Recently, a yoga clothing store had the word “Brahmacharya” emblazoned on the front of its cute little shopping bags. Although there is a clever explanation on the side of the bag, I can’t help but wonder how many people never make it there because they get stuck on the word itself. There are so many yoga terms that make me feel like, “Man, I can’t pronounce it, let alone get to the place where I can understand it.” Well, I think if we can “push past our edge,” as I say to my students in class, we can start to understand how this tongue-twister of a word applies to our lives.
Brahmacharya = nonexcess. Here’s a prime example of how NOT to do this:
My husband has nicknamed me the “chocolate monster.” If this delicious treat enters our house, in any form, it’s gone in one day. He doesn’t get any. I try to tell him the dog ate it or “the early bird catches the worm,” but he doesn’t buy any of that nonsense. I know eating an entire pint of chocolate chocolate chip ice cream is not the best choice, but I can’t resist. Of course, I don’t feel too well after, and wonder why I did it. How about I just slowly savor a small bowl, and have my body be satisfied? In going beyond that point, eating and its effects are no longer enjoyable.
But nonexcess does not just relate to sweets. We can overdo life as well. In America we tend to “go big or go home.” I think, in our culture, excess makes us feel safe and important. We drive big cars to protect us on the road, work long hours to feel productive (thank you, smartphone, for making the workday 24 hours!), juggle so many people to feel like we are somebody to someone, and race from place to place to feel busy. In the end, we just end up running ourselves into the ground, and sometimes, we can’t even stop at THAT point. The more we have and do, the more secure we feel. Excess fills an emotional need for us. We have to be everything to everyone. I fall into this trap, time and time again.
I guess the whole point of Brahmacharya, for me, is to work on just being ok with saying “when.” It’s hard to do that, but excess never works for me. I drive myself crazy trying to keep up, and I end up not being able to do it all anyway.
I am working on it………thank you yoga. Namaste.