Brahmacharya, the fourth Yama or restraint refers to our ability to participate in moderation on all levels in our lives.
This moderation exists on many levels, sensory, physical, and emotional to name a few.
Sensory moderation can be defined as a mindful approach to what we allow to enter our internal atmosphere and psyche.
All day long, every day we are inundated with information and sensory stimulation. The music we listen to, the books we read, the type and amount of television we watch, content of internet surfing, as well as social media distraction all leave psychic imprints on the body mind.
For most of us our days are spent tuning out, allowing whatever media around us to fill up our time and space.
Brahmacharya is an invitation to acquire a sense of awareness about these stimulants.
When engaging in any type of media, ask yourself, how does this serve me?
I grew up watching horror movies and reading thriller novels. As a result I often had nightmares as a child, teenager, and young adult. The first month of living on my own was wonderful from sun-up to sundown. When the shadows of night settled in, my internal state became very agitated. I would often get up from bed, two to ten times, to check that my windows were locked, the doors locked, and the deadbolts were in place.
Those first few months on my own became an interesting play in opposites. During the day I was attending my 200-hour yoga teacher training, learning the philosophy, practice and beauty of yoga. I was exploring a new sense of being, doing, and loving. At night, my mind became my own personal horror story.
One night after I finished a particularly graphic Tami Hoag novel, I remember not sleeping, afraid to shut my eyes; I stayed up all night, rechecking the locks and windows.
The next morning, I observed the obvious, the contents of my reading for “fun”, did not serve me in any way. My mind, my heart, my body and my soul were being tormented by these external stimuli.
To this day, I no longer read horror novels, I quit watching Law and Order SVU, and now I will walk out of the room or fast- forward through scary movie previews on television.
I now choose to let my media content inspire me. As my practice grows, so does my self- exploration. As many of you know, our personal ghosts, or bhutas, haunt us on a much deeper level than any Stephen King novel could. The difference being that, our practice allows us to work with, uncover, and dissolve these ghosts. What remains is referred to as kaya sthira, or good space. Good space within ourselves, coupled with a sense of empowerment and fortitude.
My invitation to you this month is to pay attention to what you allow into the sacred space of your being. Observe closely your relationships, conversations, reading material, and social media interaction. Then ask and be guided from the knowing voice within, does this serve me, aide in my development, in fulfilling my dreams, or is it simply taking up space and drawing you more out of yourself?
This life is an honor it is a gift. When you begin to really feel this, you will only allow that which challenges, engages, and tickles you on the deepest level into your sacred space. Happy exploring yogis and yoginis!!
With love, Kim
Stay tuned for next week, Brahmacharya and our addiction to distraction!
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