How often have you said ‘I have no will power’ when you’ve come up against a challenging situation? Or in the face of one more glass of wine when you vowed one was enough, or one more biscuit ‘because they’re so good’? Will power is actually a muscle that we need to consciously exercise. The idea that we either have it or don’t isn’t helpful. What is the difference between someone who runs the London Marathon and someone who dreams about it but stops at ‘I’m no good at running’ or someone who climbs a mountain, or undertakes a house renovation or sets up a new business? Ultimately, it’s willpower, and will power is the application of intention towards a perceived goal or end point over and over again until it is reached. It’s not at the expense of health, or overlooking the boundaries of the moment or our conscious awareness. It’s taking all things in to consideration and working with what we have in any given moment, starting where we are and doing only what we can, even if today it means resting in order to gather energy to start again tomorrow. There is a focus to the observance of Tapas. It helps to know what it is we want or where it is, we’re going to step towards it, and more deeply to know what it is we want to feel or invite more of into our life.
Setting an intention can be a great place to start. Perhaps you’d like to invite more Joy into your life, or better health. That intention can have an indefinite period of incubation, but you might start noticing immediately when you feel joyful or become more conscious of your choices to cultivate better health.
Willpower isn’t all or nothing either, just because we have a bad day or make a choice that isn’t as healthy as we might otherwise like, it doesn’t mean we’ve failed. In fact, it’s a step along the way to developing awareness and willpower. With conscious awareness we notice how our perceived failures feel, sometimes they’re a relief and offer us balance, sometimes they serve us to dig deeper and subsequently generate greater focus and will to succeed. The fluctuations of will are useful and the returning to focus means we’ll succeed.
In our Yoga practice it simply means showing up. Making a commitment to coming to the mat daily, or weekly regardless of what practice looks like, it’s about using the discipline of showing up for class as a way to regularly nourish and serve our well-being. It’s not always going to be easy either, this is where we put our blinkers on and dig a little deeper to stay focused, but the challenges that threaten to walk us away from our goals are the very challenges that strengthen our resolve. We are an accumulation of our choices, every day, so pay attention, stay focused and watch what happens!
Take Tapas off the mat today: Make a resolve to yourself, decide to break a habit you know is no longer serving you. Make it loose and focus on the positives rather than the negatives, rather than ‘I’m giving up junk food’ how about ‘I’m ready to make healthy choices for myself’… Start to notice all that you already do, and allow yourself to build on it slowly, with awareness and most of all with kindness. Journal what you notice if you like? And see where you are at the end of the week, notice what it feels like.