If you’ve heard the word tapas, you might be thinking of the delicious small plates that hail from Spain. So it would make sense you’d be feeling enthusiastic about tapas!
But we’re talking about a different tapas here at Belightful.
As we continue to work our way through the niyamas (the inner observances that help us build character), we’ll take a look at the niyama of tapas.
More specifically, we’ll look at tapas as enthusiasm.
What Does Tapas As Enthusiasm Mean?
Allow us to clarify.
Tapas has rendered multiple translations over the thousands of years since Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Its most traditional translation was translated as ‘austerity’ or ‘discipline.’
Interestingly enough though, the word comes from the root Sanskrit verb tap, which means ‘to burn.’ So as viewpoints changed and evolved, the thinking was that tapas meant cultivating self-discipline and courage to burn away the physical, mental, and emotional impurities of the body.
But let’s admit it – that sounds pretty heavy, solemn, and serious.
The true nature of tapas lies in accessing your inner fire and recognizing the desires that elevate your personal growth rather than those that drag you through the proverbial (or occasionally literal) mud. It looks at tapas as enthusiasm for whatever it is that makes us tick.
What Lights Your Fire?
That’s the big question. And it’s your launching point.
But it’s important to understand that tapas as enthusiasm doesn’t imply a Pollyanna-ish “I sure am excited to do that!” mentality. It’s actually the opposite. So often, we have to cultivate enthusiasm for the very things we don’t wish to do.
Tapas is the friction that’s created by going against the grain; by breaking out of your usual patterns or always opting for what’s easiest. It asks of you a certain level of enthusiasm in striving to be the best you can be. And this means you’ll probably have to change what you do and how you do it.
Yep. You’ll have to regard change not as “the C word,” but rather as something to embrace in its ability to help you grow.
Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
How would you describe yourself?
Would you say you’re ambitious and aggressive? Or perhaps you’re more contemplative and non-combative. Whatever the case, through tapas you’re attempting new explorations that feel uncomfortable or out of character for you.
For example, meditation will come naturally to someone who prefers to not make waves and stay in the background. Meanwhile, a more compulsive sort may opt for a rigorous yoga practice – driving themselves to push harder and harder.
But are these the practices that are helping them to grow the most?
In other words, for some, tapas will mean making time to be quiet and still the mind when it seems the most difficult thing to do. And for others, it’ll mean working on strength and going full force into facing challenges they’ve been avoiding.
Tapas asks us to stick around when things start going south; to plow through the insurmountable snow; to move a mountain when you know it must be moved. Tapas requires you to face an unpleasant situation rather than fleeing or dodging the challenge.
And some days it may simply be the act of making it to your mat or meditation pillow for just ten minutes – even when you absolutely don’t want to – because you know it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.
At the end of the day, tapas teaches you to regard tragedy, crisis or challenge as ways to strengthen yourself and hone your abilities. It’s a means to develop self-discipline, inner strength, and self-trust so you can ignore those voices in your head telling you to take the wrong path.
And it is the enthusiasm that burns off that negative thinking, teaches you to be fearless, and allows you to move forward in your life.
That is its power.
Go Forth With Tapas As Enthusiasm
The lessons you learn from facing your fears, sticking out challenges, and committing to hard work will have the most impact and garner the best results.
Going into these situations with tapas as enthusiasm will make it that much easier.
If you’re interested in how life coaching, yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices can increase tapas in your life, contact us. We will bring these services directly to your business, organization, or school.