Friday, April 4, 2014

Continued from last week
Peeling Away Different Layers of Consciousness Leading to Self-Awareness, Peak Experiences or Moments of Transcendence
Patanjali the great Yoga sage described these sheaths, or layers or bodies, as follows: going from outside inwards.
(1) The Food sheath or physical body. 
(2) The Energy sheath or body of breath, energy, or prana. 
(3) The Mind sheath (body.) 
(4) The Intellectual sheath (body.)
(5) The Bliss sheath, or Ananda, in the center of which is the Self.

The Mind body, Intellectual body and ego together also have been labeled the Subtle body. The body of Bliss or Ananda has been called the Causal body. This model is extremely useful for anyone trying to understand the dynamics of reaching Self. Jung described this as a spiral rising upwards towards a peak with the Self at the crest of the peak. The spiral is an important spiritual symbol in many cultures and is more dynamic than the circle. Ego is referred to in Yoga text as I-ness and has a broader interpretation than does ego in the Western psychological sense. I-ness has no self-awareness and separates us from our true Self. In the West we see the establishment of I-ness or ego as desirable, whereas Eastern philosophies talk about spiritual evolution occurring beyond ego. Attempts to transcend ego in the West have been considered by many to be pathological.
The Mind body is the primitive mind and is responsible for thoughts, such as emotions, feelings, desires, impulses, habits and addictions. The Intellectual body, however, is the higher wisdom that dictates ideas, concepts, notions, beliefs and discrimination. The Intellectual body or higher mind should govern the lower mind, but does not always do so. If the Intellectual body can detach from memory and sensory input and detach from ego, it can step outside of the chain of cause and effect, i.e., the cycle of Karma. If it does this there may be no need to be born again. If not, one repeats the cycle of reincarnation until we can demonstrate that ego no longer has any binding power over our behavior. Things are done purely for their own sake and for no ulterior motive or any ego aggrandizement. A simple example of this may be charity done for its own sake versus charity done for the sake of a tax break or getting one's picture in the media. This kind of act, though superficially noble, has an ego-binding motive behind it, the consequence of which is yet another cycle of rebirth.
The Mind body, or lower mind is directly in touch with sensory input that often leads to a motor response. It is also vulnerable to the Buddhist concept of "Store" consciousness of the present and past lifetimes. It is constantly in a state of flux and without the higher mind to regulate it has no ability to discriminate. This can lead to anger, hate, jealousy and other negative emotions. With the help of the Intellectual body, the Mind body can generate positive emotions. Without it Mind resides in a state of doubt and acts on habits and impulse. The Mind body can be manipulated favorably with meditation, mantra, being in the present moment and mindfulness. 
Simplistically speaking, there are two blocks preventing us from reaching our higher Self. The first is ego or I-ness and the second is the uncontrolled Mind sheath. Both of these are intimately connected and governed by the Intellectual body, and hence the three form a triad. The Mind body believes that the primitive emotions arising from it represent truth when, in fact, this is the chattering monkey sitting on our shoulders giving us messages of delusion. It is Mind that is operating when our emotional garbage comes up in wilderness or anywhere else. For some, this “mind” trash can be modulated and governed by the Intellectual sheath. We can take responsibility for our negative emotions and realize that this spiritually debilitating conversation is not in our highest interest and that it needs to be released. If the emotions of the Mind body become reality this results in denial of self-responsibility and assignment of blame. Judgment is a powerful tool for the Mind body, and judgment, blame and self-righteous indignation are frequent manifestations of this sheath during the stress of wilderness situations or others.
It is possible to tap into the five sheaths of Patanjali during a wilderness trek or any other spiritual endeavor to access the higher Self. 
Researchers in Transcendental Meditation refer to the "Superfluidity State." This is an effortless often alfa state where activities seem to progress of their own accord. Actions become automatic and just "flow," and concentration appears minimal. There is a different quality to consciousness and a slowing of brain wave frequency. It appears that we begin the journey with our Physical body or food sheath and go inwards from there. As wilderness works its magic we tap into our Energy body or body of prana and may develop unexplained resources with the ability to walk all day or carry the heaviest pack. We are tapping into a different reservoir that seems limitless and sometimes leads to unusual physical feats like those seen by martial artists as they connect with Chi or their inner life force. These states resemble Superfluidity.
Unfortunately, the Mind body is often a large part of some peoples’ journey and they are unable to get out of the space of blame, judgment, envy, hate and other negative emotions. For these participants, significant positive shifts in wilderness take longer as their psyches slowly integrate. There is no doubt that exposure to the multifaceted dynamic of the wild will confront us with the psychic debris we least want to confront and this occurs in the Mind body bolstered by ego.
Others govern the Mind body with the Intellectual body, but may still be in the space of Mind. However, there is no acting out and the rest of the group does not suffer. They are nevertheless in a state of internal conflict where mind is bubbling up and wants to take over but their higher wisdom or learned behavior dictate otherwise. 
Still others have a well developed Intellectual body and are in a higher spiritual state approximating that of the Causal body, or body of Bliss. They are not so strongly attached to defending their egos.
When energy moves toward the body of Bliss we start to connect with the higher Self. Many of us may experience this at some stage of the journey and recognize it as being a momentary profound change in our state of consciousness or a peak experience. It is usually brief and as we try to hold onto it, it disappears though the memory imprint remains.
This model of Patanjali goes beyond what Western psychology has previously had to offer which is truth at an experiential, if not at a scientific level. Only recently neuroscience and functional M.R.I.’s have been able to differentiate between the two by localizing specific areas in the brain that “light up” with higher thoughts (frontal lobes) and monkey mind (more primitive areas of the brain.)
With the help of this model one can watch people tapping into their different energy bodies and see what manifests. Meditation and mindfulness in wilderness go a long way to modulating the Mind body's manifestation which is a cause of much suffering to most of us, as is our ego. Since wilderness facilitates mindfulness and entry into a meditative state, it is hardly surprising that wilderness rapture is so common.
Patanjali's sheaths are useful to appreciate the level at which we are operating. They are a map to follow to move up to a higher vibration. The biggest obstacle to entering higher levels of consciousness is the Mind body and ego. Wilderness can modulate the Mind body in such a way that the wisdom of the Intellectual body takes over and there is no more space for our monkey's annoying chatter.
The first step to a greater state of awareness is the appreciation that this Mind body,which occupies so much of our waking state is a distorted perception of reality. Nothing creative occurs in this space, and it is a perseveration of old conversations we have with ourselves over and over again. This emotional garbage that comes up for us on trail (or at other times) needs to be released into the wilderness. These are our negative desires, emotions, habits, compulsions and addictions. The wilderness can accommodate this type of mental delusion and will be happy to help us take care of it if we tend to our physical garbage and take care of wilderness by using mindful, minimal impact techniques.

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