The benefits of self-discipline
Kaya indriya siddhir ashuddhi kshayat tapasah
Through discipline, the impurities of the body and senses are destroyed, revealing the inner strength
Yoga Sutras, aphorism II.43
The art of discomfort
The 3rd niyama (personal observance) put forward by Patanjali, the author of Yoga Sutras, is tapas.
This Sanskrit term comes from the sanskrit word "tap" which means to burn, but it is very often translated by self-discipline or austerity.
In fact, the goal is to discipline oneself to suppress habits of the body, the mind or the speech that are no longer beneficial to us (to burn impurities) and thus to transform oneself in a positive way to gain energy, strength and serenity.
But obviously, the path of self-discipline is not always pleasant or comfortable.
Yet it is this learning of the discomfort that will strengthen our mind and allow us to stay more calm when difficult times come.
We could then say thatTapas is the path of wisdom that opens the way to positive transformation.
Be careful not to overheat
However, practicing tapas does not mean forgetting the other principles of life described by Patanjali, in particular ahimsa (the principle of non-violence) or bramacharya (the principle of moderation).
Indeed, as the muscles get tense when pulled too hard, the mind is likely to rebel and get frustrated with radical changes.
It is better to discipline yourself by changing things little by little, without being carried away by your ego that has an all or nothing tendency. The change will then be smooth and confident and will settle permanently.
Your goal is to reach contentment (santosha), even if you go through moments that are not necessarily pleasant.
After all, all learning (transformation) requires at some point to go through steps that do not please us.
Do you remember when you learned to walk? Your determination (the tapas fire) allowed you to not stop, despite the falls. So, despite the discomfort, you kept trying and in the end you could feel the satisfaction of walking on both feet!
How to apply tapas on the mat?
In your practice, you can, for example, decide to practice 10 minutes a day and keep up with your decision even when you feel lazy or really not in the mood for it.
You can also stop avoiding certain positions in which you are not comfortable, without discouraging yourself if you do not achieve it.
With your consistent practice, you will come out of the discomfort and feel a sense of contentment that will strengthen your mind and this experience will be useful when you will find yourself in difficult situations in your everyday life. That's it Tapas!
How to apply tapas outside the mat?
You can choose to eat healthier to help your body function more optimally.
Once again, avoid drastic changes in your eating habits so that you do not end up with a feeling of frustration that may make you give up your good resolutions. Change your diet starting with the easiest step for you and keep going as new habits come along.
By noting the positive changes, even the small ones, that you see, you will nurture your sense of satisfaction and confidence, which will help you to follow your decisions.
You can also apply tapas in your way of talking, whether to others or to yourself. By choosing pleasant, serene and positive words, you will influence your way of thinking and your emotions. And as our relationship to the world depends on how we perceive it, you will find that by transforming your way of speaking, and therefore your mind, the world and the situations will also look more sympatic.
When I hear the word discipline, I want to run away.
However, if it is apprehended as a way to get rid of habits or thoughts that are not beneficial to us, then the practice of tapas, if we do it step by step with a deep feeling of confidence, becomes a beautiful instrument to reveal the best of oneself!