Finding your bliss

We complete our journey of the koshas this week by exploring Anandamaya kosha, the bliss body. In Sanskrit, ananda means bliss. This is the most subtle of the layers.

The Anandamaya kosha is the natural inner-happiness, which resides in each and every one of us. It has been described as the joy or bliss “which has no opposite.” It might go without saying that it is quite common to feel cut off from this place. Tuning into your inner joy might feel like a luxury among the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This disconnection from joy may be further heightened by the current pandemic.

When was the last time you asked yourself what brings you joy? On one of the podcasts, I listen to regularly, the host ends by asking her guest a series of “rapid fire” questions. My favorite question is “What is an everyday moment that brings you joy.”

What I like to so much about the question and the elicited responses is that it stresses the everyday. I believe it is the little things in life that bring us the most joy. Some of the responses I have heard include spending time with family, enjoying a cup of coffee, taking a walk, a daily prayer or meditation practice.

Due to the brain’s negativity bias, the everyday joyful moments are likely to fade into the background while painful or harmful experiences move to the front of awareness. To encourage the lasting value of positive experiences, psychologist Rick Hanson suggests absorbing the experience. He describes this as “sensing the experience sinking into you.” One might “imagine the experience like a warm soothing balm, or a jewel being placed in the treasure chest of your heart.”

From the perspective of yogic philosophy, this joy isn’t something we have to go and find, but rather something to uncover. The concept of uncovering joy reminds me of a quote from Rumi, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

If looking to connect to your inner joy, you might ask yourself “what are the barriers I have built against it?”