i just finished the 90 days Challenge today and would like to give everyone, who is doing this or considers doing it, a review of my experiences.
One of the reasons i took part in this challenge is because i could see the value in it. I'm still quite young and while i was not addicted to porn, there certainly was clinging to pleasant female forms and bodily stimulation (and suffering because of that clinging, too.). It used to make me tired and sometimes unsatisfied - which is not surprising when one craves.
So, what did i do?
I applied mindfulness to all objects related to this matter throughout the day. When my eyes made contact with a form (a pretty girl, legs, breast, a smile, a charming face) and it moved into my consciousness, i noticed whether it was related to a pleasant, unpleasant or neutral feeling.
If there was a pleasant feeling, i watched whether there was a will or craving for the form. It's the same for the unpleasant feeling, but you have to look whether there is the will or craving for avoiding the object / getting away from the object.
The same procedure was applied when related thoughts made contact with the mind, when form-impressions made contact with the mind, when bodily sensations made contact with consciousness, when impressions of bodily sensations made contact with the mind and when particular sounds made contact with the ear (heard my neighbours making love!
), ... the teaching of dependent origination / Paticca samuppada is of greatest value for better applying mindfulness and understanding how craving is lessend or empowered.
How did it work out?
The first days or few weeks had some tough moments. The mind clinged to old habits and struggles and tends to try go with aversion to "get rid of these objects". Aversion just creates more tension and this tendency of the mind came up a few times. I underestimated this danger sometimes at first, too.
Interestingly, i find that the mind get's tired of watching how it clinges rather fast. I repeated mindful observations as often as possible, on many occassions every day. As soon as the mind understood, that there is no stimulation coming, lust was seeking other channels to express itself.
I had a phase where i made much more dirty jokes than usual. So many bad dirty jokes, that it was impossible not to notice
Another phase was where the lust tries to enforce other aspects, like much more thoughts about relationships, love, loving a partner (not just physically), seeking more contact to other people, wishing to be together with people more closely and so on. It led me to observe these matters more closely too.
I didn't think this whole project would be such a big deal, but after 90 days i see that from a different perspective. I only realized how much sexuality influenced my way of thinking, talking and behaving after the impact of sexuality on my actions startened to lessen. When i met a very pretty girl a week ago, i was amazed how openly we could talk with each other - i had no intention to find out whether there would be chances to make out, nor did i behave in any particular way to not "waste chances", but just talked very openly. Without sexuality affecting getting to know that girl, we had some wonderful discussions just because i did not worry about whether i could be rejected. I was excited when she told me that she met another guy last week and that they got along really well - i was happy for that girl to find even more good company!
Overall, many things got way less complicated, especially during the last 3 weeks. I'm much more at peace with myself and the world, especially after i realized that occasional longing for a partner was also linked to lust. There is less craving for other people in general now. I don't get upset when friends cancel plans to hang out, i just don't crave for other persons that much anymore and i feel more at peace with being alone. And yes, the most obvious: i'm more content with being single and there is less to none craving for sexual stimulation (whether it's the eye or the body). The last couple of weeks, i did not even consider watching porn or anything like that - i just had no interest in it at all. Same for bodily stimulation - i just don't find anything of interest in it and the idea doesn't come up in the mind anymore.
Before the start i already told myself that i won't deny having a partnership when the opportunity just comes up. I still don't persist on going on with celibacy for the rest of my life. I don't crave for continueing with celibacy, but i just feel content and comfortable with continuing now. It's not stressful, it's not tiring. When i go to sleep, i don't go to sleep dissatisfied and tired from lust. During the day and when i wake up, i feel more energized than i used to.
However, the most important thing for me is: My mind is much more at ease, my overall well-being / contentness increased - i often experienced intense forms of joy resulting from renunciation during the last couple of weeks
All of this gives rise to more kindness towards myself and others, too. While the first weeks were difficult sometimes, it was definately all worth it. This challenge was (and still is!) a great opportunity to learn important lessons about the mind and i want to thank everyone who participated in this thread with their input. Sexuality is a topic deeply entrenched in modern western society and strongly linked with pleasantness and greed. If one wants to put effort into dealing with the kilesas, this may be an overlooked, but great chance.
Best wishes and much metta,