Enlightened Sexuality with Ayurveda
An Excerpt from Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom by Acharya Shunya
The Ayurvedic tradition celebrates human sexuality not only because it enhances physical and sensual pleasure but also because it enhances emotional intimacy and mutual respect and can even, in the act of physical union, bring individuals to the experience of their own divinity.
One Sanskrit word for sexual intercourse is sambhoga, which brings together samyaka (a word that means "maintaining balance") and bhoga (pleasure or sensual enjoyment). Thus, sexual intercourse in Ayurveda means that activity by which one maintains equilibrium and also acquires sexual gratification.
In Ayurveda, brahmacharya, a balanced indulgence in sexuality, is often adopted as a way of life and refers to our acceptance of ourselves as more than just beasts under the control of a frenzied sex drive. Instead, we are asked to celebrate our sexuality and at the same time accept the responsibility to understand and regulate our sexual drive. We accept that our sexuality itself is God-given. Thus, the word brahmacharya beautifully brings together the opposites of sexual indulgence and sexual restraint. The Ashtanga Hridayam puts it this way: "From a disciplined indulgence in sex through brahmacharya, one gains memory, intelligence, health, nourishment, sharpness of sex organs, reputation, strength, and long life."
The Vedic sages were farsighted, indeed, when they conceived of a society that holds its collective sexual energy with transparency, accountability, respect, sensitivity, and care. Human pleasures, such as singing, dancing, playing, enjoying material wealth, and sexual gratification, are seen by the sages as pursuits that play an important role in the overall health and well-being of an individual and a society. In fact, the Ayurvedic sages go so far as saying that if the sexual instinct is forcefully suppressed, it leads to mental perversions and countless physical diseases.
In the context of Ayurveda, however, our sexual desires along with all of our other personal wants and desires are seen in relation to the whole of dharma. This context and sexual education within a larger framework of values and ethics gives our sexual desires a healthy outlet and prevents sexual perversions, addictions, and compulsions.
The Concept of Shukra
One of the most important Ayurvedic concepts regarding sex involves shukra, a Sanskrit term that denotes not only the human sperm, ovum, and hormones regulatingsexuality, but somethign more - a matter-based and intelligent potency that is located in every cell. It is because of the presence of the shukra that each and every cell can regenerate itself agai nand again.
While shukra's presence in our reproductive organs becomes the cause of procreation, shukra's presence in the rest of the body is the basis for sexual attraction, beauty, and magnetism. Shukra is the generative tissue, and it has the power to create a human being and to endow that being with the capacity for pleasure, happiness, strength and courage. Shukra's presence in our minds ties imagination, memory, creativity, and inspiration together into a bouquet of inexplicable enthusiasm and joy.
Ayurveda taught the world's first holistic lesson on sexuality by identifying shukra's presence, not in the human genitals alone, but in each and every cell, as an inherent bridge to the mind.
Increasing age is a natural cause for shukra loss. But time is not in our control, we need not fret. Shukra is replenished naturally from time to time - by Nature in certain seasons and by ourselves by eating certain foods. If you want to build a healthy stock of shukra, take stock of your daily diet and assess if you are eating enough kapha-promoting foods.
Shukra requires eating foods that are more nurturing, heavy, moist, sweet, cooling, and fatty in nature. Here is an abbreviated list of shukra-enhancing foods you can enjoy:
Dairy: Milk, cane-sugar-sweeteend yogurt, sweet cream, ghee, sweet butter, fresh-made cheeses such as cottage cheest (paneer) and mozzarella
Fruits: Fresh or dried figs, mangoes, peaches, plums, pears, ripe banans, pomegranates
Vegetables: Garlic and onions cooked in ghee (never raw), eggplant (fried in ghee) sweet potato, pumpkin, okra, yams, asparagus (all vegetables to be cooked in ghee)
Spices: Cloves, carom seed or ajwain, cumin seeds (all of these spices purify the shukra-carrying channels), turmeric (removes toxins from shukra), saffron (aphrodisiac)
With Love and Blessings,
Acharya Shunya Pratichi Mathur is the Founder of Vedika Global, School of Ayurveda and Vedic Sciences in Emeryville, CA, and, Bestselling Author of Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom, a complete prescription to optimize your health, live with vitality and joy (SoundsTrue 2017), and the former President of California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine (CAAM). Acharya Shunya is the recipient of several awards including for performing distinguished service by California Institute of Integral Studies (2016), and for excellence in providing education in Ayurveda by Association of Ayurvedic Practitioners of North America (AAPNA). Acharya was recognized as one of the Top 100 teachers of Ayurveda and Yoga in America by Spirituality and Health Magazine (2015).
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