August 17, 2012

Where Did All the Tapas Go? ~ Mindy Arbuckle

Photo credit: Abby Lane

The age in which we live can be called interesting, to say the least.

Things are changing and shifting so rapidly these days that it sometimes is hard to recognize where we are and who we are.

We see a crazy political environment, even crazier people shooting up theaters and religious sites and our connection to each other is getting farther and farther apart through the use of the internet.

There isn’t as much personal interaction anymore.

Yet, if I sit quietly in a peaceful space, I am able to connect to my breath, my peace, my truth.

But how many of us take the time to regularly do this?

To cut through all the crap in the world and check in with our truth and find our centers? It takes time and discipline to do this regularly.

It bears the question: where did all the tapas go?

Tapas is one of the essential practices of living your yoga.

It is burning enthusiasm to do your work (dharma), discipline, searing through challenges and holding yourself responsible for yourself.

Without tapas there is little motivation to do anything. It helps us to see what is real and unreal and to actually do the practices that will help us get closer to oneness with all that is.

I am undoubtedly blessed to be born in and live my life in the United States. I honestly think there is no better place in the world to spend a lifetime.

Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing places around the world, many of which I have visited and I will continue to travel and explore new regions. But, my homeland affords me the opportunities of being a woman and a business owner easily.

I don’t have to deal with obscene repression by my male counterparts. I can be a spiritual being amongst everyone else. I can take responsibility for myself and my actions and not have to worry about what anyone else thinks of me or who might shut me down.

I have to wonder how many Americans out there still feel this way?

I look around me and see my brothers and sisters holding their hands out in a culture of deservedness and expectations that they should receive something without putting any effort into it.

I see so many people who lack any self-control and responsibility even for their own personal health and security—people blaming anything for their troubles instead of looking at the one responsible for their lives: them.

I’m overweight because of my DNA.

I’ll never have a good job because of where I was born.

I’m this color or that color so I’ll always be discriminated against.

I come from a broken home so I’ll never have a good marriage.

Why do so many Americans focus on what is wrong with the culture or their parents or their spouse, their bosses, their neighbors?

If we started with ourselves then we might just discover the strength and courage that our fore-fathers had. It seems like our grandparents and our great grandparents (the black ones and the white ones and every other color, too) were so willing to take chances.

They would set out to better themselves, work hard, put in the effort with a burning enthusiasm to succeed.

Sometimes they did succeed, at other times they didn’t. They didn’t let any other person put a definition on their success (like we do today with our celebrity love affair—if I don’t have a bazillion dollars I’m nothing).

If they ran into an obstacle or several of them, they learned from the experience and explored other options. They were so willing to do that, to explore, not knowing what the outcome would be.

So it seems that they were proficient at another one of our yogic practices, vairagya or non-attachment.

This is an interesting one to put together with tapas.

It states that we should put all our effort into who we are and our life’s work, yet not expect anything from those actions. Let go of the expectation of rewards. Do what you must do because it is the right thing to do.

Be the best parent you can and allow your children to grow up without expecting them to become a doctor or repay you in any particular way. It’s organizing a volunteer group to help needy children and not needing a thank you from them or recognition from the mayor

It’s being a yoga teacher simply to enhance people’s lives and not expecting to become a yoga “rock star.”

Can you do your work with discipline and enthusiasm, even when challenges arise and do it because it is the right thing to do? Whatever the outcome, seemingly good or bad, successful or a complete failure, can you maintain your peace and your calm, your centered self?

It is through tapas and vairagya that every human on earth can live a better life.

Start with yourself and put a smile behind everything you do and watch what happens without grasping for what you expect to happen. Let your tapas inspire your daily practice of quiet contemplation (also known as meditation).

Be devoted to knowing and cleaning up yourself. Know who you are so you can take on all the ups and downs life will give you and stay centered. Be responsible for all your actions, all your thoughts and every word that you speak.

Burn through the crap that doesn’t serve you, get beyond the poor me’s and take action.

Let tapas light a fire under you that will never go out.

Mindy Arbuckle, E-RYT and founder of Maitri Yoga Center, has been practicing and teaching yoga since the late 90’s. She loves spreading the knowledge and heart of yoga in an accessible way. Her deep love of yoga enables her to be straight forward, compassionate, caring, peaceful, dedicated and generous in her life and with her students. By listening to her readers, students and to herself, she is able to apply universal knowledge to practical goals of this world including health, family life and business. She believes in the power of yoga for every person and is skilled at finding the right yoga practices for each individual rather than a student fitting into a particular style of yoga. She is fully committed to being a healer, teacher, wife, mother and yogini while remaining down to earth and connected to source.

Editor: Jamie Morgan

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