In the January blog, we discussed that koshas are the subtle layers of the body and that we would explore one kosha per month starting with the outer layer and working our way in. In the February blog, we overviewed the physical layer (Anamaya kosha) and in March we explored the breath/energy layer (Pranamaya kosha). The next subtle layer as we work our way inward is the mental/emotional layer, or the Manomaya kosha.
Translated from Sanskrit, “Manas” means mind. The mind and the five senses make up the Manomaya kosha. From the moment we are born, we use our five senses to construct our respective realities. This reality affects the way we see ourselves in the world, and what we view that world to be. This kosha is where our thoughts, emotions, and memories reside. And what resides in our mind affects our entire realm of existence – or in simpler terms, our day-to-day moods, physical health, and relationships.
As we consider the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), “fight or flight” response, and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), “rest and digest” condition we can observe that our minds can keep us in a chronic state of “fight or flight” regardless of whether or not we are actually in a life-threatening situation. The SNS releases stress hormones, and without an actual need to lift a car off of a loved one or run from a saber tooth tiger, the stress hormones can do our bodies more harm than good. Too much cortisol, for instance, can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure and sugar, and contribute to obesity – and more. This is an example of how our minds affect our physical health.
As it is the mind that constructs our respective reality, so it is that our mind also has the power to destroy our current perceived reality. In other words, if our minds can hold us hostage, then our minds can also liberate us. Our May blog will explore the Vijnanamaya Kosha (Wisdom layer), which is the key to liberation.