Map of Being: Joy!

Familiarising ourselves with all of our beautiful Koshic layers we can move beyond our conditioning. We can view the comings and goings of the positive and negative emotions, thoughts and beliefs by also connecting with the realm of unconditional joy and bliss that lies in the most subtle layer, the Anandamaya Sheath. The joy of life is something that we can receive in this moment no matter what fluctuations and obstacles are arising. When we realize that Joy is our underlying condition we can be truly liberated by being always present. This is Yoga!

Our yoga practice moves us towards moment to moment awareness in our daily lives  as well as on the mat by cultivating a way of being that is no longer distracted by the past or future. Through the asanas, pranayama and meditation we learn to be in the present moment.

For instance you can take moment to moment awareness off the mat and onto your dining table. When you  sit down to eat lunch do you shovel it in, perhaps even checking emails while you do so? This is a missed opportunity to enjoy and experience each mouthful of food as a gift of pleasure and gratitude. All food is a gift from the Divine. Have you ever really slowed down to eat and absorb every sensation that you experience as you eat? Try it sometime with a raisin or piece of chocolate. By really using every one of your senses to take in what it feels like, what it looks and smells like as well as the incredible tastes that are received by the tongue as you roll it around your mouth. Taking 5 minutes to eat a raisin could bring you more joy than you could ever imagine!

Being in and with nature is another way into Anandamaya. Witnessing the smallest bud beginning to open or a vast view from a mountain side may activate a moment of awe. True joy is that moment before we describe the experience with even a ‘Wow!’. It is the bliss, and awe that is experienced almost beyond words.

However words are what we have and I find that Mary Olivers poems invoke the often ethereal or indescribable experience of being present and in connection with nature. This one is particularly apt in relation to Anandamaya. 


by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?  

We could see the Anandamaya Kosha as the underlying field of joy that is always there and available but that the ongoing flux of the outer Koshas obliterate our view of it. Once we have access to this sheath we can begin to connect with our ‘core’ purpose.

In order to cultivate this joy of life the Taittirya Upanishads advise that we invite the following into our lives:

  • Affection (Priyam)
  • Cultivate and invite positive and joyful experiences (Moda)
  • Recollect Positive and joyful experiences (Pramoda)
  • Connect with the Divine (Brahma)
  • Recognise the joy in this moment (Ananda)

So we can slow down, be affectionate to our family and friends, connect with breath, pay gratitude to all the positive experiences  we have in our lives and know that the Divine is present whatever our experience.

Richard Miller, my iRest teacher also recommends laughter. Laughter has been proven to have incredible health benefits, especially on mental stress. One of the things I really enjoy about my Yoga teacher, Donna Farhi is that whenever I’m around her I find myself laughing. In fact it is her sense of humor and her ability to share that with all those around her that I find so inspiring when I assist her. This is the sign of a real yoga teacher – one who brings joy to others. 

There is a whole revolution of Laughter clubs springing up around the world. You may enjoy this short  video with John Cleese who looks at how laughter clubs are having a positive impact on Indian workers.


So sit, down, relax and watch a funny movie tonight knowing that you are doing yoga and activating your Anandamaya Kosha!



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