Moderation, or brahmacarya, gets a bad reputation in our culture. We’re driven to push ourselves to the limits in the way we shape our bodies or in the way we work to get ahead in our career. As Gates says, “The hero of the story loves the fair maiden, loves her passionately. . . .No one ever seems to dedicate poems, screenplays, or odes to the joys of moderation or the rewards of passionate balance.”
This really hit home for me today as I started a new job. When I’m doing something I love, I work hard at it. But no matter how much I love my work, I won’t let it take over as the only thing in my life. My husband and I argue about this often. He has a job that he loves, and that takes his attention away from home at least 60 hours a week. When I was explaining the aspects of my new job, including the 20 hours I would be working, he said, “But you could always work more if there was something you wanted to finish, or something you wanted to understand better.” I could, I said, but unless it was really necessary lest I failed, then I wouldn’t spend extra time at work, sacrificing time set aside for other things in my life. A balance has to be struck between everything, including work and other activities, and to keep that balance, choices have to be made carefully.
Moderation seems to threaten the work horse that our culture is based on. Can we really have moderation in work and still “get ahead?” Should we be so focused on getting ahead, or would live happier and fuller lives if we focused instead on balance between family and work, the required and the “just because,” the stress and the joy? Is it too much to ask that family time be awarded as much importance as office time, or that stress-releasing activities such as yoga and meditation be awarded as much importance as the stress-inducing activities often found at the office?
Needless to say, my practice today was unfocused and scattered, mostly due to the excitement I had about my new job today. I realized half way through my practice that I didn’t know how many breaths I was taking in each posture, and I didn’t even know where my practice was leading. I finished with three very mindful postures, then rested for a short svasana. My body was tired from two rigorous practices the days prior and a deep tissue massage, and forced moderation on my practice–forced me to slow down and save the next rigorous practice for another day.