‘Brahmacharya reminds us to enter each day and each action with a sense of holiness rather than indulgence.’(The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele)
In case you’re wondering, Brahmacharya is Sanskrit for non-excess. Easier said than done, right?! We live in a world of excess. And what’s more we’re constantly bombarded by media and advertising which activates feelings of longing, subliminally telling us we won’t be complete until we have this and that product or experience in our life. We often bite. We often get ourselves in a pickle, consumed by the need to have. Even addicted.
Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, we can transition from pleasure into a state of feeling dependent on a thing. It might be ice-cream, alcohol, social media, online shopping, obsessively beautifying ourselves, excessive TV watching, late nights. Are you possessing the thing you habitually like to consume or do? Or is that thing you like to consume or do possessing you?
Choosing to release one thing which you feel has a controlling and therefore self-sabotaging affect on you can be enormously liberating, and doing so can ripple blessings out to all arenas of your life. You might start with something small-fry, to see, before you tackle your biggest and most dug-in indulgences.
Often we think we have to overhaul our lives and make big changes and this can seem a huge and intimidating mountain to climb. But if you instead focus on changing your relationship with or eradicating one thing in your life which you know intuitively has a hold on you, the residual benefits can be so transformative.
Take me. I’m currently doing a 90 day Alcohol Free Challenge, courtesy of One Year No Beer (brilliant, by the way, wholly recommend.) It seemed a ripe opportunity to take on something like this, with our social scenes pretty much ground to a halt. Sometimes one glass of wine in the evening would turn into two. Or three. I was tired of feeling tired. Brahmacharya gave me insight into how this involuntary habit has translated from desire to more of an excess or need.
The result from this one change just 22 days in?
Plump and hydrated skin
Great pleasure in simple pleasures
An array of new recipes
A good chunk of my book written
Sensitivity in my teeth-gone
More present with my children
Practicing a lot more yoga, thanks to 4-5am starts
Early morning runs with my children
Bright, focused mind
I could go on and on-truly-but you get the idea. This week, think about one habit you have that you feel is consuming you. Can you peel back from this, or eliminate it safely? Can you join an online support group?
If you’re stumped, great! You’re in good form! How about then thinking of one positive thing you’d like to invite into your life? Perhaps upping your water intake and watching how this leads to a plethora of both physical and energetic benefits. How about meditating daily, picking up a creative habit, a new exercise regime?
And you know, one intentional action can perfume not just your life, but it will most certainly positively impact those around you. When you are engaged in the pursuit of joy, that cultivated joy becomes contagious.
I have this quote on a post-it note on my computer, also from Adele’s wonderful sutra book above. It’s been a bit of a mantra lately. I’ll leave it right here. It summarizes it all, so perfectly:-
“A bird cannot hold onto its perch and fly. Neither can we grasp anything and be free”