There are four primary states of consciousness: the waking state, the dream state, the deep sleep state and the supraconscious.
The waking state is a dream, a dream of wakefulness. The dreaming state is a dream of phantasms, multiple realities, world upon world, vortex upon vortex, characters shuffling and reshuffling their identities again and again, multiple experiences on multiple planes. The deep sleep state is the dream of stillness and silence, of rest, in which there is no dreaming, no wakefulness, no thought patterns. And of course the fourth state, which I refer to frequently as the fourth level of ecstasy, is samadhi and the supraconscious states, nirvana and so on.
The physical body relates to the physical consciousness. We're aware of the physical body when we're in the first state of consciousness, the waking state. When we enter into the dreaming state, we become aware of the subtle physical body. It's a different type of body. The subtle physical body is the body of dreaming. In the deep sleep state, we are not aware that there is a body. The awareness of the physical and the subtle physical go away. In the supraconscious, we are beyond all definitions and limitations.
The subtle body surrounds and protects the physical body. Many people are familiar with the subtle physical through the aura. The human aura, which is not that difficult to see if you meditate and you've developed a little bit of sensitivity, surrounds the physical body. The aura changes color from time to time, depending upon the intensity of the kundalini energy that is passing through it.
In meditation we move from the physical to the subtle physical, or through the subtle physical to the supraconscious awareness.
A great deal of attention has been placed on the coloration of auras and the significance of the colors and things like that. There really is no significance at all to the colors of the aura, except that they are what they are. One might have a blue aura or a green aura or a gold aura, but they're simply the reflections of the infinite colors of the soul. While certain levels of consciousness tend to correspond to certain colors, one is not better than another. In the same way that a child in first grade is not in any way superior or inferior to someone who's in their last year of college or graduate school, so the various planes of consciousness are equal. Superiority and inferiority only occur in the mind of one who is in a dualistic consciousness.
The subtle physical body is made up of ether. The physical body, according to the ancient yogis, was made up of fire, water and air. These elements, these three elements, would constitute the physical condition. Think of them as symbols. There's not too much that I can say or explain about them. It's something that you just have to feel inside yourself.
Think of fire as heat - one aspect of the kundalini or of the infinite awareness, one way of seeing life, the fire of the sun that generates life. The fire of the sun is in the solar plexus, in the navel chakra, and in the root center, the base chakra at the bottom of the spine. Think of those two chakras in your being as fire.
The heart chakra and the throat chakra you can think of as water, if you will. The lower three chakras could be fire, and the chakra, the energy center, in the center of the chest and also in the throat would correspond to the element of water - just to try to give you a sense of the tonality of these things of which I speak, for which there are few if any words. Air would be connected with the third eye, between the eyebrows and slightly above, the Agni chakra, and the crown chakra would also be connected with air.