At first I decided to practice brahmacharya through celibacy. I was all set on my plan when one day, while practicing Svadhyaya, I came across a Tantra text in the bookstore. Now, if you haven’t caught on already I was raised in a very conservative religion. So, even now, when confronted with something like Tantra (insert scary, dramatic music here) I feel like I should cross my legs and thoroughly wash my eyes out with soap. I guess old habits die hard. However, the book was nothing like I expected it to be. Tantra can be separated into two paths: Dak?i??c?ra and Vamachara. The more “extreme” path that Westerners hear about is Vamachara. These tantric yogis practice things like the 5 M’s and revere sex. What really surprised me was that they don’t have sex willy-nilly. From what I understand, true Vamachara practitioners view sex as sacred. It is a very literal way for them to yoke opposites, to experience yin and yang/Shiva and Shakti through the joining of two bodies (classically male and female but not always). For this reason they view sex as more than something that just feels good. They view it as a type of bhakti, sadhana, asana, pranayama, and meditation all at once. Even orgasm is seen as a way to glimpse the timelessness and lack of space of Samadhi. Due to this they advocate conscious sex rather than having sex for pure pleasure.
After reading all of this I went back to look at the definition of brahmacharya. There are many “direct” translations from Sanskrit, so I have come to see it as continence as a pathway to the Divine. I decided to practice my bramacharya by consciously acknowledging my sexual energy and then instead of surrendering to it, or my usual practice of completely ignoring it, using it as a form of meditation. I used this to formulate two hypotheses:
1. By acknowledging my sexual thoughts when alone and applying the energy to pranayama and meditation I will have a new, deeper experience.
2. By consciously participating in partnered sex as a form of yoga I will experience a style of meditation previously not encountered.
For my individual practice I would set a time each day to allow for pranayama and meditation. Before beginning I would declare my intention of donating my energy to my practice. When you think about it, we spend an ENORMOUS amount of energy thinking people are cute, making ourselves look attractive with makeup and sexy clothes, fantasizing about sex, reacting to sexy things on tv, etc. I tried to imagine all that energy pushing through my nadis and shining outwards in every direction while I meditated. After a few days I didn’t have to imagine the energy, I could just sense it, and so would concentrate on it. I eventually noticed that I was able to sit in meditation for longer and I had more periods of blank thought. Off of my mat I noticed that I didn’t think about sexual things nearly as much. It happened so effortlessly that I didn’t realize it at first. My mind felt clearer; I felt peaceful.