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Physical Aids to Sublimation Of Urges

Some important physical aids to sublimation of urges including sexual urges.

Avoidance of Frontal Attack on the Senses — Fighting the senses is an art. First the mind is to be raised to a higher mood by means of the will and then the control of the senses can be accomplished by gradual and measured restraint. Otherwise, violent physical and mental reactions may occur, retarding or even stopping the process altogether.

Swami Turiyananda says: ‘Control of the senses is not to be brought about by violent effort. Only by realizing Him it is perfectly achieved. But at first one must struggle for this end. Afterwards it becomes quite natural. Still one should never be overconfident. Just as an intelligent hunter catches a deer and ties it up, so after succeeding in controlling the organs one should be alert, and continue to hold the mind and organs in check.’

Giving up lustful gaze — which is closely related to curiosity and desire — is particularly important. Swami Vivekanda says: ‘We must learn how to turn the eyes inwards. The eagerness of the eyes to see outwards should be restricted.’

Adjustment of Food Habits – Diet plays an important part in brahmacharya or celibacy. Different kinds of foods have different effects on the body and mind. The influence of food on brain cells, emotions, and passions is remarkable. Generation of excess bodily energy ought to be avoided. If this happens, the intake of food ought to be reduced for a few days.  

It is especially important not to overload the stomach and to always eat sparingly at night. It is also desirable to take only nutritious and easily digestible food. Every individual must find out what food suits best his or her psychophysical system.

Control of the Palate – Swami Turiyananda says: ‘All trouble is over if the palate and sex impulse are conquered. When the palate is controlled the sex impulse is also controlled. Unless the senses are brought under control there cannot be any spiritual progress.’

A man who has controlled all other senses except the palate is not to be considered a master of his senses. When the hankering of the palate is controlled, everything else is controlled.

Regulation of Breathing – Simple rhythmic breathing goes a long way in helping keep the mind calm and cheerful. Pranayama learnt from a competent guru can also be a great aid.

External Cleanliness – Cleanliness is conducive to good health, both physical as well as mental. Patanjali also mentions that ‘from the practice of internal and external cleanliness there develops aversion towards one’s own body as well as towards contact with other bodies’.

Canalization of the Basic Creative Urge – Performance of activities related to the higher ideals of life are useful in positively directing the basic creative urge inherent in every person. Otherwise, this urge is likely to manifest itself in undesirable ways. Unselfish work, study of scriptures or holy literature, and deep thinking on spiritual matters are especially helpful in this regard.

Avoidance of Idle Talk – Says Swami Brahmananda: ‘If you indulge in idle talk, your brain gets excited, you cannot control your thoughts, and you suffer from sleeplessness and other troubles.’

Acharya Shankara also says: one of the first steps to yoga is the control of speech.

Holy Company – Association with purehearted people, who themselves have observed strict continence, has a profound influence on struggling aspirants. The magnetic aura, the spiritual vibrations, and the powerful thought-currents of developed adepts help to tune the minds of sincere seekers practising brahmacharya. But to profit from holy company, the company of immoral people should be strictly avoided. The company of people with lustful desires is very harmful for brahmacharins. Not only people, but anything that stimulates sexual impulses—sensuous pictures, books, films — are to be avoided.

Avoidance of Intimacy with People of the Opposite Sex – Aspirants, especially beginners, are advised to avoid the company of the opposite sex as far as possible and never to interact intimately with them.

Practice of Yogic Asanas – Regular practice of selected yogic asanas are of considerable help in modulating the sexual impulse. Asanas are not only physical postures but spiritual disciplines as well. They help control the body, senses, and mind. Sound health is a great blessing.

Source excerpts from article titled 'Brahmacharya and Its Practice' by Swami Yukteshananda published in the Prabuddha Bharata Magazine January 2010 issue.