Believing in Brahmacharya. . .

An old gas station fuel tank, empty in a desolate landscape.

Circling back to the Yamas & Nyamas of Yoga, I recall I skipped over Brahmacharya (when I wrote about Aparigraha in mid-August) – which is a practice often dismissed in Western culture because we think it is synonymous with “celibacy” and therefore ignore it because it seems irrelevant to us.

What Brahmacharya is really about is the Right Use of Energy. And, given the times in which we live and the complete and utter energy waste (consider our history of squandering fossil fuels!) we’re known for, this Yama has plenty of space for expansion in our lives!

Where does your energy go?

Most of us don’t take the time to catalogue our energy expenditures – except maybe for gasoline, which because of the price-hikes earlier in the year, felt more precious to us, and worthy of some conservation efforts. Maybe you drove less, put off that summer road-trip until fall, or joined a car-pool to reduce your weekly expenditures at the gas station.

We expend energy in many different ways! 

A lot of them are wasteful; here’s a few that come to mind. . .

  • Energy spent in worrying about things that may NEVER come to pass (time gets wasted here too!).
  • Energy spent trying to fix people or situations that are simply not ours to repair – all we’re responsible for managing are our own lives (and maybe offering good examples and respectful direction toward our minor children).
  • Energy spent re-working plans and projects we didn’t get right the first time. In business this becomes a VERY costly expenditure, but in our personal lives, we often don’t notice how much back-peddling we do to overcome our reluctance to carefully do the job from the outset.

Where does our energy expenditure rightfully belong?

My simplest answer is our energy is best spent aligned with our values! When we’re apportioning our energy reserves toward the things that matter most to us, we derive a much richer pleasure from our investment – we enrich our lives by how we choose to spend our energy!

Self-care is every conscious action you take that feeds your soul, nourishes your body, nurtures your spirit, or replenishes your relationship with yourself!

A wise yoga teacher offered me this advice: If we are able to direct our energy towards something positive each day – rather than directing our energy towards our often-negative thoughts – we’ll not only be able to boost our immune system, but we’ll also actively be making the right use of our energy!

Imagine this – there are three things you might do to be intentional about YOUR right use of energy, YOUR practice of Brahmacharya…

  • You might audit your calendar (maybe just look back over the last month) and see where your energy (using how you spent your time as a proxy measure) has gone. Was it expended on the things & people you LOVE, or was it squandered on things that will not improve or enrich you?
  • You might make your Right Use of Energy one of your BIG ROCKS making sure you include in your planner sufficient time/energy for the things that matter most to you. For me, that includes time with friends, sufficient rest, being outside (as weather permits), and work.
  • You might ask yourself about Energy Renewal (or replenishment). We’re always busy these days talking about renewable energy sources, sustainable energy sources, like wind, solar and in some cases, water. What are YOUR renewable energy sources? I would offer some to consider:
    • Sleep – more happens while we sleep than you might ever imagine. Hormone levels get re-set, immune systems get recharged, emotions become equilibrated, and our nervous system (think anxiety!) gets to settle down. That’s if we’re getting ENOUGH high-quality sleep. Sleep renews our energy for the coming day – it is a renewable energy source!
    • Nutrition – which is all too often compromised by our lifestyle choices of processed, high-fat, high-salt & high-sugar selections, rather than whole foods, plant-based options, or foods rich in micro-nutrients. It takes time (energy) to plan a healthy day’s meals, but nutrition too is a renewable energy source, that we either replenish or deplete each day.
    • Positive relationships – there are people in your life who lift you up, and those who bring you down. Spotting the difference and investing your time/energy with those who replenish you, who care about you, and who leave your energy-stores refreshed is definitely a wise choice! The right people can serve as a renewable energy source throughout your week!
    • Pets – the closest we come to knowing unconditional love is probably found in our relationships with household pets. Whether your fur-babies do indeed have fluffy coats or perhaps feathers or scales instead, the affection you get from them is undoubtedly a rich source of renewable energy, and every moment spent with them is replenishing!

Making a place for Brahmacharya. . .

What decisions might YOU begin to make if you were to adopt a practice of Brahmacharya into your everyday life? How would your daily choices be different than in the past? What might a refreshed sense of energy renewal bring to the next season of your life? I’m all about expending my energy in alignment with my values – as you explore this for yourself, be sure to let me know if I can help!

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About Paula

I help other caregivers – both professionals and family caregivers – acknowledge their pain and learn to practice the many small skills of self-care that can sustain them through the challenges of wholeheartedly caring for others.

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