Updated: November 6, 2023
आनन्दमयोऽभ्यासात् ānandamayo'bhyāsāt ānandamayo ānandamaya'kośa is that part of our body that is referred to as the body of bliss. So the physical body, matter and energy are interpreted as matter and energy. The subtle body is mind, intellect, and ego. And then as we get closer to the fundamental levels of reality, we enter what is called the bliss body. The bliss body is also called ānandamaya'kośa as in this sutra ānandamaya'kośa it's also called that in yogic literature. So you have what we call annamaya kośa the layer of the body, the sheath derived from food, prāṇamaya kośa, energetic body, vital energy prana. And then the subtle body, which is also called … which is mind, intellect and ego subtle body. And then as we go closer to the source of all experience, and Atman and Brahman are referred to as the bliss body because they have very minimal fluctuations of consciousness and you enter the event horizon I would say of bliss and ultimate reality, the infinite being that you are, which is also referred to as sat chit ananda.
So today, I'll take this starting point to explain how spiritual practice actually epigenetically modulates brain activity and autonomic activity and ultimately our body's metabolism at the quantum level. I know people will object to that. But what the heck quantum means you know, quantum is defined as the smallest unit of energy in which waves are emitted or absorbed waves, fluctuations of basically photons, electromagnetic activity, whatever strong and weak interactions, that's all part of the electromagnetic field. So particles fluctuate as quantum fluctuations and that is influenced. Now, here's the controversial part, but it's not controversial. As far as I'm concerned, every experience modulates, the experience modulates the activity of your genes. So genes are constantly going on and off right now. As I'm speaking to you, the genes in your frontal cortex are going on and off and they're influencing because all genetic activity is entangled. Then every gene is correlated in its activity with every gene correlated with its activity at a quantum level.
So choosing our experiences, how we choose our experiences actually allows us to modulate our genetic activity and also effectively and consciously engage in neuroplasticity, which means new connections between neurons and ultimately neurogenesis, which is also the generation of new neurons. But remember that's not just happening in your brain, it's happening everywhere because everything is connected in the body. So traditionally, the nervous system is divided into the brain and then the autonomic nervous system, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. So one is considered the voluntary system the other is considered the involuntary system or. So you can say the autonomic nervous system is the neural correlate of our subconscious mind. But it's not really subconscious in a way, it's super conscious because it influences everything that's happening in the conscious mind. So for the Yogi, it's all one correlated activity, mind, brain, sympathetic nervous system, parasympathetic nervous system, metabolic activity all happening simultaneously through acausal, nonlocal, quantum mechanical interrelatedness.
Notwithstanding what the classic mainstream quantum physicists might say we can ultimately be able to map mathematically everything that we call experience. And so where does experience happen? Experience happens in awareness. So awareness is nonlocal. We've said that before. So all experience is happening or is being processed non-locally in ānandamaya kośa if we can get there and this is why we need these scriptural guides to say, how do we get back to where we started from? Remember that poem of T S Elliot, we shall not cease from exploration. And the end of our exploring is to arrive where we started from and know the place for the first time. What is that? So, you know, when somebody asked a great Rishi who was traveling across India, boy, you're traveling a lot and he said, no, no, my body travels, I've never left home.
So when you learn to go back home and then stay there, even as your body mind travels, then you arrived where you start from. And that is the body of bliss. And that is the ultimate self regulation, genetic epigenetic neuroplasticity, neurogenesis, metabolic self-regulation, homeostasis, the ultimate self-regulation from the body of bliss behind the karmic body. So now close your eyes for a second, feel your body, the sensations you feel are the projection of karma: stories, past interpretations of experiences, future desires, memories, that's all being projected from the subtle body as your physical body. But behind this is the body of bliss and, and everything we do from you know, social emotional intelligence, which are the first two limbs of patanjali yoga and then you know the seats of awareness through physical postures, pranyam breathing techniques, interoceptive awareness, pratyahara withdrawal of the senses, tarna focus gyan meditation, samadhi, transcendence all lead us back to the source, the body of bliss, neuroplasticity, epigenetic activity all in perfect harmony for ultimately creating a joyful, energetic body, loving, compassionate heart, clear mind and lightness of being so more to come.