Good evening, everyone! Today, is a gentle Friday. I sit here at my computer with a hot tea to the right of me and a goal for the day in mind; tonight, I am allowing myself to be thoughtful.
These past two months have been particularly draining for me. In the month of May alone I feel as though I had thoughtlessly hurled my energy at whatever due date or responsibility I had, from mountains of homework to dreaded finals. School-life, work-life, and personal-life all felt like a chaotic blur, and it sucked me in like a hungry typhoon. I was navigating through life in a thoughtless/reckless autopilot; looking back, it makes me sad.
Existence is a miracle. I am so grateful for this life, but did not practice gratitude in these past few months. This life is special yet I acted without intention.
I have been so wrapped up with studying and final projects, so it has been very easy for me to shrug off personal time, meditation, thoughtfulness, and gratitude. Looking back on my past two months, I am sad for myself, because I have not given myself the time to truly appreciate the food I eat. I had always been very thoughtful about food. I thought about the exhausted, worn hands that cultivate the sustenance I ingest. I thought about the miraculous honey bees, and the rich nutrients provided by the Earth.
Food tastes so much better when you think about it, appreciate it, respect it, and are deliberate with your intentions with it.
Respecting food feels so much better than blazing through a pack of Oreo's during a frantic study session (as I have admittedly done). These kinds of indulgences are not inherently harmful, in my opinion. Sure, the quality of the food and its health can be an issue, but I think it is important to reward yourself every once in a while and indulge without guilt. The issue that comes from this is over-indulgence, or treating yourself to another bite, drink, smoke, game, episode, etc. under the false pretense that you are rewarding yourself, thus devaluing the object of over-indulgence.
Wanting to delight in the pleasures of the world via sensory stimulation is completely natural, but left unchecked, this desire can be harmful to our energy balance. There is a key practice in yoga that helps us manage these sorts of cravings- I’m talking about Brahmacharya. Brahmacharya is the fourth of the five yamas (or restraints) that aid us in our journeys to find self-awareness and synchronize our habits to align with our spiritual intentions and aspirations. Brahmacharya translates to "using your energy wisely and with intention", or “walking in God-consciousness”. Generally speaking, the main focus of Brahmacharya is the moderation of the senses. It is a concept within Indian religions and today, I want to discuss how we can incorporate it into our yoga and daily lives.
Brahmacharya facilitates the restoration of harmony to the mind and body. By turning inwards, we can acknowledge and address sensory cravings that may be damaging our spiritual health and general well-being. By letting go of these cravings, we can restore balance in ourselves and freedom from these vices.
It is important to note that both repression and overindulgence can damage your vital energy; both can drain you and leave you anxious and insecure. Brahmacharya facilitates a sense of self control that allows one to enjoy the senses rather than overstimulate and numb them, and take away from the enjoyment of life.
Let’s take a look at my regrettable Oreo experience that I mentioned earlier. Had I been mindful and imposed a limit of some sort, I probably would have savored the sensation of eating them a lot more. Or I could have simply saved my pack of Oreo's for a special occasion, rather than chow down without thought.
The world is over saturated with convenient stimuli. I think that for the betterment of our spiritual selves, it is important to be mindful about the media we consume, the friends and company we see, and the stimulation of our senses in order to maintain that Brahmacharya balance inside. Having balance in this sense helps us channel our energy and keep our minds dynamic and focused, so that we have the mental space to relax and enjoy the beauty of life.
Now that I understand Brahmacharya, I am going to be a lot more thoughtful about my sensory cravings. Devouring that pack of Oreo's was definitely a learning experience… by the time I got to my last Oreo, I felt like I was going to pass out due to sugar overload. The following week, I felt terrible! I actually ended up at Bloom Yoga the following Tuesday for a cardio class; and I am so glad that I did! The cardio class really helped me restore balance both internally and externally. It really motivated me to work hard both physically and mentally, and that effort helped me get back on track from that stressful time. I highly suggest anyone to go! The cardio classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:30 p.m., I’ll see you all there!