In Yoga Literature, we find the idea that we have not one but five bodies or koshas: annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vijnanamaya, and anandamaya. Koshas are energy layers that surround our core essence or soul. These layers are nested within each other, like a Russian doll, and they vary in frequency and vibration. They can be used to guide you towards great transformation and spiritual development. If you use the koshas as a roadmap, you can achieve greater inner awareness and wholeness as your body, mind, and spirit become more and more connected.
Our goal must be to balance the koshas (bodies) and therefore not identify ourselves with only one aspect of them.Tweet
This approach is one of the oldest conceptualizations of how energy is manifested in human beings. It was first described in a Vedic text dated from the sixth century before Christ and it can certainly impart wisdom and inspiration on our journey towards greater well-being. Our goal must be to balance the koshas (bodies) and therefore not identify ourselves with only one aspect of them. For instance, we are not meant to pay only attention to our emotions and neglect our physical and mental bodies. To experience well-being, we must act coherently and create resonance across all our energy bodies.
Annamaya, or Physical Body
This is our densest body. It is made of food, flesh, and bone. Imbalances in other bodies are manifested here and what you do with your body also has an impact on other subtler layers. Paying attention to what we eat, how much we exercise and sleep, and the extent to which we minimize environmental toxins are some of the aspects that can directly affect this kosha.
Pranamaya, or Breath Body
We are used to taking the breath for granted but the breath plays a huge role in how the life force or prana circulates throughout our physical body. It has the power of giving us vitality. To pay attention to this kosha is to pay attention to our breath and the health of our circulatory, lymphatic, and nervous systems. We are not meant to hold tension in the physical body for great periods of time as that blocks the flow of energy. When prana is not flowing right, we tend to be restless, stressed, and anxious. Relaxation techniques are paramount.
Manomaya, or Mental Body
This kosha comprises not only our thoughts, but also our emotions, and behavioral tendencies. It holds our perception of the world, of others, and of ourselves. Some say it houses our Ego. It works as a messenger between our inner and outer worlds. When this body is out of balance, we can feel disconnected from what lies beyond it or we may be overwhelmed with the flow of information that’s occurring.
Vijnanamaya, or Wisdom Body
The Wisdom or Astral body is the energy layer where our intuition resides. This kosha allows us to see reality as it is and have access to a greater sense of balance. It deals with knowledge from a higher perspective and it requires us to be the observer of our own experiences. It’s where we overcome the Ego by committing ourselves to accept both our Light and our Shadow.
Anandamaya, or Bliss Body
This kosha is the subtlest one and it houses our pure Consciousness. It’s where we feel one with the universe and realize our True or Higher Self. To develop and nurture this body, we need to elevate our consciousness and be committed to our spiritual practices. In today’s fast-paced and inverted world is hard to achieve this stage of great well-being but it is possible to have glimpses or flashes of such blissful experience if you remain committed to doing the necessary inner work.
Whether you subscribe to more eastern approaches to human life, or not, I believe this 5 koshas system can be helpful in the sense that it provides us with a roadmap to direct our journey towards greater happiness and well-being. We often want to improve our well-being and feel more whole as a person but there are so many aspects that influence such a process that we can feel overwhelmed or even confused about where to start making a change. Approaching our well-being through the five koshas or bodies can make our journey less complex and more feasible.
According to neuroscientist Richard Davidson, well-being is a skill, and it can be developed with practice. It’s like learning to walk or playing the piano. The more you practice it, the more you strengthen the neuronal circuits associated with well-being, and the better you get at it. These neuronal circuits are plastic and thus can be expanded and trained. They are awareness, connection, insight, and purpose.Keep reading
From my point of view, approaching well-being from only a psychological point of view is somewhat limited. Our emotional, psychological, and social well-being play an important role in the maintenance of our psychological health but there are other equally important aspects. Physical well-being and spiritual well-being are two of them. I like to tap into Eastern Psychology because it identifies us as being made of energy (or light) and it describes a model of our human energy field based on seven different layers or bodies.Keep reading