We have been discussing the foundational disciplines of yoga known as the YAMAS and the fourth in our series is Brahmacharya and is most often translated as celibacy. This, as we so often discover, is a very limited view of a vast and powerful concept. The word Brahmacharya has atleast three distinct roots which are Brahman meaning expansion, evolution or the Absolute, char which means go, act, practice, unite with and ya meaning relating to. We may look at this as a committed practice of merging with the Absolute.
Make a Commitment Towards Growth
On this spiritual path we all must make a commitment. This commitment could take any form but in your own way, in your own time resolve yourself to this process of expansion and evolution. Brahmacharya is one characterization of that commitment. A practice of Brahmacharya is to continually direct your attention towards the Absolute or the essence of unity and one-ness. We can do this with every step, every breath, at work, at home and in the bedroom. During your day pay attention to those moments of expansion and evolution and allow your life to be about growth and transformation. Be vigilant and notice when you experience a moment of contraction…this is an evolutionary opportunity.
When contraction happens due to the ego’s reaction resist the urge to blame another and come back to expansion through forgiveness, first of yourself and then of the other. The practice of relentless forgiveness is the path back to the expansion that is the subject of Brahmacharya. A simple example may be to begin noticing the more subtle reactions to thought processes happening throughout the day. Given the fact that Brahmacharya so often relates specifically to restraint of sexual activity take a moment and consider your relationship with sexuality. Where are you contracted around sexuality; in thought word and deed? You may notice a sharp contraction resulting from a sexual fantasy or memory. You may contract around the possibility of a sexual encounter with your partner or another. The sensations in your body are a language that can lead us to great realization when we pay attention.
Redirect Your Attention
Once you notice a contraction relating to something you are thinking or something you have said or done, be grateful. You may be feeling shame or anger or sadness or regret but whatever you are feeling simply feel it deeply and hold yourself with an attitude of loving kindness. Do not indulge the mind that will take that emotion and spawn a thousand thoughts. Stay with the feeling and let it move through the body. This is a body practice of forgiveness. Know that there is a powerful photon of energy that is bound by shame and guilt and by simply allowing yourself to feel the mind-body reaction you can liberate that energy and allow yourself a quantum leap in your consciousness. Be brave and know that you are not your thoughts, not your past, not the decisions you have made. You are a being of light, radiant love and unlimited power. You are an integral part of the Absolute, Brahman, the Source, the One without a second. Direct your passion, raw and powerful, towards the realization of who you really are.
Brahmacharya is a commitment. It is a commitment to take responsibility for our thoughts and emotions, to be present with shame and guilt and practice deep forgiveness for ourselves and others. It is the liberation of expansionary energy trapped in memory and fantasy. It is the passionate union with the One Being, the Absolute. It is the path to the unbounded joy and bliss of conscious living.