Tapas means “to blaze”. Connection with the inner fire that urges us on to develop, to love life and all that we do. The heat or fire of asana, pranayama, and other spiritual practices (sadhana) which burn away impurities. Once we are in touch with that inner desire, sadhana no longer becomes an effort, something we have to force ourselves to do. We really want to do it, from a deep inner knowing of its true effect and true meaning.
Affirmations: I touch the source of divine fire in me and let it work in my life. I am purified and radiant. I am the light of consciousness.
“Tapas” in Sanskrit means “to generate light and heat ” – as in the process of smelting or making finer metals. Just as fire purifies gold, restraint or discipline purifies the seeker. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna discusses the three types of tapas; tapas of the body , tapas of speech and tapas of the mind.
Tapas of the body is defined as the worship of God, guru, Brahma, sages and the practice of purity, moderation, and nonviolence. The regular practice of Hatha yoga postures creates the inner fire that burns away impurities, removing toxins and other blockages in the body. This disciplined action is performed with the desire to blaze to “generate light and heat” and to stoke the inner fire that leads us to love life and all that we do.
“To purify the mind, the average seeker should begin by attempting to accomplish tapas of the body. Tapas of speech and tapas of the mind will automatically follow.” Bapuji
Tapas of speech means speaking words that give no offense and which are truthful and beneficial. Generally, mental stimulation dictates the manner in which we speak. When we are displeased and speak while the mind is disturbed, our speech usually creates disturbances in others. When we hear bitter words we experience agitation, likewise, when we speak bitterly we inflict pain on others. Bapuji suggests we begin by practicing speaking lovingly to family members and loved ones. We must practice restraint and discrimination in speaking in order to be at peace within ourselves and to extend peace to others.
“Even loved ones and family members become alienated by bitter speech. Yet, even those who are alienated can become reconciled through loving speech.” Bapuji
Tapas of mind involves peace of mind, gentleness, self observation, self control and purity. Behavior can be controlled only if thought is controlled. We must gather positive thoughts and reduce negative thoughts. Tapas of the mind is the burning away of the mental and emotional disturbances that create inner conflict by learning to observe and examine our thoughts and their impact. Bapuji says that every thought transmitted is eventually received. “Whenever we think either positive or negative thoughts about someone else, these thoughts automatically register as either love or hate in the other person’s mind.”
In Amrit yoga we purify our bodies through regular Hatha yoga practice and as well as by following the guidelines of saucha -purity, brahmacharya -energy management and ahimsa – nonviolence. We practice swadhaya – self observation and restraint in both our speech and thoughts. We continuously align ourselves with our highest intentions as we let go of the self concepts and impurities that obscure our recognition of the light. By practicing tapas we are attracted to, and become increasingly more identified with, the light of consciousness as it glows ever brighter in our bodies, hearts and minds.