In this second part, the author describes the spectrum of consciousness from another perspective, giving us a new level of understanding of human anatomy.
When we are in the company of a saint we feel energetic, because the kosha of the saint is radiating energy. There are some other people who draw energy from us, so that we feel drained. To avoid draining others, our intake of food and the quality of the food we eat must be light. That is why fasting is prescribed now and then, to balance and regulate this kosha. But too much fasting can damage the annamaya kosha, just as too much food can damage it. This is not related to having a lean or a heavy body.
Regarding the quality of food:
- Tamasic foods make us feel lazy and lethargic
- Rajasic foods make us active, but also sometimes irritable, short-tempered and anxious, if we eat them too often and late in the day. They are best eaten around noon,
- Sattvik foods promote lightness, calmness and peace of mind, and
- Food consumed with gratefulness has a very special impact
The annamaya kosha is one kosha where we undergo or play out the effect of karma. We find a lot of variation in the physical sheaths of people.
The next three koshas are all associated with the subtle bodies:
Yogis have described the energy flow in the human system according to five energetic processes (karmendriyas) and five energy flows (pranas).
The five energetic processes are elimination, reproduction, movement, grasping with our hands, and speaking.
- The inward flow governs respiration and the reception of everything, from air and food to ideas and impressions
- The downward and outward flow of elimination – excretion, urination and menstruation on the physical level, and anything that needs to be removed mentally
- The balancing and integrating flow at the meeting point between the inward and outward flows, associated with assimilation and digestion
- The ascending flow that directs energy towards higher levels of consciousness and governs self-expression through communication, and
- The flow through the nadis, the circulatory system, the nervous system, the lymphatic system, the movement of muscles and joints, and thoughts and emotions.
Hatha yoga is often prescribed to develop this kosha, as it is regulated by breathing exercises. But the sheath of prana is subtle and not glued to the physical system. It envelops us like an energy bubble, creating the field of the aura. The chakras of the subtle body are also associated with this kosha, so spiritual practices are needed to refine the pranamaya kosha.
This energy sheath is usually affected before any physical ailment appears in the body. That is why acupuncture and acupressure treatments work on our energy meridians. Whenever an imbalance or illness happens, the first kosha to be compromised is often the pranamaya kosha.
To be continued
— Kamlesh D Patel is the fourth spiritual Guide in the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga meditation. He is a role model for students of spirituality who seek that perfect blend of eastern heart and western mind. He travels extensively and is at home with people from all backgrounds and walks of life, giving special attention to the youth of today