By Aanandi (Annie) Ross
This month’s teachings article, Physical, Prana, Mind & More…, set me pondering my experience of the maayaa-koshas, the five coverings that keep you from knowing you are Shiva. They are levels of contracted Consciousness, “…your ‘five bodies’, the levels that Consciousness takes on to become you.”
For much of my life, I have had an involved experience of anna-maayaa-kosha, the physical body, shaped, nurtured and sustained by food (“anna” in Sanskrit). I have always been interested and involved in creating healthy, delicious food. In the 80’s I studied macrobiotics, then at the Institute for Food and Healing in NYC. I taught cooking classes and catered my students’ weddings and parties. Then I studied Ayurveda.
Recently I’ve been wrestling with a food situation for months. My partner gives a weekly talk at a small local church. After his talk, there is a dinner, lovingly prepared by caring members of the congregation. It is not the kind of food I usually choose to eat. So often I’ve said to myself, “I will not eat this food tonight. I’ll go home early, or just visit and not eat.” Yet, over years, that actually happened only once or twice. Most of the time I eat the meal, while enjoying the company of the small group. I wrestle with this situation weekly. So I asked myself, “Why am I faced with this, week after week? What can I learn here?”
After reading Physical, Prana, Mind & More…, I’ve come to see that something’s happening in the processes of a deeper level than my “food body.” Loosening my hold on anna-maayaa-kosha let me pay attention to subtler levels and look deeper. The experience of gratitude is playing in my mind, mano-maayaa-kosha. I realize I am so fortunate to have choice in what I eat. If I were in a third-world country or in prison, I would have little or no choice of food. So now I simply bless the congregation’s food and eat it, with great gratitude.
Wow, mano-maayaa-kosha, the mind, is a big one! From childhood through adulthood I have experienced hefty confusion, including a lot of disorganization and chaos in my life. I’ve wondered, “Where does this come from?” It has been reflected in my inability to keep order in my house, paperwork, my mind, my life. But lately, I have turned a corner, so to speak, gotten over the hump. I have found what I’ve been looking for in the midst of this chaos: the experience of just being in my Self. I notice that now, bit by bit, I create small pockets of order. I do more “deep cleaning.” Along with that, my body is experiencing a major phase of clearing: Kundalini is presenting me with much inner chiropractor work.
My experience of vij~nana-maayaa-kosha, the “Truth” body, has also been extraordinary. Ten years ago, I used the Internet and googled the name I knew as that of my biological father. Since the age of 12, I had known about him, but we had never met. The Internet search brought up an article he had authored. When I read his words, I knew in Truth this was my father. Even before I had any tangible evidence that this man was my father, I was confident in telling the world I had found him. A while later, it was amazing to actually meet him in Israel.
When I come to aananda-maayaa-kosha, the bliss body, I have a wonderful childhood memory. I was 7 or 8 years old, up on a hilltop at night, looking out at the dazzling city lights. The moment was ecstatic, blissful beyond words. I know now I was experiencing the pure delight of Shakti, all the sparkle and creation, in my bliss body.
And now, through my Svaroopa® yoga practices, I know there is even more! Tat Tvam Asi: Thou art THAT — the Self that’s I’ve always been seeking. The wonder of Svaroopa® yoga is that it focuses on the Self, while working on all your bodies simultaneously. In “Celebrating Light (December 2016), Swamiji said, “Accepting your small-s self is part of finding your capital-S Self.”
Our current month’s article, along with Guru’s Grace, has helped me experience the layers of my small-s self. This process has enabled me also to heed her warning: “The problem is you get enamored with your bodies.” Instead of getting stuck in a “covering” over my Self, the teachings of this article have lovingly moved me into and through my small-s self, level by level.
This has opened me to her final guidance, “Deepen into the core of your being and allow your radiance to shine from inside out.” Thus, I am becoming more and more established in That. Along the way, more and more japa is a great support!