Meditation Monday #41 – How to Meditate: The 5 Koshas (Pranamaya)

I swear that all Mondays are rainy ones now and it puts a real damper on my running…especially when I can’t wake up in the morning because my 4yo threw up at 3am and I had to do the usual clean up from that nonsense. Well, after that amazingly long run on sentence, how was your weekend? I went to Myrtle Beach on Saturday to see Chevelle at the House of Blues.

The House of Blues is a great venue for watching concerts and offers a fun “pass the line” feature if you eat at their restaurant. The restaurant is not super vegan/veg friendly, but I also said that we weren’t being strict about that when we go out to eat…..and I paid for it later anyway. I did, however, find myself choosing options that contained more veggies than I used to go for when I was out to eat. I ended up with a spicy turkey burger that was packed full of peppers (and sodium). I really wanted to try the veg sandwich with eggplant or the house salad, but opted for spicy this time around. Spicy is probably one of my favorite flavors, but you have to make sure it’s not too spicy because then you can’t enjoy it.

You may wonder why I’m spending all of this time talking about food? Well, that’s because food is a source of energy. I talk about this all of the time when I teach the PT Workshop and how language has changed. Diet used to mean the culmination of all the food and beverages you consumed. Now it means something restrictive to your eating/drinking patterns. Organic really means containing carbon (hence most food should technically be organic), but now means grown without added pesticides/hormones/genetically modified something. And calorie….or actually kilocalorie….is a measure of energy; not something to be dreaded and counted.

Energy is the essence behind the second of the Kosha layers: Pranamaya. You may have read some posts here on OGB about Pranayama, aka breathing techniques. Pranayama is often translated from Sanskrit to mean: Expansion of the Life Force. This makes sense as prana is your energy and I don’t know anyone who can survive without breathing. The Pranamaya layer represents all of those things that keep you alive. So, where do you get your energy from?

Some yogis claim to go without eating for days or weeks because they just soak up energy from the sun, nature, and sharing it from those around us. I’m not sure if I’m that deep of a yogini, but I do believe that we feed off of each other’s energy. I’ve written about that some in regards to Asteya and stealing from other’s energy.

The energy layer is also represented, in yoga and other practices, as the Chakra level. I keep meaning to write more about the Chakras, but haven’t gotten to that part of our practice together yet. My Yoga I class studies the Chakras and talk about the ways in which their energies are balanced from the most primal level (having enough to eat, clothing, shelter, security, etc) to the highest level of enlightenment (the goal of any good yoga practice).

In our Hatha (physical) yoga practice we often focus on the Pranamaya layer through those breathing exercises, but it is also important to think deeper. Ask yourself:

  • What energizes and inspires me? Remember that the word inspiration means to breath in as well as to fill with an urge to do something.
  • How do I want people to feel when I leave the room? Think about the energy that you exude.
  • What is one behavior I can change that would benefit my Pranamaya layer? Think about ways that you steal your own energy.

These questions are adaptations of the questions found in Pacheco’s book Do Your OM Thing. It’s a great resource for getting deeper into the Koshas. For me, the answers are

  • Practicing yoga, reading new books/blog posts, and exercising because those things help me reach toward enlightenment. They fill me with the desire to learn more, push harder, and learn to accept.
  • I want people to feel happy in my presence and like I am a trustworthy person. I want people to feel calm and centered in my presence, but also inspired to learn more in what I share/teach with/to them.
  • And the behavior I have changed most recently is becoming more aware of how my food fuels my body and my soul. I am still not fully committed to eliminating all animal products all of the time (don’t think I can sacrifice my honey in my tea yet), but I’m making the change for the right reason for me….and that reason is for me and my health. It’s for my Pranamaya layer.

One of my goals for the Wellness Training I am doing for the fall is to take 20 minutes once a week to breathe. So far I’ve fallen short of this goal, but the goal is one that would help my Pranamaya layer and I encourage you to also find 20 minutes this week to just breathe and contemplate your energy.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on/response to the questions posed above.

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