Fiery Discipline

Why is it so difficult to be consistent? How is it that we know very well what is best for us, those things that will increase our quality of life, yet we don’t consistently do them?

…Because we have accepted the habit of quitting once things get hard. A habit is a well-traveled path we carve deep into our brains. In yogic philosophy, these paths that we create by our own repeated actions and thoughts are called samskaras. We have created and gotten used to our own defeat.

Ultimately we know what we need to feel good, alive and happy. How do we resist the familiar dullness and lethargy of the mind and body? How do we become inspired and motivated to overcome the inertia and self doubt that seems so strong?

To get rid of old ways, we literally have to walk a new path consistently until the old path becomes grown over and the new one is clear. We have to create new samskaras. 

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not fighting the old, but on building the new” Dan Millman

So lets talk about TAPAS. (No, not the food). Tapas is a Sanskrit word that means ‘fiery discipline’. It is the fiercely focused, constant, intense commitment necessary to burn off the impediments that keep us from being our best selves. 

Tapas is the fiery passion that pushes us to practice even when we don’t feel like it. Its key elements are commitment, endurance and courage. The word ‘tapas’ means ‘to cleanse and purify’ through discipline. It is used to burn away our ‘impurities’ mentally and emotionally, allowing us to grow and overcome obstacles. Tapas is associated with the element of fire and the solar plexus chakra. Fire is the element of transformation. We are transformed as we move out of our comfort zones and burn away old habits. The solar plexus chakra, located just above the navel, governs our sense of self-confidence, inner strength, will power and self-discipline.

Tapas is a voluntary self-challenge for mental, physical, or spiritual growth. The possibilities for tapas are endless. It can be any practice that pushes us against our own limits. Whatever your goal, when the concept of tapas is applied, it becomes a powerful tool for transformation, mastering our bodies and our minds.

So how do we cultivate TAPAS and ignite that inner fire that drives us forward? Here are some ideas:

  • Pick one habit you want to create. Focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want. (It’s easier for the mind to grasp doing rather than undoing)
  • Take some time to focus on why you want this. Feel it down to your core. What will this do for you? How will you feel once this is established? Feel is down to your core. Remind yourself and stay connected to what compells you.
  • Break it down to make small commitments to practice regularly for a short time. For example: If you want to have a consistent yoga routine, start small. Try just a few minutes but don’t EVER miss it. To create this pathway, it doesn’t have to be a big practice; it just has to be consistent. These small victories become larger victories. Once the small victories are established we can push a little farther.
  • Get rest. If you want to get up earlier for your practice it just makes sense to go to bed earlier. We also make better decisions throughout the day when we are well rested.
  • Try affirmations. We often engage in negative self-talk that holds us back. Here are a few to try: I am the master of my destiny, I am strong enough, and I am good enough.
  • Make a vision board.
  • Be accountable. Get a friend or a group together to encourage success.
  • See the challenge as an opportunity for growth as opposed to a grueling task. When it gets hard, observe how your own mind functions. Then firmly push beyond attachment to what is fast and easy and increasingly notice how you are able to gain control and master your own impulses.
  • Find satisfaction in building your inner strength. Lessons learned from our hardest challenge us build our character and the rewards of being consistent are huge.
  • Whether your goal is physical or not, bringing attention to your core or adding core strengthening exercises can help you tap into that sense of fiery enthusiasm. This awakens the solar plexus chakra, the place of inner strength.

“Genuine tapas makes us shine like the sun. Then we can be a source of warmth, comfort, and strength for others” George Feuerstein

If you are “not feeling like it”…do it any way.

If you are sad…do it any way.

If you are busy…do it any way.

If you are tired…do it any way.

If you are feeling good…do it any way.

If you are “too stressed”…do it any way.

If you are unmotivated…do it any way.

If you are on vacation…do it any way.

If you are unsure…do it any way.

If you find yourself making excuses…do it any way.

 

“Practice and all is coming”

~Pattabhi Jois