Tapasya - The art of sacrifice
When we look at the origin of the word sacrifice it comes from two Latin words and literally translates to mean “to make holy”. It is commonly interpreted as giving something up for the sake of a better reward, sometimes with some kind of selfless intention.
Although sacrifice is often seen in a religious context or misinterpreted as something painful, it can actually be a powerful way to instill discipline and willpower and to train our minds to focus on something important.
For example when you try to take on (or break) a habit we “sacrifice” our nail biting, smoking, gluten or tv time for something better. Usually improved health, time efficiency, increased energy levels, less stress, etc.
Tapasya is essentially the yogic description of the word sacrifice. Tapasya is where we take on a spiritual discipline eg. a certain number of mantra repetitions per day, or a specific asana practice, reading scriptures, or even yoga Nidra and knowing that there will be a certain result at the end. Many people chant the Gayatri mantra in order to bring light, discipline, and focus to the mind, or you might take on the Seat of Compassion sequence once a day to increase feelings of selfless love and generosity in your life.
Dopamine and its Role in Tapasya
As part of this week’s session, we explore this fascinating neuro-transmitter which is one of the primary motivators that drives us to act. It is the biochemical process by which our desires and wants become manifest.
So, if you think longingly of your favourite sandwich - it is the dopamine spike and subsequent drop that will drive you to go get the sandwich! Believe it or not, this system motivates us to do pretty much everything from making our morning tea through to sustaining three years of university study.
Understanding how dopamine works will help you to raise awareness of what is often an unconscious process, break habits that are not helpful, and create more balance and harmony in your mind.