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Higher Being, Part Two: The Koshas
by Deborah Williamson

In the March/April 2011 VOICE, I introduced the concepts of human being and Higher Being as I use them in my signature style of Yoga Life Coaching™. This month, I'll share more about the foundation of this idea, which is harvested directly from what are known in the yogic world as the koshas, or layers of self. The koshas exist to expand our world and to help us connect to others around us.

Before we begin, let's quickly review the difference between human and Higher Being.

Higher Being is a state in which you and your clients have:

  • NO misunderstandings
  • NO limits
  • Endless energy
  • Abundant time/sense of timelessness

Human being is the exact opposite. It is the state of mind where the obstacles of time, money, poor resources and argumentative people lurk around every corner to prevent growth, possibility, accomplishment or forward motion.

Obviously, one state is more enjoyable than the other. And, surprisingly to some, the shift from human being to Higher Being can happen in an instant, without any change in circumstance, wealth, intelligence, talent or ability.

This is where the koshas come in. Koshas are like energetic sheaths that surround us; five layers that relate to enlightenment and the quest for the true self. While some believe that enlightenment is something that you must suffer and strive for over the course of many lifetimes, I believe that we get it in bits and pieces every day. The koshas are the map that leads us inward to who we truly are—unencumbered, beautiful, joyful and capable—and whether you know it or not, you already experience them on a daily basis.

See the diagram below. Each circle represents a sheath, or layer, on the way inward to Higher Being.

We are born into the physical world, which is the outermost layer (kosha). Our body awareness is the entry point to the process of reaching enlightenment. As we start to notice our bodies, we begin to feel and become aware of breath and sensation and emotions (the energetic realm). From here, we observe, search for and assign meaning, entering the mental realm. As we go deeper, we experience understanding and true knowing without judgment or extraneous thought, moving through insight (where we reflect) and bliss (where we know all we need to know) until we finally reach the still point at center, or THE SELF. The second we are at the center and have the conscious thought of, "Here I am! I did it! I am now enlightened," we are bounced right back out to the physical layer, and we begin again. In other words, the second we are thinking about something versus experiencing it, we are missing it.

In those moments at the very center of the circle at the layer of self, we have no wrong understanding, no limits; we have endless energy and endless time. We are not observing, thinking about or naming the external world. We see without assigning meaning, and we know all we need to know. Here's an example:

Let's say you're driving down a country road and notice a heifer munching on some juicy piece of pasture. What might happen next? You probably assign a name (meaning) to the object, and think that word ("cow"). You might even point at the cow and speak the word aloud: "There's a cow!"

When you're living from your Higher Being, on the other hand, you see the cow but you don't feel compelled to name it, know it or announce it. You just see it as it is without assigning meaning.

Why is this relevant to life coaching? Because both you and your clients will spend time assigning meaning to circumstances, objects and people. You are viewing these things through filters and they are colored by those filters. When you reach the center kosha at your true self, all filters are removed. You see without judgment and can choose from a place of endless possibility. Isn't this what you want for your clients? Clarity of vision? Possibilities? Confident knowing? I know I do.

THAT is the shift your clients can have. That is the shift YOU can have as you practice moving in towards that innermost layer of self. Each time we move inward, we get to stay a little longer. Because the truth is, you (and your clients) really do know all that you need to know. Even though we all bounce in and out of knowing, we have the answers, the ability and the talent; we have all that we need to accomplish and contribute powerfully. Recognizing that fact is the first step to real and tangible life shifts.


Yoga Life Coach™ and Master Teacher Deborah Williamson travels the world to teach, speak and coach with humor and deep humanity. Debbie's signature brand of Yoga Life Coaching™ evolved from over 20 years of coaching and wellness industry experience. Visit for upcoming Yoga Life Coach™ Certification Programs and more.

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