The Yoga Tradition reminds us time and again that we are all imbued with incredible life force, a brilliant mind, pure heart and vitality. What prevents us from experiencing the true radiance of our being are veils of beliefs and conditioned behaviors. The removal of these veils is the purpose of yoga.
One of the simplest ways of beginning to identify the veils and remove them layer by layer, is to look at what our conscience tells us is really good for us, and the resistance we encounter when trying to work towards that. This kind of resistance seems to be inbuilt in the human condition!
Our conscience may say “don’t have that second cup of coffee”, or “don’t take the bait” when we are challenged by another, or “I really should go to that yoga class!”. And yet we resist this voice because of the weight of our habits and cravings. This resistance creates a dullness, and inertial, which then dims our vitality, and veils our potential.
Within the yoga tradition, this practice of consciously engaging with our resistance to what is actually good for us is called TAPAS. We can apply it in many ways to begin to dissolve inertia and habits, and access new levels of inspiration and joy.
How we engage in tapas is personal: Perhaps you refrain from eating certain foods, embark on a particular yoga practice, or choose to change the way you interact with certain people or situations, either verbally or physically. The practice, in other words, can be applied to many areas of our life: body, breath, mind and emotion.
We set a time or a boundary for our practice. Perhaps not speaking negatively for a month. Then, when the month is over we review and evaluate – what kind of fruit have I gained? If we are seeing a change in our thinking then we know it is working. We may choose to continue the practice of not speaking negatively, or take it to another level of not finishing a negative sentence in our head! Or we may choose something else. The trick is to embrace the benefits from your practice and see them as signposts toward something more. We are also encouraged not to give up before we see some of the fruits of the practice ripen in our life.
In my own experience, this kind of tapas is highly effective at creating the inner shift necessary to begin to access the deep state of peace, connection and presence that in our heart of hearts all of us desire. Start today to pay attention to the guiding voice of your conscience. Take note of where you have resistance. Face the resistance and in doing so, begin to transform your life from the inside out!