Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tapas


I just came across this quote that made me laugh and I couldn't help putting it out there for you:

"A girl is a person who screams at the mouse and smiles at the wolf."

-Shyam Kapoo

I just thought the quote was strangely true in some ways and ironic as well. Unfortunately it's a bit unrelated to the topic of the day. I'm long over due to talk about my next Niyama- Tapas.
Tapas means burning enthusiasm, or austerity, or great effort as well as lots of other translations. All the different meanings or translations boil down to one thing- giving it your best shot. Which is the opposite of what I often find myself doing. Half-assing it (sorry I couldn't think of a nicer connotation for this). Tapas represents picking something you really want to achieve and putting all your effort and energy into achieving it and not letting other things get in your way. Using tapas helps burn up all the bad stuff in the body on the physical, mental, and spiritual level. It also burns up all the road blocks preventing you from achieving your goals.
Here's an example. Say you decide you want to lose ten pounds and I mean you really do want to you're not just saying it. If you approach this goal with tapas you would set out your plan on how you will be eating well and exercising regularly and when temptation offered itself to you you would walk away.
Compare that to how a lot of people go about weight loss. They say they want to lose weight. They choose an unresearched fad diet that makes them go crazy, they tell themselves they'll workout 2 hours a day and then they tell themselves they're strong enough to accompany a friend to a buffet. Next thing you know nothing has changed. If they had just set more realistic steps they could have gone about the whole thing with enthusiasm. An important thing to notice with the yamas and the niyamas is that practices like non-harm and contentment with yourself come first. So setting goals that take care of your well-being and looking for aspect in the things you have to do that you can find enjoyable makes a big difference around whether you'll achieve your goals.
There are lots of areas you can practice tapas, with your work, with how you treat your relationships, with what you do with your free time.
It's funny when you think about present society, we don't even relax with tapas. We'll tell ourselves we're going to take a vacation because we need to relax and then we spend the whole time answering emails related to work or doing this or that because it needs to be done, yet we told ourselves we need to relax. Even when it's something we should be enjoying we have trouble practicing tapas.
So my suggestion is to start out with something small. Like decide the next time you have a meal you will do it with tapas. You're not going to rush through it jamming bitefuls in your mouth. You're not going to pay more attention to some magazine then you do your food. Your just going to enjoy your food for every single bite. Then maybe consider bigger things to put your full effort into and if when your doing this practice you hear your mind telling you you'd rather be doing something else or you have two million things you should be doing instead tell your mind to be quiet, you're busy practicing tapas.
-Namaste!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ants in Retrospect

I've been going through my old blogs adding tags to them for the past hour. It's so weird to read about your thoughts months after you've had them. First there's the initial shyness over reading what you've written, it's similar to hearing your own voice on a answering machine message. Next there's the strangeness of how much you've changed in the past few months, sometimes progressing forwards, sometimes circling back in on yourself, (giving the illusion of little progress despite all the mileage you've put on). Then there's the odd discovery that some part of yourself has not changed one bit and never seems to no matter how you grow or evolve.

My first few posts were right at the end of my yoga teacher training. I notice I sounded quite a bit lighter and brighter but also a little more unsure and maybe scared or something.

As I move along through my posts I notice my tried and true sarcasm coming back into my writing and while my negativity bugs me I find I sound stronger with that edge to me. I think that's been my balancing trick all along. Trying to be open and happy without being gullible and lost. Soft yet strong, Ying and Yang. The balance a lot of us look for.

The really weird thing in the whole overview is how quickly a person's path changes and swirls around back in on itself. I imagine from a God perspective the path of most humans would look like that of an ant, erratic and lost. That's how it feels sometimes too, at least in the moment. When you're standing in the middle of it life makes absolutely no sense. It's only after the moment has passed that we can look back and see the purpose of the path you followed.

I signed up to do a one day yoga retreat on one of my days off. I haven't been back to the yoga centre in about two months and I'm hoping if I put myself out there I might get some of my shininess back.

I'm not really sure where it goes but I'm hoping if I keep coming back to being shiny long enough it will just stick.
I feel badly about not having more time to post. I hope to get a post out to you about Tapas (the burning enthusiasm Niyama) next time I write.
In the meantime wish you all and myself Shanti Shakti (Peace and Power).