The theme of the week is tapas. No, not small portions of Spanish cuisine. I am talking about the Indian kind of tapas. (Don’t even get me started on small plates! It’s always the same price as an entree, and the waiter is like, “We recommend getting 2 or 3 per person.” Plus then you are worried you are eating more than your share...I just want a plate to myself!)
Tapas is one of yoga’s ethical guidelines known as the yamas. It’s a Sanskrit word that translates to “heat” or “fire.” Tapas is the discipline of doing the things that move you toward positive transformation. Beyond that, tapas is doing those things even when it is hard, even when you don’t want to, even when there is discomfort and sacrifice.
The basic idea is that growth can feel good and satisfying, but it can also feel really uncomfortable. Whenever you start to change, there is a part of you that pulls you back, that makes excuses, that tries to talk you into staying in bed. Tapas asks us to stay with the discomfort, rather than choosing the option that will make it go away the fastests, and to choose not to listen to the limiting voice.
Think of the scenario in If You Give A Moose a Muffin.
You make a commitment to practice yoga every single morning for 30 minutes and spend 30 more minutes journaling.
You choose to do that because you want to live a meaningful, purposeful life built on your deepest values.
Which means you need to spend time grounding, reflecting, and setting your priorities.
So, in order to do that hour-long practice, you have to wake up an hour earlier than normal.
In order for that to be sustainable, you have go to bed earlier and get better quality sleep.
In order to do that, you have to cut out the habits that are least supportive. The weakest links—like watching that extra episode of Netflix, endlessly scrolling down your Instagram feed, or having another drink—have to go. The things you eat that make getting out of bed in the morning harder—also have to go if you are really committed.
It’s hard!! Many days you don’t want to keep your commitment. But that friction, the discomfort in doing-it-anyway is the magic spark that creates the transformative fire of tapas.
If you keep it up for long enough, say a couple months, you will notice a change for the better in your body, your mind, and your life.
Start with what is important to you. How do you want to live this one, precious life on planet Earth. What practices or habits will help you align your actions, thoughts, and words toward that aim? Commit to doing something, anything, even 5 minutes, everyday that supports you. Stick with it. Feel the friction! Let it spark into a fire, and the let the fire transform.