Listen to the Vlog: Chapter Five on Brahmacharya

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Do click on the link above to continue listening to my readings from ” The Secret of the Yamas: A Spiritual Guide to Yoga” by John McAfee.  Just want to place a written quote here from this chapter that offers us some great advise: “…We have reduced spontaneity of joy to the sensuality of pleasure.  Beauty and joy occur when we are in the moment, when we are not anticipating, hoping, expecting.  When we willfully attempt to create a feeling through excitation of the senses, we are no longer in the moment…The challenge then is to return to a spontaneous way of living that allows us to meet every moment of life anew.  Attempting to shut down our senses is an obvious absurdity and cannot help us.  We see, hear, smell, touch and taste in order to exist and relate to the world around us.  Our senses are our doors to perception…” Lots to contemplate here, thanks for joining in on the Vlog…got that from my fav blogger Amitabhji.  Namaste

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186 responses »

  1. I was surprised by how much i agreed with this reading. I do believe that the importance of sensuality and sex have been inflated. We have constructed many elaborate ways to increase pleasurable experiences while minimizing those that are painful. The internet has played a huge part and the idea of the customizable has created infinite possibilities for new feeds and consumables. The endless choices and ways to look at things and consume things has created a massive market surrounding choice. Often times this market of choice is rooted in memory. I want to relive this experience here at this resort, or I want to see that sunset twenty more times. However, I do not think that sex is inherently an act that happens as a result of longing for something that HAS happened. Sex can be an experience that grounds you in the present and it does not necessarily have to be related to related to memory and the past. I also think that replacing the pleasure of the flesh with the pleasure of the spirit can be tricky. I find it important to recognize that we are both our body and our mind and that the negotiation between the two is one of the difficulties of life. IN order to balance them both must be attended and sex is one way of doing that, among others. Sensuality does not have to be an investment in the past or a degradation on one’s oneness and peace, it can infect enlighten as well.

    Giancarlo

  2. I really enjoyed this section of McAfee’s book. I definitely agree with much of what he stated. A few quotes in particular stood out to me, firstly, “Desire will not cease by simply limiting the objects of our perception”. Everybody feels desires to find pleasure, regardless of whether it’s physical or not. And those trying to quell their desire cannot simply remove the things they desire from their life. The desire will never simply just leave, you have to find something to fill the void with. Healthier alternatives sound like a good option, but for many it’s hard to replace their desires with something unrelated. Related to this, McAfee said later, “We can replace the pleasure of the flesh with the pleasure of ideals”. I think that a good way to avoid desires is to set goals for yourself. If you set yourself up to succeed in something you love doing, you can fulfill those desires in healthier ways. “The present is simply an opportunity to mold the future” was the last quote that really stood out to me. I agree with McAfee that we shouldn’t live our lives in the past, nor worry ourselves too much with the future. I think we should all live in the present, finding the best ways to fulfill our pleasures. I think people live their lives too much with the intent of trying to impress others an themselves. We should find more time to simply enjoy life for how it is.

    This week I practiced the Isha Kriya 4 times this week, all in my favorite time (the morning). I haven’t tried doing it without the video yet, as I worry that setting a timer will massively take me out of the practice. I feel as if a timer blaring off would really disrupt me. I enjoy the video also, it helps me pace myself and slow my breathing down a bit more than without it, like how we practice in class.

  3. After listening to this, I must say it had me reflect on myself and thinking of whether of not I as a person can relate to or agree with Brahmacharya as an ideology or concept. I think that growing up in the generation I have, I’ve become used to sensual pleasures and having my energy being put towards the next want or piece of gratification. I think this reading’s focus on proper energy distribution and living in the present is something that will stick with me and something I must say I’ve already begun implementing since starting this class. This reading’s points on focusing in on spontaneous present joy was also something I hadn’t really thought about, but now I think HAS to amount to life’s greatest pleasures when I think back moving forward.

    Opposite the more scattered and sensual mindset that comes along with being a millennial is the hyper-aware side. Although I don’t think this reading did, or should, touch on this other facet, I do think it’s important to ponder on whether or not sensual pleasures can be embraced MORE as long as the mind is fully aware of the situation and capable of intellectually allowing sensual glee. I think the mass amount of information that’s available now more than ever has immensely helped push our intelligence to the point where holding up a mirror to ourselves and giving in to the senses is analytical as well as satisfactory.

  4. I performed the Isha Kriya 4 times this week. I’ve found the most productive and useful times for me to do the isha kriya are before and after working out. It allows me to really center myself before I exercise, I really get in touch with my body/senses which helps a lot in both exercise and recovery.

    I found it very interesting to consider the difference between joy and pleasure. I had never considered joy as being a more pure and holy version of pleasure, but when I really consider these things in my life I do see the difference. Pleasure (sexual or otherwise) is rather fleeting. Sexual pleasure is something that is built up quite a lot, put on a pedestal as something we must all strive to achieve as much and as often as possible, however the enjoyment we get from sexual pleasure alone inevitably fades rather quickly. Joy on the other hand is something Ive found really sticks with me and provides me with long lasting fulfillment. One piece of the excerpt however I strongly disagreed with. About 2 minutes into the reading he mentions the notion that (as I understood it) all desire is motivated by past experiences of pleasure. I must say I have not found this to be true. I think there are a plethora of factors that go into what we desire and why we desire it (whether these things are sexual or not). There are many things in life I desire which I have not come close to experiencing yet, but I am driven to pursue these things based on ideas about them I have compiled throughout my life. I don’t think you have to have experience something already in order to truly desire it, desire comes in many forms from many sources.

    • A well written essay as you took the time to spell out what you disagree with, this is most valid, keep investing in yourself in this way to enrich your own ideas and earn a grade you will be satisfied with…Namaste

  5. The most incredible thing he did with this chapter is he started about by saying talking about how needless the importance we put on sex is and that it goes a lot deeper than what we think and then the whole chapter he practically forgets about sex and talks about what lies beneath it and the real issue at stake. It’s nice to hear someone practicing what they preach so to speak.
    Sex is such an interesting topic because of how prevelant it is in our society. It’s impossible to go a day in New York without seeing some marketing campaign designed to make us think of sex, or a movie with sex, or a song. I mean the list is endless and as they say, sex sells. So it’s no surprise to me that we are constantly thinking about it and yearning for it. But what McAfee say’s about memory and sex really resonated with me for reasons I don’t’ fully want to disclose, but it makes a lot of sense. I have heard from many sources not to live in the past, but never has anyone discussed why we try and live in the past. It’s not because we want to go back there but because we can hope to shape the future with the past as McAfee says. That’s a strong statement to realize. Constantly trying to relive that first experience, or at least achieve the same feeling as the first one. I mean, that’s literally how people get addicted to drugs. They try opium once and love it, then all of a sudden their life is devoted to matching that first high but it’s never going to happen and then you live your life striving for something that’s impossible.
    The way that McAfee says we should live, by taking in the joy of life and letting every experience be new to us by not expecting anything or trying to achieve it and just letting it happen is a refreshing thought. It also definitely difficult. It is one thing to understand how something works and then to implement it. But I’ve noticed as my IK practice increasing I’m getting better at it as you said I would. Recently I have started to do the IK without he video. I still practice with the video two of the three times I did it this week. But I also sometimes do these minute sessions in times when I need to relax. And I am able to get to a more relaxed head space much faster than I am used to.

    -Phillip Laskaris

  6. While listening to the expert from “The Secret of Yamas: A Spiritual Guide to Yoga” on chastity, I feel meaningful understanding every word stated in the audio. The five senses, which are the smell, taste, touch, see, and hear are what activating our desire. The root of our desire is in the memory, which makes us living in the past. This is something that I never thought about of sexuality. All the desire comes from something that we have already experienced. We repeated our experience and creating future on past experience. Without a doubt, it is the reason making us know if we wanted it or not.
    The root of our desire is something that we all need to explore. I don’t want to let my future create by the projection of past memory: Living in the present. We shouldn’t be trap by the memory, but challenging ourselves to be looking and living forward!

  7. For this listening segment, I had an interesting time sorting through my thoughts about the different ways that individuals have distinct sexual practices and different beliefs about ways to incorporate this part of the human desires into our lives. I am interested in the concept of replacing the sensuality of the body with the sensuality of the mind. I see some of my friends who are in a miserable or unhappy head space due to sexual acts where they are participating in for the bodily pleasure and not taking care of the mind in the process. When the mind and the body are separated, there is an overall body disconnection and our alignment will be off.

    This piece was talking about going to the root of why we need sensual pleasure and this also means thinking about ways of dealing with this desire. To satisfy it with another human being, on your own, or allowing it to be replaced with other things such as thoughts. Limiting desires in general or your recreation or projection of sexual experiences is unhelpful to growth. Perhaps understanding that it is a human thing to want to have sex or be sexually attracted to people, being connected to yourself and your sexual needs versus your desires. These are important things to consider as a being in the world.

    Raechel Teitelbaum

  8. I would like to follow up this essay with a paragraph about my Isha Kriya Practice. I have been practicing 3 times a week and I have started this week by beginning in the morning with “I AM” statements and a list of intentions that I send out to the universe. These practices have been really helpful in motivating me as well as helping me to understand my body and mind’s rhythms and the way in which I need to be thoughtful of my own needs and self. Forgetting the self while also becoming more aware of the self is a key part of Isha Kriya and I hope that I am practicing this in my every day life outside of class and outside of Isha Kriya. I am okay without the video but enjoy using it because of the calming sound and extra voice to bring strength. Thank you.

    Raechel Teitelbaum

  9. When I typically think of someone practicing chastity I connect it religious connotations with a strict shaming of people who embrace their sexuality. However, this excerpt completely changed my perspective on what practicing abstinence can mean. It discussed the importance of experiencing life in the present moment. Humans have developed a system of keeping time, one that divides our experience into memory and future plans. We must acknowledge that this is an artificial concept and know that it often distracts us from the natural flow our senses follow in each present moment. I think this acknowledgement can help create a healthier attitude towards sex that most humans usually lack. If we can engage in sexual acts as they naturally enter our lives, and can learn to fully enjoy them in a potentially fleeting present, than our need to prolong and force this enjoyment will end. There are so many sources of happiness on this planet, so to be completely focused on only one isn’t an effective way to live. I can attest this as I have put myself under more stress than necessary in regards to the topic of sex. However, I have found that as I become a more mindful person and practice living from moment to moment that I am increasingly more happy and acceptant of my place in this life.

  10. This reading from McAffe’s book was a very interesting view of sensuality.
    I find our society to put so much pressure on what sex is and should be. People are using there past perception of there sexual experiences to influence others on there future experiences. Doing so we miss out on the present sexual experience that we could have by bringing in ideas of how we think the experience should unfold. We end up missing out on the present moment of being by trying to pre determine what our senses should want to have.

    McAffe states that sensuality is a sense similar to sight, smell, and touch. This is a very interesting view of sensuality. Much like other senses we indulge or restrain ourselves, which can be unhealthy for our physical and mental states. I am immediately brought back to a time in my life when I was trying desperately to lose weight. I was on a super restrictive diet and restraining myself from my desires. One day I broke down and started to overindulge because I neglected my desire for certain foods in controlled portions. This brings me back to McAffe’s idea that restraint doesn’t rid yourself of the desire of our senses. There is a happy medium in life and trying to restrain yourself can actually lead to more hurt than good.

    I feel like that this section of the book has brought awareness to my senses. Finding the difference between joy and pleasure in senses is very crucial to a healthy lifestyle. This book has brought awareness to the power of my senses. Being conscious to my senses is the first step to making wiser decisions for myself and determining if something is coming because of joy or eagerness for pleasure.

    Cara Collins

  11. From a young age the pleasure principle guides our instincts to repeat what feels good and avoid what feels bad. Trying to avoid sexual pleasure for a clearer mind always seemed like an extreme stance to me. However locating the root of our need, to seek out past pleasure experiences, is a much more interesting route to discovery. The answers that may be found could cover such a broad spectrum of mysteries in our daily life. We will also be rid of the flooding of these past experiences in our thoughts during an attempt to avoid the base of our pleasure.

    Living in the past is something humans do constantly. While time is a fundamental quality its effect on our thought process is something we allowed to happen. Allowing for the past to be in the past and truly living in the moment, not being affected by the pleasures of the past and the worries of the future, is an experience that has not been had yet.

  12. Wow this is huge for me, I have never stopped and wondered why as a society we idolize sex so much, I have always just accepted it. Finding the source of sexual cravings can open your eyes to greed, ego, and a lack of connection with inner content and peace. Sex is usually about the past or the future, it causes stress, these are all great things to think about and consider while I am discovering my path. I will most definitly look into this topic more on my own, probably try to find some more books on it. Or even grab this Mcafee book. This article is coming into my life at a very conincidental time and will be noted. Glad to broaden my horizions and open my mind to new concepts like these.

  13. Besides the fact that chastity and sexual abstinence are advised, this chapter puts the concept in new light, instead of removing ourself from sexual desires, we abstain from said sensual desires. Sexual/sensual acts are a source of pleasure when we have it but a great source of suffering when we are deprived of it as well which creates a great imbalance. One key point that clicked with me was that we use we have done in the past to affect our future. The past exists only in passing thought and the future is a curated project of said past. Living in the past separates us from ourselves and restricts us from connecting with our present selves in order to discover more about ourself. Another excellent read by McAfee.

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