Tapas: To cook or transform; heat; passion; to glow; the creative incubation phase; enthusiasm; asceticism.
Part One: Tapas is Step One in Kriya Yoga
Tapas is found in both the three-fold process of Kriya yoga and the Niyamas. Consider tapas as a catalyst or spark to initiate, as well as maintain, the energy for creativity, new beginnings, physical, emotional, and mental transformations; or alternately, as the electrical juice to overcome habits that are no longer beneficial.
Tapas in the Modern World
Living in harmony with nature means you embrace the changing world around you in all its seasons, ages, and states, including suffering and destruction, as well as, joy and renewal. If you are willing to truly embrace all the phases of life, then tapas will be a warm nudge to help you stoke the fire of inspiration and engage in the world as a dynamic participant rather than a static bystander. This first step of Kriya requires energy in the form of intention, enthusiasm, commitment, or passion. These act as catalysts to propel your creative endeavor—whether your wellness plan, art project, vegetable garden, or yoga practice—forward. This passion fires the creative muse in you to dream up endless possibilities. It’s the energy that inspires the farmer to envision a bountiful harvest, a parent to trust they are doing their best, and a yogi to organically detach from worldly desires.
Working with Tapas
Everyone needs a different amount of time, inspiration, incentive, pressure, and heat to prepare for the creative incubation phase. Start by accepting what stage of life (student, householder, retirement, or renunciate) you are in. While keeping in mind the particular demands of your life, look at any undesirable behavioral patterns, habits, or attachments you have and consider removing just one to help you change, enhance, or grow into a more conscious being. What is currently occupying your life energy (getting through college, raising children, planning your retirement), which part of yourself is likely to go out of balance (i.e., diet, spending habits, travel), and consider whether you have any goals on the horizon for the near future (graduation, exercising three times a week, buying a new car, or taking a vacation). This is where the “heat” and passion come into support your intention and keep you on track and motivated.
In my teaching experience, I’ve noticed the student must be truly enthusiastic about constructing change in their life or else nothing new will manifest. With that said, whatever lifestyle change you are willing to consider right now, make sure it is within reason and that you can accomplish it with very little discipline or support. It’s important that you succeed in your first experiments in order to build tapas for the more stubborn habits and behavior patterns down the road. For example if you wanted to add mediation to your daily practice, you would try and sit for five minutes a day rather than for twenty minutes. After successfully sitting for five minutes a day for two weeks, increase your time to ten minutes a day. Pay attention to the things you resist, they may be your most potent teachers.
At its root, Kriya yoga will help you find the insight and strength to compassionately reign in your mind and your energy from the objects or habits that have taken away or reduced your sense of power or happiness.
Next week: Part Two or read the whole article now: http://www.melinameza.com/Yoga_Articles.html