We yoga teachers often talk about tapas in our yoga classes. You may have heard your instructor mention tapas in relation to creating heat in the body to further deepen the postures in the practice. This is one kind of tapas.
Tapas also means burning through the impurities in our hearts, minds, and bodies. This form of tapas is what I refer to in my Sol Sense Yoga Method® as “Distillation Highway.” When we adventure forth in our transformation (coming from a place of fear to a place of love), the distillation of our hearts, minds, and bodies is necessary for the longevity and evolution of our transformation and re-connection with our spiritual essence. There are several subsets to what encompasses Distillation Highway, but for purposes of this piece we will be looking at Pain Medicine.
In our modern world, we know pain medicine as medicine we take to relieve aches and pains. When we have been injured or have chronic sickness we go to the doctor and the doctor gives us pain medication. We even have pain medication for troubled injured minds and brains. We have pain medication for almost every conceivable part of our body.
Pain medication prescribed by doctors numbs the pain temporarily, but it does not cure the cause. It just numbs the symptoms. Sometimes the pain we experience in our bodies is so unbearable, like when we break a bone, the medication effect is like sweet nectar. That sweet nectar does not last long though. So, we keep on taking the pain medication until the bone or ailment(s) heal and sometimes that healing does not occur so we stay numbed out on pain medication or try a different pain medication to address another piece of the thread of the same issue.
Pain medication is sometimes necessary and sometimes pain medication is lifesaving when it regulates imbalanced chemicals in our bodies. Modern pain medication is good. Sometimes.
There is another kind of pain medication. It is a pain medication where we do not take pills, but where the heat of the pain brings light to our shadows. In intermittent conscious awareness, but mostly in the subconscious, our motivations stem from a longing of a taste of that sweet nectar where we do not feel any pain.
This is where tapas in our practice is vital. Tapas burn the impurities in our hearts, minds, and bodies. There are physical tapas and mental/spiritual tapas. We engage our physical tapas when we practice yoga on the mat. We heat our bodies with movement, get our heart rates up, and sweat out toxins accumulated in our bodies from the environment, food, and stress. We engage in physical tapas to prepare us for and keep us steady in meditation. A strong and fit body is much more likely to sit in meditation with success than a body that is inert most of the day. The ultimate physical goal of yoga is to burn the impurities out of the body so we can sit more easily in meditation to reach samadhi or enlightenment, or oneness with God.
The other kind of tapas – the mental/spiritual tapas – is manifested in our relationships with ourselves and others. There are people in our lives that are the tapas for our minds and spirits. They are the sand in our lives that help us give birth to our spiritual pearl. So, in essence, tapas is spiritual pain medicine, but instead of numbing the pain, tapas – whether experienced physically, emotionally, or mentally – is the fuel that can guide us through the pain so we can experience the spiritual gem on the other side.
I have written about fire starters in our lives in a piece called Soul Igniters. You can read that piece by clicking on the link here –
These fire starter relationships are our spiritual pain medicine. Without these Soul Ignitors in our lives, we risk becoming spiritually inert. And when we are inert we are not evolving, and instead our spirits slowly die. Soul Ignitors are the necessary ingredient that propels us into the adventure into what I call and refer to as Distillation Highway. Very few of us, if any, voluntarily take the Distillation Highway route in our lives. We are more likely to take the Additives Turn Around where we keep adding toxic substances and environments in our lives searching desperately for our spirits that are covered in smog and we become stuck and lost driving circles in a vicious cycle of spiritual death.
Soul Igniters can indeed become toxic if we tarry on too long with them in specific ways. They provide a certain level of pain and toxicity that is the ignition for us to wake up or open our eyes in a different light. These experiences are the signposts showing us the way to re-connect to our suffocating spirits and point us in the direction of Distillation Highway. These signposts tell us to take Distillation Highway without giving up or giving in to numb the pain.
If we do not take Distillation Highway after the fiery invite, we are very likely to repeat the pain cycle until we face it and drive through it. This kind of pain medication will not numb the pain. Like tapas, it will burn the impurities out of our mind, body, and heart. It will hurt. The process is extremely painful. It is absolutely no fun at all. But the pearl, the sweetest and long-lasting nectar of Divine love on the other side is worth the ride on Distillation Highway.
In honor of this process, I wrote the following poem:
Your words are filled with fatty lies
They clog the arteries in my heart
The poison looms in my cries
The attack is imminent
The pain electrifies
My last breath
Just like that
Heavy and Dead
She blew Love
Slowly back into my weakened body
Vital and cleansed
I feel joy
I feel deep pain
I feel deep love
I choose now to live a different way
Grace opened my heart
That one, special, very special day.
Take your spiritual pain medicine and drink the sweet nectar.
Om Shanti Om ~ Athea