I think one of the most uncomfortable yamas to talk about so far is brahmacharya. Be careful Googling this one! Now, looking strictly at the sutra from Pantanjali, brahmacharya is as follows:
II.38 “Upon the establishment of celibacy, power is attained.”
Now as a married woman this just did not seem very possible. So I looked further into the real translation of the word brahmacharya. If you break it down, brahma is absolute, supreme head, Divine/God. Charya is to follow, often leading to a virtuous way of living. Therefore, brahmacharya literally means lifestyle adopted to obtain the ultimate reality. So it does not translate to celibacy. One other translation that I came across was that it is the will power of the yogi, that through self-discipline and will power the yogi can attain this spoken of power. Power of enlightenment and connection to the Divine is what I believe this power is.
By dedicating ourselves to our practice, and through meditation, not contemplation, one can reach the will power spoken of in this sutra. This yama then, is how you apply self-discipline and will power in your life. By thoughts and by actions one must be disciplined. Going back to the first yama, ahimsa, control your thoughts to be full of love, gratitude, compassion, and kindness. Through this discipline of not letting your thoughts ever rest in a negative light, one can have brahmacharya in their lives, and therefore fulfill the eight limbs of yoga and the yamas. In order to reach samahdi, one must live consciously with the eight limbs, each yama and niyama applied to their thoughts and actions. Continuing with the idea that ahimsa is connected in every aspect of life, including brahmacharya, then in a marriage or relationship, the sexual energy should be done with the utmost love. Not lust or desire, or the instinctual need we might (or might not) have. If we apply unconditional love and compassion to our sexual encounters with our significant others, and practice the idea of celibacy in our single hood, then the sacred energy and love between two people may not be tainted by the impulsiveness that emerges from uncontrolled desires.
Moderation is always key. Now obviously we all learn certain things a little later than others, but this does not mean that once learned you shrug and say oh well. Apply it, add it to your life, and retain the sacredness that emerges from an emotional and physical relationship with your significant other. Looking back on my less than proud moments of single hood, I can honestly say that part of the whimsical idea of “Im young and single who cares” mentality really takes away from a real relationship with someone. If we were to keep that for when you feel its right, then maybe it wouldn’t feel so lacking to a lot of people. How many people do you know complain of a relationship that is lacking in the sex department, whether its physically or emotionally? Maybe this has something to do with it. Now this yama also does apply to more than just sex, you need to control all desires, from sex, to food, greed, sleep, laziness, activeness, and on and on. So reflect on how you can apply this to your life. How can brahmacharya help you in your everyday life and relationships with others and yourself, with food and money? Again the list can go on and on…but it is good food for thought.
Mrs 305….P.S. I look forward to the feed back on this one! 🙂