Patanjali explains in his Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, how to find peace and harmony in every day life and once again how to find the essence of who we really are. Brahmacharya, the 4th Yama of the Eight Limbs suggests that after non-harming, truthfulness and respect for others, the next way to experience peace is to emulate the conduct of the Supreme Being.
"Brahma" means the Absolute or Supreme Being, and "Charya" means behaviour or conduct. Brahmacharya then, is translated as "the behaviour or conduct of God."
As you can imagine, this is not an easy endeavour. We don’t know the nature of God’s behaviour, so we must take a very broad and generalized view since the “Absolute” would oversee everything that exists.
Finding peace through Brahmacharya is to take a step back from the turmoil and to simply observe with as much compassion as one can muster, but without getting caught up in the crossfire of relationships.
In the Anu-Gita of the Mahabharata, a broad and majestic interpretation of Brahmacharya is given. It suggests that in order to achieve inner peace, to emulate the “Conduct of the Absolute,” we must gradually adjust the direction of our personality to greater dimensions of impersonality.
The Supreme Spirit is not partial or attached to any one thing. Only in our minds do we become attached and partial to things, especially when it comes to conflict. If we could bring the mind to a place of non-judgment and of non-fragmentation, how would that feel? It would mean a great conservation of energy and as a result we would remain whole, intact and complete.
We can learn to work with all kinds of distraction (deadlines, pressures, judgments, conflict) and to let go of our attachment to the outcome in these ways:
- Practice, during the quiet reflective times, one pointed concentration beginning with the focus on our own breath (meditation). Begin with 10 minutes, 2x each day.
- Looking within, we watch the sensations that come up, notice how long they last, and watch the sensations as they pass away. Eventually we come to realize that this is the nature of “all things.” Everything arises only to eventually pass.
We need not get caught up in spiraling conflict.
Gradually we are able to take on a broad sweeping view, where we can observe with impartiality and compassion. It takes dedicated practice to come away from these old patterns of reaction, but even the smallest practice will bring forth rewards that are evident and almost immediate. Practicing Brahmacharya, the behaviour of the Supreme Spirit, eliminates stress and conflict leaving one peaceful and accepting. It is the purest form of love.
Heather Johnston is a Registered Dental Hygienist and Certified Yoga Instructor. She enjoys all aspects of health, is fascinated with anatomy and evolution, with yoga and meditation and is always looking for ways to strengthen the body and mind.
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