Once, as a kid, I heard someone say that most people use only one-third of their brain, whereas Albert Einstein used about two-thirds of his. I didn’t know exactly what this meant (and, specifically, how someone was measuring all our brains ☺) but I was impressed by the notion that even Mr. Einstein could have been a lot smarter if he had used his entire allotment of grey matter.
What has really stayed with me through the decades, though, is that we all have considerable untapped resources at our disposal.
The Koshas — “Getting to Know Me”
When I hear a Sanskrit term (especially a really long one with, say, a dozen syllables), part of my brain numbs out. It’s as if this part of me is saying,
This word has absolutely no importance to us. It is only relevant to skinny, diapered, long-bearded men who inhabit remote caves somewhere on the far side of the planet. And only pretentious yoga teachers who want to sound scholarly or cool use it here in America…
I actually feel a little pretentious writing an entire blog about koshas, right now. Because I know how important koshas are to you and me, though — how they can lead us to our deepest joy and fulfillment — I will ignore the voice in my head and push on.
Definition: Okay, let’s get right to the English: We can describe koshas as the various “layers” or “aspects” of our human selves. They’re all the parts that make up our “mortal” being — as opposed to our spirit self.
As someone who has enthusiastically explored his inner terrain for the past 20 years, I can confidently say that our untapped resources go well beyond just our thinking brain. We have these many other layers of our being — these kosha layers that our mind is barely aware of. (This lack of self-knowledge reminds me of our enthusiasm to send spaceships to explore Mars, and yet we know so little about the plant and animal life at our oceans’ greater depths).
So, let’s take a look within, for a moment, at our principal human layers (i.e., the 5 classic koshas):
The 5 Koshas
- Our Physical Body. We’re all pretty much agreed we have one of these, right?
- Our Energy Field. We can’t really see our “energy body” with the naked eye, but we know it’s here. (As we develop greater sensitivity, we can actually feel it.) And we know our energy is created by a combination of sunlight and air, and the food and liquids we consume – we are aware that, without any one of those things, we’d die. With them, on the other hand, we are energized or animated … our physical body “hums” with life force.
- Our Emotions. We differentiate our feelings with names like sadness and joy, frustration and contentment, fear and love. Again, we can’t visually see this part of ourself, yet we know it exists because we experience emotions every day.
- Our Intelligence. We know we have the ability to reason, analyze, fantasize, form mental images, and remember the past. You’re using this kosha right now to understand this sentence!
- Our Bliss. Wait … what?! This kosha is an interesting-sounding one, isn’t it? The other four were a bit easier to accept, but I’ll bet “Bliss”has a different feel to you. (I’ll also bet it doesn’t come up a lot in your formal dinner conversations.)
To understand this part of yourself, think of a sense of well-being, serenity, or deep peace that you have experienced. This equanimity exists as a full-being experience … so, when you are really open to it, you’ll probably sense it throughout all of your other koshas. You may notice its presence in spontaneous moments of contented joy, like when you’re feeling warm sunshine on your body, sitting in a hot bath, walking in Nature, listening to heavenly “yoga” music, or simply hanging out with your cat or dog. Those of us who practice yoga will often feel bliss once we’ve stopped moving at the end of class, and are resting in “corpse pose.” (Oh, okay, I’ll say it – resting in savasana!)
Well, there’s your five classic koshas — the five principal aspects of your being. Not really so mysterious now, are they? I want you and the world to know about your koshas because most of us are quite unaware of the “complete us,” and therefore experiencing only a fraction of our full potential and capacity. To put it in context, many of us are not only using just a small percentage of our brain power, we also have precious little relationship with those other four essential layers of our being. We are living only ”partial” lives…
Unfortunately, because we are so cut off from our human self in this way, we have cut ourselves off from our Higher Self, as well.
The Good News
There is good news, though! We have the ability to wake up to all these fascinating layers of our being … and when we do, we also begin to access our innate, and most profound, wisdom (intuition). It’s like magic. We gain the ability to see with great clarity and to make perfect life choices … effortlessly … and to do so from our deepest knowing, based on our highest good. In this way, our practices of yoga, yoga nidra, meditation, etc. teach us how to live in perfect flowing harmony with our true nature.
And the benefits of living in flowing harmony? Oh, only boundless joy, vibrant health, profound peace, absolute abundance…
Only everything that we desire. ♥
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Please join me on April 20 for a workshop at the Dragonfly Yoga Barn in North Sandwich, NH. We will learn to meet all the koshas, rediscover our True Nature, and live in absolute abundance and joy. Click here for workshop description and to sign up.