From various traditions, including shamanic traditions, Sufism, anthroposophy and Hinduism, we know the concept of the human being consisting of several bodies and not just a physical body.
Each tradition has its own concept about the physical, gross material, and subtle or energetic bodies.
Apart from the physical body, we cannot see those other bodies with our well-known senses. We can observe these energetic bodies, for example, with the help of Systemic Ritual or Shamanic journeys.
All bodies need care and nutrition, the bodies are always active, intertwined and they influence each other. When there is a disturbance in one body, it affects the other body.
If you are interested in working with the energetic bodies with help of Systemic Ritual – see: /healing-the-energetic-bodies-by-means-of-systemic-ritual/)
There is a central ‘something’, a sense of ‘me’ or ‘I’. That is what we call the personality, our mind. It is our human consciousness and morality. The ‘I’ thinks, speaks and determines its actions. The ‘I’ is capable of self-reflection, can change itself and can make plans. The ‘I’ perceives all bodies as a coherent whole. The personality integrates and selects the information and experiences from the other bodies. Only what is essential according to our personality ends up in our consciousness. In this way, our ‘I’ determines what ‘reality’ is, with the eyes of our ‘I’, we perceive the world and interpret the events and the world around us.
In my workshops (ONLINE, see: /healing-the-energetic-bodies-by-means-of-systemic-ritual/), I work with the following bodies:
The physical body
That is what we can see and feel. It is our skin, our muscles, our skeleton, our organs and all the neurogenic and hormonal processes that take place in our physical body.
The etheric body
The etheric body is a network of energetic orbits. It covers and penetrates our physical body and provides all our body cells with life energy, also called chi or prana. The meridians of which Traditional Chinese Medicine speaks are part of the etheric body.
You can strengthen the physical and etheric body with fresh and healthy food, physical exercise, staying in nature, breathing exercises, acupuncture, QiGong, music, singing.
In the chronically ill and dying body, the etheric body is slowly loosening itself. When the etheric body leaves the physical body, the physical body ceases to exist. After the death of the physical body, the etheric body is still present for 6 to 7 days and then disappears itself.
The astral body
In the astral body or aura are all sensations, experiences, feelings, impulses, thoughts and memories. It is the body that feels emotions. The astral body also has a mythical consciousness. That is, it speaks the language of dreams and symbols. Dreams – both when you sleep and daydreams – take place in the astral body. Just like hallucinations.
The astral body has no fixed form. It easily changes shape and can even separate itself from the physical body and travel elsewhere.
With the astral body, we can absorb the emotions and thoughts of others. It is like a tuning fork that vibrates not only with our own emotions and thoughts but also – unknowingly – responds to emotions and thoughts of other beings in our environment.
The astral body can be strengthened by painting and other creative expressions, recalling relevant memories, feeding ourselves with implementing experiences that make us feel good, loving, cheerful. It is weakened by events that make us feel angry or gloomy. Seeing violence or misery is – for our astral body – also a fact. So watching the news or violent films less often or not at all is healthy for the astral body.
The astral body can remain independent of the physical body for a long time. Parts of the astral body can leave the ‘I’ for several reasons, f.e. trauma. In some traditions that is called ‘soul loss’. We can call these parts back to the ‘I’ by soul retrieval.
The mental body
The mental body can best be described as a structure that makes thinking possible. So it’s not the thinking or your thoughts themselves. It consists of channels and structures that determine how dreams, thoughts and associations are processed. According to Sufism also some innate personality structures are part of the mental body.
The actual expression of the thinking process is done by the personality, the ‘me’ or ‘I’.
We find strong patterns in the mental body. Patterns consist of an automatic link between seeing, recognizing and feeling. The mental body has created paths that link past events, beliefs and emotions and lead to “automatic” responses.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming, hypnotherapy and affirmations are methods that work with these structures.
The mental body can be strengthened by activities that give structure: making puzzles, organizing bookshelves in alphabetical order, rhythmic exercises, meditating to bring calmness and harmony to our thinking.
The soul is our most profound, pure experience of ‘me, the me that I am, but certainly not our ego. The soul is timeless and formless. According to various traditions, the soul, in turn, consists of several parts; we don’t have one soul but more souls.
The soul can be strengthened through meditation, certain types of music f.e. Gregorian chant, experiencing beauty and connection with others and the world around us.
See you soon,
Aaldijk, K. Voeding voor de ziel. Spiegelbeeld, mei 2007
Van Kampenhout, D. Beelden van de ziel. Over de werking van de ziel in sjamanistische rituelen en familieopstellingen