Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Reflections on Self-Restraint and Moderation

By Nadine
Today I am reflecting on the fourth Yama: Brahmacharya. This is traditionally interpreted as celibacy, but modern interpretations tend to have changed it a bit.
Let's look at the traditional definition first. Celibacy is the absence of sexual activities. Why is this part of Yoga? The idea is that when we have sex we release some of our vital energy. Yoga strives to redirect that energy. But certainly celibacy is not for everyone. From a sexual standpoint this has also been interpreted as sexual respect, monogamy or marital fidelity.
But how does Brahmacharya relate to the rest of our lives? Doing anything in excess taps our vital energy. So Brahmacharya guides us to self-restraint and moderation. Not eating too much. Not partying too much. Not working too much. Not talking too much. Not accumulating too much.
Fabulous advice. How am I doing with Brahmacharya? I have a tendency towards excess. I have a very "all-or-nothing" mindset. And I've been working on that for the past decade.
I am getting much better at the practice of moderation. Of realizing that when my balance is off, that quietly sitting in the middle helps bring me back to balance quicker than running in the opposite direction. That usually a little bit of anything is nearly as satisfying as a whole lot of it. That moderation makes room in my life for more varied experiences.

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