Writing a blog every day is actually much more difficult than I thought it was when I set out on my 365-day challenge of blogging daily about my personal development. It was such a nice idea, but in practice, it is really hard work. I am loving it and getting a lot from the experience, but I do feel like some topics I can't do justice to as I have to move on to the next one so quickly.
Setting myself a goal of doing something every day was partly so that I can build a consistent daily writing habit as much as anything. The need to get something, anything, produced by the end of the day is really good for me, especially with my goal of writing a book. It is the discipline or 'tapas' of doing anything repeatedly and consistently that delivers the results. Tapas is not just a Spanish meal of assorted delicious mini plates, in yoga, it is one of the niyamas.
Patanjali wrote a sacred yogic text called the Yoga Sutras and it outlines the 8-step path to samadhi (enlightenment or divine bliss). The first things you have to do before you even get to any of things we think to be yoga in the west: stretching, balancing postures (asanas), and breathing (pranayama) is to act in a way which embodies the values of yoga. These things are called the yamas and niyamas.
The five niyamas are moral codes or social contracts which lead us to behave in a positive way, especially towards ourselves. Tapas can be translated a number of ways, as 'discipline', 'austerity', or 'burning enthusiasm'. It is having the willpower, grit, determination to see out tasks to completion. It is being able to build consistent positive habits into your daily life.
Most people are able to do something once, even a few times without it being very challenging at all. But to be able to drag yourself to your yoga mat day in, day out for a year regardless of what else is going on in your life is not something the majority of the population can do. That is tapas, dedication in the pursuit of a positive goal.
Tapas doesn't just apply to your asana practice. It applies to anything that you build a habit by doing consistently, maybe meditating every day, or regularly running or lifting weights. Maybe it's to do something creative each day or to be consistent about journaling. Maybe it's tapas to eat healthy foods, or creating a new kinder way of talking to yourself when you look in the mirror.
Day 8/ 365 days of personal development