One of the last posts I made before my website crashed was about all the smoke, we were enduring. I thought it might be appropriate to continue that as a bit of a theme given it is time to chat about Tapas.
Tapas, self discipline, is the third of yogas niyamas, the tenants of how we relate to ourselves and like each of the tenants before it can be surprising in its depth.
Tapas are all about living in the fire, the fire of our own challenges. It is sticking with something through the tough parts to come out the other side “reborn”.
A quote from my constant companion book, “The Yamas & Niayamas”, “Tapas is growing our ability to stay in the unknown and the unpleasantness, rather than run in fear. It is the willingness to be both burned and blessed. ”.
What does this mean? I am sure if you think there is something in your history where you suffered, and felt lost. You might have not understood or felt anything going on was fair. You might have felt trapped or disillusioned. But if you look back to those times you might make an interesting discovery. For the times you were able to just be in that crazy challenging place, even without a “answer” what happened when you got to the other side of whatever “it” was? Conversely what happened if you ignored, avoided or distracted yourself from whatever “it” was.
You might already have the answer of what tapas can be. How about looking around you to friends and family? Is there someone with a strength you admire? Is there someone who can be in a place that you don’t believe you ever could and somehow exist? Who “is” that person, what are their characteristics? Is there anything there you would like to emulate?
Another meaty quote from Y&N, “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.” This is a tough one.
The thought of staying warm and cozy binge watching you favorite Net Flix series versus doing some domestic chores, going for a walk, or dealing with paperwork can be so appealing but think of how you will feel afterwards, which will create the longest-term positive feelings? Sometimes the binge watch option is exactly what you need, but if it is always the choice eventually there will be some suffering.
This is a big one for me right now since I feel there is much before me that is not appealing, but it still needs to be dealt with to move forward and even though I intellectually am quite familiar with the process I am still surprised by the feeling of accomplishment and greater ease in my life when I make the tough choice. There is an interesting character out there named Jocko Willink. I learned of him listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast. He is a rather gruff ex navy seal with an interesting history, but key in who he is, is the byline discipline equals freedom. I think freedom is something we all would like to aspire to.
There is big stuff and little stuff that can have tapas in it. I will leave you with a tapas exercise from the book, “The Yamas & Niyamas”. Since it is always a good idea to build your strength instead of jumping in full force on a heavy topic this works with the little tapas of daily life. For at least a week create some awareness around your daily choices. Are your choices the easy or tough ones? Then ponder the choices that will get you stronger for the tapas that are sure to come our way without choice, see if you can get stronger and better ready to handle the biggies by making the daily tough choices.
If you are wondering all about this yamas and niyamas stuff and haven’t read my pervious posts on the topic here are links to them all. Note that there are two more niyamas to go, svadhyaya and ishvara pranidhana (for the life of me I can’t pronounce this one!) and then we will have completed them all. The yamas and niyamas provide a solid and strong framework for a life well lived, I seriously don’t know what I would do without them.
The Yama Posts
The Niyama Posts
Tapas, Self Discipline…heh you are reading it!
Have a great week all, I would love to hear how any experiments go!