Brahmacharya is the fourth yama in Patajalis Yoga Sutra’s. It is often translated as ‘celibacy’. In modern discourse, Brahmacharya is used to encourage practitioners of yoga to conserve their sexual energy, and to use that that energy to progress along the Yogic path.
However, the literal meaning of brahmacharya is “moving into infinity”: “Brahma” means infinity, the Absolute, or big; “charya” means to move, to walk or to live. Brahmacharya is living or directing your energy in a way that helps you realise infinity. It asks you to direct your mind to the bigger picture.
Brahmacharya – Moving into Infinity
Most of us identify with our physical bodies and spend much of our energy satisfying our physical needs – food, clothes, comfort, sex. When these are satisfied we move onto mental needs – knowledge, understanding, relationships, communication. Abraham Maslow describes this very well in his pyramid of needs.
How do you move into infinity?
Each one of us creates our own small identity. “I am this… that or the other”, “I am sensitive”, “I am a man”, “I am a woman”, “I am good”, “I am bad”, “I am a teacher, doctor, lawyer…”. “Moving into infinity” means dropping these identities and labels and aligning ourselves with the infinite.
“Moving into infinity” means understanding that you are not just the body or the mind, but one with all of creation. Sat-chit-ananda’, you are one with the source of infinite bliss. When you realise your infinite and blissful nature – your true nature, you access an unlimited source of joy.
And from this place of infinity, the mind loses its interest and grip over the physical and sees beyond the every day to the infinite. It is no longer dependent on physical satisfaction to experience joy.
When we feel connected with the infinite, we don’t crave worldly pleasures. We may go on experiencing all of life pleasures but we crave none.
“Moving into infinity” simply means directing your energy to something very big, beyond the labels you’ve set for yourself. In practicing this you become less interested in the activities that may disturb your energy equilibrium.
Where do you direct your energy?
Take a moment to consider where your energy is directed? A large part may be directed towards worrying about things and other people – that don’t really serve us. Energy may also be spent on presenting ourselves as someone we’re not, in order to impress others. Maybe we direct our energy towards being fitter, stronger, skinnier?
Are you directing your energy in a manner that is truly serving you?
Brahmacharya – Right Use of Energy
To be the best version of ourselves, we need to use our energy as efficiently as we can. To to be able learn the most we can from our life, achieve our highest state of being or spread our message to the world – we need to have sufficient energy within ourselves. The best way to have sufficient energy is to listen to what our bodies need.
Listen to your body
You are encouraged to listen to your body in all IYogaa classes. Intrinsic to all our classes, beginners or advanced, is increased interoceptive awareness – inner body awareness. Because the only way we can learn what our bodies need, is by paying attention to it.
Our bodies are infinitely wise: it has the ability to grow, heal, adapt and survive – all by its self. But often in life we do things that go against our body’s natural healing pathway. In doing this we don’t just set up the pathway for ill health, but lose energy along the way too.
So in your Yoga practice and throughout your day – listen to your body! Think about where you’re directing your energy. Is it helpful or harmful? And let go of anything that no longer serves you. This is step number one to the right use of energy. It also free’s up energy for doing the things that do serve you.
Each of us is here for a unique purpose. By listening to your body and using your energy efficiently – you discover & deliver your purpose.
How I misused my energy?
I have practiced Yoga since childhood and had developed the mental and physical discipline to maintain a daily practice. And because of my Yoga practice and lifestyle I always felt a deep connection with all of nature. I felt that I was in the flow of life, living in “Rta”.
But in my early 20’s, I moved country, married, started a new job and set up a business. And I set up my business to honour every one of my goals – natural and sustainable, organic and effective, skin care that made skin healthier. But at that stage of life, I had not quite learned how to manage my energy.
So as my business grew, I became overwhelmed and decided to cut back on other activities that I was involved in. First, I shut down my health care practice, as I did not feel I was able to offer my clients the level of service that they required. I then reduced the number of research studies I was involved in as this too required the level of prolonged focus that I could no longer deliver. And my regular yoga practice was frequently abandoned to make time for the growing business.
Over time my mental and physical wellbeing declined. I reached a point where I no longer felt like myself, I lost my flow and was no longer living in Rta. I also developed severe health symptoms, allergies, autoimmune dysfunction and felt allergic to life. At this point I decided to take time away from the business – so I could heal. Career suicide many would say, but for me this was a life affirming decision. I realised that the deeper connection with “the All”, “Living in Rta” was more important than worldly success.
Make it right again!
I devoted years to healing my body and mind, so I could once again find “Rta”. And I eventually realised that I could relaunch my business if I maintained a life that was in balance. I needed to devote energy in equal proportions to all that was vitally important to my personal development. For me this was my Health Clinic & Yoga – practice plus teaching. The various aspects of my life had to be in complete harmony.
Its all about how you use your energy!
Organic Apoteke, the organic wellbeing business takes care of the material body. Centre for Exceptional Human Performance, my integrative health practice helps the mental or energetic body. And IYogaa, provides programs that give you a glimpse of the bigger picture. I need these three areas in my life to maintain my wellbeing and continue my development. And by sharing it with others I feel that I am able to continue my cycle of learning and glimpse infinity. I share the energy I am to share and therefore receive the energy I am to receive.