The practice of 'Bramacharya' nails this paradox! The 4th of the five Yamas is often mis-understood and taken in it’s extreme as restraint and living rigidly ~ which could not be further from it’s intention. It is intended for us to live in our hearts fully. In short it translates as ‘behaviour that leads to the Divine’, in length perhaps best understood as knowing our senses so deeply that we make wise choices to live in moderation and not allow desires caused by external influences nor internal unrest lead to the pursuit of constant pleasure via the senses. It's pure awareness of Self, having the self-mastery to know when all else is providing ego with distraction from truth, connection to source. Thereby forgetting (‘avidya’) that we are already abundant beings, filled with all the vitality, joy and love, that we do not need to seek it externally through the senses. All that we need to live life fully is already within.
“It’s when we become attached to our senses, seeking fleeting pleasure only through them and habitually overindulging ourselves, that we endanger our wellbing. From an Ayurvedic viewpoint, this is a primary cause of imbalance and leads to disease.” Bhava Ram
Over-shopping or too many vacations can deplete our financial security. Overeating or excessive drinking diminishes our health. Vicarious living through mass media, social media and TV drama deranges our minds and distorts reality. Needing excessive partners and sexual encounters leads to depletion of our ‘Ojas’ ~ our vital energy source and is fundamentally never knowing satisfaction, never feeling you are enough. Bramacharya is a practice of moderation and abstention when indulging our senses. Our sexuality is a natural part of our existence and suppressing the urge, as history has proven, can lead to derangement, for example spiritual leaders preaching abstinence while sexually indulging themselves behind the scenes. This is not just in religious sects but in the Yoga community also. We should not avoid any practice that denies an essential aspect of our being, however the spiritual journey of Yoga takes great mental and physical strength.
We live our lives to the fullest rejoicing in each and every moment when exploring all aspects in the gift of our existence. In order to build and sustain our precious life force, our vitality, we must know ourselves so intimately that we seek only to choose what doesn’t diminish our vital essence, to not be ruled by egoism (‘asmita’) and external stimulation and desire. If we are constantly seeking to satisfy our desires whether that be through overindulging in sex, posessions, wealth or experiences we are forgetting what/who we already are, we are forgetting our innate abundance and inner joy and instead seeking it externally. Instead we are living in fear (‘abhinivesa’) - fear of lack, fear of not being enough, fear of going without, essentially fear of death. Leading to pain and suffering, often manifesting as anxiety and dissatisfaction in life (‘dukkha’).
“To come home to our hearts, to that divine light that dwells within us, we must remember who and what we truly are. We must see our attractions and aversions for what they are, release our fears and transcend our egos. This does not mean we will become robots with no identity. It means we reclaim our true identity, extract ourselves from the bubble of social conditioning and self-indulgence, and live our lives as free souls.” Bhava Ram
For a person who is truly walking the path of the divine, the petty pleasures that the world offers will become totally meaningless. Once you enjoy the abundant inner pleasures of your being, the external pleasures become totally meaningless.
In a world overwhelmed by stimuli, making wise choices about what we read, the movies we watch, and the company we keep will help us conserve our vital energy and keep our minds sharp. Measuring all sensory activities so that we do not live consumed by them, staying committed and honest to one partner in a relationship that is mutually supportive, living with integrity and moderation - this is the middle path of brahmacharya.