The third sheath in our bodies contains all our basic mental processes. Without it the physical body can survive, during a general anaesthetic for example, but cannot act independently. Mano-maya-kosha allows us to learn; to act to survive.
Western physiology considers our basic thoughts occurring in the brain…although recently there has been some interesting research into heart and gut memory. Mano-maya-kosha sees the entire nervous system and endocrine system (nerves, central nervous system including spinal cord and brain, and hormones) as being the conduits of Mano-maya-kosha.
This third body draws heavily upon “the five senses” and governs our likes/dislikes, basic desires, reactions, rationalising/analysing and memory. It gives us the sense of the “me” or the isolated self. Mano-maya-kosha allows you to drive a car to where you are going without you consciously thinking about every step in the driving process.
Considering the absorption of impressions from the senses, it makes sense to be careful what we offer Mano-maya-kosha. Long term exposure to distressing images, unnecessary noise and other low-value stimulation may warrant a re-think. Yogic practices such as mantra meditation or Pratyahara (the sensory withdrawal we do prior to relaxation in class) give mano-maya-kosha a tune-up and clear out the clutter. The key is regularity in the practice. If that’s not on the menu for you, you might consider a regular mindful walk or a sit in a garden enjoying all it has to offer (without the earbuds in your ears or phone by your side).