The social and personal ethics of Yoga, the Yamas and Niyamas, allow us observe how we treat ourselves and those we interact with. If I could have a favorite, then it would be Tapas. I have gone through my life playing competitive sports and the concept of “burning” is not new to me. In my adult life, I have continued with the several athletic hobbies that I have listed before. I am in love with the “burning” sensation that I feel in my muscles from a long bike ride, the third period of a hockey game, and the final set of a tennis match. Love it!
Where I had to look at Tapas from a different perspective was in regards to my habits. Stress is a funny thing. Sometimes we tend to live with it for no apparent reason. We hold on to thoughts and feelings that are either rooted in the past or present. When we do that, it affects our physical bodies. Not cool.
So I have a choice … continue to damage my physical body staying lost in the past and possible future I may manifest or use the “burning” to remove those choices and habits to become active in the present moment. Which will we choose this moment?
** Side note … anyone got any good soup recipes? 🙂 Tapas always makes me hungry for some reason too.
Tapas – Self Discipline
Tapas literally means “heat,” and can be translated as catharsis, austerities, self-discipline, spiritual effort, change tolerance, or transformation. Tapas has the sense of “cooking” ourselves in the fire of discipline to transform ourselves in the fire of discipline to transform ourselves into something else. It is our determined effort to become someone of character and strength. Much like cooking an egg denatures the egg, changing it into a different structure, Tapas eventually changes our nature, turning us into a cauldron that can withstand any of life’s challenges. Tapas is the day to day choice to burn non-supportive habits of the body and mind, choosing to forsake momentary pleasures for future rewards.
There is a bumper sticker which states, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” We can chuckle all we want, but there is great truth to this statement. Tapas can take us to the place where all of our resources are used up, where there is nothing left but weakness, where all of our so-called “props” have been taken away. It is in this barren place, where we have exhausted all that we have and all that we are, that new strength is shaped and character is born if we choose to fearlessly open ourselves to the experience. It is perhaps the greatest gift life could offer us.
Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele