The Intimacy of Celibacy. ~ Azra Mustafa

Via elephant journal
on Feb 2, 2013
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Flickr/Lies Thru a Lens

Over a year ago, I made the conscious decision to be celibate.

This meant no physical anything with anyone, no pashing—and definitely nothing beyond that.

When I first tell people this, the responses I get vary greatly. Some look at me incredulously and ask, Why? Some lecture me on how I am fighting natural human urges, and therefore not taking care of my needs.

Others, including most of my close friends, have been very supportive of the decision.

In a world where more is always better, I made the decision to go with less.

Why am I doing it?

Well, in the last 10 years, I have been in one four-year relationship, followed two weeks later with a one-year fling, then a couple of years and flings in between, followed by a three-year relationship.

Having not had much time alone at all, I felt that in the midst of major life changes it was right that I take some time to myself.

What’s physical intimacy got to do with it?

Well, to me, physical intimacy without actual intimacy is pointless. In a casual encounter, most of the time, you’d be off your face anyway and would barely remember a thing. It’s just mutual masturbation—and at least on your own there’s none of that morning after awkwardness.

As I delve deeper into my yoga studies, I have also come to believe that we are as much spiritual, intellectual, emotional and energetic beings as we are physical beings.

This means that sex, or any sort of intimate physical activity, is a sharing of energy.

My decision, in part, was to acknowledge the fact that I have given away my energy to people who have left me in an emotional draught—and also to show myself some respect. You know that feeling when you meet someone you’re attracted to in your beer goggles, and you make out in the club, but after you get home there’s not only a hangover but an inexplicable emptiness as well?

Well, I decided that the short term high was not worth it anymore.

Making a big decision like this, and being determined to keep it, does require some life changes. For one thing, drugs are a complete no-go for me now. I haven’t taken even one puff of weed in at least 18 months. No longer do my weekends consist of two nights in a pub, drinking myself silly, followed by spending the entire weekend in bed with a hangover.

In fact, my whole social life has had a revamp.

Strangely enough, giving up physical intimacy has fostered other types of intimacy in my life.

No longer able to hide behind alcohol and loud music, my socializing options have evolved into long walks and beach outings, hours of brunch and coffee (or tea in my case), the occasional glass of wine and beautiful dinners—all of which require a substantial amount of conversation. If I am attracted to someone now, I can’t go into default ‘get drunk and pash’ mode, I actually have to talk to him.

In a world where feminism and equality means that women can do anything men can do, including having random sex, this act of mine might go against the grain. However, what are feminism and equality if not giving me the freedom to make my own choices?

I have been lucky to have the support of my feminist mentor, Dr. Heather Moritz, through this journey. Her pure shakti-essence, humour and often unique outlook on the world has greatly impacted my life, and helped me to hold my own in this controversial decision of mine.

Ironic how what I’m doing now is seen as so different when as little as 30 years ago, someone who did the opposite was ostracized; goes to prove that you should just do what feels right for you at any given time.

Looking around, I see a lot of sex, but not enough intimacy.

To me, intimacy requires a vulnerability on a level other than physical. Personally, I have experienced long stretches of time when my physical self is disconnected from my emotional, mental, spiritual and energetic self.

This has been my exercise in starting to align all the different layers of what makes me, me. It has been a chance to regroup and re-gather. My yoga practice has grown.

On days when I am so present—lying down in savasana at complete peace, feeling sweat drip off my skin—the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual satisfaction has been greater than anything I have experienced previously. In this place, I am complete.

It’s not that I’ve stopped shaving my legs. In fact, through this period, I have learned to take care of my body even more.

It is this living, breathing, being full of sensuous possibility; it comes with expressive spirit, intellect, and most of all, a heart.

Now, I know that sharing myself with someone who can’t appreciate all of that, or is not in touch with all of that in themselves would be a cop out on my end.

No, I’m not missing out on anything, because on my own I am complete anyway.

A year later and I am still on this journey.

I had an online dating account for a bit once the year was up, but I rethought the whole thing and found it too contrived and forced. It’s gone now.

Someone recently asked me how I would let the universe know that I am open to it, and my answer was, “The universe will know anyway. It’s only a matter of me being ready for it.”



azra mustafaAzra Mustafa: Daughter. Cousin. Niece. Sister. Muslim. Malay. Budding yogini. Ex-fiancee. Ex-girlfriend. Former traditional dancer. Urban hippie. Maybe future yoga teacher. Sometimes blogger. Serial hugger. Wonderer. Wanderer. Gypsie. Shoe freak. Beach bum. Dreamer. Music appreciator. Movie liker. Disciple of tea. Social networker. Kitchen experimenter. Constant friend. Often lover. Still looking for my Dharma.

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Assistant Ed: Olivia Gray
Ed: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Flickr/Lies Thru a Lens


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9 Responses to “The Intimacy of Celibacy. ~ Azra Mustafa”

  1. Josh says:

    Good for you! It's harder to find and follow new, healthier patterns than to ride the current of old and destructive(those that no longer serve you). Your situation is much like mine. Long-term relationship, fling, shortish relationship, fling, long-term/serious/woman I could spend my life with relationship which left me destroyed when it ended. Finally taking time for myself and breaking old patterns has lead me to people I would have never thought I'd meet.

    Anyways, congratulations. Keep it up as long as you feel it's necessary.

  2. azphoenix says:

    Thanks for reading Josh.

    And thanks for sharing as well. Congratulations to you for what you're doing too. You're right about how the journey just leads to unexpected places :-). Taking a time out has been just what I needed at this juncture, and I'm glad I had a strong support base while doing it.

  3. Sandy says:

    Aweseome! I am finding myself in exactly the same place right now, you just did a better job of verbalizing it than I did. : )

  4. Karen H says:

    You are so right in your new journey. I've been there too, now 5 mos celibate. Has given me time to heal all the inner wounds, to become healthy & whole. Gives one a completely different perspective on dating, flings, relationships. How weird that in today's world, it seems we're supposed to follow our urges and that empty sex, no intimacy, is accepted and even championed. A sad state of affairs.

  5. Rebecca says:

    I have been doing this too… it's been going on a lot longer than I excepted (will be 4 years in Sept) but I have realized that I had some pretty deep grained negative patterns that would of never solved if I didn't take the time out and use that energy for something important, for me, than just giving it away.

  6. azphoenix says:

    How amazing to see that a lot of people have shared the same experience :-).

  7. Paul says:

    Thank you so much for writing this!

    As a gay man living in NYC, it can feel like a merry-go-round of sporadic, meaningless encounters, all in search of that elusive intimacy. As my mind, body and spirit have started to come into alignment, I feel this same desire to take a time-out, to find balance, and make more conscious decisions. Your words were just what I needed to hear!

  8. […] delivering the news of my child’s fatal cancer. I have tried to do as society demands. I live a solitary life devoted to God and my inner life. I write almost daily, seldom taking breaks from […]

  9. azphoenix says:

    Awesome Paul! At the end of the day it's all about doing what's right for you, for now, and if a time out is what you need, then I hope you go for it.