Thinking and Feeling:
While the Anamaya Kosha (physical layer) is fed by the five senses and the Pranamaya Kosha (Life Force/Subtle Body layer) is nourished with breath and light, the third layer, Manomaya Kosha, is nourished through sensory impression. Our body and life force feed what we think of as the mind with what the senses give us such as what we see, what we smell or hear and how our energy feels during our daily activities and interactions. The Manomaya Kosha is in charge of reacting or responding to what we experience through our physical and subtle bodies. It is this layer that not only processes thought, but also defines our emotional experience. In this layer, thinking and feeling are a deep and inextricable embrace.
While the Anamaya and Pranayama Koshas operate all the time, our Manomaya kosha experiences daily rest, mainly in the form of sleep. This is one of the sensory experiences most essential to its health because it allows us to regenerate and clean up the mess of impressions our senses have brought in. Ou personal Marie Kondo, a balanced Manomaya Kosha tidies up while we conk out. Without sleep, the Manomaya Kosha quickly loses its ability to perform, and that is why we find it much harder to think, make decisions or see things clearly when we are tired or sleep-deprived. A person in a coma provides a very obvious example of a state where the first two layers (Anamaya and Pranamaya) are working just fine, but the Manomaya Kosha has switched off. This is an extreme version of sleep and happens when serious trauma impacts us through the physical and subtle bodies.
It’s important to differentiate this layer from the next Kosha, which is our wisdom layer. It is from this fourth layer that we can observe the thought processes in the Manomaya Kosha and work consciously to create new patterns. Our Manomaya Kosha is perhaps simpler, but just as important. If we do not pay attention, it is more than happy to go on autopilot, and in this energy-conserving yet dangerous mode, we will make the same choices (and the same mistakes!) over and over and over again. Being unaware of the Manomaya Kosha is a little like allowing a robot to take the driver’s seat in our car. If we fail to notice where we are taking ourselves, we’ll end up in past programs, patterns and stories that do not necessarily lead us in the direction we’d like to go. And the scary part is, the more we let the robot drive, the more ingrained its programming becomes.
In order to properly care for the Manomaya Kosha, or layer of thought processes, Yoga provides some incredibly useful tools. One of the most effective ways to declutter and focus the thought process is through mantra repetition. The simple repetition of a word or phrase helps to create a pause in which the thinking mind can rest and renew in peace. Advanced yogis in some disciplines need much less sleep than is normal due to prolonged mantra practices that they have developed in order to create conscious rest.
Other important ways to make you sure you are caring for this layer are to feed it consciously throughout your day with a routine that energizes, stimulates, and nurtures you. In addition to a daily meditation practice, aim to fill your day with positive interactions, an engaging work environment, creative projects, and people you love! When those things are less available, turn to mantra repetition to avoid backstepping into old patterns and to find peace and calm in the mind.
In the Universal Yoga training held here at Vikasa, we’ll explore many different practices to nourish every layer of your being. If you’re interested, check out a conversation with creator Andrey Lappa here! In the meantime, try choosing a simple mantra to use as part of your daily meditation and repeat it for 2 or more minutes followed by sitting in silence. Choose something short and sweet that brings you into balance such as “I am Love”, “Aum”, “I am Happy” or even just “I am here”. Figure out a phrase that works for you and enjoy the benefits!
About the Author
Inanna Jessup is a Yoga teacher, traveler and writer originally from Colorado. Ever since she quit her corporate job managing Yoga studios in 2017, she’s being roaming the planet searching for experience, wisdom and connection. She works remotely and enjoys the freedom and constant learning that come with her lifestyle. She believes deeply in the awareness, humility, tolerance and compassion that can be developed through the practice of yoga and meditation and through the experience of travel.