The journey to living more simply and connected calls for a lot of honest self-study. One of my biggest inquiries has been to prioritize and focus my time and energy. In a recent effort to systemize the process, a “Commitment Inventory” worksheet was born (which is included at the bottom of this post). My intention for sharing this with you is that it supports you in your exploration of how to best manage your time and energy, to spend more time being and less time doing.
In October, I hosted a Commitment Inventory Workshop for the St. Louis Minimalists group. As the community leader for the group, one of the patterns that has emerged, for myself and the group, is that once we start decluttering our material things, many seek out how they can apply these concepts in other facets of their lives.
Brahmacharya or “Energy Management”
The concept of living simply spans thousands of years. You can find traces of it in spiritual texts, campfire stories, and philosophical documents throughout history. The lens we are looking through here is based around yogi philosophy and personal experience.
In the Yoga Sutras, the first step of the eight-limbed path to yoga is through the five “Yamas”, or “guidelines and restraints”. (You can read more about the Yamas here) The fourth Yama is “Brachmacharya”:
The word brahmacharya stems from two Sanskrit roots:
- Brahman is what god is called in the Vedas, the main Hindu scriptures.
- charya (चर्य), which means “occupation with, engaging, proceeding, behaviour, conduct, to follow, moving in, going after”. This is often translated as activity, conduct, or mode of behaviour.
For a long time, this particular practice was regarded as celibacy. As many spiritual practices around the world, celibacy was part of the requirements for the leaders in this community, as to keep them focused on their higher calling: devotion to and in service of their higher power.
For our purposes here, we are looking at a more inclusive and expanded understanding of this word, which can be roughly translated to “energy management” or “right use of energy”.
Why is it so important to manage our energy?
In the concept of Brahmacharya, managing our vitality is aligning ourselves with the divine. Whatever you believe in that is greater than you– God, Spirit, Allah, Nature, the Universe, your family, the Flying Spaghetti Monster– when we are aligned with it, our actions are full of purpose. At the heart of living simply, or as a minimalist, it’s about clearing space for what matters to you most and embodying that; breathing it in everyday.
“If you’re not having fun, then what’s the point?”In the famous words of my grandmother Phyllis Brewer.
Or, asked in another way, by Marie Kondo, “Does it spark joy?” These straightforward questions point to how easily we can find ourselves doing things out of a sense of obligation that no longer serve us and our highest good.
When we find ourselves in situations that do not “spark joy”, it may manifest as feeling depressed (depleted energy), anxious (heightened energy), maybe it feels like a lack of focus, or being pulled in too many directions. There are going to be things that you do for your highest good that don’t necessarily “spark joy” (like excel sheets, or picking up dog poop, etc.), and that is ok. The key is to be aware of what fills you up and depletes you, so that you can find the alignment inside of you that feels good.
What are some ways we can manage our energy?
There are a lot of ways to tackle this question; the way that we are exploring here today is by self-study and alignment. The worksheet provided below is one way to take an honest look at our lives as a whole, and where our energy is flowing, or not flowing, through it. The next step is to look at how we can balance our actions to work towards an aligned flow of energy in our lives, that feels good in our bodies.
For each question, write down or draw what is in your awareness, spending 3-5 minutes maximum on your response, then moving on to the next.
- How do I spend my time? What fills my days?
- What conversations and topics am I naturally drawn to?
- What activities make me feel energized? What activities make me feel drained?
- What personas/characters am I aware of inside of myself?
- What communities am I member of? How am I contributing to those communities?
- What tasks do I accomplish easily? What tasks seem to never get done?
- What things do I feel like I never have time to do?
- What are my top 3 intentions right now?
- What is one thing I want to master in the next year?
- What are things that I am currently participating in that are not serving my top 3 intentions?
- What could be released from my life to make more space for working towards those goals?
- What are daily, weekly, and monthly things that I can implement to work towards my goals?
- What are my new commitments?
This exercise is one invitation into investigating brahmacharya in your life. I’d love to hear how you are investigating energy management!