The Churning of the Great Ocean is packed with symbols and stories for the process of practice. Here is an audio recording of my interpretation:
The Yoga Tradition provides many answers to the question Who Are You? One is the model of the 5 koshas. This is a particularly useful model for Hatha Yogis because it deepens the physical practice.
Kosha translates to "sheath" or covering. Think of these like layers of an onion or stacked Russian dolls and each one takes you deeper into your self.
1. Annamaya Kosha - the sheath of materiality, "food", the physical body. This is the layer we most easily and consistently identify with. It’s easy to see and feel, but difficult to change.
2. Pranamaya Kosha - the layer of prana. This is the animating force of the body, the vital energy that causes your heart to beat, food to digest, and neurons to fire. Yoga even has a whole science dedicated to engaging and improving the flow of prana within our body - Pranayama. This is the interface between the body-mind.
3. Manomaya Kosha – the layer of “mana” or mind. This is the sensory-processing and emotional response covering. Without awareness, this part of the mind is very conditioned and highly reactionary which makes it vulnerable to outside influences.
4. Vijanamaya Kosha - layer of wisdom, intellect or "buddhi". This covering is associated with higher intelligence and witness-consciousness. This is often an unexpected bonus of yoga practice because when activated this layer illuminates the reactionary mind. As you become more established in wisdom, your life (and your mind) feels more manageable. You gain greater access to your free will and the power of discernment.
5. Anandamaya Kosha- layer of bliss. This is the abode of great saints and sages. The poetry of Rumi chronicles his experiences here. It's the ground of being and your essence nature. It’s like the treasure locked deep inside. The practice guides you in the direction of this part of yourself. You may get occasional glimpses and every once in a while a big gulp. Over time, with dedicated practice, you remove what keeps you from experiencing this truth consistently.
Are you looking for me?
I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
you will not find me in the stupas,
not in Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:
not in masses, nor kirtans,
not in legs winding around your own neck,
nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see me
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.
This home practice was based on our study of the Mahabhutas and the element of Space. Use this practice to dive into the space between the breath cycle. Notice how the top of the inhale is brimming with fullness and the bottom of the exhale has a peaceful emptiness.
Use the MP3 to guide you in the beginning. Eventually this type of practice is best done one your own to really dive into your individual breath cycle and develop the capacity for deep listening. Once you’re comfortable with the sequence, use the typed version as a loose guide. Feel free to improvise and explore.