Sometimes Brahmacharya is translated as “abstinence.” However, when we break down the word in Sanskrit, it more literally means “abiding in God/Divinity.” So let’s feel into what that means to make a home inside of the Divine; to dwell in the remembrance that we have a spark of the Divine within us. Abstinence from anything sex, certain foods, certain lifestyle choices is a pretty extreme approach. It involves cutting things out of our life, and saying an absolute “NO.” In contrast, the practice of abiding in Divinity asks us to be discerning, and to contemplate “what choices best honor the Divinity within me?”
Instead of making hard and fast rules for myself like “No sugar ever” or “No spending this month” etc, the subtle practice of Brahmacharya asks me to be in constant discernment about my words, deeds, and thoughts to check that each of them honors the Divine in me. So I’ll ask myself, would a little macaroon or a sweet treat really hit the spot right now? Would that make me feel pampered? Or delight my tastebuds? Or am I really craving a nutritious snack with protein? Or maybe I’m seeking out sweets because I’m tired or emotional, and a better choice would be a nap or chatting with a trusted friend. The true practice of Brahmacharya is one of vigilant discernment into what will honor our highest selves. When we see ourselves making choices financial, sexual, nutritional, or otherwise that will deplete our energy, overextend our resources, or result in us feeling icky afterward, then we need to set limits and redirect our actions. On the flip side, life is to be enjoyed and savored, and the delights of tasty food, mindful spending, and conscious intimacy are all ways of remembering that the Divine in us takes joy in the miracle of embodiment. It feels good to have a body! That is the essence of any Brahmacharya practice for each of us to make personal choices that are right for us, and treat our body as a house for the Divine.
What will this practice mean for the choices you make this week? How will Brahmacharya inform your diet, lifestyle, and routine? On one page, I invite you to make a list of any blaring red flags issues, incidents, choices you might make this week that set off an internal alarm.
Red flags are those recurring issues that get us to compromise our highest self examples would be “every Friday night I stay up til 3am and drink too much a feel hungover on Saturday” or “every time I shop at this particular store, I spend too much and use my credit card” or “every
time this topic comes up in conversation, I end up saying things I wish I could take back.”
On the other side of the page, I encourage you to contemplate healthier choices you could make this week to honor yourself as a divine being. Make a plan of action that includes alternatives. So don’t just say “this week I won’t drink or spend or speak about any controversial topics.” Go deeper than that, and find the middle path where you will be happiest.
Create a livable budget for this week; plan for a few meals that indulge your tastebuds without blowing your health needs; carve out time for honest and open communication with people you love and respect. This stuff involves creating new habits for ourselves. Making lists like these ones in our journal will help us consciously approach the new week with an intention to live in a way that honors our Divine self.
This week we’ll be using a mudra meditation technique. Mudras are sacred hand gestures that have symbolic power. Take a comfortable seat on a chair or cushion and find good posture throughout your spine. Then place your hands in this mudra position: The right hand is held upright with palm flat and facing outwards (this hand symbolizes boundarysetting and warding off ignorance and bad choices or lifestyle habits). The left hand rests in your lap with the palm facing open and up (symbolizing acceptance of life’s gentle blessings and abidance in the beauty, pleasure and delight of the Now). Spend 3-10 minutes holding this powerful hand gesture, with eyes closed, and steady breathing in and out through the nose. Imagine yourself poised for Grace, balanced between extremes, making choices that honor the middle path and support the Divine in you.