If you’re like most people you’re pretty aware of the things you *could* do to improve your life and even *why* you should be doing them. The majority of us know that exercising, eating healthy, getting sufficient sleep, practicing meditation and reaching out to a yoga therapist or psychotherapist for support would be beneficial.
Maybe you’re even having regular conversations with yourself about creating new habits in your life and trying to muster up the willpower to move forward. What blocks most people from continuing to take steps when trying to build new habits is not a lack of motivation or willpower. It’s something altogether different.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, one of the lifestyle teachings is called Tapas. Tapas refers to our ability to tolerate unpleasantness and friction AND stay on path. Tapas is a skill that we can cultivate through conscious effort and for most it’s the missing ingredient. You can't change your habits unless you’re willing to endure some discomfort, resistance or give yourself permission to be “bad” at something.
When I meet people out in the world, some of the most common responses after finding out my career is to: awkwardly pause (not kidding), excitedly ask questions or tell me all the reasons they can’t practice yoga.
Frequently it’s statements like: “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible,” or “I can’t practice meditation because my mind is too busy.” What they’re really saying is… I don’t feel successful practicing hatha yoga and meditation because it’s uncomfortable and challenging for me.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already taken the leap to practice yoga or meditation at some point. Maybe you’re working on practicing yoga again (or more often) or becoming more self-confident. Whatever it is you may be wondering, “How do I cultivate tapas?”
In the words of Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Time and time again it’s been proven that taking small actions adds up over time. I encourage you to start small and stay committed to whatever you are feeling led to pursue right now. In my opinion, it’s easier to develop the skill of tapas when we have support and accountability in some form.
Check out my online course, Befriend Your Body, if you are ready to do the work of showing up in your body and healing your relationship with it.
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A collection of all things yoga and wellness from yours truly.