Feel the Burn to Find the Blessing

"Can you show courage and stay in the fire until you find the blessing?" ~ C.L.

Have you ever seen a farmer burn his field? It's interesting to see how burning old debris, where everything seems charred and ruined, brings new growth, life and beauty to seemingly dead land. It's a kind of new beginning that produces luscious bounty once again.

The third niyama (internal duties and observances) is Tapas. Tapas translates to "heat" and means self-discipline, change, tolerance or transformation. It has the sense of "cooking" ourselves in firey discipline to transform ourselves into something else. It's also the day to day choice to burn non-supportive habits of the body and mind, choosing to forsake momentary pleasures for future rewards.

When life challenges us, do we check in or check out? Can we stand the discomfort, having faith that there is a blessing beyond the burn? The promise of a crisis is that it will pick us up and deposit us on the other side of something. Will we trust the process or will we stick our head in the sand?

In our yoga practice we are encouraged to lean into our discomfort. When we explore our edge, beyond our comfort zone, transformation happens. We learn to keep a steady breath and trust the process that freedom lies beyond our restriction and constriction.

Having a daily disciplined practice is referred to as Sadhana. It implies the discipline itself is the fulfillment. It's like doing a small, controlled burn on ourselves. It's the discipline of putting ourselves in places where the old debris has collected in us can be removed. This includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy. We engage in this process when we pay attention to moving our body daily, eat a healthy diet consistently and routinely expand our mental and spiritual knowledge. This process begins to remove unwanted pounds, lazy habits, a stale mind and an unheard spirit.

Whether we practice tapas by showing up on our mat for a regular practice or other acts of self care, we offer ourselves to the next higher version of us. We willingly stand the heat so that we might produce a luscious bounty with our lives. As Pattabhi Jois once said, "Practice, and all is coming."

Are you paying attention to your daily choices? Are you making choices that are indulgent, or making choices that build your strength and character? Listen to your inner voice and make choices that prepare you for the heat of life.

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