The word Brahmacharya has several meanings. It literally means “conduct consistent with Brahman” or “on the path of Brahman”. This is the way of life through which you understand Brahman (God) when you cultivate the purity of thoughts, words, and actions.
In Yoga, Hinduism, and Buddhism it often refers to a lifestyle characterized by sexual continence or abstinence. However, Brahmacharya is somewhat different from the English term “celibacy,” which means non-indulgence in sexual activity. Brahmacharya has a deeper meaning where you do not only control your instincts but more importantly – your mind throughout ascetic means. By practicing Brahmacharya, you increase your life span, strength, radiance, vigor, wisdom, virtue, and devotion to the Truth. Moreover, Brahmacharya is the basis for acquiring immortality.
In this article, I will share with you what Brahmacharya is, why it’s so important for your spiritual practice, what its benefits are, and how to practice it.
What Is Brahmacharya?
The word Brahmacharya consists of two Sanskrit roots:
- Brahman, which means “ultimate unchanging reality”, “absolute consciousness”.
- Charya, which means “occupation with, engaging, proceeding, behavior, conduct, to follow, moving in, going after”.
Hence, Brahmacharya can be translated as “conduct consistent with Brahman” or “on the path of Brahman”.
This concept usually includes cleanliness, ahimsa, studies, simple living, meditation, and restraints on certain foods (eating only Sattvic food), intoxicants, and sexual behavior which is no sex and no masturbation.
Brahmacarya is one of the five yamas. It is a form of self-restraint. For a married practitioner, it means marital fidelity, and for a single practitioner, it means celibacy. As stated in Shandilya Upanishad (chapter 1), Brahmacharya is “refraining from sexual intercourse in all places and in all states in mind, speech or body”.
Now let’s take a closer look at Brahmacharya from the yogic celibacy perspective.
The term celibacy comes from the Latin word “cælibatus” meaning “unmarried”.
Many spiritual traditions see celibacy as the foundation of morality, the gate of liberation, and the path to eternal bliss. Absolute celibacy is an essential condition of the divine life, or higher spiritual life. Many believe that celibacy is the path that leads to Nirvana.
Celibacy means controlling not only your sexual instincts, but also controlling all your feelings, thoughts, words, and actions. This is the key to all the realms of divine bliss. The path to eternal peace begins with celibacy.
Celibacy has two aspects: physical and mental. Physical celibacy is about controlling your body, whereas mental celibacy is about controlling your mind (lustful thoughts do not arise in the mind or even in your dreams when you’re sleeping).
8 Traps Of Lust
It’s not just sex that prevents you from following the celibacy path but also other actions, thoughts, and desires that keep you trapped in lust. Different spiritual traditions warn about many different mental traps your consciousness can fall into. Here are the 8 most common traps of lust that anyone following a spiritual path should be wary of:
- Sexual objectification – seeing a person solely as an object of sexual desire;
- Flirting or coquetry;
- Lustful thoughts;
- A strong desire to perform sexual intercourse;
- Sexual fantasies or dreams;
- Sexual suggestiveness – visual, verbal, written, or behavioral material or action with sexual undertones implying sexual intent in order to provoke sexual arousal;
- Sexual acts based on lower instincts.
It is believed that only those who completely free themselves from all these traps can consider that they observe true celibacy.
The Importance Of Saving Sexual Fluids
Whereas western research on sexual healing doesn’t emphasize the importance of retaining and recirculating sexual fluids, the Eastern systems make a vital distinction. According to Vedic science, one drop of semen is equal to sixty drops of blood in the energy it bestows on the body.
Semen is rich in easily absorbable nutrients and energy that can revitalise mind and body. It’s a treasure house of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, hormones, proteins, irons, enzymes and other vital nutritional substances including calcium, albumin, lecithin, phosphorus and nucleoproteins. It’s been scientifically proven that a weak nervous system, depleted energy and brain function were connected to excessive seed loss.
A New York Times report reiterated “creating sperm is far more difficult than scientists imagined, demanding a diversion of resources that otherwise might go into assuring a male’s long-term health.”
Taoist works claim excessive semen loss causes premature aging, loss of eyesight, damage to the nervous system, poor digestion, muscular weakness, and loss of energy.
It’s not just humans but all species tend to deplete their energy after expelling reproductive fluids. Even plants have greater longevity if they are kept from going to seed. This energy loss explains why many athletes including Mohammed Ali abstained from intercourse before competing, so they’d have reserve strength and energy to compete.
Women are more fortunate than men as they naturally tend to retain their vital fluids since their reproductive organs are internal and they have a yin receptive nature whereas men loose it easily. The fact that women live an average six years longer than men can be explained by their receptive nature and the ability not to waste their vitality as easy as men do.
Benefits Of Brahmacharya
- Alchemical transmutation of base sexual energies into spiritual vigor. According to Ayurveda, semen was considered to be a vital elixir that housed important subtle energies. Ejaculation was said to lead to loss of power, energy, concentration, and even spiritual merit. And conserving it through Brahmacharya was said to help develop rich stores of Ojas, thereby building vitality, character, and health.
- Developing control over mind, body, and speech.
- Developing the ability to remain stable no matter what life challenges are faced and deal with the situation at hand.
- Concentration and grasping power increase.
- Will power increase.
- Gaining the ability to follow through on vows and commitments.
- Immunity increase. Since the energy reserves of your body are much higher now so your body will find it easier to deal with illnesses.
- The increase of physical, mental, and intellectual strength.
- Gaining the ability to understand the bliss of the Self completely.
- The decrease in anger, pride, deceit, and greed.
- Eyesight improvement.
- It’ll become hard for you to get scared. In a dangerous situation, you’ll be aware of the risk but you will also be able to deal with it calmly instead of panicking and worsening the situation.
- Memory increase – you will find it easier to remember things and even dreams that you had a long time ago.
- Your mind will become much sharper.
- Intuition boost.
- Vigor and confidence increase.
- Your body will naturally become more supple and flexible.
- Gaining freedom from earthly distractions so you can devote yourself more fully to spiritual transcendence.
- Overcoming duality and gaining a profound sense of relationship and intimacy with all beings, not just a select few.
- Transformation of our most primitive instinctual energies into a deeper, brighter vitality that promises good health, great courage, incredible stamina, and very long life.
Brahmacharya practice renovates the system or constitution, rebuilds the cells and tissues, energizes digestion, and gives the power to face the difficulties in the daily battle of life. A true celibate possesses tremendous energy, a clear brain, gigantic will-power, bold understanding, and retentive memory.
How To Practice Brahmacharya?
Here are some tips on how you can start practicing Brahmacharya.
#1: Perceive people as divine beings
The key philosophy that will help you to take your lower desires under control is perceiving all people as divine beings.
If women are the object of your lust then learn to see the Divine mother in each of them. When you start seeing the Divine mother in a woman, you won’t be able to project lower instinctive desires on her. All you will feel is pure divine love.
If men are the object of your sexual desires, then, similarly, learn to see God in each of them. The interaction with a man should be based on the expression of pure love, not seduction.
#2: Check your social media
Analyze your behavior and the signals you’re sending to people. Check your social media profile. Maybe you will notice that some of the pictures on your Instagram are sending a double message. What is it for? Attention for masking low self-esteem? Be honest with yourself. You see, sexual energy is sacred and when it gets expressed in a form of sexy photos or videos, it loses its divinity. This goes against the main brahmacharya principle.
#3: Wake up during Brahma Muhurta
The literal translation of Brahma Muhurta is ‘the hour of Brahma‘ or ‘Creator’s Hour‘.
Brahma Muhurta is a 48-minute period that begins 1 hour 36 minutes before sunrise and ends 48 minutes before sunrise.
The interaction of our planet’s energy with the energies of the Sun and the Moon creates certain physiological changes in the human system at this time. Medical science has even found that the waste material in your body, such as urine, for example, has certain qualities at that time which it does not have at any other time of the day.
Your entire body is immersed in a certain conducive atmosphere. The melatonin level is increased, which boosts the pineal gland’s activity. Therefore it is so beneficial to use this time consciously.
Brahma Muhurta time is ideal for spiritual practices, such as yoga, meditation, spiritual studies, etc. Serious spiritual practitioners all over the world, get up at this time to devote themselves to prayer and meditation.
Performing spiritual practices during Brahma Muhurta time alone will solve more than 90% of the difficulties you may face in the Brahmacharya practice.
Most people find Brahmacharya so hard because they sleep during Brahma Muhurta while all of nature is supporting the awakening of Sushumna, raising up of kundalini and hence, a natural, fast-paced evolution of our awareness.
#4: Practice brahmacharya on mental level
Whenever lustful thoughts manifest, perform some thoughtless awareness technique or 5-10 rounds of Maha Bandha or 3-5 min of Sarvangasana. This will transform the excess energy of lust into intellectual energy by pulling up the nerve currents up the spine towards brain centers, thus giving you more mental powers of thinking, concentration, and memory.
#5: Give you energy creative expression
Sexual energy is a powerful creative power. If not used for procreation, it can be used for creative expression. It doesn’t mean you should express the lower vibrational lustful desires in your art. Just do what you love but let it pass the “divinity” filter first. For doing this, follow tip #1.
As you may already know, fasting is an excellent tool to cleanse your body, physically and energetically. Fasting helps to raise your vibration on a level where lust cannot reach. It will help you to see your desires more clearly and realize that their satisfaction doesn’t serve your highest good.
#7: “Detox” your mind
Think about how lustful thoughts and seductive behavior were implanted into human minds. TV, social media, magazines, etc. made people believe that seduction and sexual objectification lead to success and power. Mass media wants us to sell our sexual energy in any possible form (sexy pictures, erotic videos, flirting, seductive dances, sexual music, etc.) in exchange for success and fame. And we obediently do it without question: “Why?”.
Sexual energy is our most sacred part – the gate to bliss and immortality. And whoever is governing our planet is aware of it. To keep us away from bliss and true freedom, they make us do whatever is most self-destructive for us. When we get so destructed by external reality, we can’t even see what we’re doing and for what. Of course, we get something in exchange – attention, fame, success, promotion, career, etc. But isn’t it too big of a price?
Therefore, it’s so important to start seeing things for what they are. Wherever your sexual energy is used in a demonstrative way – watch out – you could be used as an energy source for some purpose that doesn’t serve you! Don’t let them fool you. You don’t need to publicly demonstrate your sexuality just to prove that you are not ashamed of your body and you are free. This is the most common tool that is used to keep a human mind in the trap of sexual slavery.
Once you let go of these toxic beliefs, you will never waste your sexual energy on meaningless acts of seduction, flirting, or random hookups.
#8: Immerse yourself into spirituality
This will inspire you and intensify your motivation. Only a fully motivated person succeeds in maintaining Brahmacharya.
Try to spend 20 min every day in the morning on spiritual reading. For example, 10 min on brahmacharya and 10 min on meditation and self-realization topics. You can use sacred scriptures like Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Patanjali Yoga-Sutra, and life-stories of great sages. Sacred texts are a perfect source of “spiritual food” for our minds that provide daily soul-elevating thoughts as much as our bodies need daily the material food for its nutrition needs.
#9: Daily meditations
Meditation and brahmacharya are two wings of spiritual growth. With more growth of brahmacharya practice, meditative experiences become deeper. With deeper meditative experiences, the mind starts remaining in the state of brahmacharya more naturally and much longer.
When contemplating the idea of taking up the practice of brahmacharya, it’s important to remember to avoid any extremes in hopes of progressing more quickly in your development.
The Middle Path, as described in Buddhism, is a good philosophy to practice such that you do not fall into the trap of escaping one’s life journey by polarizing too deeply into sensual pleasures or entering too quickly into extreme asceticism.
The path of spiritual development and ascension is a journey of raising one’s consciousness or awareness up the vibrational scale of reality until one reaches nirvana. Your actions, thoughts, ideas, and behaviors all determine the center of gravity in which your consciousness holds, anchoring you to your current level of reality that exists within that vibrational scale.
Try to truthfully assess your current state of consciousness and what negative thoughts and behaviors you have that might be adversely holding your consciousness back from ascending higher up along the vibrational scale. Ask yourself, “Is this thought or action in alignment with the highest expression and divine will of God?” If not, what changes must be made in your personality such that you are more aligned?
Instead of trying to do everything at once, select one or two initial negative behaviors or thought patterns, you would like to transmute into a positive. By applying the principles of brahmacharya you will be surprised how quickly you are able to change your thoughts, behaviors, and life!
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