By now we are familiar with the notion that Ananda or the Joy of Spirit is an integral part of our being. Naturally we all wish to be in that state of perfect happiness where there is no tinge of sadness or insufficiency. It is possible for us to achieve that state of perfection and we must strive to achieve and experience that quintessential state of higher being.
At this juncture, I know Mandira, that an obvious question has sprung up in your mind and you must be wanting to ask me, “Mother, I agree that Ananda is our true nature and I wish to live in that state. But where do I find such Divine Bliss and how do I attain that state of being?”
Yes, I understand that this is a serious thought and subject and it requires a thorough understanding and also patient practice of spiritual efforts. For practical application, a definite method and a whole process of transformation is to be undertaken by the aspirant. This path and destination is not commonly sought, but nonetheless we are going to travel on it because the journey is worth taking and the destination worth visiting. The expected requirements and tools are your lifelong commitment, sustained interest and focus, untiring effort and unflinching sincerity towards your goal.
My dear, all the efforts are worthwhile as the fruit of earnest labour are wondrously enriching, enormously rewarding and benignly enlightening!
So let’s begin our journey to reach our desired destination and find the source of Joy within us.
Mandira, let’s step back for a while and do some introspection by going back in time. Let’s attempt to recall and recreate those moments when we were just born! For us life began then and for our dear ones it was a day to rejoice.
Now try to focus on the moment when we took our first breath, yes the first breath. It was a critical moment because that particular moment heralded a new beginning for us as we embarked on an incredible journey called ‘life’.
Can you recall that specific time? The expected answer from you would be how can I recall that? It is so far away back in time, I was not even aware of that action. Alright, let it be. Instead let us just imagine and visualize for a short while the crucial moment when we first inhaled the air and took the first breath in. Stop here and think!
You must be wondering what is my mother up to? Why is she asking me something that no one thinks about? Why is it important to remember the moment when I took my first breath?
The importance of one breath!!
My dear, I took you way back in the past so that we realize the importance of one breath!! In one breath we began our life and our whole life is made up of multitude breaths! And today I am going to reveal to you a few important hidden facts about something as vital as breathing and other related topics to which we have never given a careful consideration. One might wonder what is the connection between breathing and Ananda? And what is the significance of it in my life?
To begin with, let us know that Ananda is sublime Joy. Ananda is different from sensual pleasures and it is perceived and experienced in a state when the senses and the mind are in a stationary and complete calm state. The subtle vibrations of Spiritual Joy are received from the upper regions of the astral world. The mind and body should be prepared and attuned beforehand to be ready to receive those soft and subtle rays of enchanting light! Such is the magic of those beatific rays of divine joy! And joy when prolonged for a longer period is Bliss!!
So you see who would not like to make an attempt to explore the world of untapped Joy and Bliss!
Mandira, do you remember that as a child you have first learnt words so that in future you would make sentences? In the same way, the key to the hidden treasure of Joy of the Spirit is the meditation technique in which the ‘prana’ or the vital force which resides in the breath is disciplined and the latent power of the mind awakened.
To make things interesting and simpler let us do a simple exercise.
Take a few deep breaths. Focus on the point between the eyebrows and concentrate there for a while. Do not care about the noise from outside or sound of the thoughts in the background. Sit calmly and allow the mind to become motionless and enjoy the peace. Once the peace settles over you, bring your attention gently over the incoming and outgoing breath. Watch the continuous flow like an observer and do not apply any force or will.
Let this go on for some time and you will notice that as you are doing this, the mind has become calm and still and the breath is becoming shorter and slower. Now with a quiet mind, notice that there is a gap, a void* after we exhale and before we take the air in. Focus on that empty gap and become conscious of its presence. When we concentrate on these gaps or nothingness by keeping our attention on them, the body starts becoming motionless and the mind arrives at a point of Absolute Stillness like a still lake devoid of any ripples!
Enjoy the calmness that has now enveloped you!
Gradually, with continued practice, when you focus on the empty gaps, you will experience a state of breathlessness when the heart and lungs stop functioning temporarily. This is the stage when the mind is completely absorbed in Absolute Bliss. The body consciousness is abandoned and the Spirit soars and takes a flight in the Infinite sky to experience vastness. It is state of great joy because the cord of the small self is cut and the soul becomes free to float in Infinity and from within a divine song flows-“Ananda, Ananda, Nit Naveen Ananda.” “Joy, Joy, Ever new Joy.”
This reminds me that it was in Nov’03 that I visited Ranchi for Sharad Sangam and took Kriya Deeksha at YSS. There I was initiated into a breathing technique after which I experienced some outstanding spiritual experiences. That’s when I understood many scientific explanations of the ancient science of Yoga as explained by many yogis and maharishis like Patanjali, and also Sri Paramhansa Yogananda in his ‘Autobiography of a Yogi.”
During those days, I used to meditate very frequently and was trying to learn the art of concentration and meditation by regular practice and discipline of the body and mind. I was practicing the ‘Hon Sau” technique of breath control, which is a type of ‘Pranayam,’ with dedication and strict adherence to the steps prescribed by Guruji.
The day I returned from Ranchi, I felt like meditating before sleeping. I was filled with the spiritual vibrations of my week long stay in the Ranchi Ashram. I closed my eyes naturally and began observing my breath. My mind and body became extremely still effortlessly and I slipped into deep calmness and solitude. It was then, with some passing moments I realized that I was not breathing at all and my body was motionless. I did not have the need to draw in air and I entered a state of very deep and intense calmness. The murmur of the heartbeat was not audible to me anymore and I underwent into a state of Absolute Silence. The body was seen as a separate entity like a cage and I a bird in it, a soul, the silent onlooker, who could see the cage as a separate object. There were two separate entities as I could see then clearly.
Imagine here I was in a breathless state at home while so many yogis and other spiritual aspirants strive to achieve this in the caves and other places in tough terrains of the far off Himalaya Mountains! How fortunate I am, just think over it. It was such a rare experience for which I shall forever be grateful to Guruji, Sri Paramhansa Yogananda and to our Revd. Mahavatar Babaji.
I sometimes wonder how could I, out of innumerable people in the world get so lucky to have been chosen by the divine to experience such exalted spiritual state. The most convincing answer that comes to my mind is that God chose me to show the other seekers that it is possible by one and all to reach the higher states of spiritual advancement with their sincerity, devotion and ardent efforts. Who so ever follows the Spiritual Preceptor’s advice obediently will be showered by His Grace and Compassion.
So my dear child, the initial steps that you have taken on the journey are the stepping stones of the regal palace that will be made in future by you. Take each step with enthusiasm and cheerfulness and enjoy every stage of the magnificent path ahead.
Updating and Notes –
I have spoken about ‘void’ or ‘gap’. It is also called ‘Kumbhak’ in Yoga and it finally leads you to ‘Shunya’. I have described this in this blog post-
They are now infinite; you are in extreme peace of mind and stillness. You have reached a depth when there is no tarang or a ripple when you are meditating. You are in shunya always when you are sitting quietly. Shunya is samadhi.
Shunya is samadhi.
And I quote a portion from-https://spiritinlife.blog/2018/12/02/my-first-direct-interactions-with-maharishi-vishwamitra-iii/
The Earth disintegrates slowly but with natural disasters as it had formed, it perishes and all living beings die except one of five natural elements.
It is also called ‘Pralaya’ or complete destruction, an act of God by which cleansing and submerging of all wrongdoings and actions conducted.
For a prolonged time, no activity of breeding or recreation takes place, there is no earth, water, fire or air, they return to its inactive or dormant state.
Only ‘Akash’ or ether stays intact rest retreat, it is the job of akash to take on the role of master supervisor or a manager who now manages.
Akash becomes active in activating all its nutrients which are embedded in its constitution called anu or atoms, the thoughts or sankalpa are the seeds.
The dormant seeds of all thoughts of the Universe are looked into and sorting done as rotten, very obnoxious seeds are separated from very good and pious.
It is then God and nature both take a long sabbatical, rest and restoration work to plan and envision how must the new world be ensued and emerged.
The creative powers, regenerative and destructive both need restoration periods so that they can self-sustain by itself without additional burden on God.
This period is called shunya, a long phase when nothing is built, created or a time period of no possibility of germinating seeds of cycles of birth and death.
What should never be germinated is destroyed permanently, the remaining good virtuous seedlings are stored in a repository, a germ bank readied…..
(References-Food and breath control and about Paramhansa Yogananda -‘Autobiography of a Yogi’)