Manomaya Kosha or Mental Body
Manomaya Kosha refers to the Mental Body. Taittiriya Upanishad says: “Within the vital force is yet another body, this one made of thought energy. It fills the two denser bodies and has the same shape. Those who understand and control the mental body are no longer afflicted by fear.”
This third kosha is manomaya, the kosha composed of the mind. It is a field of energy by itself. Even as prana is the positive field of energy, mind is the negative field of energy. In Sanskrit, the mind is known as manas. It is the second of the three layers of the Astral Body or Linga Shareera or Sukshma Shareera. It is the level of processing thoughts and emotions and is in direct control of the operation, through the prana, of the physical body and senses. This is the apparatus responsible for our sensory and motor activities and our day-to-day awareness when we’re functioning ‘automatically’. It processes input from our five senses and responds reflexively. It is the cause of diversity, of I and mine. It is the sacrificial fire, the five organs are the priests who pour into this fire the oblations of sense-objects, which, fuelled by various vasanas, burns out the world created and expanded by the mind that when fouled by rajas (projection) and tamas (concealment) superimposes the samsara, but when free of rajas and tamas can bring about the state of being established in Brahman.
Shankara likens it to clouds that are brought in by the wind and again driven away by the wind. Similarly, man’s bondage is caused by the mind, and liberation, too, is caused by that alone. When we move through life passively, reacting to our environment rather than actively shaping it, our awareness is focused here. Many people, and most animals, routinely operate at this level.
After taking care of the physical body and training the energy flow of prana, the most important part to be trained in positive ways is this level of mind. According to yoga the entire nervous system (including the brain) merely mediates the activity of the manomaya kosha, expressing the commands of this higher energy state through the physical body. In meditation, we become aware of Manamaya kosha, explore it, and then go inward, to and through this to the remaining koshas.
This mind is connected with time, space and causality. Past, present and future are the three so-called divisions of the same mind. It is said that the mind moves at the greatest speed. The mind is a very subtle unit and when it goes to the subconscious level, it begins to go into the unknown past. This mind can be brought closer, implying that, time, space and causality can be brought closer. When we are on the external conscious plane, the distance between time, space and causality is long and when you are in meditation, then the gap between time, space and causality is very short. If the mind can stop, time stops.
Mind is consciousness. Individual mind is part of the cosmic mind. Out of ignorance, we think we have individual minds. We can connect our mind to this cosmic mind through raja yoga practices. According to Sankhya philosophy, there are ten dimensions of mind; that means the mind of everyone, not only of human beings but of lower animals, the vegetable kingdom, the mind of each and everything in this world. There are ten stages in the evolution of the mind from the crudest to the finest.
Out of these ten stages of mind, three stages are known to human beings:
- the conscious mind,
- the subconscious mind, and
- the unconscious mind.
These three stages are divisions of the human mind. The literal meaning of manas is ‘that by which you cognize, perceive and understand’; these are the basic and primary qualities of the mind.
Refinement and Development of Manomaya Kosha
Learning to develop Manomaya Kosha or mental body is important for our mental health. The mental body feeds on the sense perceptions. A harmonious environment, interesting professional challenges, and fun and supportive relationships offer an ideal diet for the mind. A routine of pratyahara, or sense withdrawal, leading into meditation provides an excellent inner tune-up.
Mantra meditation helps Manomaya kosha tremendously. This soothes and balances this kosha, and helps release blocks of energy manifesting as mental complexes and obsessive thoughts. Yogis who spend a great deal of time in meditation often have very little need for sleep, in part because their mental vehicles are functioning optimally. In a nutshell, it is possible to nourish Manomaya Kosha through the following methods:
- Manomaya kosha is directly influenced through sensory inputs. Harmonious and supportive environment is an ideal diet for this kosha.
- Take sattvic food. It helps keep Manomaya Kosha healthy.
- Practice meditation. Pranayama, mudras, pratyahara will help tune it up for meditation.
- Mantra meditation has a positive influence on nadis. Chant or sing mantras suited to you. Beej mantras have a profound effect.
- Practice mauna (noble silence). Try making meals in silence, or while chanting or singing uplifting mantras.
- Releasing what you don’t need is as important as adding what you need; spend less time on the activities (or relationships) that are unhelpful.
- Practice good intention and repetition; you can change the energy of your inner and outer environment.
- Marma Therapy acts on marmas and can remove blocks.
- Traatak, dhyana, dharna are very useful.
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