Yamas and Niyamas – 10.27.14 (Brahmacharya – Walking w/the Divine)

As I sit here this morning, I look at my calendar.  It is full.  I feel like Captain Holt on the FOX comedy series “Brooklyn 99.”  I thrive off of optimization.


So yes, my application as a complete nerd is accepted.  The idea of efficiently running my life so that I experience every possible thing is fun.  I love the idea of having so many experiences and opportunities throughout my day.  My middle school classes can sometimes suffer from this because we try to do so many awesome things each and every day.  However, I’m constantly brought back by Brahmacharya.  I interpret it as “stop and smell the roses.”  If I rush in my personally and professional life, then I’ll miss the amazing moments created along the way.

One of my scholars (as we call our students at Allen Jay Prep) gave me an incredible reminder of this about two weeks ago.  The sixth grade Math content in Common Core asks teachers to cover a whole lot of concepts throughout the year.  We move at a pretty brisk pace.  Debora decided to remind me of Brahmacharya because the innocence of her mind naturally connects with an understanding of nonexcess.  She delights in the moments created in class.  As an educator and a yoga instructor, you never truly know what participants are experiencing and taking from the moments we aid and guide them through.  Debora gave me an incredible moment because she said I challenge her.  She said I ask her to struggle, I ask her to think deeply and I ask her to get upset, frustrated and sometimes even mad.  We roll a four gear system in my class.  Gear two asks scholars to actively think and use prior knowledge and instruction to problem solve.  Its hard.  Its pain-staking.  The reason behind it is that I don’t want to be the excess.  I don’t want to be a “sage on the stage.”  I want to provide just enough to spark wonder and inspiration.  And that inspiration needs to be intrinsic.  I want scholars to see the mystery in the moment of instruction and find their own interpretation.  Its fun.  

I need to continue to grow in adding this to my personal life.  I keep myself so busy that I sometimes miss the mystery.  I have mystery very organized and neatly packed.  Sometimes it needs to be random and free.

Walking with the Divine

When I didn’t know the day, or the time, or the temperature, an innate intelligence began to set the next thing in motion.  Without a schedule or a plan, being and doing blended until they felt the same.  There was no purpose, except for the pure delight of the moment.  God’s heartbeat.

I have read many self help books and have benefited greatly from them.  That said, I think mystery is what begins to shape-shift us into a deeper understanding of our humanity.  As we move deeper into the practice of “walking with God,” we will find that excess doesn’t own us quite as much as it used to.  When we get the real nourishment that divine mystery gives us, the pretend nourishment of excess becomes less and less interesting to us.

We don’t need to to be the center of attention and activity all the time.  I think it might surprise us to realize how much crazy activity we create in our days just so we can feel important.  We wear our busyness like a badge, like our busyness would somehow impress the rest of the world, or impress ourselves. 

Brahmacharya reminds us that we aren’t embodied in this form to feel dead but to feel alive.  We aren’t embodied to snuff out our vitality and passion through excess but to bring it to full expression.  “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive.  And then go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

TUESDAYS @ THOMASVILLE YMCA – 10.14.14 (Brahmacharya – Taming Our Indulgence PART 2)

Taming Our Indulgence (Part 2)
Mantra – I have a right to face my life.

Sometimes the feel of need is sadness.  I found this experience to be true for me when my mother died.  While my mother was alive, one of our favorite things to do together was to stay up late into the night watching a movie and eating ice cream.  After her death, I found myself “craving” late night movies and ice cream.  When I checked in with my body, it was clear that I was tired and full.  In truth, I was missing my mom and I needed to face the grief.  To indulge in a movie and ice cream would have left me with excess weariness in my body and excess food in my stomach.  And I would still be missing my mom.  I needed to separate my mind’s story from my body’s needs and simply let myself cry.

If we are feeding our mental stories and have moved past bodily comfort, we are in addiction and out of harmony.  Nonexcess is not about nonenjoyment.  It is actually about enjoyment and pleasure in its fullest experience.  Are you eating the food, or is the food eating you?  Are you doing the activity, or is the activity doing you?  Can you enjoy pleasure without excess?  In answering these questions, we have to be able to discern between what the body needs in the moment and the story our mind is telling us. ( I don’t know about you, but I have personally noticed that sugar, salt and caffeine create more mind stories than lettuce does!)  We also must be fearless in facing our sadness, grief, and disappointments without needing to soothe them with food or other means.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

TUESDAYS @ THOMASVILLE YMCA – 10.7.14 (Brahmacharya – Taming Our Indulgence PART 1 )

A new month!  Here’s a quick overview of the fourth yama … Brahmacharya.

“The fourth jewel, Brahmacharya, literally means “walking with God” and invites us into an awareness of the sacredness of all of life.  This guideline is a call to leave greed and excess behind and walk in this world with wonder and awe, practicing nonexcess and attending to each moment as holy.  It is like this low entrance for us, it reminds us to enter each day and each action with a sense of holiness rather than indulgence, so that our days may be lived in the wonder of sacredness rather than the misery of excess.”

I grew up eating two of most everything when I should have only eaten one.  I grew up filling my bowl rather than getting a smaller one.  I am still terrible about “inhaling” my food.  It is rare that I savor the moment and the flavor.  I want it in my belly as quickly as possible.  I’ve missed out on a lot of sensations by not being attentive to the moment (and by smothering it in Heinz ketchup, ha!).  

As we go through this month, we’ll learn that excess is not just a concept that focuses on our diet and how much we consume.  Until next time, let yourself have some freedom to look at life through eyes of wonder and awe rather than indulgence.

Taming Our Indulgence (Part 1)
Mantra – How much do I need?

The number of sheds and storage units, the attractive plastic storage bins that fill rows in our stores, the statistics on American obesity, and the shortage of waste facilities for our trash are all neon signs that we are a people of excess.  We seem far from grasping the concept of “enough.”

If we take food for instance, we gain energy and vitality from the food we are eating – up to a point.  If we continue to eat past that point, there is a downward turn into lethargy.  If we eat slowly enough and pay attention, we can find this point that sits perfectly on the line of “just right.”  It is this moment of “just enough” that we need to recognize.  Past this point, we begin our descent into excess.  This is why our favorite food tastes amazing on bite number one but doesn’t not seem to taste the same as our body realizes it cannot contain any more.  This same process is true of any activity that we are engaged in.  The body reacts negatively to excess.

Why do we move past the place of enough into excess?  A desire that could easily be fulfilled with a glass of water somehow, in our mind’s convoluted way, gets hooked up with memories and conditioning tied to emotional satisfaction or emotional disturbance.  When a certain emotional attachment is placed with a simple body need, we can find ourselves in trouble.  Without realizing it, we have acquired an addiction-like need for the repetition of the feelings associated with that thing.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele