Tapas is not just a Spanish appetizer

applyyourselfWhen I talk about the deeper teachings of yoga, I am not talking about increasing the stretch of your muscles.  And, your digging deep may never result in an intense awakening of any of your chakras.

My version of deep is even deeper than that.

To me, the deeper teachings of yoga refer to the most important and the very foundation of all that we practice.

I use the word “deep” to refer to what may be hidden from view but also essential to a person’s development.

These are the first stones laid in the building of a structure — as in the footers that are dug deep into the earth for the foundation. They form the base of of every aspect of the building that will appear above ground.

The Yoga Sutras tell us that yoga is a discipline requiring focus and determination. And that by practicing yoga, a person can live in a state of consciousness where agitations are resolved and there is a sense of steadiness and poise.While the study of yoga deals with liberation and freedom from obtsacles, yoga also has much to say about how to live well.I think of the personal practices of yoga as the footers for the pillars of the building. Actively practicing these 3 things can transform your life:
Apply yourself.  (tapas)
Investigate your experience.  (svadyaya)
Let go of the results of your practice. (isvara-pranidhana).

Today I want to focus on tapas.

The word I’m interpreting as “applying yourself” is tapas. The word comes from a root word that means “to burn.” Some have described this as a burning zeal or burning desire.

This is the oooomph that gets you off the couch.

This is what we need in order to get going. It is a summoning of our will-power. The thing that gets us to take some action.

With the new year coming, I am thinking a lot about what it means to apply myself. What does it take to get started?

It takes desire!

Each of us has to find our own motivation. I have often been motivated by pain — and the desire to eliminate emotional or physical pain.

The desire to get away from pain has inspired me many a time.

At this stage of my life I am wondering if it’s possible for me to find another type of motivation.

I’d like to move TOWARD something positive, rather than AWAY from something negative.

So the question for me is, “What do I want to create in my life?”

I won’t bore you with all my personal thoughts on this — because there are too many!

But I will give you the gist of it.  I want to create a place-situation-community where people can show up wholeheartedly as who they are without fear of being judged.  I want this place-situation-community to be a catalyst for transformation. Where people are seen, accepted, respected, loved, challenged and nurtured into their highest selves.

This is what I want. I see EYC as having the seeds of this. It’s up to me to show up wholeheartedly myself. I feel like it starts with me.

In order to do this, I have to be strong, focused and clear.

And this is what I’m moving toward this year.

I hope that people will join me at EYC this year for all of the above.

The concept of “applying ourselves” with a sense of burning desire reminds me of my high school football team. We were a small school with a lot of spirit. Our football players were scrappy and our team was dedicated.

Each Friday evening during the fall season, the whole community came out to support the team. There was excitement in the air, and whether you were a player on the field, a benchwarmer, a parent in the stands or an onlooker on the sidelines you could feel the energy of the game.

Everyone put forward their best effort. And the marching band played the “fight song.”

It was the 80’s and we were the Tigers. So the band played “Eye of the Tiger” as the cheerleaders waved their pom poms and the players broke through the “Go, fight, win” paper banner.

Sometimes it takes a little something extra to coax out the motivation to get going.  Every time I hear that song on the radio by the band Survivor it makes me want to jump and cheer and just MOVE.

This is what the concept of the Sanskrit word “tapas” means to me.

Click here to listen to Eye of the Tiger by Survivor.

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