Awake and Dreaming: My 30-Day Experiment with Consciousness

My Alice-in-Wonderland experience of daytime lucidity took me way down the rabbit hole of consciousness, and I emerged with a different understanding of the world around me.

You probably know the term lucid dreaming.  But the idea of lucid experience in waking life is elusive, subtle and just as enriching.

Interested in trying it yourself?  Read on.

Daytime Lucidity & Consciousness

Over the last couple of years, I dedicated a lot of time to the study of consciousness. 

From observing an ayahuasca ritual in Kentucky to interviewing near-death “experiencers,” for me, consciousness isn’t just the key to spirituality.

It’s the key to life.

But there’s another way to look at it.  Some people believe that our ordinary understanding of the material world is an altered state of consciousness, and it takes a special cultivation of your perception to see the true nature of the universe.

I became interested in the practice of daytime lucidity after reading Andrew Holecek’s recently released book, (affiliate link —->) Dreams of Light:  The Profound Daytime Practice of Lucid Dreaming.

This spring, in the lull before its debut, I got a chance to interview Holecek about his new book, his ideas about dream yoga, and his unique understanding of consciousness.

Articulate, free-thinking and insightful, Holecek enthusiastically shared with me his thoughts on everything from lucid dreaming to psychedelics.  

Dreams of Light: The Profound Daytime Practice of Lucid Dreaming by Andrew Holecek

“This is a dream.”

In his book, Holecek suggests many exercises to help redirect your awareness and begin to perceive what he calls “emptiness.”  

The concept of emptiness in this context is a lot for me to wrap my mind around, but here are a few quotes from the book that describe it:

“Emptiness is egolessness.”

“To see things as illusionary is to see them as empty.”

“Buddhism proclaims that all the teachings converge onto one point, and emptiness is that pointless point.”

(Get it?  It’s okay.  I didn’t, either.  I’m still trying to get it, but the struggle to get it is quite possibly the hardest part).

One of the exercises Holecek suggests is to repeat, over and over, throughout the day, This is a dream. 

So I do this.  At first, it feels very mechanical.  I get annoyed, then frustrated.  The logical brain kicks in, taking over, resisting, protesting, “Of course this isn’t a dream.  Waking life is real.  It conforms to the laws of physics.  Wait, why does that make something real?  What makes anything real?”

So after a few days, I have this weird moment in my living room that I can’t quite explain.  I am standing there, watching the pendulum of the grandfather clock swing back and forth, and suddenly, the room takes on a strange, surreal, dreamlike quality.

“This is a dream,” I say under my breath.

“No nouns, only verbs.”

If dream lucidly, you know it.  There’s no mistaking it.  The focus and clarity transcends the ordinary dream experience beyond any doubt.   

It begins with the awareness that you are, in fact, dreaming.  This sudden, startling realization brings with a remarkable realism, but also a level of direction and control not typical in a “normal,” unconscious dream.

I began dreaming like this sometime in my early 20s after studying lucid dreams in the context of psychology.

But I hit a road block, and never quite got passed it.  For whatever reason, once I attained the lucid dream state, I quickly lost it, the dream dissolved, and I woke up within seconds.

That night, after my strange encounter with the grandfather clock in the living room, I dreamed lucidly and held onto it for the first time in my memory.  

Of course, time morphs in the dream state, speeding and slowing with the rhythms of imagination.  But I estimate I stayed with my lucid dream for about 15-20 minutes.  Certainly much longer than I ever remember dreaming lucidly before.

In the middle of it all, 4 four words appeared to me from Holecek’s book:

“No nouns, only verbs.”

And suddenly, I became acutely aware of the transient nature of all things and the illusion of permanence.  

I know this, intellectually, of course.  But experiencing it in a direct way shifted the earth underneath me just slightly.

I still haven’t quite regained my footing, and I’m not sure I want to.

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