THE FIVE LAYERS OF CONSCIOUSNESS




Hello every body, welcome to Atma's blog. Today we are going to talk about the five layers of Consciousness. One of the core concepts of Yoga practice is that our individual Consciousness or Purusha in Sanskrit is covered by five distinct layers or sheaths. These layers work as platforms for Consciousness to express itself. The 5 sheaths or Pancha Koshas in Sanskrit are the food body or Annamaya kosha, the energy body or Pranamaya kosha, the mental body or Manomaya kosha, the intellect body or Vijnanamaya kosha and the bliss body or Anandamaya kosha. Beyond the fifth body lies our Consciousness or Purusha. It is important to understand that the five layers of Consciousness represent different levels of awareness that our Consciousness can reach in the process of realizing itself.


Annamaya kosha


The food body is our physical body as we know it. It is called the food body because it is through food how the physical body is sustained. People who’s awareness is deeply rooted in the food body take a lot of care of its physical appearance and can be considered quite materialistic. These people rely heavily on their senses in order to validate reality; meaning that unless they can feel, see or hear something it doesn’t exist.


Pranamaya kosha


The energy body is the link between our physical and mental body. It is also called the astral body and it is sustained by Prana or vital energy. The energy body, is the body you experience while dreaming and it plays a key role in connecting your mind to your physical body. Breathing is one of the main ways to nourish the energy body and this is the reason why it has a huge role in the practice of Yoga. We will talk about the energy body in greater detail in an upcoming post


Manomaya kosha


The mental body is represented by your mind. In yoga the mind is considered a separate layer from the physical body, meaning that the mind although connected to the brain through the energy body, it is a completely separate object. The role of the mental body is to process sensory inputs coming from the senses and the external environment. It is important to understand that the mind has nothing to do with intelligence; the mind is just a tool to gather information that comes in the form of sensory stimulation. People who’s awareness is deeply rooted in the mental body have a very active mind and are constantly over processing information.


Vijnanamaya kosha


The intellect body represents our intellect; however, it is important to note that intellect does not mean knowledge. What we commonly know as knowledge is nothing else than the storage of information coming from the mind in the form of memory. When we talk about intellect, we are taking about the ability to discern one object from the other; it is the ability to chose wisely what is best for us and it is based on experience only. It is through experience that we develop the intellect and we can access this layer through intuition. People who’s awareness is well established on the intellect sheath are highly intuitive and tent to make decisions based on gut instinct.


Anandamaya kosha


The bliss body is the closest to our individual Consciousness. It is the most difficult to appreciate but at the same time is the closest to our true nature. As the name indicates the bliss body is just pure bliss, which is said to be the nature of consciousness. It is key to differentiate between bliss and enjoyment or happiness. Bliss is like ecstasy; it is unexplainable and you can only experience it. Many mystics across all religions have been known to enter states of absolute bliss, and although it seems to be something inaccessible for normal people, the ability to feel bliss is closer than we think.


Purusha


Beyond the five layers of consciousness there is only one thing left, and that is your individual consciousness or Purusha. The nature of consciousness is pure awareness or Chetana in Sanskrit. Consciousness is closest to us than our own breath, however we fail to realize it because it is like being aware of awareness. the only way to realize it is to experience consciousness. and that is the journey of yoga.