Farmers use the concept of a “control burn” or “agricultural burn” to clear their fields of material that is no longer needed. Growth has occurred and the crop has been since taken away. What is left no longer serves a purpose and it must be removed to make way for new growth. The removal of the waste material is the foundation for new growth. Fire provides that transition. In the presence of the fire, the organic material releases energy from the burn and cycles through the Earth. In the wake of the destruction, new life grows and the waste has been the foundation!
In the article, there is a quote that stands out. “The only thing the farmers have to be really careful of is making sure that the fire doesn’t hop over that fire break and get into nearby surrounding woods,” Adams said. “On rare occasions, that does happen.” The fire itself is all consuming and some of us are just not ready for the transformation. Transformation cannot be forced upon us. Maturity through Tapas happens when we are ready to let go. I ran and ran from Tapas for a majority of my life because of the fear of what I would lose in the fire. We all hold something with a tight grip because of fear. A memory, a possible future, a person, an object … and we are driven by fear to not let go and possibly miss the experience of what may rise from its burning.
When we enter into Tapas, we are entering a field that is on fire. We may not be aware of what that fire will consume about us, but we rest assured that we will be changed for the positive. This doesn’t occur magically once in our lives, but becomes a routine. As farmers practice this annually, what can the practice of Tapas grow in us each present moment?
Tapas – The Control Burn
Somewhere we forget that we had to learn how to walk, like young birds had to learn to fly. We forget how many times we fell. We forget that things take practice. Ray Charles was asked later on in his career if he still practiced and prepared for concerts. He replied that he played scales everyday, because when the scales were in his fingers, he could play anything. The question becomes for us, what are we practicing for? When is the last time we asked ourselves this question?
In yoga, having a daily disciplined practice is referred to as Sadhana and is much like doing a small controlled burn on ourselves. It is the discipline of putting ourselves in places where the old debris that has collected in us can be removed. We engaged in this process when we pay attention to the amount and kind of food we put in our body, when we move and exercise our bodies through walks, yoga, and other activities, or when we expand our mental ability.
Lord make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
– St. Francis of Assisi
This is a profound plea to change us from haters to lovers and from disturbers of peace to makers of peace. This is the prayer of Tapas, and it invites us to be in life in a different way.
Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele