Our Ancient Present Moment: Focusing on the 5 Koshas, Yoga, and the Subtle Bodies.. our Vehicle of Consciousness
In the old days, we worshipped nature. The natural forces of Fire, Earth, Air, Water, and Space were primordial forces that were honored for their sustenance, and their ability to create and destroy life. We had a reverence and respect for the natural world that today we have lost as a culture. This separation from our true essence of respect and honor for something greater than us has caused much suffering and disillusionment in our world.
You see, it is because we believed in Great Spirit, in the invisible force orchestrating the material plane, that we could not only see the impact of a raindrop on water, but we would see the metaphor behind it – how one tiny raindrop could create a ripple effect throughout the whole stream. Or how we believe we are separate, but in truth we merge back into the infinite river. That we are all just like water – changing forms, yet coming back to source. We would sense, feel, and know a deeper meaning behind these synchronicities and discern out of them a greater Truth.
The world is constantly speaking to us, directing our lives so that we can be in flow with it. Teaching us to harmonize with the tides, to attune to them. In the ancient days, we personified these forces of nature because we were more connected to the Spirit of our Earth. We wrote mythos and scriptures explaining the personality and multidimensionality of different essences of Spirit and of the nature elements. Deities, faeries, multiple levels of unseen magic. Unseen to the untrained eye, but very visible to the ones who have eyes to see and ears to hear the world that exists beyond the beyond.
Reverence is the key to open this doorway. Because of our ancient reverence for the unseen world and respect for the spirits of nature there was much less suffering, more connection to the Divine. We lived in harmony with what we now call, The Flow of the Universe.
Surrender to the flow
It is the same way with the human body. There is a body that is seen, and there are bodies that are invisible to the naked eye. But much like our personified elementals, the effects of a balanced invisible force can be felt palpably, and an unbalanced one can be sensed even more so.
There are 5 bodies that make up a Human Being. They are described in detail in the Vedanta or Upanishads, an ancient Hindu scripture argued to be 7,000 years old. They are called the 5 Koshas, and all include the word Maya which in Vedanta means, ‘to be seen through’ and Kosha translates directly to ‘sheaths’ or bodies.
There is also a connection between the 5 Koshas and the Eight limbs of Yoga. Each Kosha is sustained directly by practicing one of the 8 limbs. In Rāja Yoga, this list of 8 concepts equal a yogic lifestyle or way of being. And they correspond as tools to cleanse and purify each of the 5 bodies!
I will go into a little detail about each of the 5 bodies to illustrate how they effect our lives, and then discuss why these corresponding yogic practices are so important to bring unity and harmony to all the bodies.
The Annamaya Kosha is our physical vehicle of flesh and bone, it is fed by food and sustained by Asana practice. It is comprised of the Elements, Fire (core, digestion), Water, Earth, and Air. When these elements are balanced the state of the body is harmonious, comfortable, and free of dis-ease.
The PranaMaya Kosha is our chakra system, it is literally the energy body and the first of the 3 Subtle Bodies. This body is nourished by prana, being outside in nature, sunlight, moonlight, and eating living foods such as organic plants and vegetables. It corresponds to the yogic limb of Pranayama which is consciously working with the breath to clear the circuitry and allow the energy to flow freely throughout this body. These Channels are called Nadhis in Yoga or referred to as Meridians in Chinese Medicine.
Note: Acupuncture is also a way to conduct the flow of energy through these channels.
The second of our subtle bodies, the ManoMaya Kosha is the state of our mind. This is the chatterbox or commentator we must learn to discipline, where our inner critic and judge live. It is sustained by meditation and concentration but primarily corresponds to the yogic limb of Pratyahara which is sense withdrawal.
Since this is where our thoughts, feelings, and emotions live, getting quiet and going within is the ultimate way to detach from the overwhelm of primarily existing in the mind – supremely identified with our personality. The ManoMaya Kosha is where we’ve habituated patterns over lifetimes. When we react to situations based on our aversions and attractions, we are living in the past and not in the present moment. This is why living a heart centered life with a sincere practice of tuning inward is so important. The practice is what connects us to our highest thoughts and feelings so that we break the habit of repeatedly re-acting to situations based on the conditions of our past instead of the truth of the present moment.
Conscious awareness helps us discern which reactions are fear based, and a steady practice of going within helps to deepen our connection to our center, so we can be fully present and expressive with our whole heart in each and every moment.
A note on the Subtle Bodies: The 3 subtle bodies together make up our Light Body. The Light Body is the vehicle of our consciousness – the part that goes with us as we journey from lifetime to lifetime.
Using techniques like Pheonyx’s MerKaBa Lightbody Activation, we work with these three bodies through by using the breath to purify and enlighten the Koshas. We start by going through the first door, (PranaMaya Kosha) working with the breath and increasing the flow of energy, clearing the mind by going within (ManoMaya Kosha) and the result is having access to our higher wisdom (VijnyanaMaya Kosha) and a state of inner clarity and purification.
It is possible to attain higher states of awareness just by working deeply with the breath.
The Vijnyana Maya Kosha is the last body of the subtle body, our vehicle of consciousness. It is also our seat of psychic sense and intuition. This is the subconscious mind that feeds the conscious mind flashes of ideas and images of inspiration in our waking lives.
It is the Wisdom Body and corresponds to the 8 limb practice of Dharana and Dhyana which is concentration and meditation. I speak about these practices more on the video on meditation, embedded below. This body is sustained by listening to your higher truth and intuition and developing a relationship with your higher power. Again, this is strengthened by your willingness and commitment to a daily practice or a ritual where you tune to your higher wisdom.
It is here we learn to recognize and develop The Witness, a part of our consciousness that is simply observing life, rather than being identified with the current incarnation. Throughout our life, though we play many roles. The Witness within us isn’t identified with these roles, the Witness knows it is just the actor. Therefore being one with the essence of Witness help us cultivate detachment to our actions as we perform our Dharma.
The Witness is very close to the Soul. It is in the world, but not of it. The state is neutral, one of peace.
When we are a conscious meditator we are turning on this part of our being.. we are able to channel information that will help other people learn and grow.
The AnandaMaya Kosha is the closest to God Consciousness, and is connected to the Causal Plane. It is the purest part of Universal Consciousness that exists within every human being. The Atma (Soul) carries one core desire.. to align with one’s Dharma or Duty on here on Earth, to carry out the purpose for the incarnation. The Atma wishes to manifest and experience JOY! This eternal bliss is the state of Pure Higher Consciousness. Most of us have had fleeting moments of this state, but a few of us have chosen to exist there. The moments where it seems we are dancing within The Flow of the Universe. It’s as if we suddenly see the big picture of our lives, and everything fits in perfectly. We are elevated to a higher knowing.. an awareness of, “Ah, yes.. this is it. I feel whole.”
This frequency is the space within us where we are the most co-creative and have the ability to align with our intentions and manifest our desires as long as they are in service to all and in great harmony with our divine purpose.
In this school of thought, it is a privilege to enact these roles here on our planet and bring through our soul’s true mission while here on Earth. Suffering happens when we make choices that take us away from our soul’s mission, and joy is when we move closer in alignment with it. Liberation is then achieved by following our bliss!
Yet, in order for our soul to grow in consciousness on this planet, effort on our part is required. It is important to clean house in each of the 5 bodies, with a a solid foundation of spiritual practice, as well as a positive environment to nourish our soul’s growth.
The practices of the 8 limbs of yoga, are practices to nourish and sustain and purify each of our 5 Koshas, so that we may have access to the joy that exists in the center of our divine being.
What makes your soul sing?
— Michelle Infinity
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