Brahmacharya – Preserving Vital Energy
“Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at anytime and be yourself.” – Herman Hesse, Siddhartha
As we continue our year-long exploration of the yamas and niyamas, May brings us to the fourth yama: Brahmacharya, which has a range of interpretations ranging from celibacy to non-excess to walking with God. The concept of preserving vital energy for the purpose of realizing one’s highest potential, one’s divine nature, is a common thread among them all.
In our busy modern lives, and particularly during this exciting, boisterous season of spring’s arrival, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the possibilities that lie in front of us for how to spend our time and energy. We want to do it all. We desire balance in our work and family lives, we want time with our friends, space for self-care, and the freedom to be spontaneous. But the reality is that something’s got to give. It doesn’t mean that we can’t have it all, but it does mean that we need to prioritize what deserves our precious attention and vital energy. Brahmacharya gives us an opportunity to reflect on which part of our lives are in service to our deepest aspirations and which parts are sapping our energy, and asks that we honor this wisdom by ‘walking the walk’. Bringing our actions in line with our intentions can be surprisingly challenging, and we would do well to remember the previous yamas: being gentle and honest with ourselves and others, and recognizing the inherent abundance available to us in each moment when we are awake to life.
I like the most literal interpretation of Brahmacharya: walking with God. In moments where I feel overwhelmed, confused, or indecisive, if I take time to pause, truly feel my body, and listen to my heart and gut (where I find my version of God) the answer often comes through quite simple and clear. This month, take occasional pause to ask yourself, “Does this feel right? Do I want this?” Wait for the answer that comes from your deepest, truest self (hint: usually not your brain, and sometimes so soft-spoken it can be hard to hear), and notice what happens as you tune in this way more regularly. You just might feel lighter, and freer!