‘Tapas’ in Yoga is not about food, but it literally means ‘heat’. It can also be translated as self-discipline, spiritual
commitment, change, tolerance and transformation. ‘Tapas’ changes you. It takes you for example from anger into inspiration. It is about creating a strong character, being able to say ‘NO’, and about changing unhealthy habits and behaviour. How? By learning how to deal with the heat of the process of change. In therapy it is also called: ‘sitting in the fire’. It supports you to get things done.
I translate ‘Tapas’ as ‘discipline’. As a psychologist once said to me: ‘STOP moving appointments!’. This was her response to me when I complained about my ever changing and full agenda. I wanted peace and I had the key. In addition I simply had forgotten to use it properly, because I simply had to take care of myself by better task- and time management. Who else can do that but me? Nobody else.
Get things done
It is that simple: keep appointments and stop wanting to change things constantly. I realised that only I decide what my goals are and what the steps are that I would like to take and when. It is my process and I can do it in my pace. Even when I take baby-steps.
This way I will do what I have set out to do and this will have a positive impact on my self-esteem and self-trust, but it will also give me the reassurance that with discipline my dreams will come true. The same counts for you too. So get your time management in order.
‘Can we grow our ability to stay in the fire and let ourselves be burned
until we are blessed by the very thing that is causing us the pain and suffering?’[i]
Sitting in the fire
Task- and time management is important, but ‘sitting in the fire’ even more so. Sometimes we will have to face challenges that are so overwhelming, either positive or negative, that we simple have to wait with wanting to move forward. When the ‘world’ we know is changing, there are three things we can do:
- run away
What else can we do? We can aslo allow ourselves to feel the exact impact of it all without having to do something about it yet. It is about seeing it happening, feeling it and letting it be, and all of that with compassion.
Deal with it
I know from experience that sitting in the fire and letting the feelings move through me, is the only way out. If I do the opposite and decide to run, or perhaps fight it, it will not be solved. They say what needs to be seen, will keep on entering our life, until we sit down and deal with it.
Surely sit down, feel the wave of feelings move through you. Don’t judge them. Keep on breathing and observing what is moving through you. Deal with it. A strong feeling takes about 9 to 10 minutes and then it will fade away. Let it fade away. Awareness comes first and after it we can make a conscious decision. After it we can ask ourselves: ‘How do I want to deal with what is present in me?.
Learn from mistakes
In order to be able to accomplish something in the future, it means you will have to deal with it now. Stop pushing it away, stop fighting it. Become aware of what needs to be understood and deal with it in a conscious way. See all the challenges as a way to train yourself. Learn from ‘mistakes’.
I know, sometimes we simply don’t want to, but the road of repeated messages is far more painful. What do you know already? Also what have you learned already? And what skills and talents do you hold? You have learned this by trial and error and that will continue to be so. That is how we learn. Only by allowing ourselves to make mistakes, can we build character. We learn from ‘mistakes’. During these restless periods of change we can ask yourself: ‘What do I need to today in order to move forward on my path with trust in my heart?’.
This mean daring to be vulnerable and asking for support if we need it. Moreover it is also about involving others by telling them what process we are in. Tell people about that fire that you feel burning inside. Use this fire to transform yourself. ‘Tapas’ is about inviting ourselves to see things from a different perspective.
Just like Byron Katie explains in her books: ‘Could the opposite of what I believe to be true, also be true?’. This question has helped me from time to time to take a different look at the challenges I was facing. Believe me, we do get stuck in that fire an awful lot of times and there is always a way out. Are you ready to move from the heat of the fire into inspiration? Are you ready to trust the process that you are in? And as Deborah Adele states in her book: ‘Will we trust the process or will we run and hide?’.
How to slow down? Simply take a break and do Yin Yoga.
Sit still. Stretch. Breathe. Continue.
Yin Yoga with Marianne
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©This blog is inspired by a book from Deborah Adele: The Yamas and Niyamas, Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice.
[i] The Yamas and Niyamas, Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice, Deborah Adele.