Most people will think about Spanish appetizers when I mention tapas. However, I will write about tapas in terms of the third niyama. This niyama can be translated into austerity, self-discipline or motivation, all referring to one theme: the overcoming of distractions and desires to stay focused on your highest goals.
In the western culture austerity is usually associated with severity, depravation and harshness. However, within the yoga philosophy, austerity is an opportunity to free yourself from distractions. In the practise of tapas, you will find your own inner flame; the motivation that keeps you focused on your goals. This will support you while on the journey to fulfil a long term goal should difficulties arise. A clear and disciplined focus limits the power of the senses to distract you, distractions such as laziness, negative thoughts or weakness. Tapas adds richness, direction and meaning to your path. In the end, the discovery of your inner strength will be even more rewarding than the accomplishment of your goal.
Back to tapas as Spanish appetizers; you can look at your food decisions with regards to austerity. You can decide not to take more than a few appetizers while having some after work drinks with your colleagues, because of an ego driven desire to be skinny and attractive. Or your motive for not overindulging yourself is the wish for a healthy and happy body so that you can focus on your highest goals with less distraction from illness and fatigue. Clearly, the second motive is in line with the third niyama of Patanjali.
Part of tapas involves asking yourself: ‘What do I really want out of life?’ and ‘What kind of person would I like to be?’ The answers on these questions support you while confronted by dilemmas or difficult decisions. You will make the decision that brings you closer to your goals. In this way austerity becomes a way of determined focusing on what you really want.
It is a form of respect to yourself to make choices that serve your growth. If you are about to take another appetizer you can ask yourself the question: ‘Does it serve me if I take this snack right now?’ When you remember your true goal, your choices become less sacrificial and easier to make, because the effect is more fulfilling and rewarding.
How does tapas show up in your life?