Controlling Lustful Thoughts


I’m sorry if this has been asked before, but how can I control lustful thoughts? When I hit sexual maturity at age 11, I had no idea what I was getting into, and I have developed bad habits as a result. These habits have made me miserable. I have overcome the desire in the past, but eventually I have always gone back. Do I just have to put more of my willpower into it? I know not to beat myself up, listen to uplifting music, and to see God as the doer. Is there any other advice?

God bless you.

—Miles, United States


Dear Miles,

Paramhansa Yogananda offered the advice of “nipping desires in the bud”, meaning that we should try to catch our desires, especially sexual desires, as soon as they surface in our awareness. At that point we need to shift our awareness to something that is positive and uplifting, such as listening to uplifting music or feeling God’s presence. Chanting is another very powerful way to shift the focus.

However, if you’ve already developed a negative habit around lustful thoughts, it usually works best to deal with the energy itself. One suggestion is do something physical such as exercise; I would recommend Yogananda’s Energization Exercises or the yoga asanas. What these accomplish is that you are able to dynamically engage your energy in a positive direction which you can feel as a reality and not just hope for the best.

It’s also very helpful to be in the company of other spiritual truth-seekers. As Yogananda said, “environment is stronger than willpower”. The magnetism of other devotees will help you in your own efforts.

Praying to God and Guru for guidance and support is important as well. Let your mind constantly be in the blessings of divine grace. That divine presence will grow in strength so that other lesser desires or attachments no longer have any attraction.

Blessings on your spiritual journey.

Nayaswami Pranaba