Brahmacharya #1

Well, my intention for June is not off to a great start (to be fair, my June was off to a horrible start). But, no excuses… Brahmacharya, translated as “moderation of the senses” is usually associated with celibacy and sexual restraint. I am away from home (and my husband) beginning my graduate school education at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA for 5 weeks, then will travel to Frankfurt, Germany for 3 weeks with the program. (I plan on going home for 4th of July/Mark’s record release party, but I will be gone all of June.) Simply put… no need to worry about that celibacy thing. So, my original thought was to “moderate my senses” by not watching TV for the month of June. I gave myself until June 4th to start, as given the loss I experienced earlier this week, I needed a little self-care, i.e. veg out on the couch. My assumption was that I won’t have time to even think about watching TV while in grad school, which still may be true (we are only in orientation, sort of the calm before the storm). We finished early yesterday and with some extra time on my hands, and feeling a little lonely, I caved and turn on The Flix last night. I felt a little guilty, but at the same time thought I needed (deserved) a distraction from the past few days and a buffer before the next two months of madness ensue. I still think I will be way too busy for said distractions once the program really begins, and any “free time” would be better spent getting to know the amazing people I am surrounded by and soaking up actual experiences. But I am also in a place of being very kind to my body and mind, so I am hesitant to make extreme decisions and promises right now. With that said, here is my new plan…

I will monitor my TV watching. I will watch no more than 1 hour per day (and hours cannot roll over). I will only watch shows that are artistically or educationally valuable, which is not limited to documentaries, but includes programs that after watching, I feel like a slightly happier, smarter, or more relaxed human being. In addition to these new rules, I will monitor my cell phone use. I will not use or touch my phone while engaging in other activities, including eating, walking, driving, speaking to other people, or going to the bathroom (don’t lie, you do it too). Exceptions will be: listening to music on my phone while walking or driving, or to share information or photos with someone. I’m sure I will need to check my email often, perhaps on my phone, while I am in this highly intensive program, but the point is to just do that. There’s a Buddhist saying, “If you’re going to do the dishes, do the dishes”. Meaning, do nothing else, one thing at a time. In other words, get your head out of your phone/computer/tablet and into your life.

“Moderation of the senses” is a broad term and its relevance has probably changed a lot since Patangali established the Yamas and Niyamas thousands of years ago. Our senses are so overloaded these days, it’s easy to get sucked into Facebook/Instagram/Youtube for a few minutes (hours), fall down that hole, and let go of all restraint. I pride myself on being someone who is not always on their phone, but I do slip into that unbecoming pattern from time to time, checking it or using to as a distraction (there’s that word again) to avoid something else (i.e. appearing lonely or being bored). Putting these paramaters in writing and into the universe will help me solidify good habits and overall mindfulness. Let’s call it technological celibacy. Cat videos ARE really cute. But I’ll venture to say life is way cuter if we just take a moment to turn it on, and watch what happens.

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