Five Things I Learned By Going Celibate For A While
Have you ever considered taking a time of celibacy? It’s a fascinating question because it seems counter to everything that we desire when we start studying tantra.
The ancient tantriks were about changing things up and challenging the status quo so that people would wake up and start truly living. And so, if they came into a town where everyone was sexually repressed through religion or societal rules, sex would be the thing to shock them into awakening. But if they came into our sex-saturated society, what would they recommend? A break, perhaps, since even though we have issues with shame, guilt, religion, and taboos around sexuality, sex is everywhere. We believe that it defines our self-worth.
The media tells us subliminally each day how important it is to be attractive sexually. It is so deep in our subconscious now that the idea of chosen celibacy is shocking. And in some tantra circles it is even worse. In many “red-tantra” workshops and courses, the focus is on healing and releasing the shame and guilt around sex — very valuable work. Accordingly, they include many sexual exercises and physical interactions that are very pleasurable and freeing. But often, there is also an undercurrent of sexual addiction. Having these pleasurable sexual experiences becomes the goal of every workshop and life experience. As you walk in, you can literally feel the sexual desire and needs coming off of people. Energetically, their “second chakra” is screaming for union. Once we are freed of our shame, guilt, and taboos, the next step is to become whole. Tantra brings us to complete wholeness.
There is actually no need for another.
There is no need for sex. We have both masculine and feminine energies within us. Combining these polarities with spirit, we are fully satisfied within us. This is true tantra. Sexuality and union with another simply becomes one way of expressing this ecstasy. I recently took a time of celibacy. This was a huge deal because I LOVE sex.
The choice of celibacy came as an intuitive knowing. A healer had told my friend that she had to take some time off from men for a while. As my friend told me this, it was like the healer had spoken directly to my heart. I instantly knew that this is what I needed to do. And it horrified me! I had had a partner and been sexually active for over 25 years. I teach tantra. I have euphoric sexual experiences that I can’t even describe. Why in the world would I want to give this up? My first clue was the incredible reaction my ego was having to the thought. I felt like that person who says that they could give cigarettes or booze up any time — they “just don’t want to right now,” but they could do it. Sigh. And so it was. And it changed my life. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to give up having a man in my life. I had been married for over 20 years. Before and since then, I’d had other partners and lovers. I didn’t realize how much my heart depended on always having that other person to say “good morning” to or to crawl into bed with at night. I never thought that I NEEDED the masculine energy of a man. I was convinced that I was an independent, intelligent, whole woman. You couldn’t have convinced me otherwise. And yet, the dark nights of the soul that I went through definitely showed me something else. I found out that part of my self-worth was intimately tied to having a sexual partner. It meant that I was desirable and loveable. Without that person as a mirror for me, did I exist at all? I went through quite a few existential crises. I had a vision early in my celibacy of my pelvis as a bowl. And that ever since I started being interested in boys, this bowl had tipped downward in the front. And so energy would come into my body and then pour out the bowl into the other person. And when I was in a serious relationship, it was like every bit of energy I had simply went to nourish the other. Hmmm... No wonder I was so tired. But after about 3 weeks, this bowl seemed to tip up and become level. It felt like energy would come into me and then it would circulate within me instead of pouring outward. This energy nourished ME for perhaps the first time in decades. It was absolutely incredible. Even doing simple tantric breathing exercises like micro-cosmic orbit was different. This breath pattern asks us to breath energy up the back of our spine and then down the front of our bodies (this is a simplified explanation). Now, there was so much more energy circulating within me. And it was so easily orgasmic. I wondered whether this is why many people struggle with feeling anything during this breath. Do they have leaks? I soon realized that I had to become my own best boyfriend. What was this masculine energy that I was seeking in another? Structure, Logic, Protection, Energy... Hmmm. In the rest of the world, my masculine energy was strong. I have a degree in mathematics (I’m logical). I’ve written books and courses and taught classes (manifested). I’ve owned my own businesses for 20 years (structure). I figured that I had this one covered. But the masculine within myself needed work. To make a plan personally and honour it (structure). To turn my cellphone off and take a bath and not let anyone interrupt me (protection). To defend myself from others (protection). I also asked myself what was it that I wanted a partner to do for me. Truthfully, I wanted him to look at me and tell me I was the most beautiful, incredible person he’d ever met. I wanted him to touch me gently and lovingly and not expect anything from me. I wanted him to plan fun outings and buy me flowers and chocolate. So I did this for myself. I planned fun things for “us” to do “together.” I looked in the mirror and observed the beauty before me and told my feminine side wonderful things about her. She cried a lot. I held myself in bed and loved myself completely. I am a tantrika. I have magic touch (we all do). I could actually use it on myself and drive myself crazy. Apparently, I am a great boyfriend! After a few months, I can’t tell you the feeling of wholeness and complete contentment.
There’s a joke out there about people who study tantric sex becoming unable to finish a sentence without their whole body shaking in orgasm. It’s just a joke... kind of. In my past, once in a while, I would have the experience of just sitting somewhere and suddenly feeling incredible orgasms in my whole body. No touching. Nothing in particular happening.
They would just happen. Well, as the months of my celibacy went on, this started happening more and more. I would be sitting in the library and I would read a beautiful passage and I would close my eyes to ponder it. And as I would breathe deeply, my whole body would start to shudder in pleasure. (Honestly, I was torn between the part of me having this incredible, unanticipated experience and the other part of me watching me sitting in the middle of the Toronto Public Library barely able to contain my full-body orgasm and thinking about how incredibly ironic and funny the scene was!) But it started happening as I walked down the street, as I talked about tantra, as I watched the sunset.
Then, I found out that this was normal with people who choose tantric celibacy. If we choose celibacy because sex is “bad” or “dirty” or “low-energy,” then we are repressing our life-force and so instead, this energy just gets twisted into something else. But within a tantric path, we choose it with the desire of exploration. It is about “changing the variables” to further explore our own consciousness and experience. So, growth and new experiences (like spontaneous orgasms) happen. And of course, this experience deepened my experience of being whole without the NEED of another to fill my needs. I was having orgasms just sitting in the library! Choosing a partner would truly be a CHOICE, not a need. What a wonderful surprise! I’ve always been intensely spiritual. I’ve always been a mystic. But I had also always been a partner and a mom. As much as I connected “vertically” with God/Spirit, my first focus has always tended toward “horizontal” — partners, children, and family. No matter how spiritual I was, my default has always my interactions and love with others. But during my time of celibacy, I was living alone. My children had grown and were thousands of miles away. I had lots of friends. But they aren’t the same level of intimacy. So, I read a lot of Rumi. I read a lot of mystic poetry about the wonder and connection with God. I was able to immerse myself in this experience in ways that I hadn’t before. I had cleared the decks in a way. It was so beautiful. Would you like to try this? Does it feel like it’s on your path? Do you feel like you are always searching for a partner? Does it feel like more of a need than a choice? Are you studying tantra but maybe missing the magic that everyone talks about? Even without a partner, if you choose this, it is good to have at least one person that you can talk to that understands your process. I found it to be a very dark time, since I was looking at very vulnerable aspects of my need to belong and to be loved, as well as my self-worth. So it is good to have a teacher or wise confidante to share your journey with. It’s often good to give yourself a timeframe. It’s only in the low times that we want to break our vow, and we don’t tend to have the best discernment then. So a hard “masculine” rule can be helpful here. You can still practice celibacy within a loving partnership as well; you just release the sex part. You can be intimate in loving ways — embracing, kissing, touching. But we all know the difference between a loving touch and a sexual touch. Just let the sexual touch go. And it’s even an interesting discussion to have within a relationship if it would be an issue. Sometimes, we rely on sex as our connector and if this is true, you’ll find out right away.
The wonderful gift is that you will find other ways to connect intimately. You will find out what you both love to do together. You will have conversations like, “Sooooo, if we aren’t going to have sex, how else do you like to connect?” Just imagine the wonderful ripple effects of bringing in other loving connections into a relationship besides sex. And then, after a couple months of connecting in a hundred other loving ways, your sex life would truly be the sacred worship that it is meant to be.
The most beautiful end result was that I truly felt like me again. I didn’t realize how I had subtly shifted with each person in my life — including family, children, and partners. It was like I had been a shapeshifting chameleon in some ways, and now I wasn’t. I got to see the real me: whole, perfect, and wonderful. Such an incredible gift! else.
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