Bramacharya – Living in Nonexcess
What’s Your Vice?
Brahmacharya brings us back to balance. How can we enjoy the pleasures of life without overindulging?
Brahmacharya – Living in Nonexcess
This 4th Yama is traditionally associated with abstinence, or celibacy. We’re going to dive a little deeper than that, though I personally believe there is value in abstinence, but hey you do you boo!
We live in a world of excess these days, especially here in the west. Excess meaning too much. There is absolutely nothing wrong with indulging in the joys of the world, but when we overindulge we risk handing our sovereignty over to these false idols. Almost anything can be a risk to become an addiction, because we become addicted to external stimuli when we aren’t connected with God, with the internal self.
Let’s look at the most well known and common addictions we have –
- Social media
Yours may look like this, or you may have different ones. What I’ve found is most of us have something. Some monkey on our back that calls to us over and over again when we are uneasy, when we are bored, when we need some external validation.
I’ve held many addictions over the years, my most detrimental being alcohol and nicotine, and even now having kicked those, I still struggle with social media.
Substance Abuse Disorder
I have plenty of personal experience with battling this one, struggling with it, and then finally recovering from it. So from my experience, there are certain people that are more susceptible to addiction, and this stems from biology and genetic makeup. That doesn’t mean it can’t be conquered!
There are many pathways to recovery from substance use disorder, which is an actual diagnosable disorder in the DSM, and I’d be happy to share my experience on a personal level, feel free to email me!
Now even if you don’t have an actual disorder, you can still fall into addictive behavior. Alcohol and drugs can still be dangerous when used in excess by non-alcoholic individuals. The same goes for over shopping, excessive sexual behavior, overindulgence in food, or overexposure to social media.
The problem is not usually the addiction itself, but the looking for validation, satisfaction, temporary happiness, or avoidance of inner conflict with outside things.
As we begin on a spiritual path of awakening and exploration, a lot of stuff comes out from the shadows! We are often faced with childhood trauma, trauma at any age, facing our limiting beliefs, and any other myriad of demons.
For me, when faced with these shadows, it was sometimes much easier to accept some temporary outside relief, such as a couple of cigarettes and a Red Bull or two. That was a huge come up from drinking a whole bottle of wine, but eventually that stopped serving me as well.
I know now that when I am sitting alone, quietly by myself and I feel an immediate urge to reach for something to do to fill up the space, that’s when I should truly sit in that discomfort and get to know myself. Why do I need to check Instagram when I’m at the stoplight? Why do I need to pick up my phone and check Facebook during every break in between tasks at work?
Is it boredom? Is it needing validation? It could also be fear. Fear of what I’d be faced with if I sat still enough, long enough, for deep wounds within me to surface. And most of those wounds for me are simply extreme anxiety. I’d be forced to sit and breathe through, to truly face it, rather than to keep running from it.
Pleasures of Life
In practicing nonexcess, this doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the pleasures of the world! Once we move past pleasure, enough is enough, these joys become less pleasurable anyway. We can all probably relate to this in relation to desserts or sweets. Your favorite dessert is only truly a great if you partake of it every once in a while. If you eat it everyday it will lose its joyful, unique pleasure!
Brahmacharya brings us back to balance. How can we enjoy the pleasures of life without overindulging? How can we breathe and pause and face the discomfort of stillness, instead of immediately turning to our favorite vice?
This is a practice of a lifetime, for me the vices don’t ever fully disappear, they just ebb and flow, or shift from one thing to another.