The 17th sutra is “madhya vikasha cittananda labhah,” which is translated by Swami Shantananda as “the bliss of Consciousness is attained through expansion of the center.”
Madyama, in our physical embodiment is the central channel, the sushumna nadi that runs vertically in the space of the spine. One of the key actions of Anusara’s organic energy is expansion from the midline. It is, in its essence, using the body to physically explore the bliss that comes from the expansion from the center.
If we can get bliss just from expanding, then why would we first draw in? In applying the Anusara principles, we use muscular energy first. We hug into our core before reaching out. This parallels the yoga texts. If, for example, one already embodies the perfect bliss of consciousness, one doesn’t need to study the sutras or to practice yoga, one would just live from that place of perfect bliss.
The way I think about it in terms of the Anusara principles, if one were perfectly open to grace and lived being fully open to and expressive of grace, there would be no need to explore, learn, or study any of the other principles. That’s a rare being though. Most of us, and definitely me, need practice to discover and embody even a glimpse of perfect bliss and grace. So the expansion from the center comes after consciously softening and opening, after intentionally drawing in to strengthen and embrace, after making with discrimination further expansion, and after drawing in to contentrate mind and body with honed intensity. With ever more refinement and practice, we then can experience and make offering a deeper bliss when we expand from our center.