I see you. I see you each time you walk into the studio and take your place on your mat. I see you as a person who has made a commitment to take time to connect with the Oneness that lives within you. I see you. I see the look in your eyes that sometimes conveys pain, fatigue, stress or grief. I see you. The person who may have had a rough day and would rather be relaxing in their pajamas. I see you! I see that each time you come to your mat you overcome obstacles and challenges. I see you stepping out of your box when you feel like you can't even step forward because some days it's just too tough. I see you. A person who desires human contact and interaction. I see you, the person that just wants to be quiet. I see you, dear yogi. God radiates through your spirit. I see you and the journey you are on in this life, growing, overcoming and accomplishing with grace and ease.
I see you, the Divine light that lives in each of us!
The fourth yama is the discipline of Brahmacarya, simply meaning moderation and in many ancient texts translates to abstinence. But quite literally it means "walk with God". This yama is a principle that can be looked at in many, many ways. In my research I found where B.K.S. Iyengar stated that Brahmacarya is not about abstinence or celibacy, but about temperance.
It's the holiday season and as good a time as any to talk about moderation. In today's world, excess and overindulging is everywhere, from how we eat to how we live in a material society where more is the norm. It has become "normal" to pack a day full of tasks, over extending ourselves physically and financially while neglecting our self-care. Commercialism and media selling to us everywhere!
Brahmacarya may be one of the simplest yamas to put into practice, but with the distractions of our world the most difficult to maintain. Yoga allows us to take time away from the distractions and check in with ourselves. Taking that personal inventory at the beginning of each practice acknowledging the distractions and setting the intention to come into a place of freedom from excess. In my classes we refer to this time as time with God. Thus the translation to "walk with God".
Freedom from excess. Freedom from distraction. Freedom from addiction. Freedom from fear. Equals Brahmacarya.
As we approach the Christmas Holiday, take time to really think about what you commit your time to daily and where you might separate from the world of excess. Do you spend time on your mat daily, in a class that is centered around your self discovery? Do you spend time in nature each day, in the world without the noise, just as created by God? Do you take time at all, to quiet your mind outside of sleep? All of these activities will help you to release the distractions of excess, coming into a place of complete acceptance and non-attachment.
Give yourself the gift of Brahmacarya this holiday season and cultivate new habits in moderation for the New Year.
So far we have taken a look at Ahimsa (nonviolence) and Satya (truthfulness). The third Yama is Asteya - non-stealing. Simple enough it would seem; don't take what is not yours. However, it goes deeper than that. It brings us to the power of non-attachment. Stealing is the result of a belief in lack. As I started to prepare my notes I realized that this is definitely something I need to work on as a yoga teacher and a business owner. Expressing lack as I build a business. No I am not out there stealing to make ends meet, but I can say that at times the fear of lack, does steal my energy and takes away from the joy I have for what I do.
Several months ago I was in a situation where a cashier did not ring up an item properly, to my advantage and it was going to save me over $20 on my purchase. It was like I immediately had the Angel and Devil on each shoulder arguing back and forth. "Oh my its just $20 and it would really help you to save on the bill!" versus "This could cause a big problem for this gal who is doing her job to make ends meet like the rest of us. What if she lost her job because of this one item?" It is interesting how our mind starts to rationalize. I brought it to her attention and she had to call over a manager to get the transaction fixed. They were both shocked that I would bring it up. No one ever does they both said. This made me feel happy that I did the right thing and sad that this is not the norm. Is this our world? A world of accumulation, greed and everyone for themselves.
I do believe that our thoughts and our words have energy and expressing lack, only brings more feelings of lack. Thoughts of abundance brings abundance. It is necessary to work on changing the inner belief that leads to what we express. Where does it come from? And why? Expressing lack takes us out of faith. In part one of Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates, he mentions the difference between doing a lot of spiritual practice and truly standing in his spirituality. Quote: "An Alcoholics Anonymous text says, 'Either God is or he is not." Each theft, each time we "forget" to return something we've borrowed, each moment we give in to the impulse to covet or to be jealous, we are saying 'God is not.'"
We must say in each moment, with each thought, word and action, "My God is."
For me Asteya is focusing my thoughts on what brings joy knowing that everything I need, I already have within me and in my faith.