Although Brahmacharya can be practiced simply as described in the earlier essay on Yama and Niyama, by upholding fidelity, an advanced approach is to adopt celibacy in your marriage. Sometimes this is considered to mean, sex no more often than monthly. This is not an avoidance or prohibition, but a disciplined observance. It is important to approach this lifestyle choice not as a restriction or a set of rules, but as a positive embrace of Kundalini in your lives. Brahmacharya literally means “living in Brahman” (i.e., living in consciousness). Here you do not suppress the energetic flow between you and your beloved, but rather use that energy while engaging in yogic practices together. In modern society, where genital sexuality is so thoroughly celebrated and emphasized, it may seem strange to embrace sexuality through your whole body, but this expanded focus is a time-tested path to ecstasy. A Bengali mystic once declared that, through his practice of brahmacharya, he experienced his entire body covered with Yoni’s, as if his entire being were making love ecstatically to the world.
Over the course of the month of abstention, experience “ripening” together: your energy and attraction builds, like the poles of a powerful battery. Allow the erotic impulse to circulate through your bodies and be experienced not through the singular portals of your genitals, but through your bodies more fully—your eyes, hands, skin, hearts, and ultimately through every pore of your bodies. Then devote a whole day for courtship, romance, affection, and union. Drink fully of one another and flow deeply together.
Like a dietary fast, when you first try Brahmacharya you may suffer from cravings for sex and not being able to feel gratification. The first days of a dietary fast are difficult, but after the third day, something magical happens: you feel light, and you find a deep, quiet, yet energetic feeling coursing through you. The same holds true for observing Brahmacharya. Those who practice abstention are quick to remark, while they may miss normal sex, it is a small price to pay for the energy they feel, the scintillating aliveness, the brilliant clarity of mind.
To get a taste of what sexual abstinence might offer you, observe mauna, silence. Try to maintain silence for at least 24 hours; if you can, try three days. This practice is about inner discovery, so you want to keep your focus in the present moment and limit your activities to those that are necessary. Refrain from electronic media, other forms of “entertainment”, things that pull your attention away from yourself. You will notice the recurring impulse to spew your energy outwards, again and again, and will become aware of how much energy you expend by going outside yourself. As you refrain from talking, an extraordinary amount of energy builds within and you feel powerful in a way that your habitual and diffusing talking denies you. Your senses become heightened and your inner awareness deepens. Yes, there is a joy in connecting with others, and there is a need to communicate in one way or another. But when you discover the power gained simply by living your life without using your vocal chords, and how much energy you waste in the impulse to go outside yourself, you will taste what it is like when you refrain from spending your energy through sex.
When you observe Brahmacharya in your marriage it is essential that you keep your affection and creative interactions alive: you meditate together, do puja together, perform practices such as hatha yoga and pranayama together, offer Guruseva together, exercise together. You are not disconnected entities walking on parallel paths; you are working together to magnify your sexual energy and channel it into creative collaborations, into your sadhana. Together you are growing a scintillating body of energy that supercharges you, and you use it to illumine the power of Shiva and Shakti.
Next essay: Sexual Practice