This month we are completing our exploration of the five sheaths, or layers, of our being. We have journeyed through our dimensions from grossest to most subtle starting with our physical body, our energetic body, our psycho-emotional body, and the wisdom body. Our most subtle layer of existence is called the Anandamaya kosha.
Ananda translates to bliss, so this kosha is most often referred to as the bliss body. Well, what does that mean? I like to think of this as the spiritual body and the qualities of contentment, joy, limitlessness, wholeness, inner peace, sense of awe, and of course – bliss – that we discover as our essential spiritual essence along our paths of yoga and awakening. In this sheath we can connect with ourselves as being unchanging awareness. In the previous sheath, vijnanamaya kosha, we begin to develop the insight to become the witness and spectator, or the seer (known as purusha) of all other materiality including our body, mind, and our environment (known as prakruti). When we cultivate this capacity to witness, we can start to see that we are awareness, and we can start to identify less with the things that keep us suffering. We can start to create space for holding it all; what we perceive as negative or challenging along with our positive qualities of joy, contentment, and wholeness. This may look like feeling contentment along with a challenging diagnosis, or joy amongst your body’s physical pain, or inner peace when facing a life transition.
We can access this kosha in a multitude of ways. Examining the yamas and niyamas may help us cultivate important and helpful qualities such as contentment (Santosha), surrender (Ishvara pranidhana), self-study (Svadhyaya) and non-attachment (Aparigraha), to name a few. The physical practice of yoga as well as pranayama may connect (or re-connect) us to our bodies and allow us to embody ideas, release limiting beliefs, move energy and digest mental impressions. Meditation and mindfulness practices are very important for the development of a healthy Anandamaya kosha as well. For example, meditating on the limitlessness of the sky can help connect us to our own nature of limitless space. Being mindful of a beautiful sunset can invite in that sense of awe. And doing something each day that brings you joy no matter how big or small can nourish the bliss body. Maybe hugging a loved one, preparing a heartfelt meal, going for a walk in nature, or taking a few moments to connect to your breath.
Through the ups and downs of life, know that this part of you, the part that is awareness, wholeness, and peace is always there for you to access.