Taittirya Upanishad in the ancient Yogic Vedas uses a bird as an analogy to describe the subtle and multi-dimentional complexity that is a human being.  Birds have been revered in Yoga because of their ability to fly high and be closer to God.  The bird has a head, two wings, the trunk, and the tail to help it fly.  The head shows direction, the wings (think of them as your right and left sides of the body) help move it forward, the trunk ties it all together and the tail facilitates balance, allows us to stop or slow down and also provides a foundation - think of it as anything your body uses to stand, sit, or connect to the ground.  This model is known as the Pancha Mayas.  It has been called the Pancha Maya Koshas, but the word Koshas is not used in this Upanishad and is a rather incorrect and later addition.  Kosha means a sac, or a vessel, and is used by Ayurveda practitioners to describe internal organs - they are sacs of specialized cells.  An Ayurveda practitioner began using the word Kosha to describe the layers of the human energy anatomy, and the word got stuck, but Mayas is a more correct term.  Kosha implies separateness, containment, whereas Maya means "pervading" - all the layers of the human being are mutually pervading and by touching one all others are affected.  These layers are:

Anna - the physical body, that which is nourished by food and exercise.

Prana - the energetic body, that which is nourished by breath.

Mano - the mental body, or that which is nourished by learning.

Vijnana - the wisdom or faith body, or that which is nourished by our beliefs.

Ananda - the blissful body, or that which is nourished by joy.

When our body is suffering from pain, malnourishment and other abuse - our Anna Maya is affected.  When our breath is shallow, restricted, and our energy levels are low - Prana Maya is affected.  When our mind is confused, when we cannot learn anything new - Mano Maya is affected.  When our beliefs or lack thereof are causing us to do things that hurt us or others - Vijnana Maya is affected.  When we are no longer able to recollect joy from the past, see joy in the present, or look forward to joys in the future - Ananda Maya is affected.  We need a spiritual practice to fill our lives with joy.  Even if your physical body cannot do something, visualize yourself doing it, meditate on it, and you can still experience the joys of it in your mind. 

The head governs our ability to look forward to joy in the future, the right wing governs our ability to see joy in the present, and the left wing governs our ability to recollect joy from the past.  The body governs our ability to experience all three simultaneously, when all the joys come together, and the tail is the expansive joy, joy in its active state, Brahma.

Since all the layers are pervading, and since affecting one we are affecting all others, you can use meditation to bring healing to yourself on a multitude of levels, even physical.  For example, if you have an injury on the left side of your body (and often there is a set of injuries on the same side of the body), meditate on the joy from the past.  If you have pain or injury on the right side, meditate on the joy in the present, etc., using the above bird model.

Mindfulness meditation is a wonderful way to bring joy to your life - you just need to look around and find something that could provide for you that anchor to your blissful Self.  For me, it is my orchids, and I have quite a collection now.  I have had some of them for many years - certainly lots of memories accumulated now about how they bloomed in the past.  They are blooming beautifully now - what a joy it is to wake up in the morning and walk into my bathroom, where they live.  And some of them have barely-formed buds on juicy stems - a promise of joy in the future, when they finally open.  Watch my new video to see my orchids, and may you be inspired and delighted as I am - this is expansive joy from me to you!


Anna M.