As my children and I begin to bend our minds towards going back to school, we also know that routine and discipline are good for us and help us to be our best serves. Long, hot summer days can lead to less of a routine and daily schedule. ‘Tapas’ – translated as heat or discipline – is one of the yogic niyamas or character building inquiries. But what does it mean in our daily life?
While discipline and dedication sound more like ‘willpower’, we might want to start by taking a more gentle approach. I have been thinking about how to embrace ‘tapas’ and came across one definition from my teacher training, which puts it like this: ‘placing self limits to create expansion and development’. This can help us view tapas instead in the light of restraint: perhaps a commitment to giving something up or eliminating something that isn’t helping you; or it could mean introducing a simple commitment to make time once or twice a week for meditation or yoga instead of going out.
It can be helpful to think of tapas as a way of creating a more realistic, balanced life – without draining our life energy by over effort or over work. By thinking carefully about what is important to us, we can look at how we spend our time more clearly and decide what, if anything, we can give up to create more expansion and space for the things that matter.