The yama of Brahmacharaya, what might be called celibacy in traditional interpretations is more than just celibacy of the body, but of the mind. To be celibate from sexual thoughts, and to control oneself in a way that allows for one’s own potency to grow.
In the modern day American’s life Brahmacharaya for many is a foreign concept and nearly unachievable short of becoming a hermit. If not because many are in a relationship and sex is a distinct portion of that relationship (taken that edge because there are fewer consequences of safe casual sex in these modern times), then because we are bombarded in our daily life by sexual images, innuendos, porn, and alike which focus our mind on the external body of humanity. To walk out the door in modern America is to engage in sexual thoughts, to be brought up in America is often to have a bi-polar view of sex. I have found that my own American sexual upbringing has been something I’ve had to struggle to overcome.
Having just lived in Eastern Africa for a time, where HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted disease are a continuing part of daily life in terms of political policy, expression within church and culture, work within the healthcare community, etc I believe it’s essential not to become that hermit. To hold a conversation lucidly and frankly about sex and it’s part of human nature is necessary if one is to be a honest, engaged, and enlighten being.
In this we must adapt to the new environs and so I see the heart of the traditional Brahmacharaya view as rather dogmatic and unachievable within my existence. I am not in a relationship and haven’t had sex in several months and I feel sex should be accepted as part of our nature not bottled and pushed away.
With that said, the notion of purifying myself from daily vritti is a goal that could also help one to “attain power.” To this end I see my experiment as being my trial of yoga as part of my therapy to my clinical depression.
Approximately 4 months ago I started daily yoga practice in order to help engaged a more balance life, one to which I can live with my depressive cycle in the wilds outside of the medicated west. Intentionally and organically I’ve changed my lifestyle to adapt to a lifestyle of daily yoga. Coffee, which was a lately acquired taste has had to be all but given up. Although some how the idea of a coffee shop crowd and a yoga studio crowd seem to be similar, the notion of doing yoga whilst on an Ethiopian coffee, or personal double tall soy latte, is… shall we say a caffeine fueled state of injury. Food in my life has had to adapt generally. Fewer meals over all, but more balanced and focused on muscle recovery and mental balance. Drinking alcohol too has all but had to be given up due to how much it tends to screw with the ability to focus during the day after. As much as Denver’s micro-brews call, it been out weight by a desire for clean, focused, engaged practice. Sleep has become more regular, television/movies and the desire to watch them has lapsed. The daily vritti has organically evaporated to a much more tolerable rate, and not by force of rational will, but by connecting with my body.