Three Bodies

monk holding prayer beads across mountain
Photo by THÁI NHÀN on

To understand why and how meditation and breathwork influence our body and mind and how these two practices connect and cooperate, we have to know the principle of the three bodies.

We are not only one body but three. Each one of them has its own function, effect and purpose. To bring at least a little light to this task, is why I wrote this article.

Meditating, we pass through three bodies, being involved in the meditation and also working together and interacting: If our physical body is trembling and shaking, if it is not steady, our mind will not find any calmness and will also be very unsteady. This is where the physical body comes in:

The Physical Body

The physical body is the one we see. It is a tool to see (eyes), eat (mouth), smell (nose etc.

This body consists of the five elements:

  • water
  • earth
  • fire
  • air
  • space / ether

Water are all liquids in the body, like blood, cells, lymph, etc.

Earth elements are the solid parts: bones, hair and nails. The warmth of the body symbolizes the fire.

The aerially parts of the body: lungs, oxygen, hydrogen in the blood nurturing the cells, represent the air.

The most hard to describe and to understand element is the ether or space. Ether is the space, our body, as a kind of container is embodying. It is also the space, the physical body is taking. The nerves are communicating through electricity. Therefore our physical body is also taking up electromagnetism. This electricity is forming a magnetic field, sending out vibrations and energy.

The Astral Body

The second body is the astral body and is less comprehensible than the physical body. The astral body consists of the five senses: taste, seeing, hearing, touching, smelling. You cannot see this body.

Think of the astral body as a banana: its skin is the physical body, the flesh is the astral body. If you hold a banana in your hand, unpeeled, you can only see the skin, the physical body. You cannot see the flesh, the astral body. If you dig deeper you can also realize the flesh.

The astral body also inhibits the five actions:

  • actions of the upper body ( e.g. moving the head)
  • actions of the lower part of the body (e.g. walking)
  • speech
  • genitals (e.g. urinating)
  • emunctories and their muscles

The five pranas are also a part of the astral body. As this is a very complex field, I will write about it in an extra article and leave you just by mentioning them.

For the meditation-pratice it is very important to know the following elements in the astral body:


Ego means everything having to do with attachments. Attachment to ideas, for example. All of us have specific ideas, we are attached to, being hard to leave behind. But the less attachment we have, the less ego exists.

The bad thing about the ego is, that it grows like cancer. We can counteract this growth by the practice of meditation.


Intellect simply means the skill to analyse.


The subconsciousness is the result of all the experiences we made in this life. These expereinces enable us to execute automatic actions, taking us to specific situations and feelings. For example, if you listen to some song you know from your youth, it brings back memories from this part of your life. Oftentimes you also feel younger.


The spirit is a collection of thoughts and feelings.

The Spiritual Body

The spiritual body consists of four parts: soul, karma, samskara and free will.

The soul is everything that lives and grows. Everything that lives has a soul.

Imagine a tree. The wood of a tree grows and lives, so it has a soul. When the tree is logged and you build a table from its wood, the wood is dead. The wood doesn’t have a soul anymore.

Each of the five elements, e.g. those of the physical body, have a soul. The soul never dies.

The karma or karma-account says, that everything you are giving, is coming back to you. This might be in another way or form, directly or indirectly.

Samskara is the essence of learning. Everything we have learned in this life and all previous lifes, up to this day. Samskara has an influence on all of your decisions.

The following example shows vividly, that samskara is as individual as a fingerprint: identical twins looks the same, may have the same voice, may move in exactly the same way and also share the same taste in music, food etc. On the other side identical twins are oftentimes totally different in the choice of their career, talents, reactions to specific events etc. The differences have their origin in the samskara.

The fourth part of the spiritual body is „free will“. Free will means that we all have the possibility to make decisions freely, with a free will. But these possibilities and therefore free will are limited. Think of people living in dictatorships or in prisons. These societies and communities also offer some free will, but a – very – limited free will.

You cannot do what you want all day long. For example you can choose to go to work by bike, car or to take the bus. But only few of us can choose to take a helicopter to get to work!

The things being mentioned in this article are important to consider when meditating. The physical body, the astral body and the spiritual body connect in a very conscious way while meditating. Everything is connected and forms you as an individual. On the other hand we have to minimize impressions being made by our senses to get the most out of our meditation practice.

The purpose of meditation is to find out:

Who am I?

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