30 November 2018

The bliss sheath: anandamaya kosha

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What is the bliss sheath? Anandamaya kosha

ananda = bliss 

maya     =  that which comes forth from the source    kosha    = sheath

The state of bliss emanating from within this sheath; the bliss body and sheath are the source of bliss in a lifetime

We have three bodies. The causal body is our most spiritual one. Causal because it is the cause of our reincarnation, due to karma and the soul's journey. 

Both the physical body and the causal body are each contained within their own sheath. Whereas our subtle body contains three sheaths: prana/life-force; mental; and astral.

So, although the physical and causal sheaths and bodies "stand alone", yet, of course, are part of the whole, the magical three sheaths of the subtle body are the areas where deep spirituality is traversed, for most people. But, the bliss sheath has it's own spiritual discoveries, too. They are the true secrets of The Masters, The Shamans, The Tohunga.

What is bliss?

Interestingly, spiritual bliss is quite different from we consider to be bliss within our lives. And within our spiritual practices. That is, until we actually reach that stage of bliss.

Bliss emanates down from the Divine energy and consciousness. But, to reach this, bliss is something which grows, within, in increments. It is an intense state of Divine Love for everything, a Divine state of knowing. A Divine state of all that we could be. And this state of being, it too must grow gradually. In it's ascent, to reach the Divine state of bliss.

Why is this so? To put it simply, our comprehension, our nervous systems, our understandings, our ability to "witness" and be present during times of great energy and consciousness, need to grow. Looking back, there is no way that I could have handled true bliss, ananda, when I first started yoga. Nor during six main chakra wakenings, four koshas revealing themselves. I simply did not have the spiritual maturity for it. We just don't, when we start.

I had to develop it, and you will have to also. But how? There is absolutely no way to intellectualise this state of being. None. Nor can we do it through our emotions, for the Divine state of Love is not an emotion, as such, even though it is something which we feel. But we do not feel it as we do other feelings. Our whole being is immersed in it, when it is happening. The vibration of it permeates every single aspect of our being. The emotions and the thoughts, they are not happening in this state. Joy, happiness, the best that you can imagine, bliss is truly beyond all this.

But know this: if the bliss sheath is that hidden part of us, then it is also accessible to all. It is part of one's birthright.

25 November 2018

the chakra sheath: vijnanamaya kosha

                     Image result for chakra sheath

Where do our chakras reside?

The truth is that they "reside" within, and around, us, on many different levels:

  • the endocrine glands have a direct relationship with the chakras
  • in the aura 
  • just inside the front of the body where they enter from the aura
  • in the spine
  • in the brain

But. In their full glory, where do they live? They live, at this level, in the vijnanamaya kosha. And this is the level of which we are talking about today. 

What is the vijnanamaya kosha?

vijnana =  truth, knowledge, discernment, right judgement, 

                     skill, and similar attributes 
maya     =  that which comes forth from the source
kosha    =  sheath

"knowledge in the form of truth which comes forth from within, as revealed by the contents of this kosha"

Where does this truth, this knowledge come from, in this sheath?

  • the akashas. The hidden spaces which reside within this sheath
  • the chakras. The knowledge within each one, although being part of a whole, as in a whole system, is individual within each chakra. The knowledge, the truth, from each chakra, builds upon the previous chakras
  • the nadis. Flows of energy within astral "plumbing". The energy here is also at differing levels, depending on "where we are at"
  • kundalini
  • the tattwas. Tattwas are the five elements. Often they are confused with the chakras
  • the Gods and Goddesses of all of these differing parts of the whole which is vijnanamaya kosha.

Remember, koshas are sheaths, or containers. Each kosha has contents within which are pertinent to that sheath.

15 November 2018

The mind kosha

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The mind sheath is known as manomaya kosha.

  • manas = mind        
  • maya   = that which comes forth from the source 
  • kosha  = sheath

This is referring to the aspects of mind which have manifested (maya), within the manomaya kosha. In this lifetime.

The manomaya kosha is one of the three sheaths inside of the subtle body. The three sheaths are:

  • pranamaya kosha    = our life-force sheath
  • manomaya kosha    = our mind sheath
  • vijnanamaya kosha  = our astral sheath

The mental sheath sits between our life-force (prana, mauri, chi) sheath, and the sheath which houses the secret world of chakras, kundalini, elements, and spiritual spaces. Like a bridge between the two.

The manomaya kosha needs the life-force to "move", or, to put it an easier way, for it to move in the way in which it does when we are within. In meditation or relaxation. For the contents of the sheath to arise. Come up. And disappear into the ether. 

And it works the other way, too. As the mind-stuff departs us, our life-force can move more easily within our prana sheath. For, the contents of "mind" can impede the movement of prana. Like something being blocked. And it is not the beautiful and happy "mind-stuff" which impedes us. It is our cares, our worries. Our traumas. 

As these so-called "negative" aspects arise in the form of thoughts, and feelings, what follows, what sits underneath all of these, are beautiful pictures, patterns, colours. The "happier" aspects.

And this, I feel, is what the real value of meditation and relaxation is really about. Loosening the ties that bind, in order to reveal the Inner Magic of Oneself. 

And it is also precisely why meditation is so difficult. And why I do not believe that meditation is for everyone. Because up comes our inner "stuff". This can be so difficult and painful for anyone who has suffered badly, to have to face "things" in this way. In this case, meditation seems to just increase the effects of the traumas, by having the traumas come up, over and over, and along with this, comes all of the fears, panic and anxieties behind these traumas. This is not what practising, nor teaching, yoga, is about. And, therefore, care and respect is needed when teaching meditation.

It takes a very long time for anyone to wade through the difficult content of this kosha. We are dealing with our everyday self, at this level. And, what is not generally understood is that the mind stuff, it also exists on a cellular level, and on a DNA level. It is not just what is in our head. No, no, no. It permeates all of us. The contents of this sheath are to do with every part of us. It really helps to stop thinking of The Mind as we know it in the West, to be the Holy Grail of  spirituality. It is only a part of spirituality.

In allowing expression of the contents of this sheath, we are also allowing the deeper aspects of our being: good, bad, and otherwise, to emerge. 

Which brings us to the next kosha, where the chakras reside. It is important to know that our "blockages" are not hidden in the chakras. But, of course, as the life-force increases, and the mental kosha moves so that blockages dissipate, the chakras can start to reveal themselves. 

                            Image result for sufi quotes on inner beauty

How to reveal the manomaya kosha
  • asanas (postures)
  • pranayamas (breathing techniques)
  • bandhas (locks) 
  • gestures (mudras)
  • yoga nidra (deep relaxation)
  • dharana (concentration techniques)
  • dhyana (meditation) 
They are all intimately involved with this.

But here is a secret: revealing the manomaya kosha, is easier than you think: when you practice yoga, or anything really, allow your feelings and thoughts to arise, and let them also pass you by. Much inner tension, whether physical, mental or emotional, can be safely released this way. 

When you are doing a technique which requires your eyes to be closed, keep doing this, keep allowing the steady stream of consciousness to arise, then dissipate into realms unknown, whilst you do your technique.  And then afterwards, keep the eyes closed, and allow further expression of the manomaya kosha. This period at the end, when we are still in the Inner Realms, but have finished the technique, is vitally important for the release of tensions.

We are not looking for "cutting edge" concentration here. In my opinion that just creates a dam of content within the mind sheath. A relaxed attitude works best.

I shall never forget the period of my life when I was doing a full spectrum of deep yoga techniques, along with an hour of poses, six days a week. Out came a visual and auditory purge (to put it politely and delicately) from the manomaya kosha. It felt like an assault. But this period passed. And, then, up came the beauty. 

All of this is within all of us. 

3 November 2018

Prana sheath

                  Image result for sufi quotes on life force energy

Where our different types of prana reside

Inside this sheath, are a number of movements of prana, of life-force, Mauri, chi. 

The Yoga practices for awakening the pranamaya kosha

The proper practices for this are:
  • the cleansing techniques of yoga, of which there are six
  • lots of fast surya namaskara (sun salutes)
  • bandhas (energy locks)
  • and most importantly, yoga pranayama
These are the correct practices for our pranamaya kosha to "awake". The kosha is there anyway, is there, it does exist, but to be revealed on the spiritual level takes specific practices.

But, there are also other ways, going back through time, and Ancient Lore, of awakening our life-force sheath.

Powerful breathing for pranamaya kosha

The two major cleansing pranayamas (yoga breathing techniques), are bhastrika and kapalabhati. Bhastrika done pumping the abdomen, with the breath, builds up the internal fire, and this fire is intimately involved with awakening . Fire creates a strong energy, and creates movement. There are some vital aspects which need movement, for us to experience the awakening of the pranamaya kosha.

Kapalabhati is one of the six main cleansing practices of yoga.  Whereas bhastrika creates energy heat, kapalabhati cools and cleanses the brain's frontal lobes, thereby increasing perception and mental clarity. It is a sneezing type of breath, with an active exhale and a passive inhale, whereas bhastrika has both inhale and exhale done actively.

Both bhastrika and kapalabhati can be done several ways, but for the pranamaya kosha awakening, abdominal pumping in bhastrika, and an upward "flinging" energy movement with kapalabhati, both compliment each other and create a fertile "soil" for the pranamaya kosha to reveal itself.

If you only do one, do bhastrika for this.

Now balance other subtle energies

More is needed in the yoga breathing system. The practice of Nadi Shodana, sometimes called Anuloma Viloma, depending on where you learnt the technique, is invaluable. Here one breathes into one nostril, and out the other, in the nostril that you have just breathed out of, then exhale from the opposite nostril.  This breathing balances both brain hemispheres, and when breathing ratios are added, with retaining the inhale, and then moving into retaining the exhale, a change in energy happens. Energy builds up, and is also retained. If we keep doing this on a regular basis, our prana reserves build up. The build up of prana is an integral part of pranamaya kosha awakening.

I cannot emphasise this enough.

Bandhas, or energy locks/blocks, are also invaluable. I often wonder if Ashtanga Yoga (Mysore style) practitioners, awaken their life-force sheath, their pranamaya kosha. I absolutely would expect them to, even though the "bandhas" which they use, are modified, they are still creating that tension similar to a bandha proper. And, with ujjayi, the whispering breath, the breath of purification of the subtle realms, you have a potent breeding ground for the Mauri, the prana, the life-force, to build up.

Focus matters too

Adding to this mix, is focus. Not focus on building up the life-force, as such, but on what one is doing.
It doesn't matter what you are doing, focus will give the optimum results. And, it keeps us present.

If you are doing any sort of bandhas, such as Ashtanga Yoga, or any of the three major bandhas of Hatha Yoga, are you aware of the build-up of energy within yourself, on the subtle levels?

My practices changed

Nowadays, I just feel the need to maintain on the kosha level. And, surprisingly, I now use a Maori invocation to maintain my life-force.  It's so powerful.