“Momma, sun!”, my daughter gushed while doodling on a rainy afternoon. She handed me her purple crayon. “You want me to draw a purple sun?” I laughed. “Purple sun, purple sun, purple sun!!” she insisted. Obviously, we had no time to waste! We drew a purple sun, a blue pig, an orange rabbit and a black lion that day. She was immensely proud of her art.
Sketching is a fairly common activity for us – and I realize that every time my toddler reminds me about the fundamentals of life. That we do not need to arrange things into neat little boxes to understand the world around us.
The sky can be green, clouds pink or the trees red. I often stop myself from ‘correcting’ her with, “Apples are red or green, not blue,” or some such logical statement.
Because in her amazingly creative 20-month old mind, nothing is defined by rigidity of any kind. Her thoughts are not bound by the chains of information, knowledge or experience. Everything is fluid… and well, that’s the beauty of it.
“I think, therefore I am,” wrote the French philosopher Rene Descartes, emphasizing that our ability to ponder or ruminate is what validates our existence. This idea ties in magnificently with the concept of Panchakosha (five sheaths) in ancient Vedic philosophy, where it is believed that the human body transcends the physical, mental and emotional realms.
Imagine Panchakosha as five layers in our body. The outermost, the most visible, is the Annamaya kosha (food sheath), which signifies the physical body that we feed and exercise.
Then comes the Pranamaya kosha (breath sheath), which is the ‘prana’ or vital life energy running through us. The Manomaya kosha (mental sheath) is where millions of thoughts take root.
Next is the Vijnanamaya kosha (intellect sheath), which is our unique ability to build on our knowledge or wisdom and discern the world around us.
And innermost lies the subtlest layer of the human being – the Anandamaya kosha (happiness or spiritual sheath). This is where the soul experiences pure bliss or spiritual enlightenment.
The practice of yoga is a means to tap into this subtle sheath at will. Yogis say that we reach this state of rapture when our soul, the center of our consciousness (Atman), blends into that of the universal truth (Brahman). We become one.
In this meditative state, we are able to look at life as it is. There is no notion of how it ought to be. We are engaged yet unaffected by happenings – almost childlike. And that is precisely how children are – childlike, bundles of unblemished energy and joyfulness. If we look closely enough, we will know that they provide us with glimpses of Anandamaya kosha every day! For them, the possibilities are limitless. Their minds have not yet been trained to think along man made patterns or rules.
As we grow up, we gradually lose this power to imagine, explore and blur the lines. The spirit of inquiry with which we used to observe things around us disappears, and we get trapped in the outermost three sheaths of the body. We do not have the time or the inclination to go beyond or within. And this is why dis-ease becomes a crippling reality for even the visibly healthy.
Though easier said than done, those who make yoga and meditation a daily ritual may still be able to saunter around the higher echelons of consciousness.
For the others, I would suggest a few techniques.
- Create something – It could be a dish in the kitchen, a fantastic piece of art, pottery or even a pensive bit of writing. The process of creation brings all our faculties and energies into play.
- Revel in nature – Observe how a snail slowly but surely makes its way around the garden. Marvel at the inimitable colors of plants, flowers and trees. Breathe in and you will feel you are one with everything you are seeing around.
- Spend time with children – You will be amazed at the vivid ideas and wonderings surging in their little heads.
And who knows, you may even feel like drawing a pink monkey with them!
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