Saturday, April 30, 2011
Bramacharya: Knowing What's Enough or Non-Excess
I always think of food first when I think of Bramacharya, or non-excess. In the Yama's and Niyamas, Deborah states, "I know firsthand the misery of a too full stomach..As I sit in the heaviness of excess, I find myself once again in disbelief that I have done this to myself...All I can do is suffer and watch how overindulgance has imposed itself on the joy of the moment." (p.76)
We've all been there. I know I have. In fact, I often struggle with eating too much and it is a brilliant metaphor for not knowing when enough is enough in life. I love to eat. I love food. I consider myself to be a "Foodie," whatever that means-perhaps that I am a bit of a food snob or maybe that I like to enjoy well prepared, whole foods. I consider myself a healthy eater, even though I am not currently practicing vegetarianism, canabalism (threw that it for fun to see if you were paying attention!) or any other "ism" for that matter.
So, I am here to admit that there is shadow side to this "Foodie" business for me and it's wrapped in the bloated packaging of excess: cookie dough. Well actually, cookie dough, cookies, cake, and candy (particularly toffee). Distilled a bit more and it really boils down to one thing: SUGAR.
I significantly over eat when it comes to sugar. And cheese. Really sharp cheese. And crusty bread. Alright, I digress, mostly anything that tastes good I have a tendency to over eat!
But hey, we live in a "super-size me" country with super-sized portions and super-sized cars and super-sized closets and super-sized houses. We shop in super-sized warehouses and we, the people, are even becoming super-sized. So what's the BIG deal, you might ask?
Well, Bramacharya has a few things to say about all that. Namely that the mind is capable of turning a simple desire into an emotional attachment which can lead to addiction. When we associate food or drink or shopping with an emotional feeling, our mind can trick us into thinking we "need" to do something or eat something. I experience this everytime I watch a movie on Netflix. I associate the experience with eating popcorn and not just any popcorn, but popcorm smothered in real butter. Yummy!
And that is exactly what I have been watching out for these last few weeks, where I feel like I "need" to do something or eat something in excess. I have found that I am more disposed to slip into a place of excess when I am tired, disconnected, emotional or just plain unconscious, i.e. not awake in the present moment.
Bramacharya asks us to experiment with the principle of "when is enough, enough?" It asks us to look at our lives and how we deaden ourselves through excess. It asks us to experiment with temperance and to ask ourselves how it feels to stop at enough.
This is a beautiful pratice for me, someone who, like a lot of women, turns to food for comfort. I certainly do feel more alive, energized and connected when I allow Bramacharya to flow into my life. Only thing is, the Knife River Candy Store opened today after being closed for a really, really, long, cold, dark winter.
Damn the gods!
"When we get the real nourishment that divine mystery gives, the pretend nourishment of excess becomes less and less interesting to us." -Deborah Adele