16 Nov Brahmacharya (moderation)
This piece was originally published in the OWY newsletter in November of 2013.
In the previous newsletter I touched on the third yama, asteya (non-stealing). As a quick review the 8 limbs of yoga are:
- Yamas (external restraints)
- Niyamas (internal observances)
- Asana (postures)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (absorption)
The first limb, Yamas, include:
- Ahimsa (non-violence)
- Satya (truthfulness)
- Asteya (non-stealing)
- Brahmacharya (moderation or abstinence)
- Aparigraha (non-greed, non-attachment)
Brahmacharya seems to be a complex concept in modern times, especially in our Western world. Traditionally meaning celibacy or abstinence it’s come to mean something more along the lines of moderation in our modern culture. Basically attention to where we may overindulge in desires. Taking the time to think about this, two things I overindulge in are chocolate and coffee. Those don’t sound very big, but I seriously love my coffee and chocolate a bit too much.
In teacher training the exercise we did to explore brahmacharya was to think of something we do or believe that no longer serves us. This practice was extremely beneficial. It wasn’t the first time I had looked at my attitudes and actions, questioning whether they were of use or detrimental. Though to do so in a nonjudgmental, non-violent way takes things up a notch. Seeing something simply as no longer of benefit to me instead calling myself an idiot is a simple yet amazing shift in my perception of myself and others.
This week I invite you to take a few minutes to if there is something that you do that no longer serves you. Is there something you overindulge in that is not positive or beneficial? It may be large or small, but whatever it is make a commitment to replace that thing with something else. Something that does serve you in a positive way.
Continue with Aparigraha.