Happy Father’s Day, Happy 30th Birthday to my sister Hannah, and Happy Summer Solstice. We are up in Buffalo staying with my parents for a few weeks and wow, I am loving the change of pace. Shaun and I both have a fair amount of Pitta dosha – that fire-y, get-things-done energy. Though in many ways we’ve thrived in the routine of quarantine, I am grateful for this opportunity to slow down and enjoy time with family.
There’s so much sun (and Pitta) energy at the Summer Solstice, so it’s fitting that today we’re going to talk about Tapas. Tapas is a sanskrit word that means heat and it refers to the emotional/mental heat of creating structure and doing your duty. Tapas is about showing up and doing the work, even when you don’t feel like it. Tapas is an important piece of the yogic path and a way to be more enlightened and centered in your day.
What’s your reaction to the idea of Tapas?
Your reaction can tell you a lot about your Ayurvedic dosha. For people with Pitta dosha, Tapas sounds awesome. The idea that you just need to show up and work harder in order to feel better is something Pittas tend to believe and a challenge they want to take on.
Feel overwhelmed or worried about having to show up when things get difficult? You probably have some Vata dosha – the airy, creative energy that doesn’t gravitate towards structure.
Or maybe you think Tapas just sounds like a drag. That is the energy of Kapha. You could wake up an hour earlier to go for a run…. or you could stay in bed. Comfort is more important.
I often meet people who say they have a motivation problem, but it’s more likely that the Vata and Kapha dosha are higher in your body, and there’s some fear or resistance to showing up for Tapas.
Let’s be clear: I don’t think we should all be manic, to do list-wielding Pittas. I don’t think now’s the time to do a 5 day juice cleanse or sign up for a marathon to prove your commitment.
In fact, a client of mine came up with the perfect way to explore Tapas without pushing too far into over-controlling. She calls it “Joyful Tapas”.
For some back story, my client is primarily Kapha dosha with a healthy dose of Pitta. Her reactions tend to be Kaphic – she has often rejected discomfort even when she knew it was getting in the way of her goals. She would be good intentioned, but actually showing up, day after day, felt really difficult.
So here was the dissonance: she has goals. She wants to accomplish things. It wasn’t her ability that was stopping her from achieving the goals, it was the discomfort of committing and showing up for the process. The broken promises to herself were triggering guilt (and often more of the behaviors she didn’t want to be engaging in anymore).
Enter Joyful Tapas.
Joyful Tapas is the recognition that some structure can actually create freedom.
Joyful Tapas is staying SO connected to your why that even if something is uncomfortable, you keeping doing it anyway.
Joyful Tapas is pushing yourself 5% outside of your comfort zone, not 95%.
Once she connected to Joyful Tapas by being super committed to her highest values/goals and identifying the linchpin actions that provide structure, she was able to start showing up for herself. And that showing up created momentum and confidence that she could keep showing up. The Tapas moved from discomfort and austerity to joy.
Check in on your Tapas.
Are you someone that shies away from commitment and effort? Or perhaps you actually push a little too hard? What could bring you to a place of Joyful Tapas?
Let’s do a Tapas check. As we start to re-open and return to life as usual, it’s the perfect time to ask yourself how you want to be. Create a new normal. Reconnect to your goals and understand how your unique constitution could be helping (or hindering) your progress by doing an Ayurvedic Consultation with me. We’ll dive in to your relationship to Tapas (and to food, stress, sleep, work, and play) to craft goals and daily practices that are tailored for your unique needs. Learn more and get a free consultation here!
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,