Being Breath

stories from the wilderness of everyday life

Madam Discipline (a.k.a Ms. Tapas)

Madam Discipline and I have a very challenging relationship.

On one hand, she is the nun with ruler raised from whom I run.  On the other, she is the loving mother patiently waiting for me to stop throwing a fit. 

I've known for quite sometime that I'm a dreamer (and I'm not the only one) and a do-er when I'm looking to please.  When it comes to doing the things of which I dream?  I get excited, passionate, start all sorts of research and work and ....ooh, look! Another project!....don't finish.

It's not that I don't believe in what I'm doing.  Nor do I fear not being able to do it.  (I was blessed with parents who made me believe I could do anything.  It stuck.)  It is that somewhere along the way, my attitude changes.  What once I was blessed to do - excited to do - became a "have to".  

For example, I have a painting I've been working on for a couple of weeks now.  (For my DEEP sisters, this would be the "How It Feels..." painting!)  It has gone through its transitions and is morphing into something that is finally speaking back to me.  But part of my image called for lavendar flowers.  Have you ever tried to paint lavendar - or anything that requires hundreds of little, tiny dots that look...exactly...the....same....?

 

My mind started wandering.  It was exactly like yoga.  And a 3 mile run.  And meditation.  And a long meeting.  Thoughts of how I could change it up, perhaps cut corners, get done with it as quickly as possible flooded my head.  Over and over I returned to breath - only to calm myself on an exhale and by the end of the inhale, be ready to quit again.

(Seriously - even in the time I've taken to write this blog post, I've jumped over to my email and Facebook 3 times.  Sad.)

I could yell at myself for not being disciplined enough to stay off FB for now, or for sticking to my smoothie+salad+healthy meal eating plan.  But I might wake up the kids.  And I'd just reinforce that discipline has to be hard.  That the ruler is coming down on my knuckles if I don't "do what it takes".

I could give myself a big old hug and pat my hair and convince myself that its ok, I didn't need to do it in the first place.  But I'd look quite odd.  And I'd reinforce that hard work is ok to avoid; that discomfort is not necessary.

The truth is - life is hard.  Change is hard.  Just when we think we got it, the rug is pulled out from underneath our feet.  When we get excited enough to pursue something we burn out and get frustrated and go into a slump and laze around and feel like crap until something comes along that makes us feel better and we start to get a bit excited and we want to pursue something....

There is a term in yoga, "Tapas" (one of the ethical disciplines of yoga) that loosely means "discipline; excitement".  It is the inner fire that keeps us going, that we protect in order to burn away what is not needed and provide energy for burning through obstacles to practice what is needed.

When life is hard - when I don't feel like painting the 839th purple dot or dragging my sore butt to yoga class (yeah, even my butt hurts) - it is the fire that tickles my middle and sends little waves of energy out to my fingertips.  It is the fire that crackles loud enough to drown out those whiny thoughts of i dont wannnna!  When life is "easy", it is the discipline that keeps me grounded, that keeps me from running so fast the winds burn out the fire.

Obviously, I have some things to work on.

That is where I am.  Tapas is my practice right now - my fire, my discipline.  It isn't threatening but it also isn't all warm and cuddly.  (Ever tried to cuddle a fire?  Hope not.)  

When that rug gets pulled out (and I'm back on Facebook instead of working on another newsletter or Yogadventure post), tapas provides the warm embers on which I land that make me jump up like a cartoon character crying "Yipes!".  

It is what melts the iron-clad "have-to" attitude back into a liquid "get-to".

And it is what got me - finally - through painting my field of lavendar.

Here's to Madame Discipline.  

May we all find warmth, not fear, in the fire of her heart.

Namaste.