Why is celibacy for a layperson a big deal at all?
It's all about encouraging an accurate mindset of the concept. No need for repression or unhealthy techniques to suppress. Some of people in this thread seem to suggest that sex is such a powerfully good thing it has to be inherently stressful to give up. I disagree.
It's all about encouraging the proper, realistic, mindset of the subject. Sex is not inherently beautiful or wonderful or amazing, etc. unless one focuses one's perceptions on these concepts. It is really not unrealistic for any layperson to give up sex & self-pleasure once they expose themselves to the true realities of the subject.
Personally, I used to be extremely sex driven. By observing my attraction to the other sex I noticed myself and most of us (especially in Western society) are so used to seeing sexuality with rose-coloured glasses we ignore any relevant negatives just out of habit. Literally we are **choosing** our perceptions of sex to be super positive.
Of course, there are opposing forces to deconditioning this tendency. For example, it is our biological tendency to view sex as inherently good. Also prevailing social tendencies brainwash people into this mindset (ie./ advertisements selling sex, people everywhere chattering and obsessed with dating and/or sex as a measure of their self-worth, younger and younger people dressing as provocatively as possible, birth control allowing extremely frivolous sexual choices, pornography being incredibly prevalent, even romantic novels like Shades of Grey, etc.)
But one can provide "counter-arguments" to this one-sided sexual positivity brainwashing. The traditional Buddhist meditations on foulness and the body parts are recommended as cures for sensual lust... I tried them and found them mildly effective.
I am frequently around attractive women in my day-to-day life. So when exposed to beautiful women I began trying to visualize them only as their skeletons so as to de-sexualize them and see them as simply human beings.
I later moved to a more graphic practice. It was to view attractive women as piles of discoordinated bodyparts (ie./ if you saw a Porsche 911 and took it apart, and laid all the pieces on display from car doors to windows to motor oil, gas, exhaust, paint, etc.). One person sees a beautiful person, I would see masses of living parts, splayed out in messy dripping piles of organs, tissues, and decaying organic matter.
There was a famous quote by some Buddhist monastic who said something like if you were flipped inside-out, with all your organs exposed and juices dribbing and dripping everywhere, with all of the smells and horrible sights... Even your mother wouldn't want to be anywhere near you.
I found these techniques were quite useful, but one can get more graphic for the modern age if one is overcome with desire:
-try spending some quality time looking at close-up medical pictures of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (for both sexes)
-look at statistics (ie./ did you know 80 million Americans... 1/4 of the population haveHPV virus which causes warts on the genitals, and even cancer?)
-watch YouTube videos of surgeries and diseased organ-removals on the bodyparts
-look at real anatomy pictures of humans
-observe cadaver or medical examiner photos
-or for the social implications watch one of those Netflix documentaries on the life-after-porn, or the one about Rocco (a retired porn star, who explains the negative aftermath of his addiction to sex)
These certainly act as reminders that flesh is flesh, desire is ugly, it's not inherently good or wonderful.. In fact some aspects can be soberingly grotesque. I found these things can be a useful cure for all this sex-positivity programming.
What is sex really? One just needs to frequently remind oneself of the less-romantic realities of the shoving engorged organs within mucous-dripping organs.
In the Atthakavagga Buddha said he would not go near one of the most beautiful women in the whole land, who was sought after by kings...
"How would I then wish to touch this bag full of excrement and urine, even with the tip of my foot?"
Or similarly, if you saw a dog on the street, what are the chances you would want to touch it's anus or genitals? Probably not likely... However the reality is that the dog's parts are likely cleaner than many humans, because the dog licks them frequently, at the first sign of odour, and his/her saliva is anti-bacterial.
Disgusting? Yes. It's meant to be. Question your fixations.
Sex is *not* inherently good, it's our perceptions which are drawn to this concept, but our perceptions are deluded and draw us away from the truth. It doesn't need to be stressful to be celibate. In fact, by proclaiming the difficulty of this endeavour, one is doing a disservice to those who might be better encouraged to give it a try, so they can see the benefits.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.