“God knows your breaking point. You Simply Don’t Know Your Own Strength.”

-Swami Satchidananda

How many times have you been a safe container for those you care about? What did it look like? What did it feel like?

Challenging oneself to be disciplined or to attain a continual disciplinary practice is arduous yet revealing of ones’ efforts. As we would willingly be a safe container for people we care about, we too, get to create and hold space for ourselves.

Tapas (self-discipline) is one of the five niyamas– Yoga’s ethical practices. It is the Sanskrit term meaning “heat” or to “burn”. On the spiritual path, it refers to the purification process that removes impurities, toxicities, and obstacles. Tapas invites you to take notice of how you approach your life and see the areas that can be worked on, areas to burn that which may seem like a plague to your mind, body, and spirit.

You get to become mindful and learn to shift a negative perspective to a positive one, as tapas also refers to a welcoming attitude. You get to cultivate a welcoming attitude toward pain rather than the normal reaction of resistance, after all, what you resist persists! We don’t typically seek pain, but upon its arrival, we are open to accepting its purificatory qualities. When incorporating this understanding of tapas as an Integral part of our Yoga practice, it requires patience since daily living may at times be met with both foreseen and unforeseen challenges and difficulties.

When I was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I was graced by God’s healing hands. After I received chemo and radiation therapy my meditation was one with the Divine Healer and in my meditation His hands were placed over the 7-inch tumor that invaded my temple nestling into the cavity of my abdomen. I completely surrendered to what I had no control over and remained committed to my unwavering faith knowing that it was the Divine’s will for my life, not my will.

When on the battlefield it is easy to retreat to place of fear and doubt but instead, I chose to meditate, write about my experience and spend time in communion with God. Having done this, I was able to access the practice of self-discipline, thus holding myself in a safe container where God poured love into my body, burning the tumor in half and draining the insidious unwelcomed traces of death. This cathartic experience showed me how to tap into a discipline that nourished my mind, body and spirit. It was the precursor to fully understanding the Yamas and Niyamas, Yoga’s ethical disciplines.

To experience the result of a sacred practice such as tapas, would be like being left on an island alone – one would get to learn to work through their fears and purge all that has been an obstruction of their mind, body, and spirit, like a silent meditation pushing the mind against its own limits in exchange for peace, health, joy and humility.

When practicing this discipline, there’s a sense or feeling of Divine intervention where one is being shown what’s not working or what may be lacking – sending a sign or message for one to become introspective and see how they show up in their life, how they react to others and life matters, revealing ways in which one may take things for granted. Through this awareness, one gets to cultivate tapas in a way that results in divesting oneself of impurities.

When this practice becomes a committed practice the road to freedom peace and harmony is seen through a set of lucid lenses making one’s path clear. One then can manifest and bring to fruition their dreams as their life walk flows fluidly.

Someone may ask where or how to begin the practice of tapas. Well, you may commence with small steps. If you are seeking to break a pattern of behavior for example, you can begin by repeating affirmation such as, “With change comes the potential for better opportunities and experiences.” Or “Today I surrender to the things I am powerless over and embrace the opportunity to experience empowerment through change.”

Another step would be acknowledging that self-discipline is a commitment, that it may take working through mental and/or physical challenges and past trauma to rebuild your confidence. Since this ethical practice takes time to learn, it is important to practice self-compassion. We are spiritual beings living in world that is ever-changing and capricious. We get to forgive ourselves for our imperfections and with our eyes and ears open, learn our lessons with genuine receptivity. Tapas may lead to transformation, again opening and/or changing the trajectory of one’s journey.

Most importantly, when you have a “get to” and “welcoming” attitude rather than a “have to” and “resistant” attitude, toward life’s challenges and difficulties, there is a sense of gratitude for the things you couldn’t see before. And, again, what you may have taken for granted such as good health, a job, relationships, lifestyle, or finances becomes more deeply appreciated. By shifting your perspective, you get to ignite the purifying flame of transformation. As a result, you become empowered, steady and grounded in your commitment. You get to reframe how you approach your journey so that you can foster an attitude of gratitude for whatever life delivers your way and to create what you want for your life

May you feel encouraged as you read this article and know that the practice of tapas can help you move–as it did for me – from a place of fear consciousness to a flourishing love consciousness, encouraging different ways of being over time, learning to choose joy, authenticity and self-love. You get to be a clear space with the willingness to trust and surrender to be able to experience and live the tapas one day at a time.

About the Author

Elizabeth Sostre

Elizabeth Sostre

Elizabeth Sostre returned to her love for yoga and writing during the time she took ill with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, in 2009. Upon learning she could not return to her career as an educator for the Department of Education, she took time to rediscover herself. As she continued her new journey, she developed interest in several healing modalities, which led her to becoming a Reiki master, yoga teacher, yoga/wellness retreat coordinator, life and holistic health coach, and a transformational trainer. She wrote her first workshop, “Living Towards Wholeness” in 2019, which she continues to facilitate and promote, as her belief is that personal growth is born through the process of both spiritual and transformative work, springing one into a state of awareness, breakthrough, and application. Her vision for the world is connection – to connect in a space of respect, love, compassion, and peace. She has a BA in English Literature/Creative Writing and went to Graduate school for Clinical Counseling. Liz is currently writing a book, Deconstructing Your Past To Live In The Present.


1 Comment

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    WOW!!! A wonderful article. Truly enlightening and encouraging. I look foward to more of Elizabeth’s articles.


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