The 3 Pillars of Life: Brahmacharya
Over the last few months I have been exploring the theme of the 3 Pillars—right diet, sleep, and brahmacharya—in my classes and personal practice to help ease into this new fall season with a stronger commitment to my self-care and Ayurveda. My first article in this trilogy emphasized diet and introduced you to the Ayurvedic term agni, which describes your digestive fire; it included a few recipes to enhance your digestion if it is weak or irregular. The second article highlighted sleep and offered some practical tips on how to improve your sleep with self-care practices and diet.
This month, I will shed some light on brahmacharya as well as creativity and their role in upholding the three pillars. Brahmacharya is traditionally a practice that emphasizes management of one’s sexual energy. From the yogic perspective, excessive sexual activity will weaken or exhaust your vital energy. Now just to be clear, the idea of brahmacharya is not to make us all monks or withdraw completely from all sexual activity—it’s actually to raise your awareness that engaging in too much sexual activity will reduce your shukra (sexual energy, reproductive fluids), which is necessary to build ojas. Ojas is the word Ayurvedic practitioners use to describe the most refined by-product that is created by the food we consume after it is digested to build up our tissues (dhatus: fluids, blood, muscle, fat, bone, nervous system, reproductive fluids). Excessive sex and stress will deplete ojas in the sperm and ovum as well as curtail ojas from entering the heart. Ojas is technically not considered a tissue of the body; it’s more like the strength or quality intrinsic to a tissue that gives you vigor, strengthens your immune system, provides stability to the body and mind, and keeps you juicy and plump like a newborn baby.
The Ayurvedic yogis believe that reproductive fluids are the final step in a 30-day process that creates the dhatus; as noted above, these fluids are one of the dhatus and are the ones that are produced last. Unfortunately, during the thirty days, many factors can compromise the production of the dhatus; if this occurs then it will lead to a depletion of ojas, contributing to the reduction of vigor, immunity, radiant glow, and longevity we naturally desire. Yet, if all goes well through the stages of food to dhatus transformation, our tissues will be strong and we will feel a surplus of energy that moves us to create or be creative on a regular basis.
What creative outlets do you have in your daily life? What do you love to do in your free time? In my opinion, responding to the urge to create when it arises is one of the most loving things you can do for soul. If brahmacharya is part of your regular practice, there will be a surplus of energy to explore in life, perhaps to ignite your next poem, photograph, or song. With too much sexual activity or stress it’s not uncommon to lose your libido or urge to be creative. As daunting as it might sound to add one more practice to your already busy life, I find that the rhythm of daily creative practice becomes its own habit and therefore grows easier over time.
As we head into the cooler, darker fall and winter seasons that invite us into the warmth of our homes, we’re provided with a great opportunity to evaluate our relationship to brahmacharya and creativity. Trust that whatever amount of creative time arises each day is the right amount. It’s the intention that counts. Trust that there is room in your day to practice and that you deserve this creative time. Antoine de Saint-Exupery has said, “A single new habit can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us.” This was my personal experience as I discovered and danced with this beautiful new stranger, who was truly none other than creative facets of the unexplored me. If you are ready to meet and embrace the creative divine in you, I invite you to undertake a daily creative ritual. Just as much as we need good food and sleep to be healthy and productive, I believe we also need to have space to do what we love in order to feel our best.
Archetypal Moon Energy; a Lunar Love Ritual
The moon cycles possess archetypal energies that offer women deeper insight into her own natural rhythms and how her divine flow guides her to have greater control over her mental and emotional well-being as well as harness the full potential of her creativity, strength, and nourishment. A woman who becomes consciously aware of her connection to the moon’s influence through her womb can begin to intentionally craft her life’s events in a way that will bring her the results she truly desires. Practice this Lunar Love Ritual to align with these archetypal energies and receive the full power of their guidance.
The 4 Archetypes of the Moon
It’s quite common for women to menstruate and ovulate in sync with the moon cycle. Since there is no evidence of women possessing greater or lesser health whether their menstrual cycles sync with the moon or not, please do not get too attached to these or allow them to mean something about your identity or worth as an individual. These are simply here to act as a framework to help guide you into an exploration of yourself.
A woman’s menstrual cycle is around the same length as the 28-day moon cycle, give or take a few days. There are two types of women depending on when they ovulate and menstruate – a white moon woman and a red moon woman. A white moon woman, which is the more common of the two types, will menstruate around the darkness of the new moon and ovulate with the full light of the full moon. A red moon woman will menstruate with the full light of the full moon and ovulate with the darkness of the new moon.
Depending on how our cycle aligns with the four moon phases – new moon, waxing moon, full moon, and waning moon – there are four archetypal energies that we can use as a guide to feel more in tune with our natural rhythms and those of the moon. Although the new moon is the start of a new cycle, for the purpose and ease of learning here, we will start with the virgin phase which corresponds to the waxing moon.