Yoga Philosophy: Brahmacharya – Abstinence

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Yoga Philosophy: Brahmacharya – Abstinence

When we look at finding our meaning looking through our exploration of the Yamas, our next stop is with Brahmacharya or “walking in the path of the Brahman” or “conduct consistent with God-consciousness.” These definitions are quite in line with this month’s look into our search for meaning. These are the translations of Brahmacharya from Sanskrit. 

Looking at traditional descriptions of Brahmacharya the conversation is about celibacy and abstinence. This stems from the idea that restriction leads to purity of the body and the mind, and is the clear way to walk in the path of the holy leaders. Though there are still those who stick with this definition of brahmacharya, for many of us, in 2020, there is not a full connection to this interpretation. 

For many of us, we look to a more modern take on how to walk the path of the Brahman. Deborah Adele in her book “The Yamas & Niyamas” titles her chapter on Brahmacharya ‘Non-Excess.’ This definition is more tangible for the majority of us. Take a moment to think of some of our areas of excess. I’ll list a few of mine that some of us may connect with as a starter:

  • Sugar/sweets – just got my girl scout cookies! (I left them at the office… those gluten free toffees are mmm mmm mmm)
  • Books – I’d love to say I’m going to read them all, I’d need to win the lotto, though to be honest at that point, I’d buy more books. 
  • Clothes/shoes – I could get by with significantly less… significantly. 
  • Commitments: It’s easier to write about material possessions, and the excess there, and more challenging to write about the culture of excess in terms of doing more and taking on more and more and more, until we/I feel exhausted. 

Part of looking at this conservation of our own resources (another common modern interpretation) is to find that perfect balance of what is enough. What connects with our meaning and purpose, and what may weigh us down or get in the way? When we are able to make the connection between our own meaning and what feeds and nurtures us, we come may be able to walk the path towards that place of balance and non-excess. Let’s see if we can explore one area in the coming weeks 🙂