A body divorced from mind.
Good Morning Floating Lotus Family,
I hope this letter finds you warm this morning, wrapped around the aroma of a hot beverage. I have a contemplation for you to play with today, so please sit and enjoy when you have time to spare x
This month I want to share with you a curious thought I’ve been having, something that’s been churning my mind. I always like to acknowledge that we are powerful, successful creatures, with great capacity for intellect and evolutionary agency. But in the West, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that we are embedded in an intellectual landscape. A dictatorship run by manomaya kosha (mental sheath), divorced from the visceral body. We are unappreciative of the annamaya kosha (physical body), and largely unaware of pranamaya kosha (energy sheath).
We’ve constructed a culture and social reality that enriches the growing mind. And we spend far more time admiring the brain over the wisdom of the body. We study, examine and pick things apart, building industries of skills and knowledge. And while this specialisation and separation of skill enables us to progress in specific interests (eg. studying what you enjoy rather than learning how to fix your plumbing), it can also delineate inner autonomy.
We don’t tend to teach people how to identify with their body or how to feel and read their own systems. Typically, we reserve anatomical information for people who have a vested interest – scholars who want to STUDY physiology and health. But a part of me wonders if this is actually helpful or just a gate-keeper against deeper unity. Would things pan out differently if we collectively campaigned to teach children about proprioception? Guiding them through embodiment and developing the inner skills to sense the rhythms and movements of the body.
From a young age we are taught how to identify with our thoughts and guided to create an inner dialogue. This inner narrative develops as we age, and eventually, becomes the ego voice or sense of ‘self’. But I wonder how much time or energy is spent on mapping the inner signals of the system. How to perceive and relate to the animal body, and to listen to the physical structure of our reality. Imagine if you could feel and understand your digestion in the same way you understood the shape of sadness. Or you could listen to and learn from the movements of your diaphragm the same way you fell in love.
This tragic disconnect isn’t entirely our fault but is a byproduct of Western ideology. In Western science, we have laboratized the body and caged it as something to be studied, treating it like a machine with pieces and parts. But imagine scooping water from a flowing mountain river and taking it back to camp in a bucket. Once you lift that bucket, the water ceases to be a river. It is removed from the natural rhythm of the stream. The water becomes still (and stale, if neglected), and the Tao can no longer move the water downstream. What if, by doing this, we’re excluding annamaya kosha from the culture within which it exists? And by analysing the body, like the water in the bucket, we’re viewing something removed from it’s nature? The body becomes exiled and rejected.
There is a curious parallel here from quantum mechanics that says, ‘the act of observing a subject influences the subject being observed’. And I can’t help but wonder if this applies. If by observing the body independent of the mind, are we disconnecting from the essence of our experience? Are we forging a divide and extending the distance between the observer and the subject being observed? Would it be more beneficial to consider the two entities as animals that form a pack and work together?
Perhaps we should work on softening the manomaya kosha and focus on the subtle yearnings of annamaya. Strengthening the vital signals that bind these sheaths together, giving them purpose, relationship and resolve. Can we reassemble the marriage that has been rudely interrupted and let the body be experienced again?
I like to think the distance between my knowledge and my wisdom mirrors the distance between my thoughts (mind) and instincts (body). Where knowledge can shape the evolution of your thoughts, wisdom can weave the fabric of your experience. And through your yoga practice, you sow the unique tapestry that tells the ultimate story of your life. You bond these layers of existence together and let the koshas experience each other as equals.
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this, so please feel welcome to share and discuss.
With deep love and gratitude,