Tapas – “Can you show courage and stay in the fire until you find the blessing?” C.L. – The Yamas and Niyamas Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice, … Deborah Adele
I understand and believe that there are some things in life we just can’t control. For example, the loss of a family member, human or animal, is certainly a lesson in Tapas. For the third time I am experiencing the loss of my beloved dog, Gigi. Our beautiful, loving, ten-pound,, TAPAS idol, toy poodle.
In the midst of putting her little body to rest, negative. self-doubt thoughts neared their ugly head, “what could I have done to help alleviate her suffering?,” “Did I do enough?” “This is my fault she suffered.” These thoughts were thankfully short lived because I have my yoga practice to guide me through the pain.
- First, I remember AHIMSA
- Second, I remember TAPAS
Tapas is the third Niyama preparing us for personal growth. In Sanskrit it means “heat,” or “ardour”. It encourages self-discipline in our yoga practice which spills into our life. If we can stick with an uncomfortable Yoga pose for just a few seconds longer or challenge ourself to practice every day, even for ten minutes, we train our bodies to adapt a stick-with-it attitude.
. Some ways to stay in the heat of practice are:
- Stay in your asana (pose) a few seconds longer.
- Bring yourself to the mat every day even if for just 15 minutes.
- Practice the Yamas daily.
- Practice the Niyamas daily.
- Attend a Yoga class in person or online.
- Work with your 3rd Chakra, Manipura or Solar Plexus Chakra – connected to the element of fire.
- Practice Hakini Mudra.
- Daily Journal, Journal, Journal.
- Read spiritual books
- Learn to listen. Svadhisthana.
- Develop your daily practice to fit in with your lifestyle. Change as need be but do it!
Think about a crisis in your life and how you dealt with the situation. Did you look within yourself to find the answers or did you look for someone or something to blame? Of course there is pain but how did you process the pain, how did you grow? When the crisis was over, did you find the blessing? Everything happens for a reason.
Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. A beautiful baby after hours of labor. A clean newly painted room after a week of tiring work. A loved one’s stressful end of life. Having to euthanize a pet.
I look at my little Gigi and think…
Ten pounds of pure Tapas.
Gigi came to us the first Christmas after our son-in-law passed. She brought great joy to a household processing enormous grief. She stayed by her dad, my husband and her favorite, through illness, employment changes, sad times and happy times. She never let him be alone. She traveled with me everywhere; delivering Avon, visiting the kids, playing with the grandchildren, loving everyone. Facebook comments reminded me that everyone met Gigi! My most beautiful, silk-black, fit under my arm and in a large bag baby girl. She loved everyone and they loved her.
HEALTHWISE Gigi had many challenges. She loved to eat and was a little overweight. She was on a special diet for years.
Pancreatitis Early on, I gave her whatever she wanted, including bones and bully sticks. She could inhale food faster than a speeding bullet! Unfortunately, this led to her first bout of pancreatitis. Yes, I stopped all bones after the first attack but she suffered two more episodes.
Bad Hips She developed a problem with her left, hind hip slipping out. The first two times she yelped and limped. After the second time, she just limped. I never heard her complain again.
Eyes She had eyes that weeped worse than my other two poodles and she was stinky because of this. I was always washing and trimming her.
Collapsed Trachea – A stranger (maybe an angel) said to me, “that dog is coughing because you have a collar on her. She needs a harness. Small dogs have problems with their trachea due to collars.” I immediately purchased a harness and wondered why I never heard this before. Gigi is my 2nd small dog. I precautionarily had her throat X-rayed and, yes, she had a collapsed trachea. She was incorrectly put on allergy medicine for years for the cough.
Gum Disease She fought me when trying to brush her teeth resulting in her losing eight teeth at one time due to gum disease.
Cataracts She lost her vision.
Deaf Her hearing completely deteriorated.
UTI Her last illness was a UTI as determined by our vet of 25 years. At that time, it sounded right to me because our new puppy also had a UTI. Thinking back I realize that they don’t catch UTIs from each other. (you know what they say about hindsight) Unfortunately, Gigi’s difficulty never went away. It worsened. On and off she peed blood, struggled to pee, and suffered through it all in silence.
TAPAS – This little ball of love never complained. She continued to love her walks and, when she could, she ran around with Lulu (our newest dog). She would bring us a doll to play with but could only spend about ten seconds before a bout of coughing or fatigue overcame her.
My vet’s prices continued to rise as my income declined to Medicare. Numerous urine tests, fecal samples, x-rays, and check ups led us to the need for an ultrasound. I called around and I found an affordable vet. My vet’s price started at $350 for the ultrasound. Other vets started at $400, $500, and up. Sadly, these exorbitant amounts charged by vets not only stop owners from getting much needed treatments, it also stops people from even getting a pet.
I finally contacted the DELAWARE VALLEY VETERINARY HOSPITAL in Mullica Hill, New Jersey. A God send. Gigi got the ultrasound she desperately needed for $49. Think about that for a second.
Ok, moving on.
In minutes we saw the results – a huge mass enveloped her tiny bladder and pressed into her urinary tract making it almost impossible for her to pee. We watched her struggle for months but still hoped the diagnosis would be different. The most humane decision was to put her out of her pain.
Extreme grief set in and I let the tears flow. When I finished crying, three days later, I had nowhere to flee. I felt heartbreak, guilt, anger, and depression.
Through my daily practice, I prepared myself for this sadness. I continued my routine (a little half-heartedly but I continued) and I grounded myself physically, mentally, and emotionally through asanas, relaxation, and meditation. In the past, I would be yelling and blaming. Humbly, I put into perspective I could not control this event. Although, some things we can control like changing to a new veterinary practice. We do the best we can and pray for the best outcome. We loved Gigi unconditionally for thirteen years and now she is at peace. These times of hopeless desperation and how we process them mold us into the people we want to be. Eulogies are a form of journaling and help us remember and heal. This is Gigi’s.
Be prepared and remember with love. Svadhyaya (self-study/journal), Aparigraha (Non-attachment), and Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender to God).
Think about the times in your life where you experienced great challenges. Did you stay present and work it out? How did you do? Did you blame others? Did you blame yourself? Did you rush through the process and come up short? Or, did you stick with the unpleasantness and enjoy the final blessings?
Maybe challenge yourself today to do what you can. Maybe, walk and go that extra mile, eat a healthy meal and forgo those cookies- maybe clean out your pantry, practice yoga for an hour or more, move your body instead of watching tv, speak kindly regardless of how you may feel about someone, love your neighbor-all of them, love yourself with all your challenges, enjoy the beautiful gifts of nature, and practice Tapas, self discipline. Go the extra distance.
We get ready. Ready to grow up, ready to get married, ready to have children or not, ready to go on vacation. Or, we perseverate on our past. What we should have done? What we did not do properly? Getting ready and worrying keep us from our present day tasks. Living each day well – aware and present – takes care of our future and we can rest with our past knowing we did our best.
Claim your POWER! Be present for your life!
If a little girl-puppy named Gigi can withstand her pain and continue to be happy and love her humans, so can we.
Self-Discipline – TapasTweet