The 3 pillars of life are: Food, Sleep and…Sex?

Food and sleep are pretty straight forward—or at least we talk about these things openly (and probably a bit too much) without a lot of discomfort. Why is it hard for some of us to experience sex as one of the pillars of our life?

A pillar is something that supports. These 3 activities—eating, sleeping and sexing—support and enrich our life when we engage in them in a nourishing way.

The desire for sex is a natural impulse.

The classic texts of Ayurveda urge us to respond to our natural impulses (which include eating and sleeping) without repressing them. If you are turned-on, something has to happen with that energy. It will never work to squash it down in your belly and squeeze your eyes shut in the hopes that it will go away. In fact, this will probably force it to express in a less healthy way. Conversely, having sex when you aren’t really “feeling it” isn’t very fulfilling and may be depleting.

Sex is a pillar because the build-up of sexual essence is a natural result of healthy living and that essence seeks expression or transformation. Sex is one of the main ways that we can naturally express (and possibly transform) that energy. Knowing when to refrain from having sex in order to preserve this vital essence is also an important component of enriching your health.

As a support for life, Sex encapsulates the entire realm of relationships. It is the play of energy and consciousness, the dance of Shiva and Shakti, the tension between movement and stillness.

The desire for sex may be an expression of the need for pleasure, the longing for intimacy, the drive to procreate, and ultimately, the yearning to connect with Nature or the divine.

Each of these is a healthy motivation for having sex.

But, we are talking about NOURISHING sex here. Unfortunately, we are bombarded daily with images of sex and sexuality which are not only not nourishing, but mostly quite empty. We are instructed to believe that what is “sexy” is something which is fundamentally unattainable.

The media’s portrayal of sex and sexiness is junk food. At its best, empty of anything nutritious, at its worst, actively doing damage to our system. And the truth is, as good as (some people believe) junk food may taste to the tongue, if we could sense deeper into our experience we could probably feel the damage that is being done.

But what is nourishing sex?

When you think of nourishment, think of water element and its moist, sweet, smooth, cool and cohesive qualities. Think also of fire element and sexinverseits warm, passionate, enthusiastic and transformative qualities.


One of the ancient teachers of Ayurveda, Sushruta, describes the ideal sexual encounter under a full moon, in a bed lined with flowers. Soft silk clothing, mellow music and sweet and seductive scents set a loving tone.

As love-making begins, smooth and loving caresses slowly warm and enliven the body with the heat of fire element, without becoming abrasive. With time and attention, the natural lubricants of the body are released signaling that the body is ready for intercourse.

Sushruta also suggests following love-making with a soothing bucket-bath and light but nourishing food such as almonds, milk, or dates.

It could be wonderful to recreate this sweet, romantic fantasy, but there is also potent symbology here. The point of these recommendations is to ensure an encounter full of watery qualities with some fiery qualities in playful balance.

Nourishing sex is not any one, specific thing. Sex becomes nourishing when it brings us more fully into contact with the reality of our life. When it makes us feel more connected, more sensate, more human.