There’s no denying it, change can be scary. But employing Tapas can help facilitate growth and deter the resistance that may arise. The reality is, you can’t stop yourself from changing. You are continually transforming, moment to moment, day to day, no matter what you do. Change is inevitable. Once you accept this truth, perhaps the bigger questions are: Why should you change? What should you change? When should you change? And how should you change?
Tapas, the third of Niyamas—activities that are part of healthy, fulfilling living—is derived from the Sanskrit verb tap, “to burn.” It refers to the discipline of burning away impurities. This makes it sound like there is something wrong with you. There isn’t. But if you’re in tune with your feelings, they can signal when you need to slough off the outer layer of yourself. Next time you’re feeling insecure, defensive, or apathetic, some tapas is likely in order.
But why--why change? On some level, it doesn’t matter because you cannot help but to change. So a better question then is how can you change in a way that serves you? By activating your inner world and acknowledging your feelings—you can change in an expansive way. If you instead deny and bury your feelings, you will change by contracting. But you are meant to expand. When you work against expansion and contract, you may feel grey, self-doubt, the desire to cut off from other people and ultimately yourself. Your actions (how you change) and reactions to your feelings (what you change) are, together, what establishes the direction of your transformation.
The process of transformation is not linear but there are some steps that can guide you through change when you have an inkling it is necessary or you are ready to practice your tapas:
Ask yourself: What do I desire? Then ask: Do I have any blocks that pop up when I imagine what I desire? If so, then that is your work—what you “should” change. It’s that simple. Now you know what you need to change. The path to setting an intention is through these blocks toward what you desire.
Establish Clarity: At this point, do not burden yourself with figuring out the how and when. Start with the intention and you will get there.
Choices of Conviction: Make a choice to honor your intention and to take actions in alignment with it. Acknowledge that your choice and supporting actions will spur change. Congratulate yourself for a willingness to go through change and continue.
Effort and Ease: Know that change may or may not happen on the timeline you think it will. It probably won’t be linear. It might happen counterclockwise, or spill over entirely. And while the effortful action is essential to expansion, there is a limit to the control you have over this process. This is because there is a magical component to change—the transformational element. This element, once it appears, does not always look as we intended it to. This might sound scary initially or discouraging. Why try to change if you can’t know the outcome? Because it can be better, bigger than you ever dreamed. When you meet challenging circumstances with internal activism, you can move through change without fear.