Awakening the inner witness

The fourth of the five koshas is Vijnanamaya Kosha, the wisdom body. Vi means “inner” and jnana means “knowledge.” In Sanskrit, vijna means “to discern, to know rightly, to understand.”

The Vijnanamaya kosha encompasses inner knowledge, discernment and wisdom. This layer invites one to witness, honor and gradually release limiting beliefs. Another way of describing limiting beliefs is “the stories” we tell ourselves. Kate Swoboda describes stories as “the internal narratives and assumptions that we make about how the world operates.” These stories are not always accurate.

Learning the art of witnessing is key here. Witnessing involves observing limiting beliefs without identifying with them. Everyone has limiting beliefs of one kind or another. These can range from “I don’t deserve”, “I’m not smart enough”, “there’s no point in trying”, etc. These harsh statements come from the inner critic and everyone has one, even the most confident people you know.

The good news is once you have identified your limiting beliefs; you can reframe them. I see witnessing as an ever evolving process rather than a “one and done.” As we refine the muscle of witnessing, we align with our true being more completely.

Psychologist and meditation teacher, Tara Brach offers two questions to ask yourself to begin to identify and challenge your limiting beliefs: What am I believing right now? Is it true? Brach explains that simply by asking these questions creates spaciousness and opens up the possibility that what you are believing is a representation and not the reality of what is really happening. The belief is real, but not true.

Other techniques for working with the Vijnanamaya kosha include meditation, reflection, and intellectual sources of nourishment such as good company, spiritual literature and selfless service to others.

If you enjoy working with mantras, try the following in working with the Vijnanamaya kosha: “Through the gradual release of limiting beliefs, I continue my journey with greater clarity.”

Tune in next week as we reveal the final kosha, Anandamaya kosha, the bliss body.