Ananda has been an ongoing exploration and inquiry for me for several years. My morning practice has gradually become what I call “soaking in Being.” Shortly after waking up and brushing my teeth, I sit in a favorite chair that fits me particularly well. The deep, sweet, physical relaxation of sleep is still present and readily available for me to “soak” in. I simply turn attention gently toward this felt-sense of Being. The body responds. It seems that Being loves it when the light of Awareness shines upon it. The feeling of well-being shines brighter when attention turns toward it. Waves of well-being wash over and through the body. Breathing slows and almost stops. The felt-sense of well-being or bliss seems centered within the belly as it ebbs and flows throughout the body. Sometimes it almost tickles and makes me want to laugh. Eyes are usually open and maybe even looking around the room, watching the morning sunlight stream in through the blinds. Thoughts may be coming and going, no problem. Meanwhile the body soaks. I feel it now as I type this.
Over the years, I’ve come to understand this as what is described in the Upanishads as Sat-Chit-Ananda, or “Awareness of Being is Bliss,” as Nisargadatta put it. When Awareness becomes aware of Being, bliss shines forth just as light and heat emanate from the sun. The light and heat are not separate from the sun. They’re all one thing. And Awareness-Being-Bliss are all one “thing”: True Nature.
Just as the sun may be obscured by clouds or may even seem to disappear at night, so it is with the radiance of Ananda. But the sun never really stops shining. It’s just that our perspective is constantly changing, and we have to remind ourselves of that and come back to the felt-sense of Being, over and over again. It seems that this is the kernel of all spiritual practices, this remembering who we are and Knowing it even through changing circumstances–feeling it at all times and Knowing it as ourselves.
John Scott is a project manager for a university health science center and a Certified iRest Yoga Nidra Teacher living in Austin, Texas.