(Last Updated on : 10-05-2014)
Apart from the history of the Chakra System, their powerful influence on mind and body should also be studied carefully. The word chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning 'wheel' or 'disk' and denotes a point of intersection where mind and body meet. Chakras are also called lotuses, symbolizing the unfolding of flower petals, which metaphorically describe the opening of a chakra. The beautiful lotus flowers are sacred in India. They usually grow from mud, and symbolize a path of development from a primitive being to a fully blossoming consciousness. They mirror the base chakra rooted in Earth, which evolves into the 'thousand-petalled lotuses' at the crown of the head. Like lotuses, chakras have 'petals,' which vary in number from chakra to chakra. Beginning at the bottom with the first chakra, the petals number four, six, ten, twelve, sixteen, two, and 1,000 petals. Like flowers, depending on the state of consciousness within, chakras can be open or closed, dying or also budding. The chakras are gateways between various dimensions like centers where activity of one dimension, such as emotion and thought, connects and plays on another dimension, such as our physical bodies. This interaction, in turn, plays on the interactions with others and thus influences another dimension i.e. the activities in the outside world.
As for example the emotional experience of fear is always related to the first chakra. Fear affects our body in certain ways. Butterflies in the stomach can be experienced, breath can be short, and voice and hands may shake. These physical characteristics betray and lack of confidence in dealing with the world, and may lead others to treat in a negative way, perpetuating the so-called fear. This fear may have its roots in an unresolved childhood experience, yet still rules the behavior. To work with the chakras is to heal the mankind of old constricting patterns lodged in the body or the mind, or habitual behavior.
The sum total of the chakras forms a vertical column in the bodies called Sushumna. This column is a central integrating channel for connecting the chakras and their various dimensions. It can be thought of as a 'super highway' on which these energies travel, just as the asphalt highways are channels through which physical items travel from the manufacturer to the consumer. This can be said that the Sushumna brings psychic energy from the 'manufacturer' as pure consciousness to the consumer. This is the mental and physical individual here on the Earth plane. One could view the chakras as being major cities located along the highway, each responsible for producing their own kind of goods.
Traveling beside, around, and through the Sushumna, there are also many back roads, such as the Chinese acupuncture meridians, and the thousands of other nadis. Subtle energy conduits are also there, which Hindus have found within the subtle body. Nadis can be thought of as alternate channels, such as the telephone network, gas lines, or stream beds, where special channels are there for moving certain kinds of energy, all passing through the same vortex.
To experience what a chakra feels like, the following is a simple exercise for opening the hand chakras and experiencing their energy. The process can be mentioned as follows:
Both arms can be extended out in front of the person, parallel to the floor with elbows straight.
First the hands should be turned like one hand up and one hand down. After that the hands should be quickly open and close a dozen times or so.
The palms should be reversed and the exercise should be repeated. This opens the hand chakras.
To feel their energy, the hands should be opened and palms should be slowly brought together, starting about two feet apart.
When the hands are about four inches apart one should be able to feel a subtle ball of energy, like a magnetic field, floating between the palms. If someone tune in closely, he or she may even be able to feel it spinning.
After a few moments the sensation will subside, but it can be repeated by opening and closing the palms again. On a physical level, chakras correspond to nerve ganglia, where there is a high degree of nervous activity, and also to glands in the endocrine system. While chakras are interdependent with the nervous and endocrine systems, they are not synonymous with any portion of the physical body, but exist within the subtle body.
Yet their effect upon the physical body is strong, as witnessed by anyone undergoing a Kundalini experience. The chakras usually generate the shape and behavior of the physical body, much as the mind influences the emotions. An excessive third chakra would exhibit a big, tight belly whereas a constricted fifth chakra results in tight shoulders or a sore throat. A poor connection through the first chakra may show up in skinny legs or bad knees. The alignment of one's spinal vertebrae also correlates to the openness of the chakras. As for example, if the chest is collapsed, due to spinal curvature or somatic or emotional holding, the heart chakra may be impeded. The shape of our physical body may even be determined by our development from former lives, to be picked up and continued again in this life.
In metaphysical terminology, a chakra is a vortex, hakras spin in a wheel-like manner, attracting or repelling activity on their particular plane by patterns analogous to a whirlpool. Anything the chakra encounters on its particular vibrational level gets drawn into the chakra, processed, and passed out again.
Instead of fluid, chakras are made of symbolic patterns of the own mental and physical programming. This programming governs the way of behaving. Like programming in a computer, it channels the way energy flows through the system and gives different kinds of information. Each chakra, which literally means 'disk', can be thought of as programming on a floppy disk that runs certain elements of our lives.
Chakras send energy out from the core of the body, and they assimilate energy from outside that enters the core. In this way, once again, chakra can be defined as an organizational center for the reception, assimilation, and transmission of life energy.
The content of the chakras is formed largely by repeated patterns from the actions in day-to-day life, as the mankind is always at the center point of these actions. Repeated movements and habits create fields in the world around us. Programming from parents and culture, physical body shape, situations that are born into, and information from previous lives are also important factors. These patterns can often be seen by clairvoyants when viewing the chakras. Their interpretations give valuable insight into the behavior of the general people. Like an astrological chart, they show tendencies of the personality, but are not by any means unchangeable.
Through involvement with the outside world, patterns within the chakras tend to perpetuate themselves. Thus it is common to become trapped in any one of these patterns. This is called being 'stuck' in a chakra. All the human being is caught in a cycle that keeps us at a particular level. This could be a relationship, a job, a habit, but most often, simply a way of thinking. Being stuck can be a function of either overemphasis or underdevelopment of a chakra. The object of our work is to clean the chakras of old, no beneficial patterns so that their self-perpetuating actions have a positive influence, and the life energy can continue to expand to higher planes.
Chakras are associated with seven basic levels of consciousness. As experienced the opening of a chakra, it is also being experienced a deeper understanding of the state of consciousness associated with that level. These states can be summarized with the following keywords, though it must be remembered that these words are a gross oversimplification of the complexity of each level. The chapters that follow will explain each chakra more fully. Their associated elements are given because the elements are of such crucial significance to understanding the quality of the chakra.
: Located at the base of the spine, is associated with survival. Its element is earth.
: Located in the lower abdomen is associated with emotions and sexuality. Its element is water.
: Located in the solar plexus, is associated with personal power, will, and self-esteem. Its element is fire.
: Located over the sternum, is associated with love. Its element is air.
: Located in the throat, is associated with communication and creativity. Its element is sound.
: Located in the center of the forehead, is associated with clairvoyance, intuition and imagination. Its element is light.
: Located at the top of the head, is associated with knowledge, understanding and transcendent consciousness. Its element is thought.
Chakras can be open or dosed, excessive or deficient, or any of the various stages in between. These states may be basic aspects of someone's personality throughout most of their life, or something that changes from moment to moment in response to a situation. An ailing chakra may be unable to change its state easily, being stuck in either an open or a closed state. The chakra then needs healing by uncovering and removing whatever is blocking it. If a chakra is blocked in a closed state, then it is unable to generate or receive energy on that particular plane, such as love energy or communication. If a chakra is blocked in an open or excessive state, that means it tends to channel all energies through that particular plane, such as using all situations to further one's power or meet sexual needs, when other forms of behavior might be more appropriate. A closed chakra is a chronic avoidance of certain energies, while an excessively open chakra is a chronic fixation.
The quality and quantity of energy that one encounter on a particular plane has to do with how open or closed their respective chakra is, or how able they are to control this opening and closing at appropriate times. This governs the amount of activity and complexity that one can effectively handle at any given level.
For example, someone with a tightly closed third chakra i.e. personal power would be terrified of confrontation, while another who is more open, may thrive on it. Someone with an open second chakra i.e. sexuality may juggle many sexual partners, while someone who is closed may avoid even feeling sexual. Someone whose throat chakra is excessive may talk too much and not really listen, while another may be scarcely able to get their words out.
There are specific exercises that are designed to facilitate the opening, discharging, or strengthening of each center. But one must first be able to understand the system as a whole. Once the system is understood, individual levels can be approached in various ways. One can do the following course of action. He or she can focus attention on that area of the body, taking careful note of how it feels and behaves. Understand the philosophical working of that chakra and then apply it. Examine the interactions in one's day-to-day life that occur on the level corresponding to that chakra.
In this work, any of the correlations to a particular level can be used to access the chakra and change the energy within. As for example, anyone can understand what condition the second chakra or sexuality is in by first tuning in to that area of the body i.e. abdomen, genitals. It can be fluid, alive, painful, tense, or relaxed. The physical state gives many clues about the internal processes. The next step is to examine the meaning and function of that particular chakra. There are several questions that can be arisen like: What meaning can be ascribed to emotions and sexuality? What values they hold? What kind of programming can be received about those issues? The quality and quantity of emotional and sexual interaction in the life can be examined. Is it what someone wants it to be? Is it balanced between give and take? Is it an effortless flow of energy or a subject of fear and anxiety?
After knowing all these anyone can then work on improving the health of the second chakra by doing any of the following:
By doing physical exercises that pertain to relax, open, or stimulating the sacral area of the body. It can also be done by working with its associated images, colors, sounds, deities, or elements, such as its constant movement and flow of water or its cleansing properties. All of these can be done by drinking lots of water, visiting a river, going swimming all as a means to connect with its associated water element. Another one can be mentioned as working through the feelings and values about sexuality and emotions, and also bringing those new insights into the behavior with others.
Any or all of these processes may affect changes in the emotional or sexual nature. The body and mind are inseparably interrelated. Each governs and affects the other, and each is accessible through the other. The seven major chakras are also inseparably interrelated. A block in the functioning of one chakra may affect the activity of the one above or below it. As for example, someone may have trouble with the personal power i.e. third chakra because of a block in communication i.e. fifth chakra or vice versa. Or perhaps the real problem may lie in the heart or fourth chakra and only manifests in these other areas because it is buried so deeply. In examining the theoretical System as a whole and applying it to your personal chakra system as it occurs uniquely within oneself. This process will be explained in greater detail when each chakra can be explored in depth.
Chakras exist in many dimensions simultaneously, and thus provide points of entry into those dimensions. In the physical realm, they correspond to particular areas of the body and may be experienced as butterflies in the stomach, frogs in the throat, pounding in the heart, or the experience of an orgasm. Working with the physical associations allows using the Chakra System to diagnose and, in some cases, heal illnesses.
Chakras also correspond to various types of activity. Work is a first chakra activity, as it relates to survival. Music, relating to sound and communication, corresponds to the fifth chakra. Dreaming, as a function of inner sight, is a sixth chakra activity. In the dimension of time, chakras describe stages in personal and cultural life cycles. In childhood, the chakras open sequentially, starting with the first chakra. This first chakra is dominant during the first year of life, and moving upward toward the crown as all of us mature into adulthood. As adults, the human being may focus on certain chakras more than others at various stages. And these can be mentioned as creating prosperity, exploring sexuality, developing personal power, relationships, creativity, or spiritual exploration.
In terms of evolution, chakras are paradigms of consciousness that prevail in the world at a given time. Primitive humans existed primarily in the first chakra, where survival was the main focus of culture. Agriculture and ship travel marked the beginning of the second chakra era. At this millennial time, all are passing from the third chakra era, where the primary focus has been power and energy, to the fourth chakra realm of the heart, where the focus is on love and compassion. While none of these transitions are smooth or sudden, certain phases can be clearly seen over the course of history.
In the mind, chakras are patterns of consciousness i.e. belief systems through which the mankind experience and create the personal world. In this way, the chakras are programs that run our lives in real sense. Our lower chakra programs contain information about the body in terms of survival, sexuality, and action. The higher chakras bring all to more universal states of consciousness and work with our deeper belief systems about spirituality and meaning. Sometimes the human being gets locked into a program and it becomes our habitual way of interacting with the world around us. The man who sees every situation as a challenge to his power orients from his third chakra. The one who perpetually struggles with survival issues, such as health and money, has difficulty with chakra one. Someone who lives in his fantasies may be stuck in chakra six.
The chakras have many complexities as well. As metaphors for the manifestation of consciousness on various planes of activity, they are invaluable. Yet, as a complete System, they offer even more understanding to the energetic dynamics of a human being.