Brahmacharya – Taming our Indulgences
Everywhere we look we see the results of living in excess. In a society that preaches more is better, it can be difficult to hear the voice of intuition that begs for moderation to maintain balance…which can make this Yama a challenging one to work on and some may even wonder why would I want to bother? To give an example, let’s use the act of eating too much, when we eat too much, what happens? We become sluggish and uncomfortable, we lack the motivation to doing anything and the only thing we may have energy for is perhaps watching television. The same can be applied to over drinking, over sleeping, over working and over exerting anything…it simply exhausts us sapping our prana/life force.
As yogi’s, our goal is to create a vibrant life that moves us towards self-realization or a deeper connection with our highest self/ the Divine/the Universe. The word Brahmacharya literally means “to walk in the path of the Divine”. Brahma means the divine/universe/consciousness and charya means “to follow” or “to walk with” or “the path”. Even though there are many ways to interpret Brahmacharya, a simple and modern way to look at this Yama is to conserve energy. Following a conscious path towards self-realization requires a great deal of energy; if we squander our energy in things that simply deplete our resources we may never experience our full potential or see a glimpse into this reality. However, by maintaining discipline in our daily life and controlling our urges and senses, we can best utilize our resources to feel balanced and complete in all areas of our life allowing for the development of a deeper experience of consciousness.
I realize this may sound daunting, perhaps even impossible, yet each of us can take small and simple steps towards incorporating this guideline into our lives that will enhance how we feel and act almost immediately. The first and easiest way we can begin is by observing our own yoga practice. While on the mat pay attention to the point when you are exerting more energy than you have and make sure you are not putting all your energy into one posture. Ask yourself “what can I let go of to be more relaxed in this posture”? Often we hold onto tension in our body that we are not always aware of and this uses more energy than we need to.
When we have a good handle on our yoga practice we can start to integrate it into our day to day lives looking at how we use energy and ways we can conserve it, internally and externally, physically and environmentally. Do I worry too much, think too much, eat too much, sleep too much? Am I always leaving lights on or over stimulating my senses with loud music or constant information? Do I engage in activities/sports/sex when I know I need rest? None of these things in and of themselves are harmful; the key is finding and honouring what you need in the present moment to achieve the most amount of energy to live happily, vibrantly, and consciously.
Yogi Bhajan always said “if you can’t see god in all, you can’t see god at all.” Brahmacharya invites us to view everything we do in life as sacred and divine. Yes, I mean everything! If we applied this to everything we approach in life, how would it change the way we act/feel? To walk the path of consciousness requires a wee bit of commitment combined with a tad of discipline and the rewards are a whole lot of magic.