Sexual Self-Control and the Spiritual Path


I’ve been meditating for about 2 years now. I’ve constantly heard about the importance of semen retention for a practitioner of meditation. Is it important to refrain from any sort of sexual activity (even self pleasuring) that may cause loss of seminal fluid inorder for progress in our meditation practise? Or are these 2 exclusive of each other. Can’t a man have a healthy sex life and progress in meditation as well? Kindly explain.

—Ash, India


Dear Friend,

You are quite correct in stating that the long-standing counsel given to us by the rishis has been to live a life of moderation — and indeed celibacy where possible. Yet great saints have also been married but obviously practiced self-control within marriage. The art and science of the redirection of sexual energy and fluid is a long-standing one among yogis at large. In this age yoga practices have been given to householders — and indeed all who are sincere regardless of caste, class or status. In addition, we live in an age that openly delights in sexual prowess and exploration and even touts the advantages of “a healthy sex life!”

So in this age and culture we must be practical as well as sensitive to the feelings and views that we are influenced by. I would encourage you to practice moderation in whatever form that takes for you. Paramhansa Yogananda, and one of his direct disciples who is also the founder of Ananda, taught us to practice redirection of thoughts and arousal by deep breathing from the lower chakras up to the spiritual eye at times when we can or wish to redirect it. It is also a tradition that sexual consciousness and energy can be lessened by vigorous exercise; a diet of fresh and wholesome food, engagement in humanitarian or social service, artistic or inventive concentration or mercantile (business) activities. Prayer, mantra, meditation and devotion are key to sublimation of sexual energy.

I watched a video recently that scientifically corroborated the yogic teaching that a man loses the equivalent of a quart of blood and takes a day or more to replenish seminal fluid. The impact on a man’s health is considerable especially if frequent dissipation of seminal fluid takes place over a period of years. Premature aging; nervousness; loss of memory; irritability; insecurity….these can be the effects of immoderate sexual activity.

I would also encourage you to be conscious and mindful whenever you succumb to temptation or engage in sexual activities, including fantasies and thoughts. Observe your emotions, energy and thoughts. You can redirect arousal if you catch it in the earliest time. Avoid gazing at sexually attractive images, indulging in porn, or basking in the eye contact with an attractive woman.

You will find many benefits coming to you through self-control: calmness, kindness, compassion, intelligence, magnetism, and intuition, to name a few. Semen can produce life and its use should be appropriate and intelligent.

Do the best you can, because guilt will serve no purpose. But make an effort in all events to be more conscious and self-aware. Finally, see women as your sisters and mother and as incarnations of Divine Mother. Keep your distance and they will respect you. Lose your “cool” in infatuation and familiarity and you will inevitably regret it — for you’ll have to eventually find your own dignity and self-respect (which are always difficult to regain from others).

“Brahmacharya” means flowing in the Spirit, presence, and grace of God!

Nayaswami Hriman