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Beautiful Dreamer

Books We Love: Andrew Holecek

Bob Carmichael

Andrew Holecek wants to change the way you dream, and then change the way you live.

Ever had a dream where you knew you were in a dream, even for a few seconds? That was an experience in lucid dreaming. According to Andrew Holecek, lucid dreaming is like “control over this ultimate video game.” You can use that control to compose a poem, talk with your departed loved ones, drive a Ferrari through the Alps, or gain profound spiritual insights.

The founder of a nonprofit that provides dental care to children in orphanages in places like Nepal, Vietnam, and Guatemala, Holecek interrupted his dental career for a three-year meditation program at Söpa Chöling retreat. That experience kickstarted his writing life. His most recent book is called Dreams of Light.

Part of the appeal of practicing lucid dreaming is practical. We spend about a month of every year dreaming, or about six years of an average life. Holecek compares lucid dreaming to “entering a type of night school.” Holecek is a pianist, and he practices entire compositions in his dreams. Although the dream-created piano isn’t real, the brain activity is—and practicing a skill in dreams has been shown to improve waking-life skills.

Holecek reports that lucid dreaming is also a tool to resolve and work out interpersonal issues. “When you’re in therapy, for instance, the physical body of the person you’re having an issue with isn’t the problem.” The person doesn’t have to be there physically but only has to appear in thoughts for the session to be effective. Even death isn’t a barrier to resolution. “Death is the end of a body, not the end of the relationship,” Holecek says.

At the highest end, lucid dreaming is a transformative spiritual practice. “This waking reality seems to be the sleeping dream,” according to Holecek. “The fundamental fruition of these practices is lucid living, basically heightening your awareness using the medium of the dream state to become more aware—and what doesn’t improve with more awareness?” A lucid dreamer can lean on various religions and spiritual traditions that make use of lucid dreaming, most notably dream yoga practices from Buddhist thinking.

“It’s extremely rare to have these dreams that are unwanted, because you can control what’s going on,” Holecek says. “Usually what happens is it’s very playful. People will come to me and say, ‘I had my first lucid dream. It was so great, but I got so excited it woke me right up.’ And playful first experience. People come out of these things and they are just psyched.”