What follows is an exploration of the idea of chakras and how we can use this idea as a catalyst for personal growth.
The word “chakra” has it’s origins in ancient Indian spiritual traditions. Literally “chakra” means wheel.
There are said to be 7 major chakras in the human organism. Each chakra contains energy that is spinning or swirling out from a center. If you visualize any type of wheel spinning, that gives you a sense of how the chakra works energetically.
The focus of this blog post is the heart chakra. Therefore I am not going into great detail about the other chakras. However there is a hierarchy where the chakras are concerned.
It would be negligent not to give you a brief overview of the entire chakra system. This diagram shows you the general location of each chakra along the spinal column. There is a color associated with each chakra and the colors correspond to the colors of the rainbow.
To begin to use the chakra system as a tool or catalyst for personal growth, we must mainly concern ourselves with the emotional and energetic properties of each chakra. What follows is a very brief overview of these properties:
1. Root Chakra – This is the lowest chakra, located at the base of the spine. The energy is grounding or heavy, stable and strong. The root chakra is the foundation. It must be unmoving and steady. Emotionally this equates to home and hearth, a stable home environment. Therefore things like financial security, food, clothing and shelter all relate to the root chakra.
2. Hips, pelvis, sexual organ – The energy is sensual, with flowing movement. The emotional component is communication, spontaneity and the free expression of outward joy.
3. The Navel Chakra – The energy is heating, active and masculine. The emotional component is tenacity, goal setting, perseverance and fierce determination
4. The Heart Chakra – The energy is spacious, ethereal, moving in many directions. Emotional qualities are vulnerability, giving and receiving love, empathy and compassion.
5. The Throat Chakra – The energy is vibration and sound. This energy is released through the body, orally through the mouth. Emotional qualities are communication and self expression. Modalities are talking, laughing, singing, crying and shouting.
6. The Third Eye – The energy is luminosity, light and transparency. The emotional qualities are intuition, higher intelligence, knowing deeply, seeing clearly and enlightenment.
7. The Crown of the Head – The energy is spiritual, spacious, eternal and infinite. The emotional qualities are bliss, love, union with God.
According to yoga philosophy, true liberation occurs when we are operating at the level of the crown chakra. Therefore perhaps you are wondering: why do we need to concern ourselves with the other 6 chakras if our goal is to get to the crown?
Can’t we just buy a one way ticket to the crown chakra? Unfortunately enlightenment does not come that easily.
Here is how it actually works. Due to the various events in our lives, some of these chakras become closed or stuck, so the energy does not flow from one chakra to the next chakra as it should. This creates problems at all levels.
Through yoga we are taught to work the chakras in stages. Start at number one and slowly work your way up the ladder. If you try to skip any level on the ladder, your house of cards will collapse in an ugly heap!
There are no shortcuts.
The heart chakra is in some ways the center of the whole system and it’s not a bad place to start. Through our exploration of the heart chakra we will gain insight into the blocks that we’ve created in chakras 1, 2, and 3. So essentially by starting at the heart, it inevitably leads us back to 1, 2, and 3. It is only with an open heart that we will be able to deal with the blocks at the first three chakras.
Here is your first exercise:
Sit in a comfortable chair. (or sit on the floor.)
Cross your hands over your heart and close your eyes.
Notice how it feels to be almost cradling or caressing your heart in this way.
Begin practicing Ujayi Breath or simple belly breathing.
Stay conscious of your breath and notice where you feel each inhale and each exhale moving inside your body.
Try to stay conscious of each inhale and exhale and especially where you feel the breath moving at the belly, chest and throat.
Try to focus your mind’s eye or your awareness right at the space between the heart and the throat. Allow the breath to make a mild hissing sound on each and every breath.
Stay with this awareness for at least 10 minutes.
Notice any thoughts and feelings that arise.
Censor nothing. Keep noticing everything.
Judge nothing. Analyze nothing.
When practiced everyday, your heart will open like a flower
opening up to the sun.