I listened to an episode of “The Daily” on a phone line that the New York Times opened up to parents called “Primal Scream.” Little did they know they were speaking directly to the Pancha Maya Model which I’ll describe in a moment. The gist of the episode and the hotline is that this pandemic has been very challenging on parents, and we have been stretched to our limits and in desperate need of space to breathe and find our grounding. It was validating my feelings right now in this season of life. I am in school, I am working, I am homeschooling, and I am the primary homemaker. I have needed to write this blog for a few days, and my brain couldn’t function enough to do it. I started my cycle; my husband is traveling for work, I am holding down the fort at home and doing what seems like endless laundry. My mental acuity is struggling to keep up. One of the tools I have learned in yoga is to stop and examine. To notice without judgment. I have not mastered the skill of not judging myself; however, I am getting better at noticing when I am judging and easing up. To take time to look at all of the layers of my body and see what I can notice.
In yoga, there is a Pancha Maya model to look at ourselves. I know I have mentioned it before; I might have called it the Koshas – it’s commonly referred to it this way, but my teacher who has studied the Yoga Sutras taught me that it is only referenced as the Pancha Maya model. So, for now, that is what I will go with. I am always learning and growing in my practice, and I am trying to stay open to new thoughts and ideas as I learn them and not hold on to old patterns or ways of thinking that might not serve me or the community or the world anymore.
The way Robert Brinberg, my yoga therapist, has taught them to me is to think of the layers in this way:
ANAMAYA – Physical Anatomy
PRANAMAYA – Physiological Functions
MANOMAYA – Intellect • Cognitive Mind • Senses • Behavior
VIJNANAMAYA – • Personality • Beliefs • Preferences • Values • Style
ANANDAMAYA – Underlying emotional tone, ability to experience positive emotions including: Appreciation • Gratitude • Amusement • Serenity • Interest • Inspiration • Elevation • Awe • Pride • Joy • Hope • Love
In Western society, we often separate these parts that make us whole and want to treat them independently of one another. For example, I am experiencing lower back pain, and the doctor says, well, we need to strengthen your core and send me to PT or give me pharmaceuticals for the pain and send me on my way. I wasn’t asked what my stress level is at work or home. I wasn’t asked if I feel supported in my life. I wasn’t asked if I feel happy and fulfilled in my life. We could have a herniated disc or a physical issue; I am not saying that the pain can’t come from there, but our experience of the pain can be influenced by the other layers and how well they are functioning.
How is your mind influencing the functions of your body? Are you in the habit of worry, and that is causing your blood pressure to go up? Is that elevated blood pressure shaping how your emotions and then causing you to worry more? I have questions. I look at this in my own life.
I am experiencing pain in my low back right now. Why? Am I sleeping enough? Do I need to adjust how I physically sleep? Do I need to ask for help and support from family and friends? Do I need to adjust my diet? Do I need to adjust my behavior and daily actives? These are all good questions; I am looking at all of them, and I am working with my yoga therapist to see if there is something I am missing because of my blind spots.
What can you see in your whole self today?
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