Crazy for Tapas

Every act of prayer contains an element of emptying yourself, a relinquishment of volition, will and ego.  You endeavor to clear your mind, to become internally empty enough to receive something—an inspiration, an idea, a vision, a decision, a choice, an insight, a hunch, an intuition, a weighty emotion, a thought, a clue, a scent. 

Thomas Edison placed highest value on carving out a daily period of solitude for himself.  To him it was essential to set aside plenty of time for NOT doing, but rather for thinking, contemplating, PRAYING, opening himself up to the internal problem of solving possibilities that live within. He learned to trust that if he had the discipline and the patience to wait then something NEW would spontaneously occur to him and then he would put into action his new discovery. 

This is none other than the famous yoga sutra concept of Nirodha, cessation, emptying out, stilling the mind as a preparation, and coming to a state of readiness for IT.  A readiness to enjoy and make use of whatever it is that will bubble up from your depths and present itself to your consciousness.  Each day when you practice you are carving out this time of solitude for insight. With your asanas you are offering small and big prayers in order to receive something. With small prayers you ask for answers to smaller situational problems and the small prayers will help you build skill so that you can open yourself up to receiving guidance with larger matters.   And with great prayers you ask nothing less than to be led forward into your life mission. 

These two pictures are from twenty years ago. At that time my days solely consisted of practice, teaching, yoga sutras, and singing. I was a bit of a nut case for tapas but I needed that time. I wasn’t clear that teaching was the path for me and so with each asana I would empty out in the hopes that an answer to my question would come to me, “Am I on the path of my dharma?" Slowly a shift started to happen within me and students arrived wanting my teachings. Recently, Joy and I had this conversation. 

DAVID: I like how Akira Kurosawa said that, “No one is given all the gifts.”

JOY: And what are your gifts?

DAVID: You, Bunny, and teaching yoga.

For me, I was able to answer that question because of the time that I spent on my mat in solitude praying.  And for as long as I am able to I will continue to empty out in order to ask questions.



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