Enduring Tapas- the discomfort of success
tapas : heat . Austerity , or trouble undertaken voluntarily for a higher purpose — Sanskrit translation.
Tapas is a New Year resolutions… the trouble we undertake for a higher purpose. We are all on this earth to contribute to the Universal dharma. The Universal purpose of life is toward “right-action”; action that sustains everything, including our own longevity.
The dharma of a golden retriever is to have the characteristics of a golden. To have the golden long furry coat, the disposition that believes it is a smaller dog, the instinct to hunt. A golden retriever would not act like a tree. It is not the dog’s dharma to behave like a tree.
Tapas is the challenge given to the golden that shapes it’s behaviour to be a service dog. Asking a golden not to jump up and greet you, asking a golden to contain his/her excitement is tapas for the dog.
Tapas for many people, perhaps you too, is getting out of bed 30 minutes early and sitting to meditate or to go to the gym before work. Usually people want to do the thing that is more comfortable. S/he wants to sleep late, eat the high calorie tasty foods, to play and to be entertained rather than work or suffer through the exercise and “healthy” meals that lead to sustaining the human body and spirit. This has resulted in the creation of many time saving devices, the power of the entertainment industry, the handheld computers to which we owe our connectivity.
Each of us has been created with a unique thumb print, a unique gift we have to offer the world — a unique dharma. Our universal challenge is to continually create the motivation, the inspiration to move through the tapas. It is easier to stay in the job we dislike or stay in bed in the morning. We have shelter and food. We are comfortable. At least… physically comfortable.
But perhaps in our heart we know there is something missing. We feel a disease. We feel the tapas of trying to live the life that is not ours to live.
After completing my Master’s, I travelled and climbed full time. I was living in a van with my partner at the time and we would move from one climbing area to another projecting routes or onsighting. There is a great freedom in having your only responsibility be to go outside and play every day. To explore and to travel, living a life of adventure.
But after a few weeks, I would begin to be unhappy, uneasy. I did not know why, it felt like something was missing. I wanted to go and teach. We would pack up and head back to a gym and I would share everything I learned about being a successful climber with people willing to pay for it.
My dharma is not to be an athlete, my dharma is to be a teacher, a coach. I spend time climbing, watching climbers, learning, but the fulfillment comes from sharing what I learn.
The goal that motivates me to endure the sharp edges biting through my skin, the cool temperatures that allow the rock to be sticky and the muscles fatigue that comes from trying hard, the fear of failing and falling, is to share what I understand about how to BE better, to PERFORM better.
1. Have a goal that is meaningful to YOU, but not for you.
Making money or losing weight, if these are things you do for you… they can’t be the goal. The goal must be what you are able to give to others. The money must be for something other than yourself, some greater meaning. Losing weight must be for some higher purpose… because you want to be healthy enough to contribute in some other way.
2. Have a support network.
When we have the people who support the effort we are making, it is easier to stay focused on completing the goal. Get a coach. Get a best friend who you too can support.
3. Create objectives that lead to the goal.
Teaching is the fulfilling part. But I had to understand the material in order to teach it. I had to endure the fear, work with my own experiences in order to be able to articulate the lessons for others. This meant I had to take steps… objectives… that enabled me to teach, the steps that prepared me to teach. These are your daily action items. Today I will…. list at least 3 objectives for each day that will lead to you being able to express your dharma.
4. Get uncomfortable.
The daily objectives have to make you uncomfortable. When you boulder, you can get to the top of the boulder through the easiest route possible. But if you want to get better, to push yourself, you have to take the harder route. If you want a sense of accomplishment, you have to try harder every time. You have to let the skin get sore, the muscles get tired and definitely fall. Or fail in your attempts. That is the only way to understand what doesn’t work.
5. Don’t resist, move with curiosity.
Meditating creates tapas. Or should I say, trying to meditate. Try it. Sit still. Set an alarm for 15 minutes and try to sit still and not get caught up in imagination or thinking. It is not easy. So how do people do it? The mind likes to have a job to do. It enjoys stimulation… hence the success of the entertainment world. Concentration on one thing is a great place to start learning to meditate. You have probably already had a moment when you got so lost in a book, or writing an essay or with a friend that you completely lost track of time. This is the mind concentrated to the degree that you are withdrawn from awareness of other things. Practice this. Practice getting into situations where you become so rapt in the process or in curiosity, that you forget where you are, time of day, whether you are hungry. Engage completely. As soon as you begin to resist where you are, you will notice you become tense, frustrated, and your energy decreases rapidly. Without energy, you will not succeed.
6. Take care of your energy.
We are energy. The more energy you have and the more you can direct your energy, the more potential success you can have.
You gain energy from food, from air, even from others in the form of love. You also use energy through the five senses, activity and to mental activity.
Surround yourself with energy that gives you more positivity, nutrients, better quality sleep, breath. Convert your energy to positivity and vibrancy. Hope, possibility. Excitement.