By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
How can Yoga create states of bliss? With the many forms of practice, Yoga provides the opportunity for experiencing higher states of consciousness. This is a naturally occurring phenomenon that accompanies Yoga practice, even if the individual practicing it is not actively seeking such experiences. Many times, people begin Yoga for purely physical reasons, but stick with it for a lifetime, because of the spiritually-enriching elements.
Why does Yoga promote states of bliss? Often the initial brush with higher states of bliss is the first glimpse of one’s deeper state of mind. It is the first time we become separate from the ego and realize that we are observing it. The questions: “If this is me, who is this consciousness that is watching it?” and “How can I be watching myself?” lead to the realization that there is a self that is false – the ego, and there is a self that simply is, which is an individual’s true nature. With this realization, there is an immediate silencing of the egoic mind; and in the silence, a subtle state of bliss can be felt. This is the first of higher states of bliss.
The pull of the ego is strong; and one way or another, it will make an individual identify with it once more. In this state, the bliss can no longer be felt. However, the ego is now fighting a losing battle because the awakening has already begun. After having glimpsed this higher state, no one can forget it altogether, even if they are no longer actively seeking a higher state of consciousness.
If an individual begins practicing Yoga on a regular basis, the brushes with bliss will continue to pop up, often when least expected. In this state, the thoughts and musings of the ego are still there in full force; but there is a blessed distinction between the true self and the ego, from which the practitioner is aware. The mind’s random thoughts are observed, yet ultimately, they mean nothing. They are unable to touch that which is real; the real being that is quietly observing the ego. The ego may rant, rave, complain, and label, but it impacts nothing. This feeling of safety, and grounding, leads to periods of vibrant bliss, in which everything is good, all is well and all tasks, chores, and cares are not a problem; everything is taken care of.
This state eventually ebbs and fades away, making daily Yoga practice necessary, in order to remain in that state for longer periods of time. As the conscious attention is taken away from the ego, more and more often, its voice will become less powerful, until finally, the ego is essentially silent.
At this point, the true mind becomes something that can be turned on and off at will, and only used as needed. This leads to sharper, more focused thinking, and an underlying current of bliss, which is the felt oneness with all that is. No longer is the individual an isolated fragment, as the ego would have us believe; and in this interconnected state of being, is infinite bliss.
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