Repost from my teacher training hOMework:
Brahmacharya has always been the most abstract yama for me. And, I’ve heard it defined many different ways. Moderation? Celibacy?? Continence? I wasn’t even sure of the meaning of that one- really, what does that mean? Words are a favorite pastime of mine, especially the etymology of words. So, I did what I do, and sure enough! Continence comes from Latin ‘continens’ [con (with) + tenere (to hold)]. To hold within? To contain. I’ve often heard Brahmacharya associated with one’s ‘vital energy’. So, is it about containing my vital energy? What is my vital energy? Can I feel it? After considering this, I decided that I can feel my vital energy, and I feel it most powerfully after meditation, asana, and spiritual practices. Also, I feel its absence in other situations when I feel ‘zapped’. Deflated.
My bodies are a heart-shaped balloon. My vital energy inflates it and keeps it aloft. When I step away from my Sadhana, I begin to lose altitude. Challenges in ‘the real world’ cause my mind to stress, worry, and plan. My balloon starts sinking toward the briar patch.
This week, I decided to stay in touch with my vital energy and monitor what inflates my balloon and what torpedoes it. I was amazed at how much I could feel my balloon rise and fall. I began charting its ups and downs and listing the associated activities. As the list began to grow, I noticed that their labels could also be ‘sattvic things’ and ‘tamasic things’. I began focusing on bringing a sattvic quality to my actions, thoughts, food, intention, etc. I felt my balloon soaring! As it would dip, I noticed that a rajasic or tamasic thought would usually initiate the drop, so I focused on stopping my mind at the first negative thought and countering it with an affirmation that would pump the balloon back up.
It didn’t take long to realize that coming back to Source and giving Source its proper due was the key to smooth sailing. In fact, Source is the One filling up the balloon. When it comes to sailing over the briar patch, a simple ‘I love you, Shakti. You’re doing a great job’ works better than any amount of effort. For me, Brahmacharya is about conserving our vital energy so that we may redirect it back to Source. Any action that is not feeding that reciprocal exchange is like throwing gold into the abyss. My experiments in vital energy this week showed me very clearly that any kind of excess or action that feeds the ego has the net result of one droopy little balloon. Stick with sattva! Stick with Source! Fly high!
Love and blessings-