, I was back in my childhood home, alone for the first time. My mom was ill, and in the hospital. My Dad had died over two years ago. I was afraid, crying in my bed. I fell asleep. Spontaneously, without trying to influence the future, I had a type of nurturing dream involving the future. I became lucid in my dream, when I noticed that the baby, from my baby picture on the wall, was coming out of the picture. I walked over to myself as a baby, just in time to take the baby in my arms. As I held her, I saw my face in hers, and I pulled her to my chest. I could see her lips sucking at my breast, and I felt very fulfilled. I slowly awakened, and I felt my own lips moving, as well. I was deeply nurtured. A year later I nursed my own child in that very bed!

Before my son, Adrian, was born, however, I also had some interactions with my childhood witches. My witch dreams went through many transformations during my life. In 1960, I faced up to the scary witches from my recurring nightmares. In the 1970's, I looked for the witches of my childhood in a dream, and they appeared as harmless, little old ladies. In the 1980's, I noticed that the witch drama appeared in my waking life as well. In 1994, doctors gave me terrible odds against having a child. So, I looked for the witches in a lucid dream, thinking of them as my "creative power," and I brought them into my uterus. Within a year, I got pregnant with my son, Adrian.

Adrian was born during the 1995 Association for the Study of Dreams Conference (ASD95). This was three years after I presented the paper at ASD92 called, "What I Learned from Lucid Dreaming is Lucid Living." I brought him to the ASD96 conference. He also came to the ASD97 conference, where I gave a workshop called, "Living Life as a Lucid Dream." Adrian turned two on the day of the dream ball.

Robert: In a way, it seems that your lucid dreaming skills allowed you to use that beautiful symbol of witches as creative power for your own ends. In a sense, you claimed the power of the shadow.

Go to Part 3 of this interview.

The Lucid Dream Exchange is a quarterly newsletter featuring lucid dreams and lucid dream related articles and interviews. To subscribe to The Lucid Dream Exchange send a blank email to: TheLucidDreamExchange-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

You can also check us out at www.dreaminglucid.com