Affirmations for each of our Five Bodies

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What are the five bodies?

The ‘pancha kosha’ or five bodies are thought to be one of the oldest conceptualisations of what it is to be human and offer us a profound perspective. Our experiences are manifested through five layers: physical, energetic, mental, intellectual and spiritual.

1. The physical body (annamaya kosha) - the body made of food. Our flesh and bone. The most vulnerable, manifesting imbalances in the other layers.

2. The breath body (pranamaya kosha) - the body made of energy. Our life force or prana flows in the circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems.

3. The mental body (manomaya kosha) - the body made of mind. Our perceptions of the world, of ourselves and others live here. It’s the home of our ego, our emotions, and behaviour.

4. The knowing body (vijnayanamaya kosha) - the body made of wisdom. Our knowledge, our values, beliefs, and sense of right and wrong. When we talk about personal growth, it is this body we nourish.

5. The bliss body - (anandamaya kosha) - the body of consciousness.  Our most subtle body, experienced in flashes of bliss where we feel at one with the universal consciousness.

How can they help us make meaningful change in our lives? 

I’ve found that widening my perspective to all five bodies has helped me navigate some of life’s biggest challenges.   Each of the koshas or bodies have their own way that they relate to our sense of self and we may identify more with one than the other which can cause imbalance, perhaps you see yourself as a physical being, or prioritising intellect over caring for your physical self.

Bring awareness to the experiences of each of your five bodies and seek to strike a rounded balance in all you set out to achieve in life.

Here’s my personal journey and suggested affirmations.

Some years ago, I was really ill. The decline was slow and it took a long time to figure out what was going wrong.  It ended in aggressive chemoradiation therapy - we had caught it just in time. It had been an ordeal, for more than just my physical body.

Although the 6-month follow up scan looked good and I had long since stopped needing pain medication, I by no means felt ‘recovered’ from what had turned out to be a few years of tension, tiredness, and pain - I was a dulled version of myself.  

Determined to turn this experience into a positive one, I delved into a journey of healing - thinking bigger than what my wonderful doctors advised, I set out to uncover a deeper path.  I went back to yoga, not just classes, but workshops and study groups and reading lists. I found the five bodies and came to see the cancer as the physical representation of how I had been hiding my true nature from both myself and others. My bodies’ wisdom was tired of being ignored and had to scream at me to get my attention - I was out of balance and not living my truth.

We all have our physical ailments, spanning from those nagging tight shoulders, uncomfortable digestion or frequent skin flare-ups to more serious conditions and injuries. I’m no medical doctor and I’d always advise visiting your doctor with any concerns.

I’d also invite you to be curious about what your body wisdom is telling you. Your tight shoulders are definitely telling you to chill out, you could get a massage to ease any physical tension but you won’t necessarily be addressing any tension in the other bodies and your tight shoulders will reoccur. That sprained ankle was perhaps not just the fault of the object you tripped over but also that you were rushing through thoughts distracting you from the physical task at hand. 

Deepak Chopra explains this well, the mind and the body are like parallel universes. Anything that happens in the mental universe, will leave tracks in the physical one.

Throughout my journey back to health, and still today, I use affirmations to support a daily practice of cultivating physical, energetic, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. How we speak to ourselves is paramount. Affirmations are a powerful way of programming your brain and body to support whatever changes you are working towards and unsticking any negative patterns.

Use the affirmations to bring light to your inner work in making, meditate on them, write them up, represent them in pictures and do your best to live them out each day. 

1. The physical body (annamaya kosha) - the body made of food. Our flesh and bone. The most vulnerable, manifesting any imbalances on the other layers.

I knew I needed to detox the poisons I had accepted to get rid of the cancer and manage pain. I got addicted to hot yoga, I couldn’t sweat enough! I also cut certain foods out of my diet.  We’re bombarded with advice about how to look after our bodies, from exercise regimes to meal plans and more! I found the regimes that worked for me but I noticed these worked best only when I started working on my other bodies as well.

Affirmation: I tune in to my physical body, give myself time to be silent and listen. I’m kind to any ailments and nourish my muscles, bones, and organs. I accept my body as it is, right now. I am grateful for what it makes possible for me.

2. The breath body (pranamaya kosha) - the body made of energy. Our life force or prana flows in the circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems.

I knew I needed to release the tension I had been holding in my physical body,  I felt strangled and needed to find my breath again. I love to sing and I couldn’t find my breath. I’d accumulated so much tension in my physical body that I had to work to let it go. Pranayama exercises in the morning are king!  I also needed to cry, A LOT. It’s the best form of physical release.

Affirmation: I breathe deeply, exhale what doesn’t serve me, and inhale new energy.  I allow my breath to fill my whole body. As I breathe in, my body brightens, and as I breathe out, my body softens.

3. The mental body (manomaya kosha) - the body made of mind, ur perceptions of the world, ourselves and others live here. It’s the home of our ego, our emotions, and behaviour.

Getting back to normal was tough, emotional. Not only because I had been withdrawn from normal life for the most part of a year; I had faced my mortality, in a real way and had to rework my sense of self and therefore how I related to others. When in the hospital’s care, I had been the centre of attention, my family and friends had rallied around me and my focus had been on the practicalities of getting to treatment sessions on time, resting, managing pain and keeping up with complex personal care tasks.

After the drama subsided, I expanded into a sense of freedom but also darkness. The first time I went on the underground after treatment, I loved the anonymity of it - no one on the carriage knew anything of what I had endured but I also felt resentful of this same fact.  I had similar mixed feelings in working relationships and when meeting new people, I noticed that ‘cancer’ was one of the first things I would say to anyone - like people had to know but at the same time, I didn’t want them to. 

I had to face my thought patterns, the language I was using to articulate my experience internally and with others, what meaning was I making permanent, was I letting the experience define me: would I perpetuate illness in my physical body as a result?  I was angry (understandably), and I would get angry over silly but tangible things or overly obsessive about little details. I had to let go of the thought habits and beliefs that had got me through the ordeal but were no longer needed. To be honest, I still work with this one - meditation is my friend.

Affirmation: I breathe into stillness and just let thoughts come and go. I recognise that thoughts inform emotions, which inform my breath and therefore my physical body. I accept my life as it is, and seek to let all things be as they are. 

4. The knowing body (vijnayanamaya kosha) - the body made of wisdom. Our knowledge, our values, beliefs, and sense of right and wrong. When we talk about personal growth, it is this body we nourish.

I had to learn how to look after myself. I reflected on how I had let myself get so ill in the first place - I wanted to address the cause.  This wasn’t so much about the lifestyle changes I was making or the letting go of unuseful assumptions and perceptions. This was the track of self-discovery and inner truth. As I said earlier, I hadn’t been living fully before I was ill - I had always felt like I couldn’t fulfill certain aspirations when in reality, I had been holding myself back. I’d had an early awakening before diagnosis, that being bedridden was the first valid excuse I had for not doing all the things I dreamed about doing. What a wake-up call! 

WIth new energy after treatment, I went out of my way to soak up knowledge, to learn from others and try new things. I became a ‘yes man’. I also soaked up new internal knowledge, a regular yoga and meditation practice was bringing forward new reflections about the connection between my bodies, I was finding ways to face life choices, self-limiting beliefs and those truths I never uttered so I could align my actions to my hopes. I had to let go of much that I had carried from early life and no longer needed (with the help of a therapist, which I’d always recommend for that kind of work). 

Affirmation: I am always more than I think I am. I have everything I need within me.  I am curious, child-like in my anticipation of new learning. I live my truth and speak up for what I believe in. 

5. The bliss body - (anandamaya kosha) - the body of consciousness.  Our most subtle body, experienced in flashes of bliss where we feel at one with the universal consciousness.

I spent the summer after I finished treatment getting back into working and my social life. My ordeal had separated me from others and I craved connection.  But it wore me out. One sunny afternoon, after lunch with a family member who had seemed fixated on the cancer coming back (not useful for my body made of mind!), I meandered my way to Hampstead Heath. I was in an odd mood, off centre, I needed nature. 

I climbed a hill as far as I could manage and settled in a patch of tall grasses overlooking London. Lying on my back in savasana, I gazed into the bright clear sky. I became aware of the earth underneath me, the density of the hill and all that came below it. I felt into where I was in relation to large bodies of water - the ponds behind me, the Thames down into the valley dominated but marked out by skyscrapers in the distance. I tuned into the sound of the slightly more than gentle breeze rustling the leaves of the oak branches nearby, and drank in the sun’s heat on my skin.  I followed this awareness into my body, to the location of the cancer and the physical and emotional scars from treatment. The breeze seemed to rustle my cells and the earth drew the illness away. My body renewed by water and warmth, I cried, that deep silent type of crying, until the elements dissolved the edges of my skin. I have no idea how long I lay there or who else might have walked by. But in that moment, I touched my true nature as a child of this planet, I had a reason to be here - even if I didn’t know what that was. Nothing else really matters.

Affirmation: I am one with all things. My life is my purpose. I am made of more than matter. I am both earth and sky, sun and sea, space and light, consciousness. As I breathe in, the universe breaths out. As I breathe out, the universe breaths in...

Namaste x

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A long serving Londoner, Phoebe is a qualified practitioner in Neurolinguistic Programming, life coach and yoga teacher, and experienced singer songwriter. She’s been leading workshops in a range of personal development topics and supporting people to achieve their goals for over 15 years. She teaches and sings regularly in North London and all around the world. You can find her over on instagram, facebook