What Does Lucid Dreaming Actually Feel Like?


🌙 Written by Kai Riverstone, international lucid dreaming expert and teacher. Learn how to lucid dream in 7 days or less.

What does your first lucid dream really feel like? Is it painful? Exciting? Is it just like waking life? It’s a very unique experience and it’s good to know what it feels like before trying it! Here’s what you need to know.

When I first started, I was anxious to have my first experience of lucidity and I didn’t really want to wait around for days until it happened. I wanted it to be TONIGHT! And for that reason, I didn’t really know what to expect.

My first experiences with lucid dreaming felt much like waking up in an alien universe and discovering I could move around. Since then, I’ve had countless more lucid dreams, about almost everything you can imagine. Here’s how lucid dreams feel:

The start of the dream

Try to imagine this. You’re in a room, or even walking down a street, and there’s life all around you.

There are people moving around, birds flying in the distance, cars driving down the street. All of this is happening around you and yet you’re struck by a sense of power. You KNOW that you’re creating all of this, that it’s all in your mind.

What a lucid dream feels like

You know this, but at the same time, you’re unable to explain how it all just ‘happens’. You don’t know what is making the cars drive around, and if you stopped any of the people in the dream and spoke to them, you’d find they have unique stories, goals and apparent agendas.

It’s like you’re in another world, and you’ve just discovered yourself. You’ve just ‘woken up’. Beyond that though, you realize that in this new world, you have the power to do whatever you want. You can CHOOSE where to go. Imagine being able to decide to fly.

You look up at the sky, imagine yourself floating and you start to move upwards. You’re flying in this brand new world, and you’re aware of it. To your conscious mind, it feels almost exactly like being awake, except you can control the dream to a degree, and do anything you want.

You have the power of choice, and at the same time, you can control various things. If you don’t want gravity to work, you can turn it off.

‘How does that work?’ You may be wondering. Well, Imagine still that you’re walking down the street. When you throw a stone in the air, it falls. This is because your mind has a ‘blueprint’ for how reality should work.

It’s observed hundreds of things being thrown in the air, and every time when something goes up, it must come down. It’s a programmed neural pathway in your brain.

To change it, all you need to do in the dream is ‘expect’ something else to happen. (The same thing can be applied to lucid dreaming sex)

By expecting something to happen, it will happen. Remember that although you’re experiencing and exploring the new world, you’re also creating it. Your belief and expectation can change the rules of the dream world.

So like I was saying, you just imagine that when you throw a stone in the air, it won’t come back down. You throw the stone, and it just floats there. You may be wondering ‘well, do I have to control everything in the dream?’.

The physics of a lucid dream

The physics of a lucid dream are mostly determined by your mind. Imagine that your brain is a sponge.

How your brain takes in information

Everything you experience is soaked up by that sponge, and you build up a mental picture of how the world works.

From a young age, you see cars being driven in an organized and almost robotic fashion up and down the roads. You only see fish swimming in water, and pigs don’t fly. You build up this image of the world and come to know it as ‘reality’.

It’s simply observed regularities in the way things behave, but the point is your brain soaks up all the information and creates a sort of ‘automatic’ simulation of it in a dream. The following things which happen in a dream are as a result of this ‘blueprint’ of reality –

  • Gravity
  • People behaving the way they do
  • Birds flying overhead
  • Wind blowing or rain falling from the sky
  • You feeling pain when you touch something warm
  • Being only able to jump a certain height because of gravity
  • A room being filled with various ornaments and objects when you enter it
  • Etc…

Your brain is creating all of this from a mixture of memories and the general ‘blueprint’ of beliefs about the world that you have.

How to change the rules

To change rules like gravity, time, your strength, and the behavior of the dream world you need to first realize that you’re creating the way things are in your dream. You’re doing all of that. It’s all being created as a result of you subconscious expectation.

In order to change what happens, you need to expect something else to happen.

It’s that simple really. So the way that would feel is that you’re in a room, and you want to life up a chair with your mind powers. (Telekinesis in a dream is one of my favorite things to do). So how would you do it?

Look at the chair, and KNOW that when you tell it to, it will move. Really expect to see it flying across the room when you gesture it with your hand. If you REALLY expect it to happen, it will! Your mind will create the reality. As explained in Robert Waggoners’ book on Lucid Dreaming, expectation creates results in a lucid dream.

Feeling pain in lucid dreams

Things can hurt in a lucid dream. A face full of glass feels just as real as a face full of glass in real life.

The confusion comes when people assume that things can hurt MORE in a dream than in real life. It can never be as painful as real life, because it’s not real. There is no physical stimulus causing your cells to react and send a signal to your spinal cord like in real life.

It’s all in your mind as a result of expectations and established neural pathways. For example, imagine putting your hand in a deep fat fryer, what would you expect to happen?

You’d expect your hand to get burned pretty quick, and you can almost imagine pulling your hand out as fast as you can afterwards. This is an expectation based on your blueprint of that particular thing; a deep fat fryer. You expect it to be very hot, and you truly expect that if you touch it, you’ll get burned.

These beliefs serve you well in waking life because they (hopefully) stop you putting your hand in deep fat fryers. In a dream, these established neural pathways still exist, and they’ll feel very real unless you change them.

What I mean by that is that if you don’t expect a different result, then you’ll still feel a bit of the pain you would normally except. It won’t be as intense as real life though. To stop pain in lucid dreams, simply expect it not to hurt any more.

Pleasure in a lucid dream

I’m referring to sex here, but the same thing applies to most types of drugs, the effects of alcohol and also feelings of acceptance, love, happiness, excitement, serenity and inner peace.

Your mind can simulate all of this, and it simulates it very well. I’ve had some sex dreams that have been in ways more intense than real life sex. There are a whole load of different things you can simulate in a lucid dream and the mind can create an experience based on how you ‘think’ it will feel, and how you’ve experienced it in the past.

Tasting dream food

Remember I was saying how you have an internal blueprint of the world and how it ‘feels’ to do various things?

Well, with food, something a little different happens. normally when you start eating something, you have that first bite and it tastes good but then you get used to it. You become accustomed to the taste and it just sort of tastes like ‘more of the same’.

Not so in a dream. Because you’re constantly building the experience from your expectation, as long as you expect the food to taste a certain way, EVERY BITE will taste just like you imagine it in your mind. If you imagine that chocolate cake as tasting perfectly sweet and soft, creamy and delicious then it will taste that way every time.

Can you die in a lucid dream?

Dying in a lucid dream isn’t really all that bad. It certainly won’t affect of harm you in any way in waking life, for a start. It just sort of feels like watching a video game character die. You know it’s happening, and you know it’s you, but it doesn’t bother you as much or even hurt most of the time.

What normally happens instead is you feel the emotions and experience the thoughts associate with dying. For example, if you’re falling from a skyscraper, you’ll feel a huge sense of panic and confusion as you tumble through the sky towards the ground..

You’ll panic and worry about what will happen when you hit the ground, but then when you actually do hit the ground, you just… Wake up. Here’s a quick video I made about dying in a lucid dream:

Getting started

Hopefully you’re ready to start lucid dreaming. The best ways to get started are to learn about the basic techniques you could use, and start writing your dreams down every morning. Here are some more useful tools for you:


  • Get a printable bootcamp template that tells you what to practice on each day
  • Listen to these binaural beats while you’re falling asleep and lucid dreaming will become easier
  • Be patient. Like any skill, it does take time to practice and perfect. It’s worth it, trust me!