Today is Friday of Spring Break week for my elves. While I adore my tweens to the moon and back, and I also think their friends are the bees knees, I am a little burnt out today. Our house has been filled with laughter and sounds and humans. I am desperate for time alone and silence.
Often as modern day yogis the idea of Brahmacharya feels non-relatable. Presented traditionally as sexual abstinence, we householders find the parameters described in Sutras to be somewhat archaic. So we look upon Brahmacharya, or restraint, as limiting our eating, drinking or other indulgences. But what about sound and space?
Recently we went to Disneyland. Much to my dismay the day we chose to be there ended up being one of the most crowded all year. There were people everywhere and lines and waiting and stimulation. I felt trapped as if I was underwater and could not breathe. When I got home and went to a local store I came home and told my husband that there were too many people there as well. He said I had post-Disney syndrome.
Truthfully what I was experiencing was a drained inner battery. The excess of stimulation from all the people at Disney, all the sights and sounds and mouse ears, all the waiting in lines made me feel like I had zero energy at all. I floated around the park like a ghost, the shell of my container supporting me with a hollow core. It took weeks to regroup and time in silence and meditation to come back to the place where I felt whole.
Spring break with my kids is not unlike that experience. There are few places I can go to be alone, and the amount of noise pollution that comes from electronics, tweens and life as a parent can be astounding. Tweens experience no understanding of restraint and having to constantly remind them of what it means begins to feel like a new form of excess.
So how do we as parents and householders practice Brahmacharya in a world that continually sends us stimulation and sounds? We require ourselves to take 5-10 minutes a day in silence. We turn off our devices an hour before bed. We have our kids play outside while we are inside or visa versa. We drive listening to nothing rather than keeping up with the news. Finally, we offer ourselves a few minutes to truly explore what we are thinking and feeling about this overstimulation of our senses so that we can understand how restraint would help.
Writing this blog post helps me refill my batteries as does the long walk to the mailbox I just took with my dog. I have chosen to not listen to election news and to minimize my responses to emails this week. Oh, and I am breathing deeply at every chance I can get.
Most of all I am taking in what this excess feels like and reminding myself how it does not always feel good. Because to practice the yama, Brahmacharya we must restrain from an excess and so that excess must exist in the first place.
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