The question we have chosen to pose as the basis for our experiment begins with the definition of brahmacharya as the “wise use of energy” in the context of marriage. The hypothesis we developed is, “If we practice mindfulness within our relationship (which includes creating a spiritual intention for shared space, time, intimacy/sexuality) and apply principles of chastity in the sense of purity, specifically purity of intention through mindful lovingness, then we will experience a deeper connection to the divine through mutual shared and selfless devotion to God within our relationship”.
One key text in constructing this hypothesis was Desikachar’s Heart of Yoga which distills the yama of bramahcharya in the following way; “Brahmacharya suggests that we should form relationships that foster our understanding of the highest truths… it means responsible behavior with respect to our goal of moving toward the truth.” B.K.S. Iyengar also points out in several of his writings that the householder (grihastha) is just as much capable of being a brahmacharya as the celibate monk. I know this from previous life experience when I lived a monastic lifestyle for two years in an ashram in Fresno, California. During that time I observed myself consumed with egotistical thoughts and attachment to the forms of brahmacharya. As a married person, I have learned that in many ways my spouse is a mirror to my movements away from God. Through this relationship I am frequently reminded of my own avidya and this causes me to reexamine the path.
As the both of us took on this effort to be specific in our observation of brahmacharya (along with the other yamas and niyamas), it became very clear that we need to adjust several environmental factors in our home and external relationships. We have always been a spiritually minded couple, but at times this has itself become an attachment as we have opened our home to numerous guests and rarely have time with just each other and to ourselves. Consequently, when we are afforded time together, we are often too exhausted to be truly intimate. Baba Hari Das emphasized that married couples must become one, and therefore intimacy is an important part of this union. Both of us have spent most of our creative energy in other areas of our lives. This experiment brought us together on the issue of the wise use of energy and it resulted in an increase in awareness to the “energy drains” on our lives including housekeeping, organization of time, personal relationships outside of the marriage, and work. Additionally, we realized that in order to participate in the act of mindful intimacy and lovingness, we needed to unencumber our minds with worldly concerns, worries and barriers. Further, we tended to “unfinished” business and projects within our home, essentially clearing stagnant energy while tending to our “bedroom” space. Through the commitment of attending yoga classes together, reading discussing and planning our spiritual growth both individually and as a couple, we have increased our participation in each other’s lives on a spiritual and physical level. To deepen this connection through the application of the experiment, we have taken greater steps towards building a more sustainable spiritual and emotional lifestyle. In terms of the actual application of practicing moderation and chastity within the relationship, I believe that we are still working towards what that might look like as we continue to develop from within. We have definitely increased our discussions around our sexual practices, present levels of emotional intimacy, spiritual connection to one another & God, and our intentions for our relationship on a day-to-day basis.