"In any experience of emotion, there is both a thought component and a physical component. An emotion changes our physical experience. If we are angry, we might become flushed and our muscles become tense. To notice this is to enter into relationship with the subtle body." - Tsoknyi Rinpoche
For centuries, the concept of “subtle body” has played a key role in the secret teachings of Eastern and esoteric traditions.
But what does it mean, and why does it matter to Westerners seeking healing and wholeness?
The subtle body is our true subconscious. It’s our energy body, or prana. It’s the force that enlivens us and animates our bodily functions. It’s the bridge between body and mind.
Flowing in with the breath, the subtle body is experienced through sensation. Emotions are movement of energy through the subtle body.
Coming to understand this mystical concept can only lead us toward emotional healing, says Tibetan Buddhist Teacher Tsoknyi Rinpoche in a recent article in Lion’s Roar, a Buddhist magazine.
I agree. Though we tend to believe that trauma and psychological difficulties reside in the deep recesses of the mind, where they truly exist is in the subtle body. For example, anxiety commonly forms a frozen energy pattern in the subtle body, often manifesting in the stomach, the heart or the throat center.
Two things happen when we undergo stressful and traumatic experiences: We block or avoid the feeling because it’s too strong or frightening. And we tend to hold our breath.
But the breath is directly connected to the subtle body. It’s how we access the place where we store life’s difficulties.
This is why yoga therapy and breathwork is so beneficial and so different from talk therapy. The subtle body lies at the heart of
Emotive Yoga Therapy. All of our emotions and psychological problems, or baggage, reside in the subtle body.
In Yoga Therapy, we work at the level of energy, where the pattern exists, rather than the mind, where we often get tangled up in unproductive thoughts and emotions.
In Yoga Therapy, we access the emotional “charge” by locating the sensation in the physical body. While providing a safe and trusting space, I coach you to stay with this uncomfortable, and sometimes intense, sensation until the blocked energy begins to move and eventually releases.
This is important because we fear that if we allow ourselves to feel this sensation, we’re going to drop into the abyss and never pull out. But that’s not the case. When we give this energy space to move, it clears rather quickly.
Then the remembrance of that event can take its rightful place as an accessible memory without re-experiencing the ugly charge. And we can achieve the profound healing that allows us to be our best self.