Ancient Perspectives on the Subtle Body

In ancient Taoist philosophy, there are three powers or parts of the universe: Heaven, Earth, & Humanity. Humanity is comprised of sentience where perceptions/feelings exist, and the domain of the heart and compassion are developed. Heaven is comprised of the planets/stars/moons, celestial realms (ancestors, spiritual lineages, enlightened beings), and the domain of creative potential exists. Lastly, Earth is comprised of elements that gather, and the domain of solidity/body is birthed.

The Tiger vs Dragon (Yin-Yang) energies are a symbol of the dance between Heaven/Spirit (Dragon) and the Earth/Matter (Tiger). Humanity/Love is the bridge that unites Heaven and Earth. To salute Heaven or the Great Yang is to salute the luminous open dynamism of all potentiality. To salute Earth or the Great Yin is to salute the dense, semi-fixed reality and solidity of the present moment as well as the chi of the material plane. In ancient Chinese philosophy, Yin & Yang represent dualistic reality and remind us that seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world. By bringing awareness to the light body—or the subtle body—it is possible to awaken qualities of the Great Yang and Yin into our experience where Heaven and Earth harmoniously connect, mingle, and unite more regularly since we have more awareness of what bridges them: the “subtle” or what has been called qi in ancient China, ka in ancient Egypt, and prana in ancient India—essentially a person’s life-force. In the West, we might call the subtle body energy or energy in motion (e-motion). The subtle body can be likened to the wisdom and love of our Being that permeates all things. Our energy is an intelligent field of unified awareness.

In traditional Indian medicine and spiritual medicine, prana is the energetic life force that connects everything. Prana is coursing through our bodies through “nadis” or energetic channels (also known as meridians). Yoga teachings convey that 72,000 nadis exist in the body and all connect at the navel. Practices in Raja/Ashtanga Yoga or the 8-Limbed Path serve to mature and ripen our character so that our inner fire (prana/qi/subtle body) can glow more brilliantly.

In the main channel of our body—the sushumna—special points of intensity called chakras are where nadis connect, intersect, and communicate. Sushumna actually means sukha-mana or a joyful (sukha) mind (mana). When the sushumna flows, a joyful mind arises; The channels of our subtle body literally radiate our joy and clarity. This radiant state is a powerfully aligned energetic space of manifestation drawing into itself like-frequencies. In truth, our outer world reflects the degree in which we hold our energy. The world is created out of our feelings. When we thrive internally, we thrive externally.

According to Vedic astrology, the planets and each zodiac sign closely connect to human chakras and organs. By knowing a planet’s location and aspects, or relationships to other planets, in your astrological natal (birth) chart, you may gain insight into respective chakras associated with that planet and how they may be impacting health and balance in the body. To work with a planetary correlation to a chakra is to work with the consciousness at various centers of the body where joy may be flowing or be blocked because certain lesson, learning, or right relationship to that “area” is needed.

The planet Uranus actually corresponds tot he kundalini energy in the body. Often, we can gain much insight about how we are creatively self-actualizing through universal ideas and principles by looking at Uranus and Aquarius (its corresponding zodiac sign) in our natal charts. Uranus carries codes for how we individuate and relate to creative life force energy or kundalini. Kundalini [Shakti] is an important concept in Śhaiva Tantra, where it is believed to be a force or power associated with the divine feminine or the formless aspect of the Goddess. It is also a Sanskrit term from ancient India, meaning “coiled snake”, referring to the dormant potential life force within the human organism. Kundalini Yoga is one path of working with our potent creative life force with deeper awareness and is a common theme in Raja/Ashtanga Yoga or the 8-Limbed Path.

Yoga was designed to develop and aid in our inner purification and transformation. Through the first 7 limbs or disciplines of Raja Yoga—moral restraint, self-observation, posture, breath control, sense withdrawal, mind control, and meditation/contemplation—one reaches the final 8th limb of ultimate bliss, spiritual enlightenment, or absorption into spirit, also known as Samadhi or non dual awareness in which there is no perceived separation of body, mind, heart, spirit, rather there is just One.

Rather than consider exploring a linear path to enlightenment or non dual awareness, I invite you into the playful territory of living with an awareness of the subtle body in your everyday life. Richard Rudd, the author of The Gene Keys, bravely expresses that enlightenment practices were not actually means to enlightenment but rather creative expressions of enlightenment. Perhaps Samadhi is not necessarily a goal or purpose of Yoga but a state to be experienced as it naturally arises—when it is ready to be experienced; when grace permits it.

Perhaps, the intention of living joyously, radiantly, and vibrantly now in this moment with a connection to the subtle may organically give rise to enlightenment. After all, we are gross (Earth), subtle (Human), causal (Heaven), and non dual beings already. Powerful light or radiant awareness already exists inside us. We just need to watch, wait, and allow it’s emergence or “bubbling up”. The cycles of Heaven and Earth dance with one another and give birth within mysterious cycles and rhythms. This truth highlights the importance of surrender to a higher intelligence just beyond the thinking mind that can create space for our flourishing beyond what we can will into existence alone.

Qi/prana/subtle energy is already there, but often many don’t have the skill or habit of putting a focus on the subtle. This is where practices like Yoga and Qi Gong become invaluable. The subtle is a link or bridge to Heaven and Earth, so to practice sensitizing to the subtle body is a way of bridging Heaven and Earth. It is a practice in the mastery of Self—of experiencing the already whole, enlightened, and non dual Self. It is an exercise in seeing and being love.

Sol means light/sun/energy and alludes to this love, that human bio-luminescence or radiance, [re]generative life force, and divinity are present when we breathe an awareness into it. Aligning with our divinity can be as simple as bringing awareness to the subtle body by shaking the limbs of our body or even simply rubbing palms together and bringing a gentle awareness to notice changes in sensation or energy getting brighter with that physical movement.

By cultivating an awareness of energy moving through our physical body, the power of a strong heart connection is revealed: the heart connects to the soul, a bridge between Heaven and Earth. Continually entering the context of your soul supports opening to all potentiality and a trust of your innate Divine light, truth, essence, and surrounding supporting energy which is always available. These luminous possibilities offer inspired ways of living directed by available choices in every moment.

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