You Have 5 Bodies: The Sheaths + How to Access Them

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Oh yes, we have 5 bodies. You thought you were just one little ole body, but it turns out there is much more going on than you realize. These bodies are actually interpreted as layers or sheaths of your being.

Another word for sheath is kosha, which is sanskrit. The koshas interpenetrate each other to encase your Self or Soul. Your soul at the center of it all. These koshas work together to help to accomplish the specific mission of the soul. 

To pay attention or access any or all of the sheaths is an extremely awakening process. To access one or all of them is to become grounded in life, to become present and aware.

It brings a dimension of consciousness, love and creativity (sometimes just one of these modes, sometimes all) into your life. There is no power like being connected to one of your bodies.

Everyone has an energetic uniqueness, a signature. This energetic signature goes with you wherever you go. Sometimes it sticks to clothes and furniture. Sometimes the remnants of your energy stay in a room where you've been.

Have you ever felt different when someone walked into the room? Have you ever felt different when wearing someone else's clothes? You are feeling their unique energy or aura.

All of your sheaths or bodies contribute to your personal energetic signature. And when you spend time anchored in one or some or all of your sheaths, you raise your own vibration. So you improve the positive effect of your own personal energetic signature. 

There's nothing like making people feel better, simply by your presence. Without any outside effort, you can put people at peace. Just by paying attention to your bodies, by working on your own world.

That's a beautiful thought.

On another note, it can be helpful to point out that a human dilemma and dysfunction of the human ego is that we can identify with one or another of our 5 bodies too strongly. Spending time looking and feeling into all the sheaths will help to break over-identification with one sheath. And create a balance among all of them.

This balance is a wonderful integration that allows the soul to shine its brilliance and power. That's part of what we are here to do.

Let's discuss these 5 bodies and how to fully access, become aware of and pay attention to them to create depth and connect to the power of your individual soul. 

Where and what are your 5 bodies? How do we access them?

1. The Physical Sheath:

Also called the food body because it's made of the food we eat. This is literally your body and every physical thing within it and happening in it. 

This sheath is also called the Annamaya Kosha. If you are prone to injuries and accidents, you might not have enough consciousness of your food body. 

Getting to know this sheath means knowing what you need to eat, when you need to eat, when you need to drink water, when you need to rest, when you need activity. It means knowing and feeling your own physical energy, being able to feel yourself from within - all of which takes time to do. 

We build an awareness of this sheath specifically through the practice of nutrition and yoga. Meditation can also be used to grow awareness in this body. 

Consciousness of the physical sheath means safety, less fear, feeling grounded, and being more easeful in your movements. 

How to access the physical sheath: 

  • Put your hand over your heart to feel your heart beating

  • Pay attention to and seek the aliveness in your fingers and hands. You can do this for your toes and feet too. Follow that aliveness into the center of your body.

  • Lie down and place your hands underneath your navel and become silent and still. Listen for any sounds, feel the warmth and movements in your digestive area.

  • When you walk, feel the impact of your feet on the floor and become conscious of all the muscles involved in this action.

  • Say to yourself, "I feel my body." Or, "I am conscious of my physical body."

You might want to use this free program to reset, get in touch with and cleanse the food body: 

 

2. The Vital Energy Sheath:

Also known as the Pranamaya Kosha, this sheath works with and penetrates the physical body but expands beyond it. Think of your aura, the subconscious around you that protects you  and attracts experiences.

Prana is the vital energy of the body. It moves through the body downward and upward.

Think of the chakras here. Think of the breath here. This is subtle energy. This is the energy people feel when you're in a room, the communication that need not be directly communicated. This sheath, in particular, is a great contributor to your energetic signature (discussed above).

Prana can get stuck in the body. But prana is meant to flow, to move. Just as food is meant to move through and out of the physical body. Stagnated energy can cause all sorts of issues in your life from disease to relationship issues to a feeling of being lost. Energetic constipation (which can be way more painful than real constipation). 

That's when we use meditation, pranayama and yoga. These practices are used to cleanse our energy fields, to move stagnant prana up or down and out of our vital energy bodies. 

Whether we're bringing more prana into the pranamaya kosha or releasing and letting go of stuck prana, it can be life-changing to get in touch with our vital energy bodies. 

How to access your vital energy body:

  • Breathe in for 5, hold the breath for a count of 2, exhale to a count of 5, hold the breath out for a count of 2. Increase the counts to 7 and 3 if it feels right to you.

  • Build your consciousness of the vital energy sheath with yoga (see below if you don't yet have a consistent practice).

  • Meditate on the chakras, paying attention to each center as you move up to the crown.

  • Feel into your breath while talking to the next person you talk to.

  • Say to yourself, "I am vital energy." Or "I feel my breath" on the inhale, and "I let it go" on the exhale.

 

3. The Mental Sheath:

The mind body or the Manomaya Kosha is comprised of your thoughts, perceptions, images, interpretations, beliefs, emotions. It is the seat of your imagination and the way you make sense of the world. 

The most important thing to realize is that this is where we can find the ego. The little voice in the head that talks to you all the time. This ego is built by the fears, identifications, beliefs, assumptions and messages you received from your time being alive so far. 

Over-identification with this sheath is what a lot of people are dealing with today. We seem to be lost in our minds, overly stimulated. We all think way too much. We are trying so hard.

The ego has a lot of momentum. And it has a lot of core beliefs, identifications and opinions from your upbringing and beyond--it thinks these core beliefs are saving you, protecting you from bad things happening. Example: The ego thinks negative self-talk and self-doubt keep you out of trouble and failure. But this inside talk also keeps you from life.

It's not all bad. Some of those precautions and monkey mind thoughts might be right, but that should be up to the calm center, the soul to decide--with input from the ego. (Which leads us to our next sheath).

How to access the mental sheath:

  • Close your eyes and ask, "What is my next thought?"

  • Practice mindfulness as much as you can remember.

  • Listen to what your mind says and transcribe everything that comes through the stream of thought in freeform journaling. Write whatever comes in and out of the mind.

  • Say to yourself, "I watch my thoughts." Or, "I am always aware of my beliefs and assumptions about life."

  • Meditate as often as possible. Be a good listener to chitta vritti (monkey mind), creating a space around the thoughts and deeper beliefs, as you listen and observe the voice in the head as much as you can.

If you need a little help building or getting back into a meditation practice:

 

4. The Wisdom Sheath:

Or the Awareness Body or Vijnanamaya Kosha in sanskrit. Where the mental sheath is responsible for thoughts, putting the world together through interpretations, core beliefs and assumptions, the wisdom sheath or awareness body is responsible for insight, inspiration and intuition.

Quick story: I have a painting that has been awkward in its place. One day I was walking by it, and it hit me that it needs to switch with a different work of art in a different room. This information did not come from my mind. It came from a deeper, more subtle place. It was a moment of inspiration, communication that did not come from my mind for sure. I wasn't thinking about the painting--it was an insight that came out of nowhere, hit me like a lightning bolt. 

It's comforting to know that at some level of you, within one of your layers, you already know what to do. You already have the answers. All that you need to do is get still, present and quiet enough to get out of the way so that your wisdom body can enlighten you. 

Beyond being the point of intuition and insight, it is also the place of observation and awareness. We reside in this body when we can truly look, feel and observe all the other sheaths. We can even become aware of the awareness body itself. Consciousness conscious of consciousness itself. 

This body is completely objective and calm - the observer, the witness of it all. It links and webs with all the other bodies, as they all do. 

How to access the wisdom sheath:

  • Sit back and do nothing, just observe your internal world as you would observe your external world.

  • Notice your judgment as you move through life. Say to yourself, "I am labeling this situation/person/place/thing." This will help you to move into objectivity.

  • Practice observation meditation wherein, you see and feel exactly what is happening in all the other sheaths. Use crystals to help expedite this process of awakening the wisdom sheath in meditation.

  • Bring your thumbs together at your third eye (space between eyebrows), making prayer hands with other fingertips pointed straight at the sky. Say, "I welcome inspiration." Or "I am awareness itself."

5. The Bliss Sheath: 

Or the Anandamaya Kosha. This is the closest sheath to the divine space within you, your pure consciousness, which is just joy and purity, which is Divine Spark--your soul, your Spirit Self.  

The last time you might have been in touch with this sheath was when you were a child. At least, this is the case for many people. Unbridled joy, this sheath is your joy body, which has, since you were small, probably gotten taken over by the pain body. The bliss body is worth finding again. Don't lose hope. If you quest for it, you will find it. 

You know you have found your bliss body when you feel abundant love and exhilaration. Many people have reached the bliss body again through meditation or prayer. It is deep connection and love with the Divine. It is the happy feeling that all is well, that life is abundant, that we are truly and deeply loved. You just know instinctively, or rather feel that all is love, and love is all there is. 

I've had the fortune of hitting the bliss body a number of times. It takes much practice, a development in your meditation and growing up to it, but it also takes a lot of letting go of trying to force yourself into the bliss body. And that's hard to do once you've experienced it. Because you'll try hard to get it again and again if you can't let go of expectations in your meditation (that's been my issue...over-trying).

You can't force an activation of the bliss body. You can't force contact. All you can do is ask for it, stay ready for it and work your way through the other sheaths. It is necessary to access the other 4 before you can feel the bliss body. Feeling the bliss body is a gift, a grace. 

How to open yourself to access the bliss body:

  • Try to access other bodies as much as possible.

  • Imagine yourself as a newborn baby--fed, changed, and well-rested. Just playing and smiling and witnessing the world. You could go even further by imagining yourself as an embryo, safe and warm in your mother's womb.

  • Say to yourself as much as you can remember, "I am bliss."

  • Love freely, practice gratitude and be open.


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Comment below about this post and what you think. Would love to hear more about the bodies if you have anything to add!

Related: How to Wake Up Your Inner Senses: Real Mindfulness

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