The Consciousness of the Vital Sheath, Pranamaya Kosha

All of our interactions with life, with other beings, with the living, breathing environment within which we exist, occur on the vital level and the energy is exchanged through the vital sheath.  For most people, this process is for the most part unconscious or subconscious; they feel the effects but do not immediately perceive or recognise the actual interchange taking place.  They may notice, for instance, that being in the presence of certain individuals or in specific circumstances gives them a feeling of being uplifted, or depressed, without consciously acknowledging that they are exchanging energy with those individuals or with the vital sphere of life around them and responding or reacting to the energy they are receiving.  This is also behind the phenomenon of crowds where everyone in the crowd begins to feel and take on the force that is moving at that moment.  There can be stirrings of devotion as we notice in Ashram’s where devotional singing and activities are taking place; there can also be stirrings of hostility and hatred when a demagogue is working a crowd.

It is possible through various forms of yogic concentration to consciously get in touch with the awareness of the vital level, to gain access consciously to the vital sheath that surrounds us, and then begin to consciously utilize that knowledge and those energies, to direct them and to find ways to mitigate negative impacts which affect, not only the vital sheath, but through its connection with them, the mental and physical sheathes as well.

Sri Aurobindo notes regarding the vital sheath:  “When this is awakened, we no longer live in the physical body alone, but also in a vital body which penetrates and envelops the physical and is sensitive to impacts of another kind, to the play of the vital forces around us and coming in on us from the universe or from particular persons or group lives or from things or else from the vital planes and worlds which are behind the material universe. …An awakened consciousness in the pranic body immediately feels them, is aware of a pervading vital force other than the physical energy, and can draw upon it to increase the vital strength and support the physical energies, can deal directly with phenomena and causes of health and disease by means of this vital influx or by directing pranic currents, can be aware of the vital and the vital-emotional atmosphere of others and deal with its interchanges, along with a hot of other phenomena which are unfelt by or obscure to our outward consciousness but here become conscient and sensible.  It is acutely aware of the life soul and life body in ourself and others.  The supermind takes up this vital consciousness and vital sense, puts it on its right foundation and transforms it by revealing the life force here as the very power of the spirit dynamised for a near and direct operation on and through subtle and gross matter and for formation and action in the material universe.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 24, The Supramental Sense , pg. 841