The Burning Desire For Wholeness: Finding Peace Through Yoga
Most of us live like we have 275 tabs simultaneously open on our mental browser. None of them are actually important, it’s just a frantic, agitated circle of being busy. It can be the consequences of responsibility —like being a parent, an employee and a spouse all at the same time. Or it can be a result of simply forgetting to relax and be mindful. We complain about being busy and tired, pulled in so many directions at once, but underneath “the busy” is a deep hunger to be happy and to feel at peace.
An Inside Job
The burning inside us craves wholeness. In yoga’s eight-limbed path, tapas (or tapasya) is the niyama that the great yogi, BKS Iyengar, says is a hinge between the outer and inner aspects of our practice.
The root of the word is “tap,” which means: to burn. It’s also translated to many other fire-related verbs, like blaze, shine, purify or consume by heat. It’s the burning within that motivates us to commit to our practices.
Union = Wholeness
We long for that good, calm and whole part of ourselves, and we feel the yearning most powerfully when busy, and pulled out of our center. This, for many, is the first step on the spiritual path we call union, or yoga.
The ancient sages of India would call it union with God. If that word doesn’t resonate, find one that does. I’m well aware that, “The word God has become a closed concept. The moment the word is uttered, a mental image is created…of someone or something outside you…” (Tolle, The Power of Now, pp.14)
A Controlled Burn
Instead of letting the tapas become a wildfire, focus the light on union, on wholeness and inner peace. With a joyful willingness, do whatever is necessary, with fiery discipline, to recall and uncover the light within.
Much like a controlled burn makes a forest more healthy by removing dead wood, creating fertile ash and allowing more light to enter, tapasya burns away everything that holds you separate and reunites you with wholeness. Then, turn your awareness within and invest your energies there; a practice we call pratyahara.
When you feel agitated, it’s an opportunity to become a conscious creator —to choose to align in a way that uses your burning intensity to find focus, not distraction. That busyness? Instead of letting it pull you in a million directions, let it be a reminder. It’s a signpost. It points back to the path of wholeness that is full of light. Let all actions, all thoughts, all words become the kindling in your fire.