Most people, most of the time identify themselves as being their body. But in reality, we're so much more than what we see in the mirror. Yoga wisdom tells us that this body is just one aspect of what we really are and who we really are, and that its main purpose is to act as a vehicle through which we can experience life. So in this episode of the karmic warrior, we'll explore how your body doesn't define who you really are, and how not to let that hold you back from living an extraordinary life.
Hi there, Yogi's and welcome to Episode Four of the karmic warrior podcast where we're here to talk about living an extra ordinary life by practicing time proven and tested teachings of yoga wisdom traditions. I am your host, Lisa Engles Witter, and be sure to subscribe to the podcast, here on YouTube and anywhere that you can find podcasts. Also, be sure to grab my free gift to you. It's a downloadable PDF called karma demystified, which you can get by accessing by going to karmic dash warrior calm. So the one thing that all Eastern spiritual traditions agree on is the law of karma. So as a yogi, on the spiritual path, this is a key principle that you need to understand. And in this PDF, I lay out what karma is, how karma is created, and how to work with the law of karma, so that you can break free from unhealthy habit patterns, and live a freer, fuller life. I put the link in the description below. So go ahead and be sure to grab it. So in this episode, I wanted to talk about this concept that you are not your body. I think most of us have heard this phrase before, I'm not my body, you're not your body. If you've been on the spiritual path for any amount of time. You've certainly heard this phrase before, but what does it really mean? And what does it mean for you in your life? And you might know or understand this phrase conceptually, but do you understand it? And do you live it in your life as a known felt sense? So you know, I grew up in a family that was really very active and healthy health was highly valued. We were, we were always outdoors doing something, whether it was camping or hiking, or our family rode bikes a lot together. And I grew up playing soccer, as a lot of kids do here in America. I was also a runner, a competitive runner, and so I just I loved being outdoors, I loved being active, I was a person, I have always been a person who has been very embodied in my body. And in my late teens, I fell into the sport of triathlon. Through my cross country coach, this was when I was just started college in the late 80s. And I fell into the sport of triathlon, and I became very involved as in that sport of triathlon, and I also in college fell into the profession of personal training, which was something that I did in the first half of my life was personal training. So at the time, it was really sort of this unspoken given being a triathlete or runner or a triathlete, endurance sport athlete and a personal trainer, that, that your body looked a certain way, especially back then, in the late 80s, early 90s, there was none of this body positive thing going on. It wasn't like ads had all different shapes and sizes of bodies, your body needed to look one way In fact, I remember in in high school and in college, the we were always encouraged by our coaches to lose five more pounds, five more pounds, just five more pounds, and then you'll be faster. It was like it was never enough. So running is one of those sports, sort of like dancing and gymnastics. It's highly body focused and body identified and I felt like I had to look a certain way in order to perform a certain way and fast forward. A little bit later in my life to when I turned 30, or when I was 30. And I became pregnant. And pregnancy was the first time that I experienced just how identified I was with my body. Even though I had been preaching to my clients into my athletes, you're not your body, and I was already at that time, doing the mind body coaching. with clients, I was working with them on their thoughts, especially around their body. But here, I was being faced with a circumstance in my life being pregnant, that was putting right in front of me on my lap. Just Okay, Lisa, how identified are you? With your body? Why don't you eat your own
medicine. And it it was a pivotable, a pivotal, pivotal time in my life. Because until that time, I didn't know what it was like to be, quote, unquote, overweight. Now, of course, I know I was overweight because I was pregnant. But here's the thing. My pregnancy was a really hard pregnancy, I gained 60 pounds, I weighed nearly 200 pounds at the end of my pregnancy. You know, normally you're supposed to gain maybe 3040 pounds, I gained nearly twice as much. And my doctors were not super concerned because I was already healthy to start out with but had I had I not been an athlete, they certainly would have been concerned about how much weight I gained. And by the second trimester of my pregnancy, so that was like right, at four months or so. Something horrible happened to me, at least in my mind, at that point in time, it was horrible. And that is that I could no longer run, I could no longer ride my bike, I could swim, and I did swim through the duration of my pregnancy. But swimming wasn't my favorite and never has been my favorite thing to do. I only did it because it was part of one of the three legs of triathlon. So I swam, it's never going to be my first go to exercise. Running is going to be my first go to and then cycling. So at that time, I became very, very challenged in my body, I felt fat, I felt ugly. I felt gross. These were sort of like the mantra mantras that were going through my my head, I hated my body. I remember saying that, often I hate my body. And then I felt guilty for hating my body because my body was giving me the opportunity to bring a precious life into the world. And there were so many women who wanted to get pregnant and couldn't get pregnant. And here I am being ungrateful for the body that I had and what it was giving me the gift that it was giving me so there was like this big swirl of inner conflict happening to me during my pregnancy. And then on top of all of that, I was jealous of those women who seem to have that, like pregnant glow. That's this thing that that's always talked about, oh, you get that break that glow of pregnancy. Well, I I didn't have that I was in my mind. A fat bloated whale.
That's what I look like didn't get that beautiful, pregnant glow. I just looked swollen and big. And I was uncomfortable all the time. And it was interesting because at that time, I was practicing a tradition in Buddhism, the Buddhism of Nisha in de shown in where I was doing a lot of spiritual practice chanting the Lotus Sutra, twice a day. But my spiritual practice at that time didn't include specific inquiry around the true nature of the self. So I really was struggling with this relationship to my body. The thing is, as a society, we tend to base so much of our self worth on how we perceive our body if we don't like how our body looks and feels. And then what happens is we're disappointed we're frustrated, we're dissatisfied. If we like how our body looks and feels, then we're happy. So when we identify with our body, and base our self worth than on our body and also base our self worth on other people's opinions of our body. This can and does have a profound impact on us mentally and emotionally. And even physically. And at this time, at that particular time in my life, I was really struggling with this story that I think is so familiar to a lot of people. And that story is I'm not good enough. And I believe that I was confronted with this story during my pregnancy, because I was so identified with my body, of course, so many of us are identified with our body this way, but because my body drastically changed shape, and form and weight in such a short amount of time, and I was, I was literally like this big bloated whale. That's what I felt like.
And I wasn't didn't happen to be one of those women who was blessed with, again, the glowing goddess thing during pregnancy. And I was comparing myself to those women, I all of this sudden, was really hit with this low sense of self worth. And I think, and as I look back, I can actually say, I believe that it's very true that all of that was actually there previous to me, being pregnant, all of that story. And all of those things were there, they were just lurking in the shadows. And it was the particular circumstance of my life, that of being pregnant that brought all of these hidden stories that I had right to the surface, and challenged me with them. And maybe you have your own version of this type of experience as well. Another one that I can relate is my husband, Tim was several years ago, he was hit by a car, he was riding his bike, he was hit by a car. And all of a sudden, he went from being very active and doing a million things at once. Because he always says you go from zero to 60. As soon as he got out of bed, he would be at 60. Right, there was no warming up, he just he was on go from the moment he got out of bed. And then all of a sudden, he was confronted with the truth that he couldn't move his body that his body was completely incapacitated for a certain amount of time, he could no longer do what you used to do in his body in the accident, forced him to see where he was living his life in overdrive, he and his body could no longer support that because of this particular circumstance because of the experience of being hit by a car and being injured severely so so perhaps you have these type, a type of experience like this that you can relate to in your own life. What happened for me, it was like the pregnancy pulled back the curtains and completely revealed to me these deeper insecurities that I had, that showed up as Okay, this is about my body, but it was really something deeper, right? It was about not feeling good enough. So my pregnancy was this event that was showing me something that I hadn't seen about myself up until that time. And, and that is that I was so identified with my body. And it wasn't until many many years later in my life, when I was introduced to yogic practices, especially the yogic practice of self inquiry, that really helped me to understand and truly know that I'm not just my body, like not just giving that lip service. But knowing that as a truth as a felt experience, that I'm not just my body, but that my body is just this one aspect of myself. And its main purpose is to be this vehicle through which I can experience the beauty, the goodness, the truth in the beauty of life. And so often, I think we miss that we miss those opportunities. And in yoga, the self is complete Most of these five layers, they call them kosha. As you might think of them, sort of like a Russian doll. And it, it depends on what,
which particular tradition you're talking about, as to how they describe these different layers. So they do it a little bit differently from each different tradition. But in general, each layer goes from the outermost to the innermost, from the, the least subtle layer, which is our body, to the most subtle layer, which is our true nature, our true self as consciousness. So just that that first layer is of this self is, is the body, and then the next layer, our thoughts and our feelings, then we have the layer of our prana, or life force, and then we get, we start, as we start moving inwards, we get towards something that, in tradition is called the void. And the void is this state of deep dreamless state that we can all access during meditation. And it's beyond that particular state of the void that we then can access consciousness or awareness, these are all, both synonymous terms, for the same thing, our true self, our essence, nature. And when we fail to perceive ourself as consciousness, experiencing and embodying each one of these layers of ourself, all the way from the inside out. Consciousness pervades all of those layers. And when we fail to perceive that our consciousness, the truth of who we are, pervades all those layers, then we experience what in tradition is called suffering, but what we might not refer to as suffering, but just a general sense of unhappiness. So in other words, when we identify with only one or maybe two of these layers, most of us identify with our thoughts and our physical our physicality, that physical body and our mental emotional body. So when we identify with either, you know, just one or two of these layers, we're going to be caught in the experience of always looking for something more always feeling like something is missing, never quite fulfilled, never quite satisfied, never quite happy with what is going on in our life with life in general. So what I like to say is, what is the litmus test? Like all of this is great, it's great to talk about it. But one of the, the things that I think is so important, as we're on this journey is we're on the path of the yogi, the yogic lifestyle. The karmic warriors, as I like to say, is we need to know, we need to know for sure, how do I know when I'm doing these things? How do I know when I'm on the path? These things are really helpful. So there has to be some type of litmus test. So how do I know if I am only identifying or if I'm primarily identifying with myself as the body? Well, here's the litmus test. A really good litmus test is if your dominant thoughts about who you are come out in statements like I'm old, I'm sick, I'm fat, or, you know, could be the other way, right? Like,
I'm fit, I'm healthy, I have a great physique. I'm beautiful, I'm handsome. All of these are statements that indicate that that you are identified with your body as being who you are. But you are not your body or you're not just your body, who you really are, is untouched by whatever is happening to your body, whatever illness it has, as it goes through the aging process, as it as it changes over time. The true you, the you who you really are, is untouched by the circumstances that your body finds itself in. Now, here's the thing the entire beauty industry and the medical esthetics industry exist and actually pray on and pray on the fact that most people most of the time identify themselves as being their body. And these industries exist in order to perpetuate the mistaken belief that we are our body. So while it may be true that we all get a temporary hit of satisfaction from a new haircut, or coloring, or hair, or getting that injection in the lips, or the face or, or getting surgery in order to look a little bit different, or or even just, you know, losing those extra 20 pounds, or whatever it might be, while we might get a hit of satisfaction, it's only temporary, you'll never find lasting happiness, and altering the way that you look. So the amazing thing is that yoga tells us exactly why this is the case. Because the true you is not just your body, that's just one layer one level of, of your self. And this isn't a statement that you need to believe it's a statement that you actually need to experience. That's why I keep saying we've all heard the the saying, I'm not my body, and we can give lip service lip service to that I'm not my body. But can you truly have that experience that felt experience that you're not your body? And then once you have that felt experience that you're not your body? Can you abide in that knowing that you're not your body? So how do you know that you're not your body? So So we looked at, you know, what is the litmus test to know that I'm identified with my body, okay, so or that I am identified with my body, here's here are the types of things that I would be thinking or statements that I would be making, if I am identified with my body. But deeper than this, is to actually know that you're not your bodies. So you can verify this for yourself in so I'm going to give two different examples. Because one may work better for you than the other. And these are just two examples that you can frequently come back to and reflect upon for yourself as a sort of self inquiry type of practice. So the first, the first way to verify this experience that you are not your body is to reflect on the fact that the you that is you, as you are right now has always felt like the same you.
Right. So regardless of how old you were, there's this deep sense that there's a continuity of who you are you the essence of view has always been the same throughout your entire lifetime, from the time you were a little baby to however old you are. Now, if you really reflect upon it, you don't really feel like you the essence of view was different at five years old, then you were at 15, or 25, or 55 years old, you've just had a different body. So while your body has changed from being a little person being born at you know, seven or eight pounds, and then and then growing into a adolescent and a teenager and then into an adult, and then depending on where you are in your life, an older adult over the course of time. If you reflect on it, your body has changed. But the essence of who you are doesn't feel like it's changed is at all. So that's one one thing to reflect on. And if you sit with that, you will experience that as true. Oh yeah, right. My body has changed but I haven't changed now the other. Another way to verify that you are not your body is sort of a thought experiment of or just considering if you were to, if any part of your body was to be lost or any of your senses sight, sound, smell, touch. Tastes were to be eliminated. would that change the essence of who you are? So if you were to, you know, lose a leg or an arm in an accident, would that change who you are? Or would you still be the same you, if you were to all of a sudden lose your sight, and lose your hearing? Or any of your senses, would that change the essence of you? And it wouldn't. So that in and of itself is proof that you're not your body. Because even if you lose your body, you still exist. Or even if you lose a part of your body, you don't lose a part of you. You still exist.
So this is very, very important to verify on a regular basis, I'm not my body, how do I know that I'm not my body and do these little thought experiments. These little inquiries. The key here is to experience who you really are as eternal and unchanging. It's you know, sometimes referred to as Atman, or Brahman, or Buddha nature, or soul. Right? Your body, on the other hand, is not eternal. Your body, on the other hand, is guaranteed to die at some point in time, your body changes, as we already said it one time you were a baby, and now you're a full grown adult, your body is completely changed, it's gone through different forms over the course of your lifetime. If you haven't already gotten wrinkles and saggy skin, that's going to happen to you at some time, or other. So just knowing this as a fundamental truth about the nature of who you are, is going to inevitably lead to the to the experience of more freedom and fulfillment for you in your life because it becomes so much easier to accept the changes that your body goes through whether it's pregnancy like mine was or its illness or its aging or anything else. So again, these are just a couple of the inquiries and practices that you can do as a karmic warrior as someone on the path to see your body for what it really is just one of many aspects of yourself and even more importantly the body is the vehicle through which you can experience through which the true you your true self can and does experience all that life has to offer. So thank you so much for joining me in this discussion. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. And if you're watching on YouTube, please be sure to like this video if you in fact like it and remember to go to karmic dash warrior comm to get my free download for you karma demystified. And until we meet again next time Namaste day
Transcribed by https://otter.ai