If you want to go where you’ve never gone, you have to be willing to step into the fire.
I’ve been really present to the idea of letting everything I’ve known or believed about myself & what’s possible in my life, fall apart in order to purge the old karma, old baggage, and false beliefs I’ve held onto for so long. This is not the first time I’ve done this and it won’t be the last. This week, this practice has evolved into remembering that if I really want to transform, if I really want to purge what’s not needed anymore, I have to step into the fire of Tapas and have the discipline to transform amidst the discomfort of dismantling the familiar.
Tapas as a practice(Niyama) is Self Discipline. In our yoga practice we describe Tapas as heat-internal and external heat. The way I pull that together is this: Tapas is having the self discipline to step into the fire of transformation and stay when everything in you wants to run back to the familiar or default. You stay until all the old $#!+ has been burned away. Deborah Adele says something to the affect of “Tapas eventually changes our nature, turning us into a cauldron that can withstand all of life’s challenges...it is the willingness to be both burned and blessed.”
It’s hot in the fire. Duh. You don’t step in expecting it to be a walk in the park. You step in knowing it’s necessary. You step in because you KNOW in your bones that it’s time to let go of something that’s not working anymore. For me right now, it’s anger. Anger my ego has secretly been projecting onto other things simply because it’s been buried in there for so damn long and it was easier to point it toward anything other than the truth.
If you know me, you might be shocked to hear me say that what I’m standing in the fire with is anger. I am not an “angry person” but yes, I am burning through anger right now. It started as sadness, a long time ago, and over time that sadness turned to resentment. After being in there for too long without being acknowledged or processed, that once tiny seed of sadness manifested into full blown anger.
I hesitated to even share this because “who wants to trust an angry yoga teacher”(haha)?! Then I realized..."Who wants to trust a yoga teacher who lies and pretends that everything is always peace and love?!" I am not an angry yoga teacher...I am a human yoga teacher & student with work to do, just like you. Let me tell you something else, I’ve been in the fires of transformation with this “thing” for some time now, I just didn’t know it was anger until recently.
I’ve been to this place with other emotions and habits before which helps & I want to share my recipe because I want you to have the chance to be both burned and blessed.
1. See: See the area of your life that you want to transform-be honest. The thing about being honest...you just need to be as honest as possible. Sometimes we think it’s one thing and then once we get into the fire and the excess starts burning away, we realize there’s more. It’s ok, you can handle it! You were meant to handle it! You can start “small.” Start with your yoga practice -stay in a pose 1-2 breaths longer than you think you can, and then stay 1-2 more after that, going past what you FEEL like doing. Let the heat rise, let your mind run wild and if you can, you stay until you find the calm center...then you get out. If you always do a flow practice, try a Yin practice where you’re actually required to stay through the chaos. If you don’t practice yoga do something like not hitting the snooze button or something like that-low risk but potentially high impact.
2. Decide: Decide you’re really going to step into the fire of transformation. Step in to trusting yourself and whatever Universal source of energy & Love you believe in. You’re not alone.
3. Step in & Stay: Let the fires burn. Let it get hot. Let your mind run wild and try to tell you that you don’t have what it takes to do this. Stay anyway. You do have what it takes.
4. Trust: Trust that you’re not alone. Anyone who has truly chosen the path of growth and Love is standing in their own fire, WITH you. God, Source, Light, Universe has your back- You were born deserving the Love, Joy and the exact life you’ve dreamed of.
5. Surrender: Stop fighting. It’s one breath, one step, one day at a time. Always. If you try to go faster than that you will bypass the actual moment of transformation and I promise, the thing you avoided will find you again...and again until you’ve processed, released and transformed it to Love.
6. Be patient. Be kind (to yourself): I don’t think I need to explain this part…
Long story short(ha)- Tapas or stepping into the fire is about being willing to challenge your limiting beliefs and habits. Tapas is being willing to go deeper with yourself, to really look at and ultimately release anything that is keeping you from having exactly what you want, what you were meant to have.
You can spend your life avoiding the fire and you will spend your whole life avoiding Joy & Love in the fullest expression. I know this for a fact. I’ve lived it. This is why whenever I feel that little tug at my soul to look deeper, I take a deep breath, say a little prayer for strength and ask to be shown the truth.
I have been thanking the Universe every single day for this beautiful, and yes painful gift of seeing what has been blocking the fullest expression of my heart. Gratitude is majorly important here. I want you to know, the moment I realized this anger that I’ve been secretly holding, my heart instantly felt lighter. The moment I recognized it was the moment I could separate myself from it. The anger is not me...it’s an emotion that got stuck and I’m the only one who can unstick it...but that’s a separate conversation! If this is possible for me it IS possible for you, period. You've got this.