In Yoga philosophy, Tapas (pronounced TAH-pas) is the process of learning from pain—not physical pain, though that can definitely be a good teacher. Tapas addresses emotional pain, and gives us a healthy way to deal with it.
For example, say you’re caught in a Samskara (an unhealthy pattern of behavior that repeats itself). By examining the pain you experience and, most important, what you learn from it, you can break that repeating cycle.
While it can be uncomfortable to take a deep look at your pain, the results make it all worthwhile. What you learn can also help you see that you can become stronger, and it can show you how to help others through empathy, rather than sympathy.
There are exercises for working with Tapas and Samskaras in YOGA MIND: Journey Beyond the Physical, a 30-day program of spiritual Yoga tools designed to reduce stress and increase happiness. You can get your copy here.