I Was Celibate For Four Years. Here's Why—And Why You Might Try It
Celibacy is a voluntary vow of sexual abstinence. Despite what you might think, it can look different for every person who practices it and alter their lives in many different ways. It is not the exact same as abstinence, the decision not to have penetrative sex, which is typically limited to a specific period of time, such as until marriage. Celibacy is a vow to remain abstinent over an extended period of time. For some, this may mean their entire life. Some people still masturbate or practice outercourse with a partner, some refrain even from kissing with someone.
Although celibacy is usually associated with religion, there are a number of other reasons why someone might choose to remain celibate.
I believe every single man and woman should go through a celibate period at least once in their life.
It’s one of the best decisions I made in my life when I was only 22. I practiced celibacy until I was 26. At the beginning, I was unaware of what I was doing; but later I became very mindful about it. It was just recently that I explained my experience to someone for the first time, and realized how profound it was for me back then.
If there is even a way to pinpoint out the exact moment, my spiritual awakening happened in a hospital, right after I was brought back to life. My life and the way I look at our entire universe was changed then.
My attention turned toward seeking spiritual practices and ancient religions. I picked up yoga, meditation, breath work. I started to eat “clean,” then adopted an Ayurvedic diet. At the same time, I decided to turn away from the material so called 3D world and only focus on myself. For me the most powerful tool seemed to be celibacy. It helped to move my attention from relationships and sex and turn it inwards, so I could fully focus on my personal development. Its effect was most profound on my sadhana (spiritual practice).
Later during my yogic studies, I learned about the term “Brahmacharya,” which is touted as an important step along the pathway to enlightenment. Celibacy plays an important role in the yoga tradition—indeed, some would say, a critical one. The father of classical yoga, Patanjali, made brahmacharya one of the five yamas, or ethical precepts in the Yoga Sutra [Chapter 11, verse 30] to which all aspirants should adhere. Other yogic texts name abstinence as the surest and speediest way to boost our deepest reserves of vitality and power.
In yogic studies, abstention is said to free us from earthly distractions so we can devote ourselves more fully to spiritual transcendence. It is said to move us toward a genderless state that promotes a profound sense of relationship and intimacy with all beings.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a key 14-century text, says those who practice brahmacharya need no longer fear death. The Bhagavad Gita names brahmacharya as a fundamental precept for a true yogi.
A funny modern contrast is that some people practice yoga for its benefits to their sexual life and often throw in a yoga session on Fridays before they head out for a long night with a partner or friends for a gourmet meal and fine wine and maybe to a party as well, and finish the ritual with sexual activity.
There where plenty of benefits of my celibate years. Here are some of my main takeaways:
(Not taking in account the obvious benefits as being safe from STIs, no risk of unintended pregnancy and the money saved on contraception or birth control, though I never took the pill.)
- Being celibate did not mean that I did not go on dates with interesting men, but it helped me a lot to get to know their Soul better before I would engage in anything with them. That time nothing blossomed into a relationship but I am not sure if it had anything to do with celibacy at all.
- I gained a different understanding of sex. For me, sex used to be something I did for pleasure without giving any second thoughts to it. I got to understand that sex is much more than that. It’s an energy exchange and I noticed if I sleep with someone their energies linger around in me for quite a while, sometimes for two weeks. If I had sex with someone who had negative energies, I could feel it for long after we said goodbye. It was something I really started to dislike. There also has to be a balance in what you exchange, what you give and what you receive in return.
- I gained further understanding of physical and emotional attraction as well.
- It freed up my time to focus on my studies/career, my spiritual practice and my relationship with my family and friends.
- It was much easier to manage my mental and physical health concerns.
- My connection to myself deepened a lot.
- I was more energized than ever before.
- I got clarity on who I was and what I wanted to do in my life.
- I realized I had a different connection with men. Once understanding that if I like a man, I do have the choice not to engage in sexual activities with them while our friendship deepens. Of course, you need men who won’t try to test your willpower and respect your decision.
In my understanding, it takes a great self-knowledge and spiritual maturity to know if celibacy is for you or not, or if you try it out, to know when to end it or if you need to end it. Do not force anything that does not work for you. No need to become a monk or nun but also do not beat up yourself if you fail at it.
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Photo: Neal E. Johnson via Unsplash