Anything that causes turbulence in the mind and stirs the emotions might be seen as a violation of brahmacharya: overstimulating foods, loud environments, violent movies, multiple-screen usage, etc.
As I watch my child, I observe that there is no built-in barometer to indicate when her senses are becoming overloaded. It's as if the barometer must be developed, like everything else in her being. Stimulation creates the desire for more stimulation. For instance, she asks, "Can I watch one more?" as soon as her show ends. She will listen to an audiobook and will keep the audio on even when she is asking me a question or brushing her teeth, as if the absence of "noise" would be not okay. At the taste of sugar, she would eat candy until it made her sick if I weren't there to moderate and ask her to check in with how her body felt and reflect on her own behavior as a reaction to the substance she is ingesting.
These observations make me realize how important my modeling brahmacharya is to my child. I reflect on the misuse of my own senses, especially these days when it comes to using mobile devices. This is why I love teaching savasana to adults and children and practicing meditation myself.
Affirmations for Brahmacharya - Energy Moderation:
I prevent the dissipation of my energy through the misuse of my senses. I choose to conserve my personal energy, and this is my practice of brahmacharya. I don't allow my senses to rule my behavior. I'm not urge-driven.
By not giving so much energy to intense moments—by not squandering my life force—I am more at ease and happier in all moments.
Need a Savasana today? Here is a nice one to help you reset and then move gracefully ahead with your weekend. All you need to do is:
#1 Adjust your volume or put in some ear buds
#2 Find a place to lie down on your back
#3 Place a rolled blanket or pillow under your knees
#4 Place a scarf or an eye pillow over your eyes
Ahhh...it's about four and half minutes, or as long as you want to lie there. Let me know how you liked your experience and if you'd like me to post more savasanas.
Click on the arrow to start the audio.
Asteya/Non-Stealing or Generosity: Acting With The Mentality Of Abundance
The effect of Satya/Truthfulness, the previous Yama I covered, was profound.
My daughter is auditioning for the play Peter Pan. She recorded herself singing the audition song, and then ended up in tears when she played it back. This was on the way to school yesterday.
"I sound awful, and it doesn't sound like the voice in my head at all!" she cried. "Is this how I really sound?" she asked me. As her mother, what was I to reply? Of course I hear the voice of my beautiful child.
All the kids in the schoolyard were heading inside while Jaya was getting more and more upset in the backseat of the car and I was concerned she would be late for school.
"Um, can we go over it again after school? " I asked.
Too late! It was a full-blown meltdown! I decided to step out of the car, and the five steps Andrea taught me earlier this week popped into my head. I breathed. Quickly, I pleaded for help. I opened to the situation with kindness and I set an intention to compassionately just be with Jaya's overwhelming sadness and frustration with her voice. Then I opened the back door of the car and climbed in with her. "I don't know the right words to say to you now," I explained. I reached out for her hand. Then, as if a light bulb went off in her head, she turned the recorder back on, and sang quietly with all the emotion she was feeling into the mic. She played it back again, and smiled. "Now that's the voice I hear in my head," she said, satisfied. I smiled, "Ready for school?" I asked.
She was a few minutes late, but we worked all the way through it, and I felt satisfied, too. Rather than trying to control the situation for the sake of getting her into school on time, I remained truthful, and it all worked out.
Today's Yama is Asteya/Non-Stealing or Generosity: Acting With The Mentality Of Abundance
Here are a few affirmations I came up with for Asteya:
I model for my child letting go of what we don't need. In doing so, we make space for the universe to provide us with what we do need, be it a physical possession, an experience, or simply a sense of well-being.
I let my child experience all of her feelings, including sadness, frustration, or hurt. I control my urges to rush her through her feelings to get to the other side more quickly.
I tell my child and myself that she is enough, and I am enough. We have enough, enough to give to others.
I practice giving my child my full attention. I make eye contact with my child as much as possible. I automatically put the phone down or look away from the computer when she is speaking to me.
Satya = Truthfulness:
Whenever I focus on the Yamas and Niyamas, it brings light into my life. Yesterday, it got really interesting after I wrote those affirmations on Ahimsa. In particular I kept thinking of the one that said "I'm other-centered rather than self-centered." It supported me in my interactions with my overtired child when it was time for bed. I was able to put my "story" aside and just focus on her, and it eased her behavior. Ahimsa is a practice.
Today's Yama is Truthfulness, my namesake. I chose the name Satya in 1998. I've notoriously spouted the truth my whole life, and I guess there was a lesson I needed to learn. (I'm still learning!) Plus my birth given name, Nichelle, with an "N," gave me a lot of trouble due to the spelling. My mom was clever in naming me after the actress Nichelle Nichols who played Lt. Uhura from Star Trek, though.
Here are some affirmations for Satya:
I have the integrity and humility to realize that the truth is bigger than me.
When talking to my child, I ask myself, "Am I speaking the truth, or just giving my opinion?"
I choose not to gossip with my child.
I use my words to elevate my child, and in the process I elevate myself.
I make time for silence in my daily life, and it enables me to better control my outward communication with my child.
When I was teaching a group of experienced yoga instructors over the summer, I realized that we (collectively speaking) tend to take the things we learn to extremes a lot of the time. The movement principle I was demonstrating was "Functional Movement Creates Core Strength." Most yoga teachers today have a heightened sense of their core and how to use it. So much so, my hunch is that many of us are overusing the "core," bracing with the core, and even compensating by using the core when it's unnecessary.
This has created a lot of over-efforting, in my eyes, and I come back to the same question over and over in the lifespan of my practice: What are my goals with yoga in the first place? I practice yoga to be in the moment, to be in my body, and to be in harmony with others in my daily life. Peace of mind and mental clarity are high on my list of reasons to practice yoga. So why am I, and all these other yoga teachers, squeezing and tensing so much in our practice if part of the goal is to soften our grip on life and everything around us and learn how to "simply be?"
Here is a little practice I like to teach to help you feel that when you move purely, the core responds accordingly, as necessary.