April - Brahmacharya (Abstinence/Moderation)


Photo by Patricia Pena Photography at Love Yoga Space in Venice

“You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known” he whispers as he leans down and kisses me beneath each eye.  My head lands gently onto his chest and I exhale, “if only I could stay here forever.”

He says the things I don’t tell myself.  In this moment I actually feel beautiful.

Right now, I’m no longer the “freak” with a fake eye.  Right now, I’m no longer the “know it all” who desperately hides behind her grades.  Right now, I’m no longer Sarah...scared and hurt and searching…

My thirsty heart, parched for affection, clings to him and I rest in this uneasy closeness.  

He said these words early, just a week after we started dating, and he continues repeating them now, years later. He says these words, knowing that each time I will melt like the first.  He says these words so I forget what I know…

The lying.  

The cheating.  

The manipulation.  

The verbal put downs.  

The moments when he has poked fun at me to his friends...

My friends...

My family...

He says these words, feigning love, so that I forget myself.  And for a moment I do... 

I am lost.

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From Vedantic teachings and wisdom, we have the philosophy of two selfs.  One self is dependent on the outside world.  In the west, we call this part of our psyche the ego.  It is the part of us which is defined in comparison to outside factors.  

For example, I’ve got brown hair.  Now I've heard that “blondes have more fun”, so I could lighten my hair hoping that the happiness of my life would increase.  This is not a PSA about hair color.  This is just an example of equating appearance, which can be changed, with an internal experience.

Very, very, very simplified the ego/self is like that.  

And the ego/self is necessary.

The “self” is important for us to distinguish individuality.  Realizing our uniqueness is one step towards sharing the gifts each of us have.  But where the "self" (ego) gets us into trouble is when we are out of balance and solely identify with outside and variable factors, when we think the external is all that we are.

The other, brilliant aspect of who we are is the Self (with a capital S).  This is the part of ourself that cannot be compared to outside sources or changed by a box of Clairol.  It is connected with the infinite, unchanging consciousness that is within everything.  In our human capacity to understand this, the Self is the all-inclusive and the limitless.  

The Self is Love.

Now as you could guess from my opening melodrama, I have lost my identity many times in codependence with other people and things.  Meaning, I’ve defined my value by changeable factors; by seeking approval and affection from others…by how productive I am…by thinking I was controlling things…

Using outside sources to define our capacity is limiting.  So to grow and evolve beyond this small definition and the "self", we can do a yogic practice, which is to remove these outside experiences and labels for a certain time.

Bramacharya is most commonly translated into “celibacy or abstinence”.  I am also offering the definition of “moderation”.  Once a practice about regulating sex and/or sexual release, Bramacharya has been extended into a practice of regulating any habit in our lives with which we find ourselves developing a codependency.

Currently, we are going through an involuntary detox. By abstaining from certain activities, we are uplifting and protecting our communities.  Also, our relationship with these activities is being questioned and challenged.

If I’m not doing this job/doing these things, then who am I?    In all this uncertainty we are collectively needing to connect with the unchanging, with the constant...with the Self. Now is the time to love more deeply and truly than ever before, to be excessively gentle with ourselves and our loved ones during this confusing time and to find that which was once lost.  During this global bramacharya, we have a chance to connect with a greater abundance than ever before, to let our hearts be unguarded and honest, and to live from the Self which often remains hidden in the shadows. 

Our lives are a practice of clarity, alignment and surrender.  To live this practice is our gift.    Because it is by living and loving that we know who we are and we find our Selfs again. 

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© 2019 Sarah Girard Yoga.

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