I am a strong believer in doing what feels right for you. In yogic philosophy there is the concept of tapas. It is widely translated to ‘discipline’. I feel like this word has a negative connotation because a lot of the time the things that we think we should have the discipline or the will power to continually do, are the things that we don’t really want to do.
Now there is a difference in practicing discipline between putting off 5mins of discomfort to get up and go do the thing you enjoy and know will make you feel great, like going to a yoga class or workout, and forcing yourself to do a workout that you resist every minute of wishing you weren’t there.
There is a difference between having a bath to practice self care because you love how being emerged in the warm water makes you feel and you are completely present and enjoying it and having a bath because that is what other people do for their self love Sundays so you can update your Instagram story and then feel uncomfortable the entire time.
Tapas is derived from the Sanskrit verb ‘tap’ which means ‘to burn’ – when we look at the practice of discipline from this perspective, the discipline comes from our fiery energy, our passion. Our passion is what burns away ‘impurities’ physically, mentally and emotionally, the impurities that stand blocking our path towards the action our passion is leading us to take.
When we start a new program, spend time resetting our goals or values or make that ‘I’ll start on Monday’ commitment, the initial high can lead to us declaring that we are ‘all in’ to this new lifestyle that we are planning to live. The excitement leads us to set parameters around our discipline that are unrealistic from the beginning. As soon as we stray, even by the smallest amount, it is easy to throw in the towel and quickly go ‘all out’ on the plans we had made.
The excitement of a new beginning can trick our brain into thinking that once we start this new thing, our entire life will be completely different straight away and this often is not the case at all. So when we are up to day 3 or 10 and we don’t feel all that different from when we started, we can begin to feel like a failure, we begin to pick out all the times we could have done something better and we beat ourselves up. When the self berating begins is the same time the self sabotaging commences. If what we have done so far hasn’t changed much then what’s the point of doing any of it right?
When we have this approach of ‘all in’ quickly followed by ‘all out’ we lose touch with our internal guidance system, the divine guidance that we each have access to. Whereas if we instead ask ourselves how can we best embody the feelings and qualities of the person we want to be in each given moment, it gives us the opportunity to forgive and move on from any minor (or major) deviations on our path.
If you set the intention to meditate for 20 minutes every day and there comes a day where you can’t fit that into your schedule, meditating for 3 minutes instead is ok.
If you set the intention to only eat nourishing foods and you are invited to a family dinner where the food isn’t what you ideally want, choosing the option most aligned is ok.
If you forget your supplements one day, it is ok to continue taking them the next day.
If you invest in a personal development program and miss all the live coaching videos, it is ok to go back and complete when the time is right.
If you start reading a book and it isn’t aligning, it is ok to not finish it.
If anything doesn’t go exactly according to your ‘all in’ plan – it is ok to take a pause, a reset or to re-navigate yourself when you need to.
You have everything you need within you already to make the best choice for you in every given moment. What you think will be best in the future when you are in a heightened state of excitement and motivation, is not necessarily going to be the choice that serves you best when the moment comes.
It is ultimately the small aligned action steps that we take every day or as consistently as possible that is going to move us in the direction we desire to go.
When a target you set for yourself isn’t met, honestly ask yourself was it because of poor performance by you or poor target setting. Usually it is because of poor target setting, with us setting unrealistic and harsh standards for ourselves.
Be gentle and loving with yourself.
Know that you are making the best choice you possibly can in each given moment.
Let your discipline be led by your passion.
Small aligned action is so much more powerful than forced action.
Everything you need is already within you.
You are enough.
Light & Love
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