Listen to the Vlog: Chapter Five on Brahmacharya


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


221 responses »

  1. I find this particular chapter to be a bit conflicting. I do find reward in practicing self control and being the boss of my body, not the other way around. Especially in a society like ours is in this day and age, it is important to reflect on what actually drives sexual desires — is it always a need for physical pleasure or is it the subconscious messages we’re fed at all times? Are we participating in natural behaviors or are we trying to reshape what we think is healthy to fill our own vices, voids, etc.?

    We are a generation of immediacy. Technology has evolved so quickly over the last 50 years that we are used to getting instant gratification. It’s hard to tell if you genuinely desire something when you don’t have the time to contemplate it. We’re always on to the next thing and trying to keep up. Most days I don’t have time to think about how I feel, so I know I have probably acted on impulse or under pressure.

    When it comes to sex, I am a firm believer that there is an intense energy exchange and you cannot share your body with just anyone. Not everyone can handle your spirit. All of the circumstances that lead up to an encounter of that manner play a role in this connection, especially the intentions and overall aura of the other partner.

    My Isha Kriya hasn’t changed. I’ve been experiencing some more back problems lately, especially with my immune system being so out of wack lately. Practicing has become more difficult but I hope it’s just a temporary situation. I intend to modify my positioning to be more comfortable and last the correct amount of time to receive full benefits.

  2. A lot to contemplate in this reading and, honestly, I must say that I never put yoga and sex in the same thought process. A lot of questions are raised. Why indeed have we inflated the importance of sex? It seems that it is certainly on the forefront wherever you turn. Between the constant news reports of men using their power to force themselves on women (Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, etc.) to tales of extramarital affairs of our president, we can’t get away from it. Even young people today seem to live in a “hook-up” culture where sex is the main motivating factor in a relationship.

    Have we allowed our desire and our need to recreate a pleasureable experience override our self-control? I have had numerous conversations with my children about the hook-up culture they live in and the monogamous culture I grew up in. I still feel that sex is so much more pleasurable with someone you know initimately, someone who you trust and love. While a relationship based solely on sex may satisfy that immediate pleasure sense, I do not think it has the long-term effect or the continued pleasure one feels in a satisfying and fulfilling monogamous relationship. With someone you trust and love, spontaneity and experimentation can be a truly wonderful experience, new and exciting, and also full of love. Has our culture of immediate gratification (whether expecting an immediate response to a text, ordering online, email rather than snail mail) spilled over into our sexual lives also? Is immediate gratification becoming more important than developing a long-term relationship?

    We experience life through our senses, and I can certainly relate to wanting to recreate pleasurable experiences. Spontaneity definitely is an added dimension to pleasure. When things are unexpected, the senses seem to expand. I do not think that denying pleasures is helpful, nor is taking them to excess. As with most things in life, there is a middle ground.

    My Isha Kriya practice is still evolving. I have had difficulty working it in to my morning routine, but am still trying. For now, I mostly practice in the evening before bed and am usually able to practice four times per week. I still use the video because I like to listen for timing purposes rather than using an actual timer.

  3. I think living in the moment is crucial to unlock joy and happiness. If we are constantly looking to the future, how could we even be happy? The future seems to lead to a lot of stress, and it isn’t something healthy. Mindfulness is the key to living a happy and joyful life. It is obviously easier said than done though. It is also something we can’t fake. In order to be sincere with my happiness, I really need to live in the present moment. We cannot live in the past either. Things happen, and it is important to learn lessons, but we cannot live in a moment that doesn’t exist anymore. The only time that exists is this second. Living in the present is going to take a lot of work, but I feel with enough mindfulness and discipline, I can achieve that goal.

    My Isha Kriya has stayed relatively the same this week. I do it four times a week, and as usual, it helps me relax and deal with anxiety. I tried to do it in the shower, and it really helped. Showers are an extremely peaceful place for me. Combining these two relaxation exercises help out tremendously. I also like to do it outside, now that it is getting slightly warmer. The sunlight really helps me relax, it is warm and gives me the vitamin D.

  4. This post was very entertaining to me based on the various ideas that were mentioned and brought together. Within the present generation sex has become something that it initially was not in earlier years, recently I had a conversation with my friends on this topic on how many just do it without the thought of connection, it is part of the hook-up culture that has become dominant especially on college campuses. It is crazy how something that gives individuals so much pleasure can also be the same thing that damages the individual when it is over. Many seek the pleasure because as humans we crave the idea of wanting to be held and loved. I also do believe the idea that we act based on our memories especially if they are memories we miss. Those memories we act on cause us to want to recreate them and create new memories that are closely similar.

    My IK practice has been the same, I like to use the video on youtube for the background noise. I tend to try to do the IK in y room whenever I’m free. I still incorporate the finger holds at various times of the day it seems to bring me to a peace when I start to get worried, the IK practice is done when I have larger gaps of time and I have become more comfortable with my deep breathing throughout the practice in comparison to the way it used to make me feel when I first started doing the practice.

  5. The next of the yams is brahmacharya: chastity, sexual abstinence or fidelity in a relationship. This yama specifically relates to sex and the central problem of when, where and with whom a person has sex with. Yet, this is merely a surface problem which is part of the larger problem. Brahmacharya has more to do with sensuality, that is the feelings we get from our senses: taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell. The root of all sensual desires is memory. When we experience something which is sensually pleasing, we want to experience it again. When we see a beautiful sunset, we desire to see it again and again and feel the same emotions. As humans, we naturally want to be happy, so we live so that we can maximize pleasure. However, this it is impossible to be happy when planning to be happy. Joy is uninvited and spontaneous. It comes in the moment. When we pan for sensual experience, we reduce joy because we strain to create a feeling. When we do this, we are attempting to bring back the past and manifest a past experience. This does not work. We are no longer in the moment and we abandon spontaneous joy, trading it for false happiness. For some who believe sensual experience is bad, they try to limit it, eating band food, living austerely and practicing abstinence. However, this constrains the problems but does not address them. In the end, the method does not work because we begin to dream to fulfill our desire. So, we need to find the cause. The root begins with an image, an idea. We think of something pleasurable which we want and we imagine the feeling in our minds. This comes from past experience and thus we are living in the past. We divide time, and in doing so we create difficulties. We always want to be something, change something and want something. We use our memories to change the future by using past experiences to help us act in the present. We do not live in the moment but are constantly working towards the future.

    I agree that humans do not live life to its fullest, especially with so much new technology around. People see others on social media and they desire to be something better. People think of how they were in the past and how they want to be like celebrities in the future. Thus, we spend all our present time and energy into becoming something we can never be. It does not work and we are left with a hollow feeling. You never get a second chance at the first time, and a lot of people do not realize this. They see something or feel something beautiful, and they want to recreate it. However, each experience is unique within the moment. We waste too much energy trying to capture moments on our phones that we miss the actual experience. We are so caught up in staying joyful that we miss out on joy. We seek short term relationships and thrill because we are missing something. We keep looking towards the future when the answer is right in the present.

    I think yoga will definitely be a tool that will help me to live in the moment. Part of the purpose of yoga is to let go of distractions, to focus on simple things. Yoga in of itself becomes a joyful experience. I forget about school work and social media and simply relax. As I practice my yoga, I feel like my ability to focus on the now has gotten better. I am less distracted by my phone or other things. I practice in the mornings, which is nice because the sun is up and everything is fresh and new. Yoga helps me focus my mind and I am better able to enjoy the world around me. Sometimes, I have listened to the chant along with my yoga. It is quite a profound experience of joy. I really feel like I have come a long way in my yoga and hope to continue to move forward. Each time I practice, I feel like I am learning and growing. As I continue to grow I hope to live life to its fullest.

  6. This chapter focuses on the spontaneity of joy that turns to a lesser sensual pleasure that are limited since they are sought out and forced rather than in the moment. As we attempt to grasp joy and beauty, they become artificial and unfulfilling. Yet, we desire these moments of spontaneity by projecting images of the past into a possible future situation (a replay of a past experience). Life cannot be lived to the fullest if we continue to seek out past experiences rather than moving forward on our paths and living in the moment. This is a form of psychological time where we choose to live in our past memories and choose to experience that instead. It is something that holds us back from ourselves.

    We must break down this barrier in order to reach our true selves and live our best lives in relation to the real world and without hesitation or fear to be a part of the future instead of simply reliving the past. As we experience something over and over again, the original joy that we felt diminishes to a sensual pleasure that leaves one craving the original experience, but that cannot happen when you live seeking it out. Experiences can only come from living each day without expecting or searching for what is now passed be it a visual, emotional, auditory, or physical experience. That is not to say that expelling the desire for the past is easy. It is not. It is human nature to want to return to something as it once was and as if nothing has changed, as if it were new again. Being aware of this desire to seek past experiences will help me to ultimately try something new without any expectations as I blindly enter the path in front of me.

    This week I did the IK four times. It was a bit harder this week because I was stressing over midterms and was mentally overwhelmed. After doing the IK, I did feel less stressed and more focused on getting the actual work done than obsessing over having to do work.

  7. This is my overdue response for the entry that was due on March 28.

    In today’s society, the importance of things such as sex has been over-inflated. Even putting aside the pressures put on people to start families and have children, sexual pleasure has a large amount of emphasis put on it. Even if a past (consensual) experience was not a good experience, people are already focusing on and planning for the next sexual encounter they may have in the future. Between reliving the pleasure in the past and expecting more pleasure in the future, people have failed to appreciate any spontaneous pleasure that can happen at any moment or they downplay the enjoyment that the moment can bring.

    I do not believe that overindulging in pleasure is a good. I also do not believe in abstaining from too much pleasure. I believe that there is a middle path for most thing, and pleasure is one of those things. If something is enjoyable and you know that it brought pleasure in the past, then it is alright to indulge in it every once in a while. But it is not healthy to let that pleasure consume you, just like how I think that abstaining from all pleasure is just torturing yourself and denying any joy in life.

    I will be honest. I have fallen behind on practicing the Ishia Kriya. I have not necessarily been in the greatest mindset for the past few weeks. Admittedly, I also tend to forget to remind myself to do it and I have to get back into the habit of doing the practice.

  8. Brahmacharya is more than celibacy but meaning ‘being established in divine consciousness’. We have the capacity for change and the fundamentals change of being, as lived in the present moment. When we have a great experience, we live through our memories which won’t help our present and future self. We are currently living in a highly sexualized world which is taking us away from our own self journey and current moment. With temptations at a touch of a button, we must have self control, think about the outcomes and limit our impulses if there are no positive results.

    When you’re practicing Brahmacharya you must have a strong mental capacity and great emotional strength because sexual desire is a human instinct unless you’re asexual or physiologically have no desire for intimacy. Self-restraint from something you indulge in expresses the person’s commitment, if that’s sex, politics, social media, etc. Sex creates an intimacy with a partner, you can’t explore with anyone else which is important for that relationship and emotional/ physical needs, but you and your partner can always make the conscious decision to create an intimate moment without any sexual tendencies to better the relationship. Making the conscious decision of moderation, can grow your relationship with your partner knowing them on a intellectual level, but if there’s a sexual experience, moderation might make the experience more special. If you’re living for sexual experiences or replaying moments in your head, you truly won’t find full capacity of happiness.

    My IK’s are going well, I’ve been doing them after my runs or before I go to bed. I mostly practice during late afternoons and nights. It helps me relax after a long workout or when I’m stressed. I’m excited to start practicing outside on the grass when I go home for the summer.

    -Melenie Warner

  9. I thought this chapter was very interesting because of what I used to think about sex. I used to think that sex was just a natural thing to desire and to plan. What makes sex so important? I thought it was a human instinct, but the truth is that society is what has made it become so important. Society has made sex be the purpose to do many things, and society has made chasidy be almost none existing in this world.

    We, as humans, divide our experiences into two categories: pleasure and pain. When you get pleasure out of an experience, you want to feel it again, you want to repeat it but this will never be the same. Beauty, joy, and pleasure can only happen spontaneously, it cannot be planned. Living spontaneously, not looking for this pleasure and just enjoying life and its moments, is the way to live and the way to be happy. The desire of pleasure, this desire of sensuality is not the problem, the problem is why we have these desires, and by just constraining the senses DO NOT remove the problem of sensuality. It doesn’t just stop because you don’t see it, have it or think it becuase it is still there in the subconscious. This desire of pleasure is just a past experience, a memory and what you need to do is replace this desire of pleasure to a desire for a better spiritual energy, for bettering yourself. But you cannot live in the past or future, because this takes away from the present and how you act in it. So you shouldn’t change the sense of becoming but the being. Self-discovering can only happen in the present. Most people think they need a Guru, but what they don’t know is that their guru can be themselves by thoughts, actions, and feelings.

    My IK keeps getting better, it is becoming easier to stay there for a longer time and to go deeper and deeper into it. Plus the relaxing part, which is a plus.

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