Body-Mind-Spirit and Mind-Body Connection get thrown around a lot. It took me a long time to really grasp what this meant. Clearly we have a body and a mind, and one can affect the state of the other. But, I didn’t have a handle on the spirit part or the how and why of these connections.
When I started practicing yoga and meditation, and I learned to observe myself, body and thoughts, it crystallized a bit. What really brought it home for me though was learning about the five koshas, five distinct sheaths that comprise your complete self.
[Note: Is the five koshas concept new to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.]
The five koshas together make up the whole You. They layer one upon another connecting your earthly presence with your spirit and the universe as a whole.
Koshas: The Five Layers of You
- Physical Body – The instrument with which you eat, drink, smell, see, hear, touch. It’s your physical footprint in the physical world. This is the layer we think of as being “real.” And, it’s the first layer we are often aware of. However, later in life, it’s the layer we often begin to abandon. We may stop listening to our body or lose mindful awareness of physical sensation.
- Energy Body – Sometimes called prana or chi. You can’t see it but you sure can feel it. Prana flows in with our breath and fuels us energetically on a large and micro scale. It’s what energizes us into physical and mental action. Blocks in our energy body can bring feelings of lethargy and thought and emotion discord. Yoga movement, breath practice and holistic treatments such as reiki, massage and acupuncture can help remove blocks in energy flow.
- Mental Body – Your mind, that is your thoughts and feelings. The mental body is more abstract, yet directly affected by the physical body’s signals: hormones, bioelectrical stimulation and sensory input regarding experiences of the physical body. The mental body can boss the physical body around, too. It can take over and direct processes, such as breathing, biochemisty, walking and talking.
- Wisdom Body – The quiet observer of your thoughts. This is your soul’s voice, which speaks more quietly than your mind’s. Sometimes it speaks though your physical body rather than words. We call it our intuition or gut instinct. Your simple knowing without logical, definable explanation. This can be confused with the mind’s thoughts of the mental body, but is guided by spirit rather than the mind. You can feel this knowing in your energy and physical body.
- Bliss Body – This body is pure love and endless peace. When you become present to your bliss body, it can feel like floating, or ecstatic joy. Looking at the complexity of the other four layers, it becomes clear why this is a difficult to access in daily life. Yet, we get glimpses. Bliss can be experienced in deep meditation, and it can unveil amidst the chaos of life. We connect in a moment with a lover or child [See: Spiraling to My Center], or when we’re in the flow of purposeful work or the zone of athletic competition. When we’re in bliss, we’re in a place of feeling and experiencing beyond words or thoughts. Our awareness pulls away from our physical bodies or environment or we may feel a sense of expansion beyond them. This is your link to the entire cosmos. Through mastery of the four prior sheathes, we are given the bliss key.
When I used to look at the self under the guise of Mind-Body-Spirit, I attempted to merge the energy and mental bodies and mush together the wisdom and bliss bodies. And, I neglected to see the primo opportunity to influence the physical body via the energy body.
I didn’t discern the difference between the wise whisper of the soul and seasoned logic of the mind’s ego. Let’s just say there was a lot of kicking myself after ignoring intuition. Segmenting the self into five distinct bodies helped me “get it.” I hope this finer detail helps you as well.
- How does wisdom present differently than the mind's thoughts for you?
- In what situations have you felt instantly energized or instantly lethargic or heavy? Explore through the lens of the energy body.
- When have you experienced bliss? Describe in detail.
- How do the five koshas influence each other in your life?