Remembering and Forgetting
Updated: Nov 19, 2020
One of the primary causes of suffering in humans is the feeling or belief of a separate self, individual from other humans, animals and nature. This kind of self-separateness can make our experiences feel big, unmanageable or overwhelming. Inviting reminders of connection and unity can help relieve these sufferings.
Yoga is union, integration, or the absence of conflict. Practices like yoga nidra (yogic sleep) can help us remember our union throughout the constant flux of remembering and forgetting who we really are.
Through the process of yoga nidra, we have the ability to travel through the five koshas, or sheaths. We occupy all five sheaths at the same time and can become aware of the other layers, but do not ever fully move through one or finish a layer; we are in all of the koshas at the same time.
Anamaya Kosha (physical/food body): This layer consists of our literal physical human body, including our five senses and awareness of the five elements. This layer demands a lot of attention and is where many of us spend most of our time until the other layers become loud enough that we need to pay attention to them, too.
Pranamaya Kosha (subtle body/breath): This layer is the life force for the body and mind, the thing that animates the anamaya kosha. Attention on this layer can change the experience in both body and mind.
Manomaya Kosha (emotional/mental body): Even subtler than the pranamaya kosha, this layer is where we are able to sense our own and others’ emotions and vibrations. This layer can be replenished and nourished by states of deep sleep and yoga nidra.
Vijnanamaya Kosha (psychic/wisdom body): This is where the ego and sense of self live, along with the discrimination of right and wrong perception and decision-making.
Anandamaya Kosha (bliss body): Bringing awareness into this very subtle layer is where yoga nidra can help reconnect us to ourselves. This space is a feeling of unshakeable peace and equanimity, an absence of anything disruptive or disturbing, and where our perception is most pure. All of the previous koshas that make up who we define ourselves as an individual are on loan for this lifetime; they will fade and be replaced by another body, breath, mind and intellect. The anandamaya kosha is the only layer that is not on loan, the only one that travels with us from life to life, back into the ocean and up into another wave crest. This is where our spirit or soul lies.