Whole Life Magazine

June/July 2019

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June/July 2019 13 healthy living The (Inner) Heat of Transformation TAPAS H ere in Southern California, the summer season is upon us. This time of year usually means plenty of sunshine and fun times with friends, visits to beaches and swimming pools, and warm weather with lots of heat. But — did you know that within yoga philosophy there is an inner type of heat that can burn regardless of the season? "Tapas" is our inner heat, or inner fire. The root word "tap" in Sanskrit means to burn or blaze via heat. Tapas then, according to the yoga tradition, is typically described as the disciplined use of an inner resource of energy which can rid impurities from the mind, body, and spirit. Tapas is viewed as an inherent force that drives us toward achieving a goal; a power that propels us forward. Tapas is also categorized as conscious, sustained effort; fuel that gets us where we next need to be on our spiritual journey. Key aspects of tapas are self-discipline, single-mindedness, and devotion. Contrarily, enemies of tapas are laziness, closed-mindedness, and procrastination. Tapas is commonly cultivated through accessible practices within the realms of thought, speech, and action. Below are examples of how tapas is manifested within these aforementioned areas, and suggested practices are offered to help further generate awareness: 1) THOUGHT. When we use concentration as a type of inner fire, we can burn away random or fluctuating thoughts to become more equal-minded. Practices: meditation, prayer, single- pointed focus. 2) SPEECH. When we practice discernment to control our speech, we can burn away negativity, hateful words, and things like gossip and cynicism, which are often unnecessary and hurtful. Practices: journaling, writing poetry, repeating affirmations. 3) ACTION. When we practice mindful eating, we can burn away toxins within the internal organs, which not only cleanses the body, but all aspects of our being. Practices: fasting, gardening, body scanning for gratitude. Now that we know more about how tapas works, let's make this concept personal. Let's use this ancient notion in a contemporary way. Let's see if we can make this idea experiential, rather than philosophical. u Is there an area of your life where you need to move to the next level? u Is there something you need to get past or through or beyond? u Is there disharmony between your thoughts, speech, and action? u Is there something you want to do differently in your life, but you feel stuck? If any of these questions resonate with you, an inner shift may be required before answers are revealed. You may need to become better acquainted with tapas in order to burn away specific, limiting beliefs, conditioned behaviors, or other types of wrong perception before a solution appears. Would you be willing to try one of the suggested practices? Would you consider that the answer you seek is already within you? Are you willing to stoke your inner fire to find out your next solution? Remember, heat is very useful. It is a great agent of transformation. Some examples: When we light incense and sage, sweet fragrance fills the air. When we cook food, it becomes edible, nourishing, and energizing. When we a light a candle, the flame can illuminate a dark room. Heat is often a necessary component to change, so we should never be afraid to go within, light the inner lamp of awareness, and stoke the flames of curiosity and wisdom. Wishing you peace on your path. May your inner fire be lit! Wishing you clarity on your path. May your inner light shine brightly in this world! Wishing you serenity on your path. May your inner illumination spread to all beings everywhere! Namaste. Brian Hyman, RYT, is a yoga and meditation teacher. He is currently creating original course content for the app Insight Timer. Visit: www.brianhymanyoga.com. Photo: Courtesy of Brian Hyman Brian Hyman

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