INTRODUCTION AND MY STORY:
(Note: The Seven Steps follow this section)
I was going through a difficult time in my life involving separation and isolation. In some ways, pornography was a way out for me and prevented me from doing potentially self-destructive things. However, porn became a refuge for me, an all-too-frequent “backup” the the point I had to stop and re-evaluate my life. I had advanced in many ways, but one of the nagging issues in my life was the familiarity with pornographic material and it stayed with me for a long time.
I’ve managed to stop watching, and I thought I’d share my guiding thoughts which have successfully gotten me off porn thus far. I read many different websites on how to stop watching porn. None of them worked for me. It was all “easier said than done.”
It’s more than not “just watching,” rather, it’s about not really feeling the need to look at it. While I still think about sex as much as before (which is many times a day), I don’t feel the “need” to run to my laptop and start loading up 5 different tabs at once.
A little bit about me: I’m a young straight guy who loves to meet people. I exercise regularly. I eat healthy. I love to go to the movies. I love to hike, run. If you met me, you probably would find I am a very soft-spoken, gregarious and pleasant young man and not the “type” who would get off on hardcore porn like gangbangs.
I couldn’t control myself. The stress and frustration in my private life would drive me to sometimes watch multiple times a day. I had a mental list of all my favorite porn performers, I had videos saved. I was surfing porn “tube sites” online regularly. I would sometimes ask myself: “Why do I keep going back to this?” The more I watched, the more I wanted. I started having needs I never had before. It wasn’t normal. It wasn’t healthy. I hated myself. I tried to quit. I tried telling myself: “I’ll never look at this again. It’s morally degrading.” But I would relapse with a vengeance.
Then things started changing. The videos were becoming more disturbing and abusive. I felt sad…I felt sick.
I began thinking to myself: “I want to watch porn so I can be aroused. I want to be aroused because I want to ejaculate while I watch a porn actress do hardcore sex acts in a porn scene. So why do I feel I HAVE TO watch such a graphic video?”
It occurred to me: this feeling of lust is entirely temporary…so treat it as such. Don’t give it so much attention by feeling you NEED to load some hardcore porn.
A wise man told me: Lust is like a storm. When the storm comes, you observe it while taking shelter. You don’t stand outside and stare at it otherwise it will take you away. You watch it come and you watch it go. That is the same with lust. Observe it as it appears. Do what you have to do, but don’t get tangled in it.
It’s definitely not an easy habit to kick and because of society jamming sexualized and pornified women in our face (billboards, TV, internet), but refusing to adequately address it (it’s all over the place!), you’re pretty much stuck on your own dealing with this. I’ve found distancing yourself from porn only works if you do it gradually, so here are my guiding thoughts, and maybe it can help those who are really trying to stop.
THE SEVEN STEPS
(1) BEGIN SCALING BACK THE QUANTITY OF VIDEOS YOU WATCH AND SET A TIME LIMIT TO YOUR VIEWING
Part of the problem with the widespread availability of porn is the sheer quantity available. Years ago, you were lucky to view pictures. Today, however, full-length films are available on the internet. So instead of having 10 “favorite” videos saved, cut down to 5. Try not to have multiple tabs consisting of different sites on at the same time. Just have one tab open and keep your viewing of different videos to the single digits. Start to make a conscious effort to choose the least hardcore and least degrading porn available that will work for you.
Next, set a time limit to viewing. For me, I set a time limit and said “I won’t spend more than 15 minutes today surfing,” and I stuck by that time limit. With all the YouTube-type sites out there, you can literally spend hours looking through all videos imaginable and not even be conscious of the time. Set your time limit and then call it a day. When you think about it, 15 minutes is a very small portion of the day. If you can watch just once a day, that leaves the entire day open for you to do more fulfilling things. Start cutting down with the viewing time more and more. 15 minutes becomes 10 minutes, then 7 minutes. But do it at a pace that works for you, and please, be consistent (try not to “treat” yourself in that you spend a week watching 10 minutes, you then decide to “just once” spend an hour.)
(2) SET A DAILY GOAL AND TELL YOURSELF “I WILL NOT WATCH PORN TODAY.”
Once the frequency and time spent viewing pornographic material lessens, then the fog clears and you can begin the new journey in front of you to not view pornographic material at all.
At first, I repeatedly told myself “I will never watch porn again in my life” but I found I would just relapse. If you’re watching porn all the time and are pretty much addicted (like I was), you telling yourself to never watch porn again for the rest of your life will not help you (never say never!). It will feel like you have to climb Mount Everest and it won’t be doable. Rather, just tell yourself that you’ll try not to watch it today and take it day by day. The mind and the spirit want to be free, and when you say “never do this” then you’re restricting the natural flow of things.
Training your mind to take life part by part rather in one fell swoop can make the goal attainable. For example, rather than tell yourself-“I have to run 10 miles”, you set checkpoints-“I have to pass mile 1 now. Then mile 2…etc” or at work, your boss gives you a in-depth assignment-break it down into bite-sized tasks and work at completing each one 100%.
Life is a marathon and many of the trials an tribulations we get through in life are like long distance runs, so set incremental goals, work at it every day, sharpen and chisel away at those pearls, which are your mind and soul, and we can make it together. At the start of every yoga class, we all set an intention for that day-“Today I will give only kindness to others.” Your intention can simply be “today I will stay away from porn.” That leads to point (3) below:
(3) FIND HOBBIES AND THINGS THAT INTEREST YOU ASAP!!
For me it was guitar, yoga, and music. Instead of typing in a porn site, go to youtube and just type in “meditation music.” Listening to this kind of music put me in a very somber and reflective mood. There are many other things to think about in the world than uploading the newest video of a porn star.
Go for a walk, pay attention to nature. If it’s windy, feel the wind on your face, hear the wind as it brushes through the leaves of trees. Listen to the rain, feel the heat of the sun, watch the snow as it falls. There is a natural, cosmic flow with Nature we are oftentimes unaware of. Pay attention to your surroundings. Be present now in the moment.
(4) ASK YOURSELF THE DIFFICULT PERSONAL QUESTION AND REALLY THINK…
…“Exactly why do I want to sit here, load a porn that hardcore porn video?” I know it sounds pointless, but really ask why do you need to release? Do you like the buildup?
(5) WRITE DOWN YOUR URGES, YOUR THOUGHTS… WATCH THEM APPEAR ON A PIECE OF PAPER.
When you find the right relaxing music and you feel the urge, before you run to the laptop, grab a pen and a piece of paper and just start writing. Write about what you want to watch. Write about what you’re thinking about. Write about WHY you want to watch your favorite porn vid. You may not be aware, but you are actually re-directing that raw sexual energy to introspection, something many people fail to do their entire lives. You are essentially having a dialogue with yourself, the toughest dialogue of all, and at the end of the day, isn’t that what we are all doing? Reflecting on our good/bad day? Thinking about people who made us happy/angry? This is no different. You’re not suppressing your urges, but rather you are identifying and questioning that raw energy.
Take deep breaths in through your nose, hold it, and slowly exhale. Start paying attention to your urges through your breathing. Identify the lust you feel. the anger you feel. the sadness you feel.
(7) IF YOU FEEL THE URGE, DO WHAT YOU LIKELY DID WHEN YOU FIRST MASTURBATED — JUST CLOSE YOUR EYES AND FANTASIZE.
If you just feel the urge (the testosterone can almost be like an animal), then try this: get away from the computer, go to your bed and masturbate. Close your eyes and think . At first, you will probably see pornographic images in your head, as I did (and occasionally, still do). But then slowly try and control those thoughts and begin thinking about whoever you want to think about having sex with. Again, at first, you will probably just see that person doing things you’ve seen in pornographic images, but gradually try and view the sexual fantasy with that person in a non-degrading way and as an equal — not just as someone who is there to be used or to service you sexually, and let the fantasy grow.
Truthfully, if I have to take care of my sexual urges this way, I still face the challenge of trying to discipline my mind and not see many of the porn images I had seen so many times before. Try and think of warmth, tenderness with the other person…that kind of pleasure that comes from sex. Sexual arousal is perfectly normal (at least to me), and we all have sexual urges. The issue, I believe, turns on how you express it. Plus stimulation without porn requires you to really be creative and create your own fantasy, to control your thoughts and to create that pleasurable mental experience which eventually manifests itself to the physical pleasure.
Otherwise, by getting aroused by watching porn, you are training yourself to react like a machine, processing the images, and climaxing based on those images.
Based on my experience, these steps are helping me. Applying them has reduced my “need” to frantically look at porn, and has overall made me more reflective of everything in life. I’m more interested in observing nature (beaches, trees, feeling the wind), and I am more interested in obtaining the intimate company of a woman by engaging in dialogues, going on walks, rather than just going horizontal with her.
If you can’t think of anyone to fantasize about, then get away from the computer screen and go meet people. Technology has helped us advance, but in many ways, we have become more isolated and distant from each other. Friendship is not valued much in the modern age, so it can be difficult to “meet” a significant other through a friend. But just try and get involved in the world so you can meet people. Sex will come naturally if both people are on the same page. Bottom line: there is much more to life than sex (though it’s hard to believe, even for me, given the “pornified” society we live in.)
Porn can take away so much valuable time when you can be outdoors, playing an instrument, or doing something that actually makes you a better person. If you’re married or in a relationship, porn might cripple your ability to sexually communicate with your partner.
This entire process is what is known in yoga as “unlearning.” You have a habit, a way of thinking, a way of living that you want to fundamentally change. You have to pretty much “unlearn” it. The only way to “unlearn” is to really question what it is you’re doing, how it affects you BOTH short term and in the long-run, and how it affects OTHERS around you. (For example your significant other.)
Plus the problem with porn is that the more you watch it, the more you expect people to do the crazy things that you see on the screen. Porn these days is getting really rough, and if you watch it too much and then happen to meet a girl and you start hurting her without even knowing it, that’s bona fide evidence you’ve taken your use of porn too far. You get desensitized to the actual pain that the women are experiencing on the screen, and next thing you know, you’re making your date/wife/girlfriend cry because you tried to act out some of the degrading and hurtful sexual acts that you’ve seen in porn, viewing her as a warped illusory porn fantasy, rather than a real human being who feels, laughs, and cries just like you.
I’m not coming from a moral angle (for example “Porn is the devil”), because while I feel very sorry for everyone involved in that business, that reason alone was not enough to get me to stop using porn. (I always felt the same argument can be made about the clothes you and I wear – some child in India or China was probably raped, beaten and forced to sew that shirt we take for granted, but what can we do? Gandhi made his own clothes, but until we reach that platform he was in, we’re all “partaking” in the greedy societal abuse of others.)
Nevertheless, for a moment, just think about it: what if you loaded up that video and you knew the person in it? Ex. a male or female relative you haven’t heard from in years and you see him/her in that video? True-the industry is filled with “consenting-age” adults who choose to do the acts you see and they get paid lots of money for it, but still, It would hit home a lot more if you knew that person and you might not get so quickly aroused. Bottom line is-pornography and “quick fixes” drive our society, people are hurting for money now, so in some ways, many men and women are not too far from “auditioning” for the next low budget “photo shoot” in LA or NY.
To bring it all together, porn viewing is a very private and personal addiction, and while you can reach out for help, at the end of the day you’re on your own in front of your computer. J. Krishnamurthi, a wise man who was well ahead of his years, once said “Truth is a pathless land.” I couldn’t agree more; it’s a jungle and you need to find your way through it. So seriously think about what is best for you in the long run, and also the people around you. (I.e. your current or potential girlfriend or wife). Continuously watching porn can definitely ruin your life. Somebody on another site said it perfectly — it’s like continuously eating McDonalds every day. In the long run, porn viewing will inhibit your spiritual growth.
So, if anybody is struggling with this addiction, I urge you to PLEASE post your feelings and concerns in the below comments section. Be as open as you want and we will all try to work together in helping each one of us become happier and more spiritually fulfilled beings in the future.