Expansion of Self, Consciousness, and Lucidity While Awake or Asleep
Beverly (Kedzierski Heart) D’Urso, Ph.D. Copyright © 2012
Presentation for the Science and Non-duality Conference: “The Nature of the Self,” San Rafael, CA, October 2012
Spiritual teachers talk about “Being in the Present Moment.” For me, this appropriately describes the point of becoming lucid in a dream. I believe that lucid dreaming can help even non-dreamers better understand self-realization.
I see lucidity in the sleeping state as a microcosm of self-realization in the waking state, which I study in my spiritual work. At this point, I follow the Diamond Approach path of A. H. Almaas as a member of the Ridhwan School and Seminary. Almaas, namely Hameed, spoke here last night as an invited keynote address.
Today, I will show how lucidity actually relates to what I call expansion of self, and what it means to have levels of lucidity when asleep or awake.
Beverly and Stephen
I did not know the term lucid dreaming until the late 1970’s, when I had the opportunity to do lucid dream research with Dr. Stephen Laberge at Stanford University before and after completing my MS degree that focused on Cognitive Psychology and my PhD that involved Artificial Intelligence.
Just before this, I discovered that I my dreams since the age of seven get called lucid dreams. In one memorable one, I faced my fears of the scary witches from my recurring childhood nightmares.
One night, I looked the scary witches in the eye and simply said, “Okay, what do you want? Let’s get this over with! I have used this experience to enhance my dreams and my life in numerous ways ever since.
Lucid dreaming simply means that I know I dream while I dream. It does not necessarily imply control of the dream as popular media often suggests, although it does involve more than merely having clarity or awareness.
Dream World Picture
I define the term dream as an experience of an outer world made up of characters, actions, and an environment that an expanded self has helped create. I define the term expanded self as a collective mind, and not merely the brain in the head asleep on a pillow.
The waking state fits my definition of a dream, hence my work gets called Lucid Dreaming/Lucid Living. I say that Beverly sleeps while her dream self plays and Beverly plays while an expanded self sleeps. In other words, I say I dream in any moment where a ‘me’ exists to have an experience.
With lucidity, I see myself as more than just my body, I view anything as possible, and I see everyone and everything as parts of an expanded self.
I started giving presentations on lucidity in 1986 for the annual International Association of the Study of Dreaming conferences, both in-person and, in the last decade, online as well. You can find most of my seventy publications on one of my websites, for example: www.wedreamnow.info. You might wonder why I gave the site the name wedreamnow.
The current state I find myself in serves as the most important one for me, and I tend to say that we dream now in every moment. However, I don’t say we, in this room, exist in my dream, but in our dream, which comes from the collective mind I described earlier.
By a show of hands, how many people here feel we might exist in a dream right now?
CHART THREE LEVELS
I will refer to a chart called Levels of Self or Consciousness where I show how my sense of self expands or contracts. This does not necessarily occur, however, in a linear fashion, which I will show for sake of simplicity.
I feel that only one reality exists, and my experience depends upon my level of lucidity. I do, however, discuss two states, namely the waking state and the sleeping dream state. I use this time-related distinction because people typically say they dreamed in the past or will dream in the future.
Therefore, I have divided the chart into columns for the WAKING STATE and the SLEEPING STATE. It describes three major levels: non-lucidity, lucidity, and beyond lucidity. The actions at each level occur in, or relate to, one of the two major states.
At different times in my life, I may have dreams that I can’t even recall, while in my waking state I seem very lucid. The opposite can occur as well. Also, I can lose and gain lucidity in a single moment. At each level, different methods can encourage such expansion. Only a few will get discussed in this rather short presentation.
CHART OF Witch Dialog
In developing my chart, I will give some examples of issues with my spouse and my witches. I summarize how my levels expanded as a child and beyond in the following way.
I feel scared.
The witches scared me last night
I see witches, so maybe I am dreaming.
Take me in tomorrow night’s dream
Witches, what do you want?
Witches, come help me
Thanks for serving as my creative power, witches!
Note that I discovered much later in life that the witch dream scenario almost perfectly matched a terrible accident I had at eighteen months old when I broke my collar-bone.
CHART EACH LEVEL
I label the first two levels non-lucidity because at these levels, I don’t have much awareness in the moment. I call the first one the contracted level. At this level, I do not reflect (11) upon what I do. When I act at this level in either state, I may blame, suffer, laugh, or just simply not pay attention.
In the sleeping state, I may have what we typically call dreams, but I do not recall them, let alone recognize them in the moment.
In either state, when I notice after the fact that I have acted, for example, in hurtful ways, I call this the level of reflection. I have not expanded enough to notice or change my actions in the moment, but I can recall life issues, or dreams from my past, and learn from them.
At this level, I remember sleep state dreams only after they happen, and therefore they get called non-lucid dreams.
For example, to reduce my tendency to always blame others in the waking state, I may seek therapy. To learn from my dreams, I may join a dream group. At this reflection level, I likely feel limited, and I view my world as unchangeable.
At this level in the waking state, I might yell at my spouse and blame him for my hurt feelings. In the sleeping state, I might try to run away from scary witches that chase me.
After the fact, I might try to figure out ways in which I can deal with my feelings concerning my spouse or the witches the next time I face them. Before I went to sleep as a child, I did, in fact, begin to think about how the witches only came in dreams.
The next levels I label lucidity. Whether in the waking state or the sleeping state, when I really pay attention to my environment and my body, and I inquiry into my assumptions, my level expands.
The first level of lucidity I call semi-lucid. At this level, in the previous examples, I might notice in the moment that the source of my hurtful experience does not come from my spouse. In the case of the witches, I might question if I am dreaming.
The mere act of inquiring brings me to this semi-lucid level, even if I do not know for certain that I dream in the moment. As a young child, I remember asking the witches to “Spare me tonight, and take me in tomorrow night’s dreams.”
The next level I call lucid. I often experience expanded potential and more awareness. In the waking state, with even partial lucidity, I find that small frustrations disappear quickly, and I experience more presence. I focus on the present moment, and feelings of ambition or regret don’t come up. Time tends to disappear. I see my life as a dream.
When I know I dream while I dream in the sleep state, my fear decreases and my mind clears. I do not have to ‘do’ anything, but merely realize that I dream while I dream.
If I question my assumptions, especially when I do not feel positive about what I am experiencing, it can help me respond in more appropriate and creative ways. I call this level more lucid.
My response to what happens comes from an expanded self. I can accept what happens in the moment and easily surrender to, and fully face, painful or scary situations.
I have done this in the waking state, for example when a doctor told me I needed a certain procedure that at first I refused due to fear. When I noticed several personal lucidity clues. I became more lucid. The whole procedure lost much of its fear element and made sense.
In a similar way, in my sleeping state at the age of seven, I faced up to the witches while they still appeared scary, instead of running away or first turning them into something more acceptable.
At what I call very lucid level, I feel that I can realize interesting dramas in my both my sleeping state and the waking state. Some experiences I have had in my sleeping dreams also seemed to enhance my waking life, and vice versa. For example, we actually showed in the lab that we affect, to some degree, our physical bodies in our dreams.
I believe that the powers I get at a very lucid level in the sleeping state, such as the ability to fly, relate to the aspects of essence studied in the Diamond Approach, such as strength or peace.
However, I have noticed that many people unrealistically expect to get to this very lucid level the first time they attempt to have a lucid dream in their sleeping state.
Through the years, I have attempted to teach people how to have a lucid dream. I even helped develop the first versions of lucidity induction devices, those computerized sleep masks you may have seen.
Still, for me, the process has always seemed very natural. Lately, I have created workshops to help people fully experience their emotions in any state, as a way to gain lucidity.
In the waking state, I feel that lucidity has helped me realize many lifelong, heart-felt desires, such as finishing my Ph.D., finding a life-long mate, having a child, dealing with grief, and healing my body.
I did all these with an attitude of intention, presence, and acceptance, and not with what gets typically gets called ‘will power.’ I discuss all this in several of my lucid living and surrender publications on wedreamnow.info.
At a very lucid level in my sleeping state, I can do things, such as fly through walls, heal, talk to quote ‘people who have died,’ get valuable information, and much, much more.
In my final level of lucidity, I still experience a dualist world, but really know all parts as ‘One.’ I call this the level of most lucidity. Many spiritual teachers describe this state of no separation, but rather a connection with everything they experience.
At this most lucid level, I listen carefully to what others have to say to me. I may try to find ways to show I agree with them, instead of just defending myself, as I would when acting from more contracted levels, because I know us both as parts of an expanded self.
Many years ago, in a sleeping state lucid dream, I was giving a presentation at a conference similar to this one. Suddenly I stopped when I became what I felt as most lucid. I assumed that all the people in the audience existed only in Beverly’s mind, so I felt I had no need to continue presenting.
Now, I refer to others, as well as Beverly, as all parts of an expanded self that flourishes as all of its parts expand. In the style of a bodhisattva, I say that I won’t experience complete lucidity, as long as I see those around me as not experiencing lucidity as well.
Remember, each level I describe builds upon the earlier ones, and I can act from any of these levels at any moment, while awake or asleep. I do still sometimes jump among them depending upon the situation, but I don’t feel pressure to get to any particular level. I merely practice noticing my level in the moment.
The last level I will describe I call beyond lucidity. I have experienced this level in my sleeping dreams, but despite the energy received, I do not strive for it, as a master on a ‘mountain top’ might do.
At this level, I no longer seem to have a body nor an environment. You might say that I merge into what one might call vibration, sound, and light, and then into nothingness, or what I also call everythingness.
From my current perspective, I could describe this as expansion or awakening into ‘Being,’ or ‘Source’ or ‘God.’ I prefer the term ‘Dreamer,’ with a capital ‘D’.
Any questions or comments?
I have copies of this presentation and cards to give to out after this session. I will also put this presentation on my websites next week. Thank you again.
LEVELS OF SELF OR CONSCIOUSNESS
I feel scared
The witches scared me last night.
I see witches, so maybe I am dreaming.
Take me in tomorrow night’s dream, witches.
Witches, what do you want?
Witches, come help me.
Thanks for serving as my creative power, witches.
LEVELS OF SELF OR CONSCIOUSNESS
No reflection No dream recall
Recall past issues Recall non-lucid dreams
Study your life Study your dreams
Question assumptions Question if dreaming
Experience Presence Know you are dreaming
Respond not react in life Respond not react in dreams
Realize desires in life Realize desires in dream
View all in life as ONE View all in dream as ONE
A lucid dreamer all her life, Beverly has presented at conferences and workshops for four decades. While at Stanford University, she did research with Dr. Stephen LaBerge. Prior to careers as a researcher, consultant, college instructor, and speaker/writer, she created several start-up companies. She has over seventy publications and serves as a member of the Diamond Approach Ridhwan School and Seminary of A. H. Almaas. http://wedreamnow.info/