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Managing the Senses

For the past few weeks, I have been reflecting on the “first steps” to happiness—the “yamas,” defined as the “restraints” that we need to practice in our daily living and acting. Without these restraints, according to the Yoga Tradition, in the long run we experience much suffering. I have talked about the first four of these five practices (sadhanas); namely, refraining from harming ourselves and others (ahimsa), speaking the truth all the time (satya), refraining from taking things and ideas that are not our own (asteya), and refraining from our deep desire to possess and collect everything (aparigraha).

However, I believe that the most difficult yama to practice in our culture is “brahmacharya.” Originally it was translated as “celibacy,” that is, refraining from sexual stimulation and sexual relations. It was originally meant for the monks and nuns (sadhus) who l