Based on the work by Jill Willard, it is believed that our one body, is actually comprised of four bodies - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. This is in line with the yogic view of the koshas, or layers of our being which are sometimes condensed into these four categories also. Through our practice of yoga, meaning the practice of all eight limbs of yoga, we are recalibrating our state of balance within all parts of our being, bringing a state of harmony and wholeness once again. This is a holistic approach to wellness in its truest sense. We have already covered the physical body and the mental body in the last blogs, so here we will look at the emotional and spiritual bodies.
The Emotional Body:
What is it: The emotional body is comprised of our heart, our nervous system, our hormones, and all that is watery within us. Some even say it extends outside the physical body and forms part of our aura. Hence it can be very difficult to 'hide' from others how we feel and why some people can empathetically absorb how we are feeling, just by being nearby. It is our feelings and emotions, and as all the bodies, is affected and influenced greatly by the other three.
When it is neglected: When we are not listening to, not expressing, avoiding, or running away from our emotions rather than facing them and feeling them, this leads us to an emotional imbalance. Emotions are vital signs of information that allows us to relate to and process the world around us. These messengers are simply trying to communicate our needs at that moment. Suppressing and ignoring them means we are not meeting those needs and those whispers will only begin to get louder and louder. The emotion then gets stuck when it is meant to move and pass. We can bury it, and try to hide it, but it will eventually find its way out again as we can not hold down what is destined to be released free.
We become numb when we neglect our emotional bodies, no longer fully interacting with our outer and inner worlds. We build walls and shut ourselves off. Our physical bodies can harden like a suit of armor protecting our soft and vulnerable centers. We can no longer hear the wisdom of our intuition and we block ourselves off from true connection.
When it is excessive: We can also be too sensitive and reactive to our emotions. Instead of trusting the emotion will pass, it feels as if we will feel this way forever, we are stuck inside the vortex. They can be overwhelming and can make us irrational, anxious, irritable, moody, or even aggressive. This makes it very difficult to relate to others and respond to the world around us. Our outer and inner worlds seem volatile. If we get too stuck here, we may begin to feel hopeless and depression can seep in. We feel threatened by our emotions and all that chronic stress can very easily disrupt our hormonal balance, leading to much more emotional instability.
When it is in balance: We feel a sense of inner stability. We are able to respond to what arises without suppressing it or being too overwhelmed by it. We are able to ride out the emotional wave until it passes. We understand and are able to identify the origination and the need represented by each emotion which only leads us to a greater sense of connection, confidence, and trust both within ourselves and with that around us.
The key to balance: Learning how to embrace and face our emotions leads us to greater emotional balance and stability. When a wave of emotion arises, lean into it, feel it in the body, what physical sensation are you getting and where? What unmet need is it trying to be communicated? Ask yourself 'what do I need'. Perhaps the answer may be something like love, safety, security, confidence, respect... Just the simple question is already bringing in love and compassion, which is sometimes enough to ease the passing of the wave.
We need to release. Emotions are energy in motion, so we have to help them move. If we are feeling they are becoming stuck in the physical body - move. Shake, dance, stretch, massage, run, play, anything to get that energy flowing. Sound is also a great way to release, singing, yawning, sighing, screaming, or making random noise will help unblock and clear things out. Cry. Emotions are from the element of water and hence there is sometimes nothing better than a good ol' releasing cry. And finally, understand your hormones part in all of this. Our emotions are strongly influenced by our hormones so learning how to keep them in balance is also another vital step in staying emotionally stable too.
The Spiritual Body:
What is it: Some refer to this as the subtle or the divine body, and it is that eternal essence that resides in a physical form. It is that which is within us, which is within all. It's the space between our cells, the emptiness between our atoms, the mysterious life force and creation. It is experienced as a connection, both within ourselves and to a higher source.
When it is neglected: We neglect the spiritual body when we live in a constant state of movement and forget the importance of stillness. Sitting with ourselves without distraction can be a very difficult thing to do, but it is essential. When we get still, we look within and connect to our essence. When we are not balanced in our spiritual body, the physical body becomes just an object rather than a home for our being. In that sense, we are more likely to abuse the body by not tending rightly to its needs. We may also feel a disconnect from a higher consciousness or source. When we don't have faith in higher guidance, we are prone to feel helpless and lost more often, and alone in the fight. Feeling isolated and without support can make this life much harder to endure. This can cause a further disconnect from the world and the people around us. We may lack purpose, feel as if nothing has meaning, and disregard the value of life, both ours and of others.
When it is excessive: We may of course be too focused on the spiritual body and appear to forget our more mortal side. This can also lead to neglect of our physical bodies. We may appear to have our heads in the clouds and unable to relate to and rebel against societal norms. We may choose to live in recluse and refuse to participate in any form of relationship. There may be too much reliance on the outer 'source' and this may lead to a delusional or rigid belief system. One could develop a God complex themselves or feel overly entitled. Or perhaps, we get stuck in ideals and visions but unable to turn that into physical action.
When it is in balance: When we have balance in our spiritual body, we are open-minded and open-hearted. We are deeply self-aware and connect easily to our intuition. We have a strong sense of self-worth and a strong personal value system. We feel connected to all things and see ourselves as a thread woven into this tapestry of life. There is a sense of peace and we feel calm. We see signs of guidance and trust that everything has meaning and value. There is an understanding and patience that this is a journey and every bump and burden is part of the path. We take comfort in knowing we are always supported, always abundant and there is always beauty to be found when we slow down and see. We are awake and live consciously.
The key to balance: Slowing down, turning inwards. Meditation and prayer allow us to have a conversation with 'source' and cultivates the space to listen. The breath helps to guide us back home. Follow it and we arrive very soon at the front door. Gratitude helps us to see the beauty in all things, even the difficult. Look for signs of guidance all around you. Connect often with whatever it is that reminds you of the path. It is easy to take a wrong turn, but it is also easy to find our way again when we have a compass.
We feel our best when we are able to achieve balance in all four aspects of our being - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. All four bodies greatly influence and affect the other. How we feel spiritually will affect how we think which affects how we feel which has a physical reaction in our body. You could reverse that same sentence and all will be true. We have one body, but four layers, and the real key to wellness is to tend diligently to them all.
So how balanced are you feeling today? Below is a useful exercise in helping to find that answer. Simply draw the circle in your journal or a piece of paper. Make some inner circles so that you have 10 rings in total, and divide into 4 segments. Color on a scale of 1-10 how balanced you feel in each segment. Then stand back and see how balanced you are overall for the key to a balanced life, is knowing first of all when we are out of balance :)
I hope you found this useful. Thank you for reading 🙏