As we look ahead into the end of this year and onto the next, maybe you are lucky enough to have a few days off from work and spend time with close friends and family. It might be during a moment of downtime that you are are able to think and reflect back on the year, and take a look at the goals or resolutions you set back in January. It is also a time of self-assessment: Did we honestly accomplish the goals we had set for ourselves back in January, have we fallen short of our intentions or are we in fact, exactly where we need to be? For many of us, the harsh reality of judgement is that sometimes our goals do in fact get lost. With the busy lifestyles that we all live nowadays, the daily checklist is first and foremost and the longer range goals repeatedly become lost in the spiral of chaos. The end of the Fall is a time that I have personally seen myself in this everlasting pattern. It can feel disappointing and discouraging to observe where I am with my goals for the year.
Since I started my yoga practice here at Artemis, many of the teachers have reiterated the sense of something called “Tapas” in my classes. Tapas derives from the Sanskrit language used in yoga practices for thousands of years, and in its most simple terms means,“ heat”, referring to the burning off of impurities. It comes from one of the five “Niyamas” or personal observances of yoga (Light on Life). A deeper and the more underlying meaning of Tapas is “Going against the grain of habit, of complacency. Tapas is the fervor of striving to be the best you can, which may mean shifting what you do and how you do it.”(Yoga Shanti).
Tapas is often a call to action or even an invitation to move past obstacles, to literally “burn” away obstructions but the teaching of yoga is to do that skillfully and patiently. This notion of Tapas means and its relation to real life challenges resonated with me this summer and I have held onto it ever since. Instead of seeking to quickly work through daily tasks as obstacles to my goals, I have learned to notice and observe that my day to day tasks ultimately will come together to accomplish my major goals of the year. By looking at Tapas as a question, “What is it in your life that you can “burn off” or discard as we approach the end of the year?” It may be something as simple as making a point to get up a tad bit earlier each day instead of rushing, or as deep as removing yourself from toxic friendships or relationships. I believe that the idea of Tapas can be a huge benefit when trying to achieve a major goal, both short term and long term.
Being passionate, but also patient about your goal and taking action towards it each day can be a positive way to make goals happen. Using another aspect of Tapas, “self discipline not self torture” (a quote by Swami Satchidananda who was a spiritual teacher and founder of the Integral Yoga International), can aid in the day to day grind of getting closer to accomplishing those goals. If we become more disciplined with our processes, rather than torturing ourselves to accomplish them, the process will still be hard but maybe more enjoyable once we finally reach the destination. Not being patient with yourself often leads to burnout, and a very slim chance of actually achieving what you set out to do in the beginning. I have come up with a few key points to think about as the end of the year sets in, and maybe ideas that we can bring into specific facets of our lives as the new year of 2018 unfolds before us.
- Do you feel that you have lived every day with a purpose? If not, let’s try to make that one thing we aim for throughout the day as we move into the future.
- Are you letting the day to day vulnerabilities color your day? While allowing ourselves to be more vulnerable, it is important not to let daily challenges stay as negative energy, rather instead apply the idea of tapas to “burn them off”.
- Do you feel you surrender or can you be more in the driver’s seat? By learning to control what is in your control, instead of surrendering to feelings of helplessness, especially when you may have had the power to to change the outcome.
- Most importantly, keeping your outlook on life and what you wish to accomplish positive will allow you to overcome obstacles that may arise on the journey. I hope you will join me in observing your own Tapas and using it to achieve your dreams! “Willingness to do ignites a fire within you. Eternal passion.” (BKS Iyengar.)
– Diane Boggie, Mountain View, CA, et al. “Igniting Tapas (Discipline).” Awakening Self, www.awakeningself.com/writing/igniting-tapas-discipline/.
-Iyengar, B. K. S., et al. Light on Life: the Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace and Ultimate Freedom. Rodale, 2008.
-“Tapas-Riding The Heat.” Yoga Shanti, yogashanti.com/focus/tapas-riding-the-heat/