Yoga has eight limbs out of which one and two are Yamas and Niyamas. The eight limps of yoga are intended to clear our “kleshas” and helps us become more content human beings, leading a happy and fulfilled life.
One of the Yamas I have been studying over the course of this past few weeks had been Brahmacharya which is the jewel of non-access. I find that this is one of the Yamas of which I needed to be reminded of during the holiday season. This is the time where we eat and drink too much, spend too much money on stuff we and our loved ones probably don’t really need.
We are the masters of overdoing. We are forgetting our true Self. We forget to be ready for life in its true beauty and wonder. We often act on impulse, forgetting that life is such a special gift, meant to be fully enjoyed. But how can we truly enjoy something when we are no longer at awe of life itself. When we constantly buy stuff without taking the time to savor the things we already have.
While studying Brahmacharya I noticed this week how much I was really overeating. Once I reached that “just satisfied enough” level, I continued eating and indulging. Don’t get me wrong, I think that all food is meant to be enjoyed. But I think there is a huge difference between enjoying and overindulging. I think that Brahmacharya speaks about that overindulging. It talks about the emotional connection we build with food or shopping. We are looking to feed our egos by buying our way to happiness. I think that part of overindulging with food is mindless eating where we are not in touch with the present moment. We eat while we are multi-tasking. We are not focused on the food, but on TV, or work or a plethora of other things. Instead, we should truly dedicate time to eat. We should dedicate time to fully savor the flavors of the food, while paying attention to our bodies. When we pay attention to what we do and how our bodies feel, we are able to notice when we eat out of emotional discomfort rather than actual hunger. Are you eating because your are hungry or are you eating “because it tastes good.”
Knowing how much I was overeating I decided to fast on Saturdays to bring more balance and thought into my eating habits. I noticed how much time I actually spent on talking about food, deciding what to eat, etc. It was almost comical to me how much my life evolved around having a meal. I also realize how fortunate I am to have all the choices at my disposal. I can virtually pick up my phone and pick my next meal within seconds. It reminded me how good I have it to be able to enjoy several meals a day and not worry about where and how I will feed my family. It was a wonderful reminder to me to be more conscious of my attitude towards food.
If you grew up in a home where you don’t leave the table until your plate is empty it can definitely trigger overindulgence. I know it had been hard for me to let go of that habit and I had to consciously plate less to make sure I don’t overdo it.
I think eating can be tricky thing as the scent can be a very powerful tool for our psyche. It often reminds us of our childhood and time spent with family members who might no longer be with us. We tend to overeat, because those scents remind us of the person and how that person made us feel.
Practicing that just enough state is difficult, but it allows us to be more mindful of our bodies, of our lives and our pocket books. Non-access is not about not enjoying our food, our company or surrounding. It’s actually about enjoying everything that we allow into our lives, but I think that it gives us the opportunity to truly explore the flavors of what life has in store for us.
When you really focus on what you do, on what you eat, on your relationships, you discover how much more you can enjoy these things. You become more conscious of what and who you let into your life and how these pleasures serve you.
You will realize that what you need is already inside of you and you don’t need to seek happiness in external pleasures.
What are your feelings about non-access? Do you think that overindulgence plays a big part in your life?