Throughout last week and entering into this week, I have experienced how perhaps it’s no wonder that tapas comes as an ethical practice in yoga before svadhyaya. Let me explain and let’s explore…
Tapas means ‘heat’…
…and can also translate as self discipline, austerities, catharsis, change or transformation, and even spiritual effort.
Here’s a real life example that I am living in right this very moment as I type these words. I’d like to make this big of a long blog, however, I only have so much time, yet, I am dedicated to this practice of coming back to my writing in my life lately. When I create these blogs it benefits me so much because I get to continually process and re-examine these practices that I use as intention in my classes; let alone re-examining them year after year as I change personally.
The effects are not only profound for myself, but I’m hoping for you too. And that’s the beauty of our relationship, is that I also love hearing your take on these principles and ideas that I bring to our classes! So many benefits on so many levels, let alone embodying it through physical practice!
And there you have it! Tapas and svadhyaya or self-examination rolled into one example.
My dedication and discipline to writing on these spiritual principles and coming to the page, sacrificing doing other things in this moment to come to this practice, is tapas. And the exploration and continual contemplation of these spiritual practices helps me to unpack the “boxes” of who I am, and to really understand better my True Self, which is Divine.
Svadhyaya means ‘self-study’.
In her book, which I highly recommend, “The Yamas & Niyamas: exploring yoga’s ethical practice”, Deborah Adele writes, “We are, at the core, divine consciousness. Around this pure consciousness, we are packed in “boxes” of our experience, our conditioning, and our belief systems. These boxes are things like how we identify ourselves, what we believe to be true, our preferences and dislikes, our fears and imagination. All of these boxes are informed by country, culture, gender, town, ancestors and family history, groups we belong to, and our personal experience. …
We suffer, the Yogi’s tell us, because we forget who we are. We think we are the boxes we are wrapped in and forget that we are really the divine “hiding” inside. Svadhyaya, or self-study, is about knowing our true identity as divine and understanding the boxes we are wrapped in. We can find clues about our boxes by watching our projections, by the process of tracing our reactions back to a belief, and by courageously looking at life as it is. This process of knowing ourselves and the boxes that adorn us, creates a pathway to freedom. The ability to shift our identification from our ego self (our “boxes”), to the witness, and finally to archer identity as divinity itself, is the joy of this jewel of self-study.”
But sometimes, life brings the heat!
Now, in my personal example above, I self-imposed the tapas and discipline to sit and write. But sometimes, life brings the heat!
Perhaps you’ve experienced catharsis? A time when you had a strong release of emotions and things were shifting within you?
Or perhaps you’ve experienced a time when it felt as if life put you in a situation that was really difficult and hard to endure, you didn’t know when this moment would end nor how to handle it, or even knowing what it’s purpose was?
I have a real life experience of this happening right now, and even though I know there is an end in sight, I don’t know when that will happen.
And even though I can’t explain it all to you right now, this is why I’m inviting you into a two-week experience with me, because this is my why, does it resonate with you in any way?…
I know that if I can stay with this moment that feels uncertain, a little turbulent, chaotic, a little unsettling, that I will come out better for it. I know and trust that I will see my Path, and my True Self, with more clarity. And, I know that I will continue to live my life with more resolve and deep heart-centered connection to my soul from living through this time.
However, sometimes we can’t see or know that there’s a blessing when we are living through a difficult moment, So if my why did not resonate, that’s okay!
There is Purpose to Tapas
The practice of tapas reminds us that there is purpose. That if we have the courage to just “stay in the fire”, that there is a blessing coming. You don’t have to call it a blessing, I also call it a teaching, a learning, or an insight. Some sort of takeaway that we will keep with us forever; making us stronger and even more powerful the next time something difficult is experienced in our life.
Our courage is a quality that is forever building and getting stronger with each passing experience. And the courage that we see we had when we look back on a past hardship, is still with us now.
Can you imagine just how much courage you have right now? It’s awesome, let me tell you. So, don’t doubt yourself for one moment. You are the Divine. And don’t worry if you can’t see the insight now, I invite you to trust that later, when you look back on this moment, you will see it… And perhaps more importantly, you will see your true self and how you move through the experience.
The practice of self-study is about staying in the present but also tracing things
The practice of self-study is not only meant to observe our self in the present moment, but it is an opportunity to take time to become quiet, still, and reflect back on our past. Looking back, we can see how we were in relationship to ourself, to others, to situations and events, and how we might not have been in good relationship. This is the practice that Deborah Adele was speaking about in the passage above, the practice of tracing things back.
Whether we’re tracing back, or whether we’re in a meditative practice to be in the present moment, witnessing how things are requires awareness. It requires us to step into being the witness of all things with compassion and without attachment.
I can see and name all of the boxes that are within me, and I can witness how I respond to these boxes. I can question what boxes I want to keep and what boxes I might need to let go of. And as I do this, I am taking steps closer into the depths of my heart to meet my true self. To have an experience of connection with My pure essence. And we all have this essential presence within us, this divine divinity that at best is indescribable.
So it requires a healthful presence of ego to be able to see these boxes that make up the personhood of who we are. And yet, a surrender of ego in a way that will support us to not identify ourselves as being any of the boxes. But instead, releasing the aspect of the ego that would become attached to any of the boxes, and remembering our True Self that lives in each of those boxes, and then the box disappears.
I recently heard myself say during a private client’s session, that there are boxes that we love about ourselves and there are boxes that we don’t love about ourselves. And it’s hard to not want to identify with those boxes that we love about ourselves. And there are good practices when naming the positive qualities of knowing who we are that builds us up! So keep those, and then, surrender to the divine within you.
Let go of all the boxes and swim in the beautiful ocean of your own divinity.
Now my last statement here moves us into the next ethical practice of ishvara pranidhana, the jewel of surrender, but let’s save that for another day! And yet, you see the flow of these practices and why they are in this order?!
Join Me For A Free 2 Weeks Program
I invite you to join me in rest and reflection.
For me, the heat comes because I am upholding myself to become quiet, still, and meditate in order to become more clear and realign with my Truest Nature.
This is hard for me because I want to do, to perform, and I want to produce and manifest. But for me, my time of manifestation of this past year has come to an end; my catharsis. And I know deep in my soul that this is a time of needed reflection and quietude. This time of sitting in stillness is my heat, my tapas.
I know I need to be with what is, see all the boxes, honour each one, svadhyaya, and then listen even deeper to my heart. To that place within my heart’s heart, my spiritual heart, and allow my soul’s strength, atmabala, to stir within me and reveal to me my Truths.
I hope you will join me no matter what your reasons. No matter what season of life you are in. No matter what you are going through. I’m going to be doing this with you and I invite you to invite a friend, or ten, to come along.
Here are the details:
“Rest, Reflect, Restore” is a FREE two week exploration into quietude.
What you receive each week:
- one 15-20 minute pre-recorded restorative yoga practice, yours to keep forever.
- one 8-10 minute pre-recorded guided meditation, yours to keep forever.
- one PDF print out with reflective questions and affirmations to help you re-align with your True Self.
- I will be going LIVE in IG on Monday, Dec. 6th at 8pm EDT to kick us off, and Monday, Dec. 20th at 8pm EDT to close.
How do you join me? Sign up below
All my love,
Breathe and Believe.
“I have been a seeker and still am, but stopped asking for the books and the stars. I started listening to the teachings of my soul.”-Rumi