It’s easy to attend a training or receive a healing. It’s easy to feel inspiration and enthusiasm from what you’ve learned. The challenging part is what happens when you return home. Will you make the choice to shift your life or keep things the same?
Tapas as a tool for spiritual growth
This happens naturally when you practice the concept in Yoga of tapas, or discipline. Tapas is one of the niyamas outlined in the eight limbs of Yoga, and offers important guidance to how a student of Yoga can build a consistent practice.
In Sanskrit, tapas means “to heat or burn up,” referring to the way consistency in practice burns away impurities to make room for truth. But the English translation as discipline conjures the idea of punishment or rigidity. However, discipline in this context actually refers to commitment. It involves discernment about what is and is not beneficial for our long-term growth and well-being and the decision to do what will bring the most positive results. If you are accustomed to self-indulgence, practicing tapas by training your mind and senses might seem like punishment at first, but as you walk through the discomfort of turning away from the compulsions of your lower intellect, you’ll strengthen your access to your higher intellect. This leads to greater reward.
The commitment to keep moving forward even when the mind fights it allows energy to flow. This is how you expand as a human being. Think of it as the passage of a pregnant mother who knows that childbirth will be painful, yet she can see that the joy after her baby arrives will be limitless.
Practicing tapas in everyday life
You can practice tapas in all parts of your life – by deciding to practice pranayama daily, eating nourishing foods or recognizing your limitations. As you dedicate yourself to these practices, the impurities and attachments burn off, and it becomes easier to see who you really are and the direction toward sattva.
The goal of self-discipline needs to be about achieving moksha, or mastery in life, or it is just a function of the lower ego. Practicing tapas doesn’t mean pushing yourself harder; it means practicing with consistency. Think of it as a loving act of self-care that allows you to move with the flow of life and not against it.
How tapas can support life changes
For example, if you practice tapas and turn away from the urge to eat before bed, your agni will improve. You will feel less groggy in the mornings and be more motivated to start to your day. It will be easier to go to sleep earlier, and you can wake up before sunrise to meditate. Through meditation, you become more present for your life, your loved ones and your career. All of these steps can happen gradually as a result of consistently practicing each one.
A spiritual exercise to connect with your energetic self
Practice this a few times a week until you can become more aware of your energetic self outside of this exercise. With that awareness, it will be easier to tune in to the messages from your higher self about what you need to do – or not do – to bring about consciousness and greater well-being. That knowledge, and what you choose to do with it, is where true healing begins.
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