Heat is what it's all about. Tapas, which means heat, is a niyama in the 8 limbs. This heat is the constancy that supports our discipline. It can be a purification by burning - represented in physical space, or the fire that lies inside us. Tapas is the fuel that helps us show up day after day for this practice, even when we don't feel like it. Some of the sadhus (holy men, sages) go into such austerities that they will sit in the dead winter in nothing but a loincloth, or in the extreme heat of summer while the build fires and sit 3 hours a day for 45 days. While we may not go into such extreme conditions, we do put ourselves in very uncomfortable poses and create this Agni (fire) to melt away the dross. This process begins to melt away our conditioning, our patterns, our habits, bringing new perspectives and even insight. Patterns - you know, like the one that we need to work faster and better than everyone else? That could be one that we burn off through the physical practices of yoga, and the stillness of meditation as we witness our own fires. The conditions that we need to burn off are tantamount. Enter Capitalism and a colonized mind. We were taught to compete, to get ahead of our neighbors. This shows up in all the ways we compare and contrast on, say, yup - social media. If we could be truly honest, many of us could admit to patterns and cycles that keep us under water, like turning to social media, leaning into self depreciation or conceit. We all know it - someone else is #livingtheirbestlife and automatically we start grasping for wanting something in the external. When we are unsatiated we will keep fueling this machine. Online shopping anyone? When we are always full, of food, experiences, sex, we become hedonistic in a way....it smothers our inner flame. It's Tapas - that consistent heat of practice, paying attention, and burning through these patterns - that will alchemize these cycles into something new, more compassionate, and more focused. So how do we disrupt the cycle, harness the tapas (so bold in Aries season), and rekindle our fire of discipline? Perhaps it's a retreat that will reset the flame. Or an ongoing dedication to daily practice. Perhaps we need to lift our own voice and hear ourselves and our devotion to kickstart the ignition. However you go about it, I thank you for tending your own fire, and I invite you to tend it in community. If you have any questions at all about your practice, I would love to hear from you, and continue the conversation.
Thank you for keeping the fire lit with me.