Going without in order to “go within” is a concept we can see in pretty much all cultures. Purging, fasting and abstaining are human phenomenon that show up all over the world in various forms. Whether it’s diet, sleep, work or segregation from the community; the restricting of human urges is often a rite of passage for a spiritual upleveling. Celibacy is traditionally seen as the ultimate sacrifice because for many of us it is “unnatural” to our most basic desires.
I was interested in the idea of why people who were not purposely trying to get closer to God still might want to abstain from sex. I found this topic to be a divisive subject among peers as it is really subjective to each person and where they are in their lives at that time. From surveying our community we found that some people felt a strong reaction to the idea of avoiding sex while for others it was a logical step in decluttering some of life’s baggage.
Who refrains from sex?
Historically, sports men have been known to refrain from sex in order to retain their athletic energy, however the actual benefits of this has often been argued and somewhat debunked. As far as women refraining sex goes, much of what we hear about is the “sex strike” where they do not “give” sex to their partner as a way of non-violently protesting for a cause. This term is in itself rather problematic as it has connotations of women only enjoying sex as a tool for gain and not for their own pleasure! However we know this is totally not true so wanted to explore more why women may want to give up sex.
Going “half” way?
Outercourse is sex. Yet for women considering abstinence, foreplay, aka outercourse only, might be the way to go according to Planned Parenthood. They suggest that non-penetrative sex may “help you better understand your (and your partner’s) body” and to “learn how you (and your partner) like to be touched and what feels good.” Among their list of reason why one might abstain from sex, Planned Parenthoos notes “ healing from the death of a partner” or a big break up as timely reasons to take a break from sexual activity.
This concept of putting restraint on the physical in order to mend an emotional injury was a common suggestion among our community too.
Earthly pleasures or spiritual pursuit?
Sex coach and author of Orgasm Unleashed Eyal Matslia, attests to sex being a huge part of his daily life. However Eyal decided to try celibacy as a way to connect with his feminine energy and heal past sexual trauma. Eyal mentions that in his avoidance to explore his own feminine energy he became reliant on female sexual partners to experience feminine qualities and this projecting led to “neediness.” In danger of creating a harmful cycle of anxious attachment and sex, something had to change. He realised his relationship with women and view toward sex was becoming tainted with past experiences and so he sought temporary celibacy as a way to stop the toxicity spreading.
Author and yogini C.H Philips also advocates for taking breaks from regular sex in order to deepen her connection with her work and purpose. “I wrote a book in six months, found an incredible, loving partner and saw a major increase in my spiritual expansion.” Abstaining from sex gave her the clarity she needed to achieve some really big goals and upon returning to her sexuality actively, Philips began exploring tantric sex as a way to maintain a conscious approach to her sex life.
We love sex! However we know there is a lot of pressure out there to be rolling in orgasms, when the truth is there might be a time in your life when sex does not feel right or needed.
Tips to try sexual abstinence.
Knowing your why can help reinforce your goal. Are you hoping to gain creative energy for a project, heal from an experience or maybe deepen an emotional connection with a partner or yourself?
This is a perfect opportunity to really understand what sex means to you personally. Does sensual kissing count or would this be too tempting for you? What about masturbation? If masturbation is ok, how about holding off orgasm?
If you are in a relationship or dating, sharing that you are having a period of no-sex could spark some interesting conversations and also manage expectations. That being said, you never have to explain yourself for not wanting to have sex. Your body, your rules.
Have a positive approach.
Eyal Matslia recommends being mindful of the tone of your language. For example he believes, celibacy implies intention rather than” forbidding yourself” which is implied with the term abstinence. This connotation might not ring true for you so take time to figure out what you prefer.
Reflecting on your journey with your sexuality so far. What do you want more of during and after the abstinence period; what has inspired you around sex and what has caused trauma and needs to be loving released or dealt with?
Sex has many, many health and emotional benefits plus it really fun!
If abstaining from sex is a part of you discovering yourself, we wish you an illuminating time and hope that when you return to sexual activities you feel more; embodied, empowered and in charge of your sexuality.