Body of bliss
Anandamaya Kosha Definition
Anandamaya Kosha is the final of the five koshas, it translates to the ‘body/sheath made of bliss’.
Anandamaya Kosha deep dive
Firstly, what are the koshas?
The koshas are the five layers, or sheaths, that make up the energetic and physical body. According to Vedantic philosophy, they are the metaphysical layers that surround the Atman.
|1. Annamaya Kosha||Physical sheath|
|2. Pranamaya Kosha||Vital energy/life force/prana sheath|
|3. Manomaya Kosha||Thoughts and emotions sheath|
|4. Vijnanamaya Kosha||Wisdom sheath|
|5. Anandamaya Kosha||Bliss sheath|
Anandamaya Kosha Explained
It is the subtlest and the most pervasive of all the koshas, permeating the other four layers. The Anandamaya Kosha, as the name signifies, is a place of deep inner joy, peace, and stillness.
There are two perspectives on the kosha:
- It is the Atman. Our true and most divine self
- It is not the truest self, but it is the last layer covering the Atman that must be peeled back to experience our pure consciousness
Both views, however, acknowledge this state of pure presence awareness.
This joy present in this sheath stems from complete unification, with both oneself and the present moment. Therefore, it is the kosha that relates to Samadhi (total contemplation of the Absolute) as well as deep sleep.
The bliss that arises from this kosha is one of an unshakeable nature. A profound yet steady feeling that persists regardless of external circumstances.
Instead of simply feeling the bliss, that we might perceive as ecstasy or euphoria, you become the bliss, becoming one with the unifying nature of all life. Above all, it is a state of wholeness.
Tada drastuh svarupe avasthanamThen the seer dwells in his own true splendor (B.K.S Iyengar translation) Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1.3
Anandamaya Kosha in your life
Nourishing your bliss
The Anandamaya Kosha is like a golden ornament, the more we polish and attend to it, the brighter it glows! However, it can be a layer that we tend to easily lose our connection with.
When our Anandamaya Kosha shines, so do we! One way we can nurture this sheath is by being absorbed in feelings of bliss.
Although, that probably made it sound a lot easier than it actually is. It’s not a state of being that we can achieve through the use of the mind, and so we can’t just decide to ‘practice samadhi’ whenever we feel the connection diminishing with our Anandamaya Kosha.
Instead, we must release our need to control it and be fully absorbed in the present moment. This is where our yogic practices come in!
Because the sheaths are all interconnected, we can work with our outer layers in order to have an impact on the more subtle layers. Our spiritual practice (whether that’s asana, mantra, meditation, pranayama, etc.) is the way that we ‘polish’ it and bring it back to life.
It is also thought that the Anandamaya Kosha will only be revealed once the other four koshas are aligned. Let’s have a look at how you might get there:
Any meditation will be supportive in getting you towards feeling bliss, but a particularly great method is one that helps you to open and center your awareness in the space of your heart, like this one.
Another good option would be a loving-kindness meditation.
What more could you need for bliss than complete unity and unconditional love all of life?! Bhakti is a complete surrender to your ego, thoughts, intellect, fears, and judgments. Instead, we use love to connect with the divine in all of its forms.
This could be done through mantra, prayer, worship at an altar, meditation, and pranayama, but we can also practice bhakti through everyday life.
In other words, everything we do is an offering to the divine when we open our hearts equally to all.
When we worship everything as Source energy, we become more connected to the world around us, including ourselves, and therefore become more in touch with our bliss (because bliss is our innate human nature).
Selfless service, which is also part of the bhakti and karma paths, is another form of devotion. Sacred service is dharma for the soul, bringing you closer to liberation and therefore bliss.
Mantra also forms part of other yogic paths, but we can use it as a stand-alone practice to nourish the Anandamaya Kosha.
You could use the Mahavakyas, or ‘The Great Sayings’, of the Upanishads that help us realize the interdependent nature of the individual and the Absolute. They are:
- तत् त्वम् असि – Tat Tvam Asi
Thou art that/I am that
- अहं ब्रह्मास्मि – Aham Brahmasmi
I am Brahman/the Divine
- प्रज्ञानं ब्रह्म – Prajnanam iti Brahman
Consciousness is Brahman
- अयम् आत्मा ब्रह्म – Ayam Atma Brahma
The Self is Brahman
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