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!