Celibacy: It’s Better Than You Think
The third Buddhist precept states, “I vow to abstain from abusing sexuality.” Naturally, this can be interpreted in a number of ways depending on one’s station in life and relationship status. For example, Buddhist monastics are generally much stricter in their approach; choosing to fulfill the precept by remaining celibate. House Holders (e.g. Buddhist practitioners who are not monks) on the other hand, tend to aim their practice more towards practicing sexuality in a way that doesn’t cause harm to themselves or others. That being said, taking periodic, short vows of celibacy (e.g. 1 week to 1 year in length) will help deepen your meditation practice, and give you the following benefits.
Learn to Be Happy Alone
It’s not uncommon for people to use sex in order to hide from their demons. Physical intimacy floods our bodies serotonin and oxytocin that leaves us with a wonderful “glow”, but does little to address our actual problems. Not having that release acts as a gentle push which will help you to face your demons and overcome them.
In the process, you’ll learn that being alone doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re lonely. A lack of physical intimacy with other people will allow you to learn self-love, and become your own best friend.
New Interests and Hobbies
Let’s be honest. Dating takes up a lot of time, and breaking up is even worse. Picking an outfit, going out, and dealing with emotional upheavals that come with courtship rituals takes both a mental and physical toll on you. A temporary vow of celibacy will grant a nice reprieve from all of that stress, and give you loads of free time. Imagine how much writing, reading, hiking etc., you could do if you didn’t spend your weekends swiping right on dating apps! All of your newfound free time will allow you to revisit old interests and discover new ones that you didn’t know you had.
Sadly, we live in a society that assigns value to people based on their relationship status. Choosing to be celibate for a short time acts as a healthy reminder that you don’t need to be with someone (or actively pursuing them) in order to feel worthy. Buddhism teaches that you are enough exactly as you are. To this end, temporarily abstaining from sex will help you to stop looking to others for approval, and spend more time learning to love and appreciate yourself.
Of course, none of this is to say that there is anything wrong with healthy sexual relationships. However, we must remain mindful of how our choices affect our physical, spiritual, and emotional health. A temporary vow of celibacy will allow you to do that. And you’ll reap a number of benefits as a result.
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