Tapas part 2: more than just focus and flame
Last week I wrote about tapas as a form of transformative fire, but that ‘fire’ can have different qualities. Tapas doesn’t have to be a raging fire. It can be the fire of concentration, a spark of insight, or the slow burn of steady focus. It can be mental and not just physical heat created by movement. In light of that, here’s one yogic practice I’d like to share with you that involves this gentle/mental form of tapas: trataka. Over the last couple of months, I wrote about dristhi here and here; trataka is similar, but involves a more extended period of time. Think of a sitting meditation, eyes opened, gazing at a candle flame, flower, or some other object that has spiritual significance for you.
During the summer, I prefer to use water as a focus, to balance the fiery heat of the season. Water dances and reflects light in a softer way than fire does. Water transforms, nourishes, and yet holds potential dangers the way fire does. I don’t have the luxury of living close to the ocean or another body of water, like I used to. But water as an object of contemplation can take the form of a bowl of water, a fruit or vegetable from the garden that contains a lot of water, or even a recording of ocean or rain sounds if you want your focus to be auditory.