Oak picture: source
Brahmacharya means “to use well your life force”, or continence. It’s also understood as “sexual abstinence”, which is kind of frightening.
I like to undestand Brahmacharya as responsability on the use of our vital energy, because as we know, it’s limited.
We have a perishable body, we have a limited amout of prana, or life energy. Do I want to use it irresponsably?
Again, it’s a practice and it might take time for us to understand how to use well our life force. Sometimes we’re trapped in situations where we are dedicating our energy to relationships and things we don’t like, but the circumstances make us go on.
But we all can take responsability over our lives and always do our best to try to invest our energy only in things and relationships we deeply value.
It’s not only about sex. It’s about everything you do. For example, as I write this text, I’m giving energy to it.
My opinion is that Brahmacharya is about how we eat, how we live our lives in a daily basis, the words we say, the TV shows we watch, the work I do, the books I read and the friends I have.
All this is my life force being invested, and I must be responsible for the way I spend my energy, or prana, which is sacred.
By the end of the day we all feel tired, sometimes exhausted. Then, after a good night of sleep, we got another a brand new package of energy, to spend throughout the day.
I believe it’s how we use this life force that Brahmacharya talks about.
We can do some practices to enhance our energy, like asana, meditation, pranayama, relaxation, walks in nature and to rest when needed. And we know how many things can deplet our energy in seconds. A toxic relationship, a fight, arguments with people who are not like-minded, fear, an unproductive meeting, and so on.
Food can also waste our energy. Some foods give us energy and others take energy of our system. It’s also our responsability to balance how much we get from both.
What about the sex? Well, I think you can make it as much as you want with the person you love and care for. Brahmacharya is a very nice Yama and it wants you to be happy.
Here are some things you can do to practice Brahmacharya:
– Be aware that your life force is a precious thing and shouldn’t be wasted.
– Dedicate your practice to God, or The Creator, or The Life Force, or whatever you call the intelligence and heart behind everything that exists. I always found “the Lord” a vrey religious expression, but I sometimes sit in siddhasana in the end of my practice, join my hands in front of my heart and set this intention “I dedicate this practice and my life to the Lord”. Use the expression you feel comfortable with. The main thing here is our intention.
– Take good care of yourself. Exercise, eat healthy and cultivate relationships that make you happy.
– I never liked people who regulates other people’s sexual lives, but I think a good Brahmacharya practice involves a sexual relationship based on love and respect.
– Dedicate your energy to what makes you happy and avoid excess: too much drinking, food, work, whatever. Use well your life force, use well your body, it is a very important part of who you are and you only have this one in this life.
“In the long run, brahmacharya is about allocation: using your resources effectively to achieve your aspiration. To hone our practice of this principle, we must learn to conserve and not waste energy on things that do not serve our purpose.” Brad Waites
– Go back to Ethics and Philosophy