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Sexual fantasies during meditation

Sexual fantasies during meditation
3/13/10 10:21 AM
For me, sexual fantasies can be very powerful during meditation. This happened last night.

In the wandering mind topic I described what I see as the different stages of my wandering mind, and defined stage 3 as:

"3. I go off on some train of thought and totally stop paying
attention to the breath. Suddenly I realize I am not concentrating on
the breath, but I don't drop the thoughts and return to the breath
immediately. Instead I decide it would be more interesting, more easy,
or more fun, to just continue thinking for a while before I return to
the breath."

A period of powerful sexual fantasies is probably the most extreme form of deciding it would be more fun to experience the thoughts than return to the breath. It is like being a star in my own porn film, or like the Moslem version of heaven that is so sexual.

I eventually did pull away and return to the breath.

I reminded myself that I am practicing not just for my own well being but for the well being of all the people I love and care about. That gave me the motivation to return to the breath.

How do other people deal with this?

RE: Sexual fantasies during meditation
3/13/10 3:38 PM as a reply to Tom Smith.
Hi Tom,
Dynamite topic! Have you experienced them in 3-D? I explored them for a brief period of my practice. But here's the kicker. Even though in 3-D and one experieces whole body responses and feels precisely where the 'partner' touches you etc and even appears to have intention of their own, in the end, it doesn't satisfy!!! The mind still wants more and one becomes aware that you are looking for and trying to generate experience. You can get lost in this and is obviously a form of spiritual materialism and I guess if you wanted to entertain yourself you could keep at it for years but sooner or later you get the sensation that progress has stopped and then you have to ask about motivation and so forth. In the end, if you want the big prize, which is what I want, you just give it up and then the actual experiences of what is beyond leave the whole theatre and spectacle of spiritual porn in the shade. Thanks

RE: Sexual fantasies during meditation
3/15/10 12:15 AM as a reply to Tom Smith.
Powerful sexual fantasies and energy are more likely to happen during certain stages, such as and specifically the A&P (and occasionally in 11.2 to use ñana.subjhana terminology). This is normal.

Eventually, most people move on, but some can hang on them for a while.

Play it both ways and see what it leads to, if you need to explore, or just get back to insight practices and play when you get stream entry: that's a whole different world of options...

RE: Sexual fantasies during meditation
3/25/10 9:53 PM as a reply to Tom Smith.

Excellent post and one I had considered starting. For me the fantasies take over most when I’m not in a relationship. I’m divorced (yes some dark night effect there) and have had one relationship since then. I seem to make my best progress/highest attainments when that sexual desire is sated! Those hindrances are strong. Thanks for the post!


RE: Sexual fantasies during meditation
3/27/10 10:36 PM as a reply to Donald Adams.
Thanks for the post!

Glad I could be helpful. I realized it was something in my practice that I was embarrassed to post about, which is why I posted about it. Just getting it out in the open rather than keeping it a secret is what was important for me. Now I have pretty much said all I have to say about it, but would be happy to hear any comments from others.

RE: Sexual fantasies during meditation
3/29/10 12:01 PM as a reply to Tom Smith.
"I felt embarrassed about it and didn't want to post it, so I posted it." Love that attitude! It's the kind of attitude that counters the mushroom culture. If something important happens as a part of your meditation practice, it deserves to be talked about even if some people think it's taboo. That's why I love this place.

Let's see if I can add anything useful here... if I'm getting distracted by any sort of fantasizing during insight meditation, sexual or otherwise, there are a few things I've found helpful. There's always the standard noting of "thought, thought" or "seeing, seeing" or "touch, touch." But sexual thoughts can be so enjoyable that I feel reluctant to let them go, in which case it can be skillful to note some aspect of their unsatisfactoriness. I might note the thoughts as "unskillfulness, unskillfulness" or "distraction, distraction" or "discontent, discontent." If I don't want to note, then it can also be useful to silently observe the thoughts for a few moments and try to cultivate equanimity towards them. I've been known to call up the equanimity of the third vipassana jhana to help out here, though the third vipassana jhana itself can be a distraction from insight practice if I'm trying to move past dissolution into the later insight stages. So, usually the noting works better.

Once I'm ready to let those thoughts go, I just bump up to the bare sensate level. Even with panoramic, non-laser-like attention, a minute or two of noting bare touch or (non-imagined) visual sensation will displace the attention to sexual fantasies with attention to physical sensation in the present moment.

For concentration practice, I tend to follow Ajahn Brahm's advice that any form of sense desire, whether sexual or otherwise, indicates insufficient contentment with the present moment. From that understanding, I find that it's less skillful to just watch the sensations of sexual fantasy happening like with insight, because it's important not to give the sense desire a chance to take hold of the mind. So I'll generally just repeat the meditation instructions mentally to myself once or twice. That might be "I will stay mindfully focused on sensations occurring in the present moment." Then I'll go back to attempting focus on the breath, or the sensation of contentment, or whatever. Generally if I'm at the point where there's even a glimmer of pitisukha to attend to, then sexual fantasies aren't arising anyway.

I think fantasizing could also be considered restlessness, which can in theory be remedied by mentally zooming in on the meditation object. I usually fail to achieve results with any approach that treats restlessness as a bad thing to be corrected with the antidote of deepened concentration. This is probably because I have the concentration of a 10 year old. So I treat restlessness as an indicator that I have lots of mental energy, and I try to channel that energy into a lovingly stubborn dedication to staying with the meditation object. I find that this tantric approach, which treats the hindrance as a fuel source that can be used up in the process of enhancing meditation, works well for sexual fantasy that is marked by restlessness. If it's just sense desire alone, especially accompanied by sluggishness, then the antidote approach of generating contentment works better.

During either concentration or insight, if none of the above works, I do a few minutes (maybe five minutes at the most) of metta next to generate more contentment with the way things are now, so that there's no need to fantasize. Unlike trying to deepen concentration, I personally find that metta IS an effective antidote to restlessness and discontent. Maybe this is because frustration doesn't arise with metta practice like it does with attempting to deepen concentration.

RE: Sexual fantasies during meditation
3/29/10 4:11 PM as a reply to J Adam G.
I might note the thoughts as "unskillfulness, unskillfulness" or "distraction, distraction" or "discontent, discontent."

or "fun, fun" or "hot sex, hot sex"

Just joking emoticon

Seriously, thanks for your thoughts.

RE: Sexual fantasies during meditation
3/29/10 4:39 PM as a reply to Tom Smith.
Haha, I'm reminded of Kenneth's story where Sayadaw U Pandita got furious with him for noting "foot, foot." Imagine what Sayadaw would think of noting "hot sex, hot sex!"

But I wouldn't note any sensation that I wanted to stay with, because noting makes things go away. Imagine if I was noting "penis, penis." I don't want that to go away! I'm perfectly content to solidify that until I enter a state of bliss.

But all joking aside, it can be great fun to somewhat mindfully explore the nature of sexual sensations (including thought) off the cushion in an informal way. It satisfies curiosity about that aspect of oneself, and it doesn't waste formal meditation time. Though the type of mindfulness that makes this worth your time is definitely more jhana-like than vipassana-like. Heavy on getting/zooming "into" sensations, and light on investigating their nature. Awareness of dukkha indicates excessive investigation. (Though I wonder if during the dark night it's unavoidable to see at least a little dukkha any time you use mindfulness, outside of intense jhana states.)