Clean up your mind!

September 13, 2016

“Brahmacharya pratishthayam virya labhah.” (sutra 2.18) Upon being established in brahmacharya, there is the attainment of vital energy. Brachmacharya is considered one of the cornerstones of a devoted, truthful yoga practice. Brahmacharya means celibacy, moderation or often interpreted as suppression of the natural instincts, but actual literally meaning ‘being established in divine consciousness’.  I was reflecting on the difference between suppression of natural instincts and the word moderation. Suppression is a big word, usually anything that is suppressed or prohibited, will eventually be released with doubled force when an opportunity arises. This opportunity being for example, when you are tired or when you are lacking in discipline. Moderation on the other, is a word that can help understand brahmacharya in our everyday life, it’s an invitation to being mindful of how much you do and choosing to do things in moderation. There is a powerful spiritual strength that comes forth when you practice a healthy form of self-control or moderation. This discipline is called tapas or a powerful purifying inner fire, that gives your spiritual strength! In the Bhagavad Gita we are exposed to the metaphor of the chariot with the charioteer, and the horses. The charioteer (or the mind) holds the rains to tame the horses (or the senses) and give direction to the chariot (the seat of the mind). The horses are like our senses, which if not controlled and disciplined, will run wild. It is the responsibility of the charioteer to tame the horses and provide a safe ride. The chariot is the vehicle within which the charioteer or the mind resides. Hence application of self control or moderation towards all sensory experiences is brahmacharya. “Practice of Brahmacharya gives good health, inner strength, peace of mind and long life. It invigorates the mind and nerves. It helps to conserve physical and mental energy. It augments memory, will force and brain power. It bestows tremendous strength, vigour and vitality. Strength and fortitude are obtained… He who is established in Brahmacharya will have lustrous eyes, a sweet voice and a beautiful complexion.” Swami Sivananda, So what does moderation look like in our modern world of consumption? Look at it from the perception of moderation – in all things in your life. We are no longer used to the process. Everything is on the go, fast. Ashtanga yoga reminds us that there is a process to things. There is a process of learning, a process of moving forward and the process takes time. A posture may take years to embody, the understand and to live. If we were to practice day and night in order to fast forward the process of learning asana, we would burn out, and the process would be interrupted before the transformation can unfolds within us. Living in brahmacharya means we have control over our impulses of excess, whether that’s in shopping, food, sex, drugs, tv, exercise, gossip… anything. Whatever it is that we like to indulge in, lose ourselves in or obsess over…that’s where we can choose to apply moderation. Those are the opportunities!  Think about how much time and energy you devote to your various obsessions. What would happen if that time and energy was freed up and available for other things – like your spiritual journey? When we commit to yoga, the 8 limbs of yoga, we’re committing to realizing who we truly are, and that requires time and energy. Wasting time and energy on excess and obsession of any kind takes us further away from our path and our goal. How can you apply moderation this week?

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