I chose to title my website “Tapas of Life”. Why?
You might know “tapas” as various small dishes in the Argentian cuisine, delicious and very popular with “Happy Hour” crowd. One of the best tapas places I recently found was at “Malbec” – Argentinian restaurant in Toluca Lake.
Well, “tapas” I had in mind when I started this website are of a different kind.
According to “Light on Yoga” by B.K.S.Iyengar: “Tapas is derived from the root “tap” meaning to blaze, burn, shine, suffer pain or consume by heat. It therefore means a burning effort under all circumstances to achieve a definite goal in life. It involves purification, self-discipline and austerity. The whole science of character-building may be regarded as practice of tapas”.
Wikipedia defines “tapas” as “essential energy”, referring to a focused effort leading towards bodily purification and spiritual enlightenment…Tapasya implies a self-discipline or austerity willingly expended both in restraining physical urges and in actively pursuing a higher purpose in life. Through tapas, a yogi or spiritual seeker can “burn off” or prevent accumulation of negative energies, clearing a path toward spiritual evolution.”
But one of the most interesting definitions of “tapas” was given by Yoganand Michael Carroll in “Tapas: The Fire in Your Practice”:” In the Sanskrit dictionary, tapas is defined as heat, as fire, and also as a verb meaning “to hurt” or “to cause pain.” Within the parameters of yoga, tapas was interpreted by Swami Kripalu as a friction produced by going against the grain. Whenever you do something that you wouldn’t normally do, that’s tapas.”
So, to some it all up, “tapas” are the challenges in our daily lives, that we need to overcome to become a better yogi or human being. These challenges often times seem insurmountable and hard to tackle; they go totally “against our grain”, against our regular habits, but in the long run if we embrace them and conquer them, we will move forward, we’ll progress…These “tapas” could be different for different people: for someone a challenge would be not to gossip and badmouth other people, for others – to reverse unhealthy eating habits, for yet another group of people - staying away from the bottle and cigarettes would be their hardest “tapas”.
Anyway, our life is full of these challenges and as we move from one stage of our development to another, we move from practicing one set of tapas to another one, blazing away our negativity, self-doubt, bitterness, anger and other habits and emotions that keep us from becoming happy and complete selves.