Masturbation is a natural inclination when we are manifested in physical bodies because it is natural to be drawn to things that induce a sensation of pleasure. This is why children naturally begin to experiment with masturbation at a young age. But many of us alive today have been shamed for it. We were raised to believe that masturbation was immoral, evil, wrong, or an embarrassment. And many people, including spiritual teachers believe that masturbation is spiritually detrimental. So which is it? Is masturbation bad or good? The answer is like any tool; it can be both. So it all comes down to the conscious and subconscious intentions of the wielder.
POSITIVE SIDE OF MASTURBATION
First, let’s visit the positive side of masturbation:
1. Sexual stimulation causes energy to build within the body. The sexual response cycle is divided into four phases: Excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution. Orgasm, also called sexual climax, is the sudden release of the accumulated sexual energy that has been built in response to stimulation. So it’s relatively easy to see how sexual stimulation (as a builder of energy) could be a useful tool to use. In fact I did an entire video about using orgasms to manifest. I strongly encourage you to watch that video titled: How To Use An Orgasm To Manifest.
2. Obviously, if a person can build life force energy through sexual stimulation, that energy is now readily available to channel towards whatever endeavor or creation one feels compelled to focus on. This is the aspect of sexuality that ancient yoga practitioners and that spiritual teachers are aware of and concerned about. But they aren’t the only ones to have discovered it.
A great technique is to stimulate yourself to the phase of plateau and instead of orgasming (which would release that energy), channeling that energy towards something else you wish to have more energy for. This technique is a favorite among athletes, who are known to stimulate themselves to the point of plateau but not let themselves orgasm, right before a big game or a race. This is also a favorite among scholars, who use this same technique right before a test or talk and performers who use it to enhance their performances.
For those of us who are interested in spiritual practice, it can be a great idea to deliberately use this sexual energy in a conscious way. We can channel this energy into our work, our emotional connection with our partner, our friendships, our meditation or our shadow work.
3. When we feel pleasure, we come into a state of emotional, mental and physical alignment and it brings us squarely into the present moment instead of maintaining a state of resistance where we are lost in the past or the future. This opens our chakras and energy channels and we have much more life force energy flowing into and through our being. When we are out of alignment, illness begins to manifest. So by bringing ourselves into alignment, we amplify the healing process. We add to our overall health. The body responds to that alignment by following suit. For example it releases oxytocin and endorphins, which relieve pain. The immune system is mobilized, blood flow increases throughout the body which further nourishes out body, our cells begin to have better respiration and the portion of our brain that is associated with fear and anxiety goes dormant. The bottom line is, masturbation can help keep us physically healthy.
4. Masturbation enhances self-intimacy and subsequently other-intimacy. Developing intimacy with yourself is critical if you want to be intimate with someone else. To be intimate with yourself, you need to see yourself, feel yourself, hear yourself and understand yourself. When you master this, you have a sense of self to bring into relationships with others. And you’ll be much more able to offer intimacy to someone else. It is important that you are familiar with yourself sexually and masturbation is one of the best ways to develop this self-awareness and self-familiarity. You’d be surprised how much you can learn about yourself just by engaging with yourself in a sexual way. It’s a travesty when people enter into relationships with no sexual experience or when people are alienated from themselves to such a degree that they avoid themselves sexually. This is a huge problem in the world today for women, some of whom have avoided thinking about, touching or educating themselves about any part of themselves that they consider sexual. When this is the case, in a relationship that turns sexual, you are at the mercy of inexperience. You cannot direct the experience in a way that would be pleasurable to you, you’re just basically at the mercy of your partner, who has no idea what you like and don’t like want and don’t want because you don’t either. This can make your sex life and even your relationship a complete disaster. To avoid yourself sexually is a state of resistance to yourself. This is not healthy and it fuels shame.
5. During orgasm, the awareness of the identity or ego is dissolved so in that moment, you are dis-identified and you can touch your infinite nature. This is why sex and orgasm has been used as a tool in spirituality to reach higher states of consciousness. It has been called the “mini death’ because it erases a sense of separate self. Tantra is the most well known example of sexual practice being used as a doorway to achieve enlightenment in fact.
NEGATIVE SIDES OF MASTURBATION
Now for the potential pit falls of masturbation:
1. It can become an addiction and thus end up doing more harm than good. It is true that for many of us, the craving for orgasm is the craving for relief, relief in the form of release. This feeling of relief becomes it’s own addiction. This is a big part of what we are addicted to if we are addicted to pornography. We often seek out pleasure, not for the sake of pleasure but to try to escape from pain. When done for this reason, masturbation (especially if it is chronic) is a form of self-medication. It blunts the senses and makes you forget everything else. It is hypnotic and trance like and makes you lose track of time. If you use masturbation in this way, you use it to get relief from something. It is used to escape a painful emotional state.
Addiction is an indication that there is something being covered up and avoided that needs to be faced and dealt with directly. For example, I’m not a fan of the idea of using masturbation to reduce stress (which it does do) because it doesn’t deal with the underlying cause of the stress; it just provided temporary relief from the stress like a painkiller. When we are using masturbation in this way, we are not using it to bring us into the present moment, we are using it instead to escape the present moment. If we are dedicated to maximizing our life, we can’t keep running from ourselves and escaping our pain through our addictive behaviors. If you fall into this behavior of using masturbation in an addictive way, it’s time to have a real heart to heart with yourself about what you are using it to get away from. And then it is time to face that underlying pain. You may or may not be masturbating in tandem with pornography or mental images you construct in our own mind to reach sexual climax. But because the addiction to masturbation is so closely linked to porn addiction, if you struggle with the addiction to masturbation, I want you to watch my video on YouTube titled: How To Overcome Porn Addiction.
2. Orgasm releases oxytocin, which enhances our bond with each other. For this reason, people who have a healthy sex life (even if that includes masturbation and not just sex) are in fact more likely to stay faithful to one another and not cheat. But there is one demographic of people for whom masturbation is a way of avoiding this bond. If we have a fear of intimacy, we can fall into the behavior of
masturbating because we want to avoid intimacy. We condition ourselves to respond to self-stimulation so we never have to feel the vulnerability of connecting emotionally with someone else. In fact, we may become sensitized to the degree that our own touch is the only way we can become aroused and we may even render ourselves incapable of reaching sexual climax by being touched by another person. We are particularly at risk of this is we have what many psychologists call an avoidant attachment style. Before you count yourself out of this category of behavior based on the fact that you can and do have sex with other people, consider that it is possible to have sex that involves no intimacy as well. I like to call this type of sex mutual masturbation because the two people involved are not actually connecting during sex. They are using each other to get off. Unfortunately, most porn on the market today demonstrates this kind of sex and leads us to believe this is what real sex is, when it isn’t. So, consider looking close at yourself in the mirror so to speak and discovering whether masturbation is just your way of being sexual, without the emotional risk of connecting with another person. Our arousal circuitry is easily programmed to prefer self-sex involving sexual fantasies and self touch rather than intimacy with other people and this can obviously have devastating effects on our relationships.
3. As I said before, life force energy is creative spiritual energy and it is indivisible from sexual energy. When you become aroused, you are raising your sexual energy. When you orgasm for the sake of relief, you are releasing that energy. The question you should be asking yourself is what am I releasing that energy towards? Sexual energy is creative energy. If you are spending your life force energy by masturbating for the sake of release in and of itself, you are robbing yourself of creative energy. That energy is meant to be channeled towards creation, whether that creation is the creation of connection or the creation of actual life or the creation of ideas or the creation of the lifestyle you want to have. A state of atrophy or apathy is common for people who are unconscious about their masturbation and who masturbate habitually, because the energy they have to create their waking life is being spent. When we do not know how to consciously bring in an endless stream of energy because we cannot consistently maintain alignment, we can end up depleting ourselves through masturbation and our body will become unhealthy because of it.
THE TRADITIONAL WAY TO LOOK AT MASTURBATION
It is important that we set forth on the path of spirituality and self-growth as a result of intrinsic, internal motivation. It is a kind of natural internal evolution that will compel you forward. For thousands of years, we have been making the mistake of being on the path of spirituality and self-growth because we are extrinsically motivated. We hold a spiritual ideal in our head, a kind of idea of perfection that has been fed to us by other people. We wish to live up to that spiritual ideal mostly so we will be loved and feel good enough about ourselves. We chase it like a carrot on a stick. The traditions that taught you (or influenced those who taught you) that masturbation is wrong, are the very traditions that prefer to control your behavior with a carrot and a stick. They operate through punishment and reward and they don’t mind whether your spiritual practice is extrinsically motivated or intrinsically motivated as long as you are living up to a spiritual ideal. But the time has come to let go of these traditions because they no longer serve our progression as a species.
There is no giant man in the sky called God who is expecting you to live up to an image of spiritual perfection in his head and who is ashamed of you when you masturbate. There is no difference between life force energy and sexual energy. Whether you like it or not, you are a sexual being. That sexuality does not own you, because it is you. It is natural and no part of that sexuality is wrong. All energy can be channeled towards use that benefits or use that harms. But by embracing yourself as a sexual being, and becoming fully intimate with yourself sexually (including masturbating) the likelihood that that sexual energy will be channeled towards harm is greatly diminished. Instead, if it is done consciously, it can greatly benefit you and those around you. Sexuality is a beautiful thing, as long as it is conscious.