A helpful assessment to check in with on a regular basis is one of evaluating if what we are doing on a regular basis is moving us closer to being the person we want to be in the life we want to live or if our actions are keeping us stuck. What we are doing every day could even be moving us further away from where we want to be in our life. We have the power to feel how we want to feel in our mind and body, but it takes awareness and then effort.
In yoga, one of the ethical teachings is called Brahmacharya. (Pronounced much like it looks: ‘bra- ma- char- ya’) This teaching is about the allocation of our resources. It’s about assessing how we are using our energy every day and establishing the best use of our energy to create movement in the direction we want to go in. This means our mental energies and the thinking patterns that we repeat over and over. It means our physical energy including exercise or lack there of, what time we go to bed and what time we rise, and the sources of energy we are feeding our body. And it means our relational energies including who we spend time with and how we are interacting with them.
All of these things that we do on a daily basis, many times without even thinking about them, or while thinking that they will not have much of an impact on our lives or our future, are the very things that are keeping us stuck or moving us away from the goals that we have for ourselves. This makes things much harder than they need to be.
Assessing the use of our energy and making small adjustments can result in big changes toward the life we want to live. Brahmacharya is often described as moderation, but the idea of moderation can be one of limiting ourselves and feeling cheated out of doing what we want. This view will then lead us to rebel against the restriction and rebound in the opposite direction even further. You may also see brahmacharya defined as celibacy, but again, this definition can narrow the view. If we can simply use our energy to our own advantage in growing toward being the best version of ourselves, then we are practicing brahmacharya.
Brahmacharya will be expressed through making the small decisions every day that may seem inconsequential, but as we do so with our goals in mind, we start to make steady progress in the direction in which we want to go.
Let’s say our goal is to lose 10 lbs. We want to start by assessing eating times, eating habits, and exercise habits on a daily basis. Pause and observe how you are making things harder than they need to be. And then, break it down into small doable changes that are so simple you feel compelled to do them. Try your small changes for a week and see how it feels. Reward yourself every time you do it- maybe with a pat on the back rather than a bag of M&Ms…
Or let’s say your goal is to change your thinking patterns and to stop beating yourself up mentally. First, you have to be aware the thoughts before you can change them. We often say things to ourselves that we would never say to others and then we minimize how powerful and hurtful those thoughts really are. Maybe you start by actually writing down the critical thoughts as they pop up throughout the day to see what’s really going on in your own head. You can always tear the paper up or burn it as you begin the journey of redirecting the thoughts to something more positive. When you catch yourself falling back into the negative thinking pattern, try to talk to yourself like you would your child or your best friend.
You truly can be who you want to be and feel how you want to feel, but that means living your life on purpose and doing things to support who you want to be. You have the power. And yes, I know some of you are thinking that this sounds so controlled or boring, but when you start to feel good in your mind and body, the last thing you are thinking is that it is boring.
Think about how you want to feel in your mind and your body in the next year. Are your daily habits supporting that goal? The little things that you are doing every day are shaping who you are becoming.
Give it a try for a week and see how it goes. Don’t worry about forever right now.
Let me know how I can help. You know I will be practicing right along with you.
Chat again soon,