Photo: Charmed Yogi
What It Means:
Wikipedia: Tapas (tapas, Sanskrit: तपस्) means deep meditation, effort to achieve self-realization, sometimes involving solitude, hermitism or asceticism; it is derived from the word root tap which depending on context means "heat" from fire or weather, or blaze, burn, shine, penance, pain, suffering, mortification.
In Vedic literature, fusion words based on tapas are commonly used to expound several spiritual concepts that develop through heat or inner energy, such as meditation, any process to reach special observations and insights, the spiritual ecstasy of a yogin or tāpasa, even warmth of sexual intimacy.
In certain contexts, the term is also used to mean penance, suffering, austerity, pious activity, as well as misery.
Yoga is closely linked to tapas, considering the disciplined practice of yoga is a form of tapas. Patañjali suggests yoga as a way to reduce impurities, confusion and ignorance in or about one's body, mind and spirit. In his Yoga Sūtras, he says that realizing the full meaning of Yoga requires tāpas (meditation, calm reflection, exercises, brooding), svādhyāya (study of self), and īśvara-pranidhāna (reflect on universal oneness of life, God, quality of action).
Those who practice severe tapas without following the sacred lore, with
hypocrisy and egotism, impelled by lust, and attachment; senselessly
torturing the elements in their body and also Me who dwell within the
body; know these ignorant persons to be of demonic nature. (17:5-6)
The honoring of gods, saints, teachers, and the wise; purity, honesty,
celibacy, and nonviolence; these are said to be the tapas of the body.
Speech that is not offensive, truthful, pleasant, beneficial, used for the
reading and teaching of sacred texts is called tapas of speech. Serenity of
mind, gentleness, silence, self-restraint, and the purity of mind are called
the tapas of thought. This threefold austerity practiced by yogis with
supreme faith, without a desire for the fruit, is said to be divine tapas.
While many people think of tapas as maintaining a physically difficult yoga practice, a better way to understand tapas is to think of it as consistency in striving toward your goals. This can mean getting on the yoga mat every day, meditating every single day or completing your work.