Have you ever experienced moments in your life, however brief, when everything was just perfect, everything exactly where it should be, you felt totally content, never wanting the moment to end?
When you experience this sensation you are tapping into the inner most layer of your being, the anandamaya kosha or the blissful sheath. Our silent and still centre, constant and unwavering, unaffected by “life”.
To bring us back to this centre is the ultimate goal of yoga and meditation. Hopefully you have experienced some moments of perfect contentment when you have been practising your yoga. Sometimes we do not outwardly recognise them, but we still experience them deep within, and this is what keeps you coming back to yoga. Certainly, for me, it has always been this added extra that keeps me turning up on my yoga mat, day after day, year after year.
Let’s look at our tree pose then, that we’ve been focussing on during this series. You’re in your perfect posture, balanced & aligned, physically and emotionally, affirming the strength and stability within your body. You become still, totally absorbed in the pose, at peace, and there it is, bliss, in that moment of perfect harmony and connection. You are at one with everything, no need to fight or resist. Sadly, the minute we start thinking “oh wow, this is wonderful” we lose it – keep your thinking brain out of it!
Of course it doesn’t need to be yoga that you are doing to experience this, whenever we are truly absorbed with all our body we have the potential to tap into our anandamaya kosha. I have found though, that the more I can still my mind and body in meditation, so that I can dive into the depths of my heart centre, the more I become fully immersed in my yoga, then the easier it is to flow into that amazing space at other times. I think it’s a bit like a muscle, you need to practice accessing the kosha, cultivating the steadiness of being required.
Here is one of my favourite fables, (paraphrased slightly!) which beautifully speaks of the elusive nature of the blissful sheath:
God had a great gift he wanted to share with mankind, the sense of complete oneness and bliss, but he decided not to make it too easy, he wanted to hide this divine present so that we would have to learn a great lesson to receive it. He gathered together the wisest animals and asked them where he should conceal it. Straight away the swift cheetah offered to take the gift and run with it as far as he could across the earth and hide it there, but God said no, “Man will invent transport that he can travel to all corners of the globe”. A beautiful golden fish, leaped from the sparkling blue waters, “I will take it to the bottom of the deepest ocean”, but God felt that man would find it there also. “I will fly it to the moon” declared the majestic eagle. Again, God declined, “No, one day, man will find a way to the moon”. Then a wise old tortoise step forward, “I know the perfect place”. “Where, where?” all cried “Why, we should hide in the very heart of every person, for they will never think to search for it there”. All nodded in agreement and so it was.
I love this story because it reminds me that true bliss cannot be found in material possessions or external circumstances, where many times we seek to find fulfillment. It is always within us, regardless of what is going on in our lives. We are bliss, and we can tap into that if we choose to.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little series on the koshas. Let me know your thoughts and if you’d like to hear more about yoga philosophy in future blogs
Be flexible and flowing like the trees