One well-known author and teacher of shamanism appears to think that he has "discovered" our energy body. His "discovery" is nothing new, but it appears to be a good marketing gimmick.
Practitioners of Ayurveda (ayur = life + veda = science, or the science of life) have known about our subtle bodies for at least 5,000 years. As shamanic practitioners we can do a great service to our clients if we are able to sense the state of their energetic body and work with it. In this blog I'll write about your energetic bodies from the point of view of Ayurveda. In the next blog(s) we will explore how to sense and then how to work with the energy bodies.
According to Ayurveda we don't have one body, but rather five. The first of these bodies is the Annamaya Kosha. Anna means "food" so the Annamaya Kosha is our food body, or the body that we construct from food. In other words, it is our physical body. Every builder needs a plan and the plan for your physical body is found in the other four bodies or sheaths that overlay the Annamaya Kosha.
The next body or overlaying sheath is the Pranamaya Kosha or the energy body or sheath. Energy goes by different names in different cultures. In India (Sanskrit) it is prana. In China it is Qi (pronounced "chi”), and in Japan it is Ki, as in Reiki. This sheath controls the flow of energy through our physical body through a system of subtle channels called Nadis, similar in concept to the meridians in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Our body also has numerous energy gates called Marmas (again similar to acupressure points in TCM) through which our energy body interacts with our physical body. These Marma points control the flow of energy to different body systems and organs, such as our heart, brain, stomach and liver.
The Manomaya Kosha (manas means mind) is the storehouse for memories, emotions, likes and dislikes and all the information we receive through our senses. Manomaya Kosha is often referred to as either our emotional or our mental (Chitta) body. Scientists are starting to question whether or not consciousness resides in the brain our outside of the body and the brain is just sophisticated transceiver that receives information from and sends data to consciousness. Ayurvedic physicians understood this millennia ago. To learn more about this you might enjoy Mark Gober’s book, An End to Upside Down Thinking: Dispelling the Myth That the Brain Produces Consciousness, and the Implications for Everyday Life.
The Manomaya Kosha is enclosed within the Vijnanamaya Kosha. Vijnana is usually translated as the thinker; the higher aspect of our mind (also known as Buddhi). This body provides us with our intelligence, discrimination, wisdom and compassion. When this sheath is strong then our mind and heart are free of agitation and are balanced and clear.
The fourth energetic body is the Anandamaya Kosha, (Ananda = bliss) or bliss body, or as some call it, our causal body. This body is the truest reflection of our Atman, the Self or Soul whose nature is Sat-Chit-Ananda (pure-bliss-consciousness).
The physical body, the annamaya kosha consists of energy that vibrates very slowly and consequently appears to our physical eyes to be solid, even though at the atomic level it is mostly empty space. The other four koshas, or energetic layers or subtle bodies, create an interconnected field of energy around the physical body that is commonly known as the auric field. Each subtle body connects into the physical body via an energy point or chakra, which directs the energy into the physical body via the nadi or meridian system.
The outer bodies and the chakras in essence act as step-down transformers that decrease energy levels until they are able to condense and form the physical body. The energetic state of all of the koshas determines our level of mental, emotional and physical well-being. This also means that energy imbalances in the outer koshas will eventually be manifest in the physical body as dis-ease. Consequently when we heal the energy koshas we heal the body. This, by the way, is the basic premise of Bach Flower Remedies.
Energy is everything,
I'm Dr. Dave, an eclectic shaman. I lived and worked in Bolivia and Peru for over six years, where I and was trained by Andean Shamans, and today practice eclectic shamanism.