In August, my classes have been incorporating learnings on the 4th yama, Brahmacharya.
Brahmacharya is all about not using your energy in excess. Literally, Brahmacharya means walking with or connecting with the divine. Historically, people would sit with their spiritual teacher, or retreat to caves and practice communion with the divine…and this naturally led to celibacy and preservation of vital energy.
In today’s world, Brahmacharya is interpreted more as moderation, or practicing the middle way, where we are not expending too much energy needlessly, so that we can instead connect to something greater and more significant than ourselves. The goal here is to preserve our energy and maintain our inner vitality…but you also don’t want to sell yourself short and expend too little energy, either. I like to refer to it as “The Goldilocks Approach”…not too much, not too little. Find that “just right” place, that middle path.
Some things to think about if you are looking to work on Brahmacharya, are:
- Conserve your energy. Check in with the way you give your energy to people and things, and the feelings you receive from that. Do you feel energized and inspired? Or do you feel depleted? Once you’ve identified these things, work on ways to find balance. What can you let go of that is depleting you?
For myself, I find I have to constantly check in with myself on these sorts of things. I am definitely a person who says “Yes” to way too many things. And before I know it, I’ve committed to so many things that I don’t have time for myself. And even though I enjoy all the things I say “Yes” to, there are definitely some that drain me more than others.
My biggest love — my purpose — is to help others. It’s not easy to let go of something I’ve taken on and enjoy, especially when I know I am helping others. But there IS such a thing as too much. When I take the time to check in and evaluate how each “thing” I’ve taken on is serving me, THAT is when I know what I need to let go of. For me, my physical and emotional health will start to suffer when I’ve reached that point of having taken on too much. I’ll have a flare up with my autoimmune diseases, extreme fatigue will set in, I won’t be sleeping as well, and my anxiety will start to show up in extreme ways.
Ultimately, when you’re taking on things that fortify you, you’ll notice that you’ll begin to deepen your connection to yourself, which leads to more easily connecting to the divine.
“You are not lazy, unmotivated or stuck. After years of living your life in survival mode, you are exhausted. There is a difference.” – Nakeia Homer (Author)
- Create a new routine. Think about anything big that might have recently happened in your life, or anything that is about to happen. What changes can you make to your daily routine to support your interests and nourish your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health?
Lots of things have changed in my life over the past several months. My dad and I have moved my mom into a memory care center, so I spend most of my weekends visiting with them and helping out in a variety of ways. Also, my youngest daughter has moved out, so now my husband and I are true empty nesters. As you can imagine, these events have affected me in so many ways.
In order to keep myself grounded and healthy all around, I’ve done a few things with my routine that have been really beneficial during this time. First thing in the morning during my work week, I get my dogs out for a nice walk…we walk anywhere from 1 – 1.5 miles, and it’s so quiet at that time of the morning! I love being able to hear the nature all around me on the walking trail we take…and many mornings, we come across rabbits in the field we pass…hearing those sounds and seeing all the nature makes me happy and relaxes me. That is just one example, but I’ve incorporated a few other things to my routine which are helping me during this time.
“Look for magic in the daily routine.” – Lou Barlow (Musician and Songwriter)
- Fight the FOMO. We all fall victim to FOMO from time to time…the Fear Of Missing Out. Don’t be afraid to say no when you don’t want to do something, or when you’re feeling run down. Your friends will always be there for you and should understand your need to take care of yourself and your needs.
“The fear of missing out on things makes you miss out on everything.” – Etty Hillesum (Author)
If you’re a yogi, try working on Brahmacharya in class in several ways:
- Focus on taking rests or practicing less intense variations of postures to conserve your energy, especially if you’re feeling depleted in any way. Use your inner resources to know when to push and when to back off.
- Practice to slower and/or instrumental music to allow your practice to be more spacious and silent, which allows for deeper self connection.
- Practice with your eyes closed as much as you can. This allows your practice to be focused on what YOU need, and keeps you from getting distracted by what others are doing.
- Assess the type of practice you’re doing. Take a look at what types of yoga you’re typically practicing (i.e., Power, Hot, Slow Flow, Yin, etc). Do these practices enrich your life and provide you with what you’re looking for, or are they draining you? Don’t be afraid to try a new style if you need to make a change in any way.
- Repeat the mantra “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo”. This translates to “I bow to the subtle divine within, I bow to the teacher within”. This mantra has often been referred to as “God’s telephone number”. It calls upon the infinite creative energy of our teachers and all the teachers that have come before us. It invites us to tune in to our innate intuition and the wisdom of all creation, so we become a conduit to let this energy flow through us.
“When walking in the awareness of the highest reality (brahmacharya) is firmly established, then a great strength, capacity, or vitality is acquired.”Yoga Sutra 2.38
Namaste and Have a Sparkling Day!