To understand the concept of “nonexcess” perhaps it can make sense to look at the opposite first, when we are in excess, when we are “over-doing” it, whatever it might be. There are a number of different things that we can overdo, some of us are perhaps overdoing one thing, some of us are overdoing more than just one. We can be overdoing food (top ranking of foods that we often overdo are sugar, salt and/or caffeine, strangely enough, not that many people seem to be overdoing lettuce), exercise, entertainment, sleep, sex, material possessions, alcohol and on and on.
In yogic thought, there is a moment in time when we reach the perfect limit of what we are engaged in. It is this moment of “just enough” that we need to recognize.
If we take food as an example, we gain energy and nutrition from the food that we eat, up to a certain point. When we pass this point, and continue eating, the food is not bringing any more energy, instead we begin to feel tired, drained. The nutrition from the food becomes excessive, and either we simply get rid of it through bowel-movement, or it is being stored as “energy-reserve” (meaning fat) in our body.
So why do we move past the place of enough? Why is it so hard for us to grasp the concept of “enough”?
“Yogic thought tells us it is because our mind begins to connect certain emotional states with certain foods or activities.”
Lets take an example. It´s the end of the working week and you take a beer/glass of wine. You sit down, you take a sip, you sigh out and relax, and think “ahhh weekend”, sounds at all familiar??! First, there is nothing wrong with this scenario. What might begin to be “wrong” is if the brain (when we unconsciously repeat the pattern) is left to make the connection: alcohol = relaxation. When you start “craving” alcohol in order to be, to feel, relaxed.
Then we can find ourselves in trouble. If we are feeding our mental stories and have moved past bodily comfort, we are in addiction and out of harmony with this guideline. Nonexcess is not about nonenjoyment. It actually is about enjoyment and pleasure in its fullest experience.
Sometimes it can be useful to take a step back, to look at our habits, our patterns, to realize if you are making a conscious choice or if you´re giving in to the stories and cravings of your mind. And more often than not, when we are stressed, going from one thing to the other, with no space in between, no rest, we are on autopilot. This guideline invites us to lift our eyes from the mundane, to begin to look at the world around us with wonder and amazement. To shift the focus from ourselves, realizing that we are part of something bigger.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein