The Risks of Sensual Desire

What risks are found in the hindrance of sensual desire?

I’ve been practicing celibacy for six months now. No masturbation, no sex, no porn. I was still in a long term relationship for the first 2-3 months of this. On the day that relationship was to end, I had a productive sit during the morning, becoming fairly concentrated. Later me and my then partner watched Scott Pilgrim Saves the World. The movie aroused a lot of desire in me. I made out with my partner.

It was like before my mind was a calm lake reflecting the sky. Kissing was like throwing a dozen rocks into it. Before I felt clear and alert, after I went into a tailspin. We broke up shortly after and I’ve focused on recovering my concentration. At this point I look at the stress in the relationships of others, the amount of mental space that gets taken up. Having put aside this sensual desire I have put aside all its hazards.

So too with other sensual desires, drugs no longer threaten my health, sanity and that of others. There’s a withdrawal period where, when the addiction is dying it kicks and screams. When I was starting recovery I remember having a whole day where I couldn’t stop thinking about heroin. I was being tortured by the fabrications, the fruit of the actions of drug use were coming out. After that, like cleaning off your desk of old trash, there’s so much more space to breathe. Things become less cluttered.

Not to say I am totally unfettered by sensual desire. Music, video games and shows of various sorts take up space in my mind, planting new seeds with each engagement. As I’ve written before they too have their landmines. The habitual craving and disappointment of video games, the gain and loss of shows, the earworms of music. I’ve damaged my sleeping patterns to play a little longer or watch another episode. They take up space where more admirable and pressing goals could be tackled.

There’s a tendency, especially early on, to think that renunciation of these things is embracing boredom and dissatisfaction. Yet in all my years of craving to these pleasures never have I felt done with them. Never have I finished a video game and thought “well shit, I think I am good for the rest of my life”. Never has a tv show left me content with my life and at ease.

In contrast, when I practice I have moments of being totally content to sit there breathing. Not needing this or that song or game or show. Happy to be there, happy to breathe. Not trying to soothe an ever hungry ache for some new pleasure. Genuinely, ok. Sensual pleasures have never left me that way, not for long, not sustainably, not without hurting my own body and those around me.