Taking Stock of Your 5 Life Layers
Most modern means of resetting your life seem to be about getting on the next money-making trend, or the best time-saving tips, or the shiniest gadgets to get rid of your clutter. But that’s just like putting band-aid on a bullet hole, without removing the bullet first!
So despite making more money or saving more time, people still feel unfulfilled. Their relationships don’t feel meaningful. Their lives are getting more cluttered. Any steps toward spirituality seem to be left on the sidewalk of their daily lives.
In contrast, when you’re aligned with your purpose, everything else falls into place, including time, money, work, and relationships. Every single choice you make everyday stems from a sense of purpose. You’ll have a clarity of vision that you might have never had before.
Ancient Vedantics taught that our deepest Self is sheathed (or covered) by pancha koshas (meaning, 5 layers, in Sanskrit). When you recognize each of these layers and their influences, and then integrate them into who you are as a whole, then life becomes simpler, you live with intent, in support of your Self.
So the 5 layers that influence us are:
- Physical Layer (Annamaya Kosha) – this includes your body and health. Are you fully aware of, and comfortable with your body? Which areas are you not comfortable about? Do you feel healthy and balanced? If not, what can you do to bring them back to a healthy balance? This includes not only diet, water and exercise, but more specifically learning about the type of diet that feels right and healthy to you; and the exercise that’s right and healthy for your body type. What works for someone else might not be right for you. So take the time to learn about, and experiment what’s right for you.
- Environmental Layer (Pranamaya Kosha) – this includes the air you breathe, the water you drink, the home you live in, the neighborhood you’re surrounded with, the company you keep. All of these influence you on a daily basis. Whether you’re in the process of transforming your life or simply dreaming about it at this time, it’s important for you to at least learn more about the type of environment that would sustain you. Think about (or even experiment during your vacations) what your ideal house would be like – take into consideration, light, water, nature, neighbors, everything!
- Mental Layer (Manomaya Kosha) – this includes what you feed your mind – books, blogs, movies, magazines, TV shows. What would make you learn and grow, and also what you’d do for fun. Be mindful of what you’re absorbing on a daily basis, because you’re enormously influenced by this layer. In fact, in modern times, this is the most active layer in our daily lives, and it pays to pay attention to what we’re feeding it!
- Wisdom Layer (Vignanamaya Kosha) – what do you do to practice your spiritual path? meditation? retreats? solitude? walking the labyrinth? If you don’t know yet, take the time to experiment, notice what you enjoy, what you need to let go. Know that doing anything without realizing why you’re doing it is not going to be useful to you. So learn more, and only accept what feels right deep in your soul; let go of anything that doesn’t feel right.
- Blissful Layer (Anandamaya Kosha) – I could call this the Joyful Layer, but Bliss lasts a lot longer than joy which might be fleeting. When you practice integrating all the other layers of your Self, then you become truly authentically You. This will lead you to a life of peace, presence and purpose. In other words, total bliss!
As you can see, you don’t stop at your body or your mind – they’re all intertwined to make you – You. Only when you address, balance and integrate all 5 layers do you feel more complete. For example, an imbalance in your mental layer can cause an imbalance in your physical layer, and vice versa. So rather than treating them as separate compartments of your life, as modern living tends to do, live as if your earthly body and life is the home for your soul that it is.
Because these are life-long practices, they might change as you evolve and grow. This is a good exercise to do at the end of every year, or when you go on a retreat, or on your birthday each year. The idea is not to get overwhelmed with incorporating everything all at once, but to set a good foundation and an intention for your life.
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