Tapas, the third of the five Niyamas. It means discipline which is a highly misunderstood practice. Many belive that discipline means to commit to something and stay with it no matter what. This would be stupidity because every day is different, and what is important today might not be important tomorrow. It might be the right thing to do something today, but any other day it could be the wrong thing to do.
Practicing discipline is about doing the right thing at all times, whatever that might be. It’s about not falling into habits or compulsive behaviour. See, on the spiritual path every habit is bad, because making something a habit essentially means to do something without awareness. When it comes to compulsive behaviour its actions rooted in our personal desires, rather than conscious choices.
To become good at Tapas, we need to train our willpower (read more about willpower here).
Our willpower is like a muscle, and just like any other muscle, some days its capable of more than others. So there is the physical aspect of how strong the muscle actually is, and then there is the mental force that drives the muscle. This mental force is know the why we do the things we do.
We’ve all heard stories of moms who’s been able to do the impossible when their child is in danger. This is not because their muscles suddenly grew, but because their ‘why’ was so strong and clear.