If you’ve ever watched a mainstream adventure movie like Star Wars, The Lion King or Harry Potter, you might have noticed they all kind of follow the same structure. The story begins with an unsuspecting child from an isolated existence who harbours unknown powers that are the only hope in restoring balance to the universe. You get it, classic adventure story.
All of these tales are not formatted similarly by coincidence, they are following the structure of “the Hero’s Journey”, a storytelling template developed by Joseph Cambell in 1949, using the comparative studies of archetypal heroes from myths around the world.
Semen retention, in its simplest form, is the practice of avoiding ejaculation. Whenever I begin to explain this to people, despite their gender or sexual identity, 99 percent of their replies sound something like: “why on Earth would you do that?”. This was my first indication of how out of touch the majority of us were with our sexual energy. If you strip ejaculation back to its biological purpose, it’s sole intention is reproduction. Putting our bodies through the physical, chemical and spiritual act of reproducing (whether or not it is successful) affects it immensely, and it’s alarming to me that this awareness is something that’s rarely considered.
Semen retention is actually an ancient concept that has been practiced by males in a variety of cultures throughout history. According to Taoism, to lose your manly fluids (semen) is to lose vital life force energy (Qi), and to refrain from ejaculating increases your physical, emotional and spiritual health. Although there are few studies that support these claims, today, semen retention is becoming increasingly popular. This is not only to attain these health benefits but is also beneficial in addressing porn addiction and redirecting sexual energy to be within your control, rather than being controlled by it. And reflecting on the events of the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself considering the ways that the practice of semen retention is becoming more mainstream could very well serve as a cornerstone to a reimagined future of feminism and the consent conversation.
By now you’re probably wondering where and why not-ejaculating ties in with Joseph Cambell’s storytelling template, to which I respond, it does very much so, but also not at all. I’m writing this after undergoing my own journey of 30 days of semen retention, and although there really isn’t anything heroic about it, the trials and transformation you go through kind of fits Cambell’s story arc to a tee.
DAY 1-5 – The Departure: Call to Adventure
The Hero’s journey begins when their way of life is under direct threat.
I have personally practiced semen retention a numerous amount of times, and the intention when starting each of these journeys varies. Primarily, I use it to re-tune my general sexual energy, but there will sometimes be more specific ailments I’m trying to address like pornographic habits, lack of focus, or dealing with sexually obsessive thoughts.
The first 5 days don’t bring many challenges or provoke any wildly new states of being because you’re still in quite a comfortable space of consciousness. After ejaculation, the body releases a cocktail of chemicals -one being serotonin- the chemical that regulates anxiety and happiness. But just like taking a drug, in the days following the high, your body simply returns to its chemical balance and homeostasis
DAY 6-15 – Initiations: The road of Trials
The hero leaves their place of safety for the unknown to face challenges that will alter their existence forever.
From here, the real journey begins because for the average Joe, this is probably the longest he has voluntarily gone withholding ejaculation for his whole adult life. Prepare to witness yourself in some of the most all-encompassing and erratic states of being. For those that had vigorous masturbation habits, this period is particularly difficult and you will find yourself facing many duels with the dark horny overlord.
For me, it was around day 8 when all and any sexual turbulence came to a head, and quite rapidly any desire to ejaculate stopped altogether. My thought patterns started to shift and I found myself thinking less and less about anything sexual, I was more engaged in conversations and I could focus for more prolonged periods. Although this higher mental state of being was wonderful, the greatest, but also most confronting gift was the realisation of how many unsolicited sexual thoughts I had throughout my days.
Tools you can use to beat the overlord:
You will have so much pent up energy and you need to exert it somewhere, go for a run, do squats or practice backflips.
This extra energy does not only need to be exerted physically but controlled mentally. When your brain is flustered it’s shooting laser beams everywhere, and by meditating, you are turning all these scattered beams into one super focus laser. This is the redirection from being controlled to having control over.
DAY 15-30 – The Return: The Master of Two Worlds
After all that adventure the hero returns to their normal life, the quest has changed the hero, they have outgrown their old life, all the tangled plot lines get straightened out.
Now you come into full sovereignty of self. After two weeks of practicing semen retention, I no longer needed energy or stimulation from anyone or anything to feel complete. I could sit in a park and be content with the moment without the desire to listen to music or go on my phone. How I engaged in all my relationships completely changed as I became more present. And on the more objective side, I was made aware of the relationships that I valued on a human-to-human level and those that were purely sexual or lust based.
This realisation came to me in the most unexpected way: with the purchase of my morning coffee. In short, there were two coffee stores near my house, one made superior coffee and one didn’t. But the one with subpar coffee had nicer staff and a cute girl that often served me so naturally, I went there more. As I got to the tail end of my 30 days, I found myself wanting the superior coffee over the social interaction with the cute girl. When I realised the shift in my coffee allegiance, it put me into a deep audit of my soul. It wasn’t that I was creating sexual fantasies about my coffee crush prior to my retention, but I did receive some sort of lustful stimulation from our interactions. Being knee-deep in retention though, I realised I didn’t need it anymore. This really helped me understand the unconscious thoughts and habits my sexual energy had been ruling under my nose.
After ending my semen retention journey, my return to partnered sex was vastly different. I was much more present in the moment, seeing pleasure as the goal rather than ejaculation. The only negative effects found by scientific studies show that after your testosterone levels peak 7-10 days in, they start to drop below healthy equilibrium. Taoist sexuality practices suggest that each man has their own optimal frequency of ejaculation, so it’s up to you to find your tip of the mountain, ultimately attaining a healthy sexual balance. In summary, I highly suggest all men go on a journey of one month’s semen retention, not only for the physical and mental benefits but to understand the movement of their sexual energy.