How to Transmute Sexual Energy


Good morning. I’m here because as a disciple I'm doing a very big spiritual fight against "sexual" needs. Following the teachings of our Guru, I’m doing practices and meditation every time my mind starts to think about it (fortunately, not too often) and I can "control" it, feeling so happy and near to the Guru. The problem is about the physical needs. My body starts to not feel well and disturbs my meditation and daily life. Is there a practice that can help with it? Thanks you so much.

—Riccardo, Italy


Dear Riccardo,

The question arises for the devotee – How to transmute sexual energy? How can I reconcile my spiritual practices and aspirations with my sexual impulses?

The innate impulse to satisfy sexual needs is second only to our instinct for survival. Both instincts have innumerable expressions. In the case of sexual needs, the most common and easily identifiable are the desires for human love, children, and the influence of images of romance or fantasies surrounding sexual gratification.

While the age, health, and development of the human body impacts the intensity and dominance of some of these more common expressions, the attitude of the mind is more important than the actual needs of the body when the question revolves around our spiritual evolution.

The process of transmuting sexual energy is also a complex one because we are so profoundly impacted by the society and cultural norms that surround us. An environment in which women are covered head to toe in public is very much different than one in which the common grocery store checkout line displays “it all.” I recall that when the internet first “took off” the most successfully monetized part of it was related to pornography.

Further complicating the question is the religious history and attitudes that formerly praised celibacy and relegated marriage to a second-class status in terms of spiritual realization. Spiritual teachings have since ancient times, encouraged celibacy as more than simply helpful and all too often as necessary for achieving enlightenment. It is fair therefore to ask, however, is this true?

Finally, we find that in more recent years, public dialogue (political, religious, and otherwise) ranges and rages widely around one’s “inherent right to” choose from among a variety of sexual preferences and identities. One can hardly escape the bewildering new terms and pronouns that are evolving week by week.

Can one escape to a monastery? Does anyone want to? (Seems to me the monasteries of the world are largely empty! Sex scandals among the clergy give celibacy a bad rap and few would counter the argument.)

In short, we live in a culture that is at best very confused and at worse – a culture that has lost touch with reality. Those who thrill and thrive in the candy store of these new opportunities presumably view these trends more positively, but the soul, which is genderless and sexless, surely “scratches its haloed head.” Suppression, at least, that too often produces far worse results than indulgence, is not the issue in our society at large.

However, on one point there is hope. The modern trend of sexual exploration in time will reveal the inadequacy of sexual indulgence and self-identity to provide lasting happiness or freedom from suffering. Furthermore, some of the trends are motivated by the impulse to transcend sexual or binary classification. The soul, on this count, surely must be smiling.

Returning to earth to address the more practical question of how a devotee deals with this inborn impulse, we are blessed by the wisdom of Paramhansa Yogananda (and the sage counsel of others of like-mind) who offer to us the path of moderation and transmutation.

Sexual impulses can be transmuted and re-directed into healthy and even spiritualized forms of expression. This is the good news and it is necessary whether one is single, celibate, or in a relationship.

For the purposes of this article, let’s assume the reader is young, healthy, and perhaps single at this time but open to a committed relationship.

Paramhansa Yogananda recommends being careful and conscious about diet, exercise, the people we associate with, and entertainment. Let me begin with a list of simple things to consider:

  1. Diet: Eat fresh fruits and vegetables; drink clear and pure water; and avoid or minimize fried foods, processed foods, white bread, white flour, white sugar, and caffeine. Ground almonds, added to juice, or eaten/chewed whole are considered helpful. Stimulating hot and spicy foods, too much garlic or onion, or radishes may stimulate the sex nerves. Grapes are good for devotion but wine and alcohol in general are sexual stimulants. (Wine may be difficult to avoid in Italy but more Italians are reducing or eliminating alcohol from their diet these days. If it can’t be avoided, moderation is a must.)
  2.  Vigorous exercise on a regular basis is very helpful. It should be sustainable and not “crash and burn” exercise. Unfortunately, gymnasiums are not always the best place to avoid sexual stimulation but that may not be an issue for you. Running, walking, working out, hiking, and climbing are all good.
  3. Hopefully your health is generally good because being active, serviceful, and creative is important.
  4. In general, whether in your home, at work, at school, or out in public, it is important to stay centered within and ignore sexually stimulating situations or people. Keep your eyes “to yourself.”
  5. TV and movies are filled with sexual imagery. Magazine stands, especially in Europe, have lots of cover pictures. On the Internet, too, one must be careful. If you find your eyes lingering on such imagery or people in public or at work, catch yourself, mentally chant “Aum Guru” (or, as you feel), and turn away.
  6. Dress and behave modestly.. Avoid casual banter, touching, flirting, or getting close to individuals where you might become stimulated. Yogananda advised monks in his ashram not to have ANY conversation with the nuns or eye contact! Look at such persons through your spiritual eye and look at their spiritual eye when talking. Be impersonal, not intimate or overly personal, or friendly in such cases.
  7. Lahiri Mahasaya taught a technique of filling a (plastic-type) bag with ice and some water and while meditating calmly (and NOT when sexually stimulated). Hold the bag over the sexual organ. Re-direct the cool energy felt there inward and upward to the spiritual eye with the breath. If during the activity you feel sexually stimulated, inhale strongly drawing the energy upward from the sex organ area to the spiritual eye. Or go for a walk or a run…
  8. Engage in artistic, cultural or serviceful activities to re-direct creative energy to a higher level. Do you have an artistic or creative hobby or interest? Do you enjoy helping others? Find ways and find people who are energetic and creative and who serve others without ego. Think of others first. This will help re-direct blocked or frustrated energy.
  9. Do you intend to marry? If so, Yogananda gave some suggestions for how to develop the soul-magnetism to attract a true, spiritual partner. He also gave specific instructions for couples desiring to conceive a spiritually elevated child.
  10. Sexual energy is God’s creative energy manifesting at that reproductive, sexual level. It has an infinite variety of other ways to express itself. Without it, we would be dull and lifeless. It is sacred and holy. The question is how to channel it. Don’t be afraid of it. Its strength is second only to our impulse to remain alive and survive! It is a gift. The opportunity, then, at every stage of life, is how to use this gift for spiritual awakening and service.
  11. Live creatively! Live expansively! See yourself as part of all that is; as a part of everyone around you; see yourself in nature; in the universe itself! Each day and from moment to moment as it occurs to you, ask God for guidance in everything you do, think, feel or say! There is no greater creative power than God’s power. Rejoice for it has been given to you as a gift to use in accordance with your own highest soul-freedom.

Well, consider these points and we can “talk” again if you like.

Nayaswami Hriman

Sexuality and Self-Control

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