Saturday, August 25, 2012
Nadi Yoga Part 5 - Preliminaries - Brahmacarya
Brahmacarya – Containment of the Energy Body
The next 3 yamas are related to each other and have to do with energy flow in and out of our body/mind systems and how well this flow of in and out is occurring. The principle of ahimsa guides us in these principles as if there is not a proper balance of in and out with the flow of life then we violate ourself, either through too much containment or not enough. Or the boundaries that help with this flow are skewed.
Brahmacarya literally means “to move in Brahman”. It is oftentimes translated as celibacy or sexual restraint. However the sexual nadi or flow corridor is only one of the 10 major nadis. To just blindly restrain this corridor and not the others is not enough. And to just restrain without understanding is also equally problematic.
There are many different interpretations of how to work with this yama. In the terms of Nadi Yoga, brahmacarya is learning to control how much of us “goes out”. This not only concerns the sexual force but also all of the senses.
The sense gateways that are the nadis are labeled as problematic in many of the ancient traditions, not just the Indian traditions but also the western traditions. This problem goes way back to the beginnings of patriarchal society where there was a split between heaven and earth, between the mother and father god. This was a time of the beginning of the idea that somehow spirit was superior to the body. That the body was even to be reviled and the world discarded in favor of a higher heaven. This topic is a long one but suffice it to say that the Nadi Yoga favors the approach of tantra, which regards heaven and earth on equal terms, the body as an expression of spirit, the male equal in power to the female principle.
In this way, as the Yoga Vasistha tells us, the senses themselves are not problematic. Vasistha says in his work on Yoga that it is the mind, interfering and polluting the senses that is the problem. If this is so, why do we “throw out the baby with the bath water” and reject the senses? Does restraint of the senses really involve the retreat of the senses themselves? Or does it involve something deeper?
In this work of nadi yoga, it is vital to separate the senses from the mind. What does this mean? What it means is separating the instrumental level of consciousness from the objective level of consciousness. More will be explained on this later as we explore the process called mudra.
Coming back to the topic of brahmacarya, we have to look at where it is that we lose energy through the senses. The mind and its objective layer obsessions contaminates the raw experience of the senses and in effect takes energy from us, causing us to “leak” through the 10 sense doors. This doesn’t just happen with sex. It happens through our eyes when we desire different forms and activities. It happens through our ears when we let ourselves become entangled in conversation, in music, in sound. It happens with food, when our mind becomes habituated to certain foods. It happens through our hands when we become over controlling or obsessive with things like work, when we grasp at things. It happens through our feet when we are constantly moving forward, unable to stop going and going. In this way, we have many “leaks” in our energy body, in our nadi structure. Are we aware of how we spend energy? How do we feel? Are we depleted? Are we continually tired? Why is it that we are tired? Where do we leak?
Like all things, there is a balance. Brahmacarya is not the principle of telling us to contain and contain and not let go. That leads to the problem of hoarding, discussed later. This is another problem energetically. Brahmacarya is about containment yes, but containment tempered with discernment about how much we can comfortably contain without depleting ourself. Like a car, we need a certain amount of fuel, but with too much fuel we also run a risk of violation.
What does the proper amount of containment feel like? This is something you will have to discover for yourself. There is a certain glow, a certain buzz, that comes with proper containment. Proper containment is like storing “juice” in your body, healthy juice that feeds you and causes you to grow. It gives you energy. It feeds your life. If you don’t have enough of this juice, you feel depleted. Something is off and you constantly try to get the juice back, oftentimes by violating through another nadi corridor. For example, you may have excessive sex, which will deplete the body and then try to get the juice back through food, further unbalancing the system. After a hard long, overextended day at work, you may seek balance through visual media with the tv. There are many examples. Living a life of constantly spending and trying to make up for it through other corridors is a game we play. We take money out of the bank and try to put it back in in another way. The savings account never gets anywhere and we are constantly putting ourselves in the red. Living life like this is stressful and how much of modern society lives. The yama of satya helps us with this, to understand clearly what we are doing to ourselves.
Brahmacarya is vital as a preliminary practice as it causes us to conserve, to build our energetic savings account. As we start to store life energy, we start to recognize it more clearly and we have energy to proceed. Patanjali tells us very clearly in sutra 1.20 that virya or energy is necessary to have to build us up for the higher stages of yoga. Brahmacarya is how we build that virya or energy.