Peel Away the Layers – Modern Life and the 5 Koshas

As the holiday season rapidly approaches, it’s easy to see how hectic our lives are.

Even without the chaos of preparing for the perfect day, modern life tends to have a frenetic layer of haste.  We find ourselves multi-tasking throughout the day.  Add to that the layer of noise – from our children, friends, families, the news, your podcast, your playlist, the classic rock station playing while you shop.

With all of this hustle and bustle, it’s difficult to find the time to tune in to yourself.  Each layer of distraction pulls you away from the present moment, from that constant serenity and peace, the infinite space and possibility imbued with Isha, the divine presence, that dwells within each of us.

It is with that in mind that my friend Paty and I set about creating a Retreat to Reconnect.  We want to help you peel away the layers that are stopping you from connecting to your sacred self, so that when you step back into the beautiful whirr of your life, you step from a space of power and truth.

When we lose our connection to self, we might find ourselves reacting to small things with annoyance or frustration.  Perhaps you’ve gone all day today without taking a full breath, or had a full conversation with somebody without really hearing a word.

If we spend weeks, months, or years in this state, it’s easy to lose track of your Dharma, the goal that is your life’s destiny.

Modern life is a constant distraction, and we all get sucked into the mundane

By taking the time to pull away, we will help you create a routine that sustains you, a routine that keeps you plugged in to your truth as life swirls around you.

Yogic philosophy tells us that our bodies are made up of five koshas, or sheaths, that stand between you and your Isha, your bliss.

These koshas act as veils through which we all must pass on our journey to our true selves.  Add to these koshas the chaos of our modern environment, and we have six layers to delve through in our quest for inner peace.  Each kosha is a more subtle vibration of the kosha that comes before it.

If you’re new to yoga philosphy, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by these terms – they’re in another language, after all!  But the concepts will sound familiar because at it’s root, yoga is a study of the human condition, and we can all relate to that!

What I love most about examining these layers is that it takes into account that which is real but unseen.  Emotions and thoughts, for example, are real though not tangible.

The first of the five Koshas is our tangible, physical body, called the Annamaya Kosha.  This is the layer made up of our flesh and bones and muscles, and is most easily accessed through our practice of asana – yoga poses.

The second is the Pranamaya Kosha, and this is the energetic life force that enters and animates us all.  The Pranamaya Kosha is accessed through our practice of pranayama, or breath control.

The Monomaya Kosha refers to our mental body.  This is your thoughts and instincts and for many of us, the level in which we reside most frequently.  You’ll know this area of your life needs attention if you find yourself lying awake at night because your brain is stuck “on,” or if you find yourself plagued by the repetitive thoughts that go on and on, placing themselves in effect between you and the present moment: between you and your life.  The best way to access change in this kosha is through repetition of mantra, or prayer.

Vijnanamaya Kosha is the wisdom sheath.  When we access this layer, we’re plugging into our natural wisdom which speaks to us through intuition and a deeper understanding.  From this level, we begin to see the sacred in the mundane.  This level of awareness is best reached through regular practice of Asana, Pranayama, and Mantra, and a steady meditation practice.

The final kosha is Anandamaya Kosha, or the Bliss Layer.  Yogis state this is the goal of our practice, and what we are striving for as we contort our bodies in different postures and regulate our breathing and keep a continual study of ourselves and how we relate to the world.  When we plug into the bliss body, we fully connect with our inner Isha, our sacred and divine selves, and then act in the world from that sense of connectedness.

It’s rare to feel this connection all the time, but by creating a ritual of plugging in to your true self, you then have touchstones throughout your day that allow you greater wisdom, knowing, truth, and serenity.