What is the principle of tapas? You’ve read about the niyamas, and the tapas are one of them. the Sanskrit word “tap” means “to burn,” and the word “tapas” can refer to the fire within. That said, to cultivate tapas entails practicing discipline, commitment, and courage in one’s yoga practice. Practicing tapas, however, can run deeper than that.
After spending several months travelling round South East Asia a few years ago, I developed a fascination with Buddhism, and this has shaped my attitude to the world and my own life.
In this guest post for the Daily Mind I’d like to share some of the things that Buddhism has taught me.
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Across the struggles and challenges that we face, it’s easy to fall into feelings of self-blame, guilt, and worthlessness. The narratives we attach ourselves to can often lead us to seeing (and believing) the worst in ourselves. But more often than not, the supposed “truths” we tell ourselves are often not true at all. How, then, do you find your authentic truth?
To find your authentic truth is to acknowledge the quiet, peaceful spaces in your mind, to let go of any beliefs, grudges, and grief you’ve held on to, and to embrace the light within you. Below is a meditation to help you do that:
As you sit comfortably on your chair or on your mat, come into the present moment by scanning your body from the top of the head to the tips of your toes. Observe the shape of your body, and pay attention to how the body is feeling today. Notice if you’re holding any tension across the hips or the shoulders. Allow your body to be upright, yet soft and relaxed.
Then, tune in with your breathing. Are you breathing more from the belly or from the chest? Understand that there is no right or wrong way to breathe. Start by simply allowing your breath to be natural and effortless. When you’re ready, try to breathe more deeply and equally across your belly and your chest.
Finally, tune in with your mind. Notice any worries, anxieties, and grievances that have taken root or have lingered in your mind. Observe these without judgment. Know that it is simply the ego that holds onto these, that joy and peace are found in the quiet, still spaces in the mind–in between the thoughts. As you recognize this, allow yourself to feel softer and lighter.
As you continue to observe and acknowledge your thoughts, then, start to pay closer attention to those quiet spaces. They exist in between each thought–the small, tiny space that is neither thought nor feeling–just pure being. Recognize that to find your authentic truth is to know that you are pure being. And, once again, allow yourself to feel softer and lighter.
When you’re ready to end your meditation, simply come back to your body and breath. Feel the weight of your lower body against your mat or your chair, start to wiggle your fingers and your toes. Then, open your eyes and feel refreshed and renewed.