Introduction to the Chakras

In the modern world there is a plethora of information on a wide variety of subjects. A visit to the New Age or self-help section at the local bookstore usually ends up in bewilderment at the number of offerings available. Don’t get bogged down by the details. Close your eyes, run your fingers along the back of the books and when your fingers tingle, that’s the book you should buy. That’s how I found my first book on Chakras.

Chakras have their roots in very ancient Eastern history. The word ‘charkra(s)’ comes from the Sanskrit word “chakrum” which means wheel. The original Sanskrit refer to the seven major chakras and their interrelation within the body and thought processes. There are those that are seeking to incorporate an eighth chakra, but here we will only be dealing with the original seven.

Chart of 7 ChakrasThe Chakras are believed to be centers of spiritual energy within the human body. Color coded for association and understanding, they have been a part of eastern spirituality for eons. Chakras are said to be the guideposts of our true inner self. Chakras are assigned colors which are related to either their location in the body or the energy centers they help to promote.

We will be studying each of the seven chakras individually in upcoming posts, so check back soon!

 

The Crown Chakra

The Crown Chakra is the highest of the Prime Seven Chakras we have discussed. The Crown Chakra, normally indicated in art as a violet lotuscrocus-detail flower sitting on the top of the head, the petals of the flower imitating a crown, is the Seventh Chakra. However, the actual location of the Crown Chakra is considered to be in the center of the brain (modern science puts that at the location of the Pineal Gland.) Remember again the nervous system alignment of the chakras. The Crown Chakra “crowns” the spinal column support system to which all other chakras are aligned.

The Crown Chakra speaks of the true power of personal intellect and wisdom. It is believed by starting at the base Chakra (the foundation) and working with the energy of each one in succession, advancing up the chain, one comes closer to achieving a state of personal clarity and knowledge. It is in the Crown Chakra that the best of us, both on a spiritual and on a physical level, can be found. Here is the higher intellect and the graces found in true patience and understanding. The wisdom of having assimilated the outer life one leads with their fellow man, and the inner life one leads on their spiritual path. It is the intelligence of understanding one’s place in the cosmos and having come to peace in that knowledge.

The Crown Chakra speaks much to the spiritual nature we hold within. Working with the Crown Chakra is working and incorporating all the data received from the other Chakras into a cohesive whole that helps you understand your life, your life’s path, and your future direction. However, many believe that one can never truly end the quest for the inner self because as soon as a sense of enlightenment through intelligence and trust to the higher power is achieved, one realizes that it is time to return to the Root and start again. For the Self within, connected to all that is, has achieved a new understanding, a new level of intelligence, a new aspect of the Self. With that achievement can come the fertility of new beginnings.

For those who have placed themselves on a spiritual quest, this Chakra is emblematic of the trinity of, life, death, and rebirth. Through the living of our lives we learn and grow, allowing old ways of being to die. We are reborn as we move forward into deeper levels of understanding that make us realize our best course is to yet become the student again. For those who work with the Crown Chakra they understand that it is the pursuit of knowledge of the self and connection with the Divine that truly gives rewards in both a temporal and secular nature. As we live this human existence we are constantly challenged with lessons, rewarded with joys, and intrigued by curiosities. At achieving the Crown Chakra one learns that by the achievement of the goal, new opportunities for intellectual advancement are afforded to us.

The Brow Chakra

crownProbably the most famous of all Chakras, yes, this is the legendary Third Eye. Many assume it is located high on the forehead (so that the third eye creates a triangle and is often depicted so in modern art). Actually the Third Eye is located lower, at a point between the eyebrows, behind the root of the nose, at the base of the brain. (Remember the alignment with the spinal column and nervous system throughout Chakra study!)

Although the location is difficult to depict on a picture (and hence is misplaced as being center of the forehead), the familiar associations with the Third Eye are much closer to the mark. Many associate the Third Eye with psychic powers or being intuitives. Others associate the Third Eye as the eye of prescience should we choose to look. While other cultures look at it as the resting place of the higher self in wisdom and intuition.

Many who are on a spiritual journey or quest speak about hoping to open the Third Eye. This is no small feat as it is believed that in order to open the Third Eye one must achieve the wisdom, intelligence and incorporation of other aspects of life. There are some who seek who never open the eye, realizing that the “eyelid” of the Third Eye is truly under the control of the individual. The true achievement of wisdom is when you realize that the only one that can keep you from working with your Brow Chakra is you.

There’s lots of ways to work with your Third Eye or Brow Chakra. Most recommend meditation of some type. Somehow, somewhere along the way modern culture created the mindset that meditation was sitting on a yoga rug in the lotus position with our backs perfectly straight, eyes closed, incense burning, while chanting. Well…that works for some people. Others find it somewhat disturbing. Remember that meditation is just the act of preparing for or participating in contemplative discourse normally of a religious nature. Simply put…thoughtful (contemplative) talking (discourse) about Spirit (religious nature).

A friend that works in the personnel field makes sure she connects with her Brow Chakra on days she is doing resume reviews. Before getting out of her car she takes a deep breath, releases it, and then breathes normally. She says with the breathing she focuses on a mental image of a third eye in her forehead. She makes a conscious statement to herself that she will be open and receptive to other information streams than standard sensory human communication. Then she says a quick prayer for guidance and into work she goes. She swears it really helps when wading through a whole stack of resumes. As she takes each new resume from the stack she takes 5 seconds to just close her eyes and hold the resume in her hand, being open to anything feelings or thoughts. No, it’s not the final decision maker, but it must work somehow, she’s been working in HR for 20 years!

The Throat Chakra

throatWell, no big secret where this Chakra is located is there? Located at the back of the throat just behind the larynx, some refer to this location as the pharyngeal plexus.

In the Heart Chakra we learn that intellect can rule our baser emotions. The Throat Chakra shows us that there are emotions that transcend intellect. Joy, ecstasy, and bliss can all easily sweep intellect away and control us in the moment. The Throat Chakra reminds us that even though we think, balancing thinking with feeling is important.

The Throat Chakra is aligned with the color Blue. The association was explained in this way. The color blue is associated with depths (deep blue sea, deep blue sky, etc.). Without allowing ourselves to experience the depths (and heights) of joy, ecstasy and bliss, how can we achieve balance upon which the intellect can rest? Joy, ecstasy and bliss all speak of transcending the human condition. We find joy in our heart when we help our fellow man. Ecstasy in this context is not a drug (contrary to modern culture’s labels), it is a state of being. Bliss can only be achieved by knowing yourself. It is through knowledge of yourself that you are able to achieve a state of Bliss. The Throat Chaka is aligned with the planets of Venus and Neptune. The depths of water (Neptune) and the depths of emotions (Venus) meet in the throat to help incorporate the you.

When the Throat Chakra is out of alignment it is difficult to achieve states that are truly natural to us – joy, ecstasy and bliss. Many forget in the modern day world of paying bills, conference calls, cell phones, and scheduling kids for this and that, that the states of joy, ecstasy and bliss are always attainable. We just need to go within and find them.

Since it is located in the Throat, vocalizing can help you connect and realign this Chakra. Gestalt Therapy does have its merits! Now, you may not have the luxury of being able to go out in the middle of no where and yell your head off, but there are things you can do. Singing is a form of vocalizing. Chanting also is a vocal quality. The act of overt prayer (overt in the act that you are saying the words out loud rather than “thinking” them in your head) is another way to help align the Throat Chakra. If you feel out of touch, down, a little blue? Sometimes singing along with Billy Holiday (a truly inspired female blues singer) is just the ticket to work out the blockages to achieving bliss, joy or ecstasy.

Remember that there can be joy, ecstasy or bliss in even times of great pain and difficulty. Many times one of these three states of being are the primary release from a more difficult state. A worried mother searches for and finds her lost child. No one can deny the joy on her face at the reunion. As lovers combined in physical union a shared ecstasy is achieved. Bliss can be found in the watching of the mist through the trees, or the soft sound of a beloved’s sleeping breath.

The Heart Chakra

heartThe Heart Chakra is often represented as sitting atop the sternum. Again, right area, but remember the spinal connection of the Chakras. (By the very statement of “chakra alignment” we are stating the obvious that many forget. Alignment literally means to bring into a line or proper perspective.)

Many believe that it is the Heart Chakra and it’s association with the color green that control emotions. This is a flavoring of our modern society with the heart and emotions. The Heart Chakra does not relate to the emotive part of our nature, the Heart Chakra relates to intelligence and higher thinking. Its association to the color green indicates the Heart Chakra’s willingness to accept the fertility of new ideas. When you need to be clear-headed and sharp for that business meeting (or family dinner), focusing on the Heart Chakra can help get you through.

It is no accident that the Heart Chakra represents the intellect. It is the center of the Chakras, located at what is considered the center of the body. It is through our intellect that we incorporate the input we receive. From the extremities of both the Root and Crown Chakras, up or down through the Chakral Alignment, our intellect incorporates the input we receive from our other Chakras to coalesce it into a message for us to interpret as the outer world around us. It is through the filter of our intellect that we perceive the world.

Here’s a way to use Heart Chakra energy. When a friend knows she’s got a bear of a day coming (she works in a law firm) she has what she calls her “smart suit.” At the beginning of each new fashion season she is out shopping and purchasing the smartest, sharpest green suit she can find. The night before she focuses and prepares mentally and physically by getting everything ready for the next day. She has everything ready, suit, heels, hose, you name it. Her presentation is packed and her notes are in the portfolio. Just before going to bed she reviews her list for the next day. Then, before going to sleep she places her hands on her breastbone and just focuses on the idea of knowledge, intelligence, and intellect. She consciously recognizes in her mind that fear is an emotion that she feels. Then she consciously states to herself that fear is an emotion and belonging to the Naval Chakra which is lower than the Heart Chakra. This intelligence of the Heart Chakra (knowing she is prepared for the next day) overrides the fear arising from her emotions located in the Solar Plexus or Naval Chakra. She says this helps her relax and get to sleep easier too! The point being is that she used the focus of her Heart Chakra, empowered herself with the wearing of a color she associates with that Chakra (green), and she prepares as best she can. Knowing she has prepared she can relax and rest her mind, clearing it of skittering thoughts so she can relax and sleep, being even better prepared for the challenge of the next day!