Brachmacharya can be translated into restraint, control of the senses or celibacy. Although, the literally definition is ‘being established in divine consciousness’. That sounds like a challenge to me. So what does brachmacharya mean for your daily life?
The translation ‘control of the senses’ appeals to me the most. Originally celibacy was considered an important part of this fourth yama. Sex is believed to be the most depleting to the psychic and nervous system of all the sensual activities. In our modern society, brachmacharya can be interpreted as practicing sex and other sensual activities with moderation to your best ability. This will leave you with more energy to meditate and practice yoga. For me the word ‘too’ symbolizes not practising brachmacharya; for example too much food or sex and too less relaxation or sleep. Within a marriage control of the senses lead to a life of spiritual partnership ideally.
This yama also refers to an attitude of non-attachment to sensual pleasures with addiction being the extreme. Craving physical pleasures, such as alcohol, cigarettes, shopping or watching television as a substitute for real happiness, is not in accordance with brachmacharya. You can still enjoy your class of wine and a piece of chocolate, but with moderation and not with the purpose to create feelings of happiness. Since happiness comes from within.
You can apply moderation in different areas in your life: relationships, career, health, possessions. If you look honestly at your life; what are your obsessions to create false feelings of temporary happiness? What kind of behaviour interferes with your yogic/spiritual/religious path? I can have a tendency to be too obsessed with my exercise regime and healthy nutrition for example. Others are grasping for excessive amounts of chocolate every time they feel stressed and sad. Think about how much energy you would save to fulfill your life goals if you would practise moderation in certain areas in your life.
Practising brachmacharya will result in good health, inner strength, peace of mind and a long life. So why not give it a try?