This article is adapted from Big Dreams: Psi, Lucid Dreaming and Borderlands of Consciousness by Ryan Hurd, now available on Amazon.
Exploring sexuality within the confines of the dream world is one of the prime motivations for learning how to lucid dream. The promise of exciting dream sex is a marketing hotspot, so to speak, for beginning lucid dreaming guides, books, and dozens of meditation CDs. What these guides don't tell you, of course, is how difficult it is to perfect the art of exploring erotic energy in dreams, and what the pitfalls are along the way.
Let's start with a little question-and-answer about the basics and then move on to the possibilities of exploring sex and sensuality in dreams.
A: Yes, it's true. In fact, the experience can feel like the real thing. All sensations in a lucid dream, after all, feel as real as the waking world, provided you have felt the sensations before (or similar sensations) and have working memories to draw from.
A: Yes, it's been scientifically documented that orgasms in lucid dreams can be real orgasms, accompanied by muscular responses, a quickened heart rate, and vascular tissue change too*. This is true for men and women. However, not every lucid dream orgasm is necessarily a physical one; some seem to just trip the pleasure center in the mind, particularly if the arousal happens quickly or instantaneously. We also don't know about the electrochemical angle yet, such as endorphin release, oxytocin levels, etc.
A: There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that lucid dreams which end in orgasm for young men can result in real-life ejaculation. (Check out the lucid dreaming forums for example). I don't know about any scientific studies that have proven this in a lab... that would be a tough sell for finding volunteers.
A: REM sleep is simply exciting from a biological standpoint. Erections and the female equivalent (engorgement) come and go all the time in normal dreams. Becoming consciously aware in a dream often means becoming aware of our bodies' physiological arousal as we dream. There is also a connection between flying dreams and this physiological arousal - which may explain why the top two lucid activities are flying and sex.
A: Dreams tend to reflect our waking thought patterns, but having a sex dream about your boss or your Pilates instructor doesn't necessarily mean you secretly want to bed them. It could be that the sexual connection is a symbol for another layer of connection, or that that person reminds you of someone else with whom you have unfinished business. At the end of the night, things happen in lucid dreams that we often don't intend, and I would never suggest that someone feel guilty about a dream they had because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Even St Augustine, the medieval Christian priest who essentially coined the term "original sin" forgave himself for his wilder dreams.
How many times have you realized you are dreaming and then wasted no time finding a romantic partner to couple with, only to find that the would-be-lover walks away, transforms into someone who is not attractive, or becomes angry and menacing? Maybe you disengage to find another partner, only for the process to repeat again, either by meeting resistance, disinterest, or bizarre character transformations that you couldn't even tell your best friends about out of sheer embarrassment.
This is the "carrot on the string" - one of the greatest self-limiting constructs in lucid dreamwork. Just when what you want is in reach, something yanks the string and you are left grasping at air. The reason this happens is because although we may crave lucid dream sex, the dream actually requires sexual connection.
Long story short, once we stop treating our fantasy dream loves like objects (specifically: carrots) to have or possess, entire new worlds of possibility open up. Our dream sex fantasy is not a famous movie star, or an Amazonian god or goddess. Rather, the fantasy is to have a relationship with this person (however fleetingly). This is basic human psychology; we're wired for connection.
It's an easy thing to understand on an intellectual level, but may be more difficult to deprogram in a dream, especially in Western culture, which famously markets sexual objects and holds sexual intimacy with ill regard. I remember a friend of mine telling me how in one sexual lucid dreams he found the woman of his dreams, began to make love to her, and then noticed, to his horror, that she had meanwhile transformed into a lifeless rag doll. His fantasy became a disturbing parody, and left him with an unsettled feeling that lingered for months. This is an anecdote I have heard in many forms, and for each dreamer the transforming figure is unique, but the process is similar.
So what do we really want with dream sex? We really want connection, relationship, and a shared experience, even in our dreams.
Erotic pleasure is naturally the fruit of this basic truth. For many beginner lucid dreamers who are used to "abracadabra I can get whatever I want," a difficult shift in perspective has to occur in order to move from grasping for gratification to connecting to our inner passions. I don't mean to suggest that you can't be gratified. The opposite is true; remember that piece about how orgasms can be real? By focusing on relationships first and sensations second, many lucid opportunities will come your way. Once you make the shift, you will probably find that your waking-life sexual relationships will become more fulfilling too.
The following lucid sex dream comes from one of my readers, Maria Isabel Pita, who also writes supernatural romance fiction inspired by her lucid dreaming experiences.
"I let myself rise up higher and higher, surrendering to the upward pull, ascending freely, without fear or effort. Eventually, I realize, yes, this is a dream, and I just whoosh forward. I see stars above me as I let myself go, flying backward in a reclining posture, not seeking any control. I don't remember how I end up in a man's arms. We're both soaring/floating in the night sky. I'm lying on my back but we're in the sky. I arch my back and see my breasts as he kisses them, one after the other. I wonder what I look like, briefly, because I'm in my dream body so naturally. I'm beautiful; it doesn't really matter. We're making love and I'm experiencing an easy and deep sexual pleasure. He's inside me and I feel myself coming to a climax. I can see his broad, naked shoulders and dark hair, which seems to frame his face, and he has what appear to be white wings rising from between his shoulder blades, not huge, and resting in a closed position now. He looks down at me, looks me straight in the eyes. I'm looking directly at his face very close above mine and I don't know him; he's a total stranger, and he looks very serious as he stares down at me. He's very handsome, with pale skin and even but well-defined features and dark, dark eyes. I'm like, Wow, I don't know this man and yet we're making love. I consider telling him that in waking life I no longer experience pleasure like this so effortlessly."
~ Maria Isabel Pita Lucid Living Lucid Dreaming
Notice how the sexual energy arrives spontaneously after she has relaxed and surrendered to the dream. This seems to be a psychological constant when it comes to eros: grasping will get you nowhere.
So how can you explore Eros safely in lucid dreams? Without going into too much juicy detail, here are a few things to keep in mind.
While lucid dream sexuality is often talked about by beginners, few master the psychological dynamics of Eros within the conscious dream. With respect, gratitude, and a sincere wish to learn, erotic lucid dreaming can be fun, and fulfilling.
This article is adapted from Ryan Hurd's new book Big Dreams: Psi, Lucid Dreaming and Borderlands of Consciousness available on Amazon.
About The Author
Ryan Hurd is a long time lucid dreamer with an MA in Consciousness Studies. He uses both scientific research and self-inquiry to fuel his work at Dream Studies.
Ryan is also a board member for the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD).
* LaBerge, S., Greenleaf, W., & Kedzierski, B. (1983). Physiological responses to dreamed sexual activity during lucid REM sleep. Psychophysiology, 20, 454-455.
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