Tapas — not the Spanish savory dishes served at a bar. I am talking about the Indian ethical principle of Self-Discipline. In her book, “The Yamas and Niyamas”, Deborah Adele says: “Tapas literally means “heat,” and can be translated as catharsis, austerities, self-discipline, spiritual effort, change, tolerance, or transformation.” It can take many forms in our lives. And this week, I am watching it unfold in mine.
It is what gets me out of bed at 5:15 (okay, so 5:30 today) to do my yoga practice, when it would have been so easy to turn off my alarm and go back to sleep. I also believe that it is what set me off on a purging fury as well. With a recent move, I am drawn every now and again to go through a remnant box from time to time. I found a crate full of old journals; and I began to read. As I read through pages upon pages of sad, desparate, lonely entries, I began ripping them out. And in the case of one journal, there was so much despair, that I took out only the few pages that were the least bit insightful.
Why do I call this tapas? Because just when I think that my self-search has leveled out, reached a landing point, I realize that it’s not. That it is not likely to end ever. And it takes discipline to keep on discovering inner peace and acceptance: self-love.The thing is, I got very sad reading through these things that I wrote. And I started feeling a little angry and ashamed of myself. That is when I finally decided to burn them. In our new home, we didn’t have a fire pit outside. But, I mentioned my plan to John. And the next day, we had a functional fire pit in our front yard!
I felt a certain release in burning of those pages, watching those words disappear under the power of fire. It is a symbol of keeping the fire of tapas alive and well in my mind, my body. My yoga practice has had the same effect. It was interesting to witness from my current perspective, that time in my life when I was an internal train-wreck was also the very time that I finally found yoga. It has been a love affair of sorts, that has grown tremendously through the last decade of my life. And while I love the practice of yoga, the real love affair has been in finding myself.
“Wherever you go, you are there, waiting for yourself.” Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love