Practice Notes: Rainbow Body

rainbow bodyEach week, I teach a mindful yoga class on Tuesday nights at Mookshi Wellness Center.  Recently, I have adapted a new preparation technique for teaching my classes and find the foundation theme for my class through daily prayer and meditation.  I have always been guided to teach from the wisdom of my practice as I was encouraged to do so by my compassionate and insightful teacher and mentor, Jill Satterfield.  But, for the past two-months I have been randomly choosing a sutra from Lorin Roche’s beautiful translation and commentary of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, The Radiance Sutras, and allowing the message of that particular sutra guide my choice of breathing, asana and visualization practices.

This past spring I took a truly amazing distance learning course with Janet Conner called “Soul Vows” (also the title of her newest book, which is phenomenal) and was able to do so through a generous full scholarship that she offered to me.  The truth is that I had a hard time with the course.  I still haven’t come up with my soul vows.  But, I had found her course through some research I was doing for my Radiant Heart course that I was in the process of creating and the soul vow discovery process required that I choose a spiritual book to accompany me on the work to nourish and keep it sacred.  The Radiance Sutras are “112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight” and while I couldn’t seem to identify my Soul Vows during the course, I kept thinking of the phrase “Choose Joy!” and these sutras and the commentary truly are about choosing joy regardless of circumstances.

This week, in preparation for class tomorrow night (if you are in Pittsburgh, please join us–it’s pretty much the most beautiful gathering of people I’ve ever been a part of, not competitive and you are warmly welcome), I randomly chose the 20th sutra and in the commentary, Roche suggests that we “sense all directions simultaneously” (Radiance Sutras, page 214):

Above me is endless space.
Below me is endless space.
Behind me is endless space.
To my left is space.
To my right is space.
Within me is endless space.

Roche suggests that “As the directions dissolve, so does your definition of yourself (214).”  When I read this I was drawn to Rose Taylor Goldfield’s instructive description of the Rainbow-like body in her book, “Training the Wisdom Body”.  She says, “The main point to remember about your body is that it is appearance-emptiness like a rainbow; it is purely the energy and play of luminosity-emptiness, like a body in a dream when you know you are dreaming.  Recall that your body is naturally light and luminous as you practice yoga movement.” (Taylor Goldfield, page 97)

The “Rainbow Body” in Dzogchen (an esoteric Tibetan Buddhism), refers to a level of realization.  This realization is when the separation between all living beings and phenomenon dissipates and all is one.  Taylor Goldfield instructs, “As you move your body, dissolve fixation on the duality of your own body here and the surrounding environment out there.  Melt into space.” (page 97)

In our practice this Tuesday night we will play with space and expand our inner and outer light for the benefit of all living beings.  Can’t wait!


The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight
Author: Lorin Roche

Training the Wisdom Body: Buddhist Yogic Exercise
Author: Rose Taylor Goldfield

Path to the Rainbow Body: Introduction to Yuthok Nyingthig
Author: Dr. Nida Chenagtsang

Soul Vows: Gathering the Presence of the Divine in You, Through You, and As You
Author: Janet Conner