How many licks does it take...
...to get to the center of a tootsie pop? According to that wise old owl from the 70's commercial, 3 licks and a big crunch. How much yoga does it take to get to your center, anadamayakosha, or bliss body? Could it be as easy as getting to the center of a tootsie pop? The world, and you, may never know.
As I mentioned last week, we have 5 sheaths, or layers, that move us toward our true self, our soul, the part of us that is eternal and perfect and whole just as it is, bliss.
How do we get there? Can we just skip over all the stages and like the owl, crunch our way straight to it? Probably not. But understanding the layers and allowing yourself to be where you're at while yoga works it magic can help.
Here they are, in order from outer most to inner most.
1. Anamayakosha, the physical layer - This layer is tangible and has to do with intake of food and liquids. It is our muscles, bones and organs. Most of us spend a lot of time with this layer, which makes sense. We can see it and feel it, we live in it all day long. Lots of us do battle with it, spending a ton of time and energy trying to figure it out. What to put in, how much to move it around, how to feel comfortable in it. This is where we begin to practice self-discipline with nutrition and exercise that is right for us, as each physical body is different and will have it own unique needs for care and comfort.
2. Pranamayakosha, the energetic body - This layer is the first of the subtle body layers, it is our breath. Do we breathe fully, do we practice right breathing or breath techniques that are best for us? Are we even aware of our breath and how it makes us feel throughout the day? Have we ever paid attention to the breath? A great yoga teacher will weave breath work into the practice and help guide you to techniques that are best for you. Just like diet and exercise differ for each person, so will the breathing exercises and they are best learned from an experienced instructor.
3. Manomayakosha, the lower mind - This is where we experience thought, which affects our being in the world. It is the jumpy-monkey mind that most of us allow run relentlessly all day long, going where it will and believing every thing that it can conjure up. This is where we begin to practice the self-discipline of concentration and mantra, learning to tame the mind.
I love this passage from the Bhagavad Gita:
The mind is restless, unsteady, turbulent, wild, stubborn; truly, it seems to me as hard to master as the wind. The Blessed Lord said: You are right, Arjuna: the mind is restless and hard to master; but by constant practice and detachment it can be mastered in the end.
4. Vijnanamayakosha, the higher mind - This layer is higher knowledge and wisdom, it is our subconscious that is positive vibration but can be covered in an illusion of negativity. When we meditate we access this layer. The only way to get there is to sit your butt down and begin to practice mediation, which begins as concentration practice in the lower mind.
5. Anadamayakosha, the bliss body - This layer is your soul, true Self, All That Is. It is pure positive love and within us all. This layer reveals itself through the practices that take us through the first four layers, there is nothing to do to "get there".
Ulitmately, we want to transcend all of the layers, but to do so we have to get in there and grapple with them, understand how ours work and what we need to do to move beyond them.
Don't feel stressed out about it or like you have to do anything more that you already are. When it it time for you to go deeper, you will. You'll just have to go to a certain class, or retreat, or work with a specific teacher, or whatever. Just do your thing, sister and know this, also from the Bhagavad Gita:
On this path no effort is wasted, no gain is ever reversed; even a little of this practice will shelter you from great sorrow.
Enjoy the layer you're on and listen to your heart's call, it will move you deeper into the layers as you are ready.
If you enjoyed or were inspired by what you read, please comment below, Like, Share, Pin and Tweet. With Gratitude, Cathy