Brahmacharya: Practicing Restraint

Practicing restraint
By Nancy B. Loughlin

Published in News Press on March 15, 2016

Some of the most indulged humans in history now walk the earth.

We wear the workaholic label as an honor. We’re too edgy to mindfully prepare our food, so we eat our fast food fast.  We perpetually text because we’re too impatient to wait for face to face. We want something we can’t afford, so we charge it.

If a friend or acquaintance frustrates us, we ghost them instead of practicing unconditional love and compassion.  We ensconce ourselves in online networks, insulated by likeminded carbon copies so we never have our beliefs and worldviews challenged.

And we sleep around.

These indulgences have consequences.  We’re exhausted. We’re obese.  We’re distracted. We’re broke.

We can’t see others’ flaws as reflections of our own.  We lose our ability to listen, be civil, and we’re trapped in closed-minded ignorance.

And we’re lonelier than ever.

Practicing Brahmacharya

Brahmacharya, one of yoga’s ethical guidelines, explores the importance of celibacy and checking sexual energy.  The frantic explosion of sexual power, when devoid of truth, can deter anyone from spiritual growth.

Beyond celibacy, brahmacharya’s goal is to control desires so we can embrace a lifestyle of non-excess.

It’s about practicing restraint. It’s an invitation to live with our authentic spiritual selves.

A beginner’s guide to brahmacharya

Practice celibacy. 

This doesn’t mean for a lifetime.  Try 30 days (or three, perhaps one).  During that time, sit in cross-legged Sukhasana, and visualize channeling your creative sacral energy into living your purpose.

 Fast.

Rest the body by enjoying one fasting day per week when you drink only lemon water and green juices.

Every four months, try a five-day fast.  Granted, the first two days will be rough.  By day three, you’ll feel transformed.

Dispense with one shopping habit. 

Shoes?  Clothes? Books? What’s your vice?  Commit to a six-month shopping moratorium.

As you move through the process, sort through the clutter.  Resolve to donate half your possessions.

Addiction is attachment.

Cigarettes, caffeine, alcohol, drugs (legal and illegal), fat, salt and sugar.  Choose one, and get rid of it.

As you monitor the ride of withdrawal, journal the causes of your stress that have been forcing you to anesthetize your feelings.

Be silent.

Resist the urge to speak. Let others have the spotlight.  You don’t have to have an opinion on every subject.

Better yet, just shut up for a day.

While you’re quiet, listen to Rumi:

“When you have indulged a lust, your wing drops off;

you become lame, abandoned by the fantasy.

Preserve the wing and don’t indulge such lust,

so that the wing of desire may bear you to Paradise.

People fancy they are enjoying themselves,

but they are really tearing out their wings

for the sake of an illusion.”

 

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