A light that shone very brightly

I am still numb from the death of David Bowie this week.  Through all the many changes in his music and my life, his songs have drawn me back time after time.  I consider myself blessed that my time on earth has overlapped with his, that his music should have been such an important part of my life.

Since Monday, my brain has been full of song snippets, different bits of different songs playing themselves out on in an endless mix on the music system of my mind.  Tracks I haven’t listened to in years.  How did those words get in there and where do they live?  I don’t play a CD, I wait and see what my mind brings up.  These thoughts are very much memories, thrown forwards into the present.  There are so many.  How does my mind choose? Mindfulness is not about emptying the mind, but rather observing what is there.  I have much to observe this week.

New year is often a time reflection, for making plans and a new start.  The sudden death of someone who, at just 69, was really not old by modern standards, brings home the importance of living now.  If you wait until the new retirement age of 67, this would give you just 2 years to fulfill the dreams you had been saving for later.  We may never know how much time we have, unless that time is very short. Live now.

From ‘Changes’ (Hunky Dory, 1971)
Read the full lyrics and play the song here.

I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
And every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time



Looking within

To conclude our brief look at the koshas, this week’s post introduces the remaining three sheaths of existence, which are very much about our inner life and experience.

Manomaya kosha is the mental body.  This sheath is all about our mind, thoughts and emotions.  The next layer is vijnanamaya kosha, or the body of intellect.  Think intuition, discrimination, ego.   In our yoga practice these two sheaths of existence are supported by meditation, or dhyana.  The most subtle layer of all is that of anandamaya kosha, or the bliss body.  The previous four sheaths are all aspects of the physical body, but this layer is said to be our true self, which underlies our physical existence.

Considering the koshas in relation to the different aspects of yoga as set out by Patanjali, it becomes clear that within the whole are various practices intended to support each of the koshas;

  • The physical body supported by asana
  • The energy body supported by pranayama
  • The mental and intellectual body supported by dharana and dhyana
  • The bliss body found in samadhi

Within this understanding comes the realisation that yoga is not just a physical practice, but a way of nourishing our entire being on all levels.  The koshas determine our thoughts and actions.  As energy flows between the sheaths the koshas influence each other and act as a coherent whole.  Thoughts may result in actions, the expression of emotions or even in physical reactions to the situation.  When they are in harmony, we are in yoga.