“Whether the symbol of the circle appears in a primitive sun worship or modern religion, in myths or in dreams, in the mandalas drawn by Tibetan monks, in the ground plan of cities, or in the spherical concepts of early astronomers, it always points to the single most vital aspect of life –its ultimate wholeness.”
One weekend in college, I met my mother in Orlando where she was participating in a conference for work. Our last night, we perused a series of shops and ended up in a bookstore where we both picked out a book. I found Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self by Anodea Judith and had to have it. At the time, I had not yet discovered yoga, but I had a feeling it would come in handy someday and believed there was a reason I was drawn to it. Now, here we are!
I strongly recommend reading the book if you are interested in the chakra system and would like to see it placed in the framework of Western thought, specifically psychology. I will be using it throughout the week for meditation practice; furthermore, most of the information I have accumulated for this post is a result of reading the wonderfully informative introduction again and again throughout the years. I also recommend working with someone who is trained in chakra meditation if you are interested in the intense energizing and cleansing benefits it has to offer. My meditation challenge is simply a way to give readers a taste of different meditation practices; I do not consider myself an expert or a trained meditation teacher.
The chakra system originates from an ancient Tantric tradition and is the basis of Kundalini yoga, a practice designed to raise body awareness and direct the flow of energy up from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Learning to balance the chakras, often called energy centers, is an invigorating practice and I am excited to explore it in this week’s challenge.
The chakra system has a tremendous effect on the physical, mental and spiritual bodies but they are not exactly tangible in the way our body is. Similar to feelings and experiences, they are significant, but not physical things in and of themselves. This does not decrease their importance, but rather exemplifies that there is not one path to healing. With this, we must study the chakras one by one in order to get an accurate idea of where our energy centers may be blocked, deficient, excessive, too open or too closed and for what purposes.
“The chakra system describes the energetic structure through which we organize our life force. By understanding this internal arrangement, we can understand our defenses and needs, and learn how to restore balance. The chakra system is every bit as valid as any psychological theory and I feel, far more versatile– one that is capable of spanning mind, body and spirit.” (Anodea Judith)
Chakras are energy patterns that are sufficiently developed or severely undeveloped, closed or too open, depending on various experiences as we move through life’s stages. To start, I have listed some details for each chakra, as laid out by Anodea Judith in her book. For meditation purposes, it is helpful to memorize the chakras so we can move seamlessly throughout the body and see where we feel tension, discomfort, or general dis-ease (physically, mentally, and emotionally). There are many in depth ways of working with the energy fields, but our meditation is going to focus around affirmations provided by Anodea Judith for each of the chakras.
When reviewing the characteristics below, see what sticks out to you, what you may relate to as something you see in yourself, or wish you saw more of. If you have trouble opening yourself up to love and treating yourself lovingly, perhaps you should hone in on the fourth chakra (heart). Or, if you have trouble communicating with others, or are fearful of speaking in front of people, you can put more focus on the fifth chakra. You can also chose more than one, and most likely will be drawn to two or three. Under the chakras you chose to focus on, pick an affirmation that you like best, and meditate on that affirmation. For myself, the fifth chakra is an area of focus and the affirmations I chose are I express myself with clear intent and my voice is necessary.
It is also important to keep in mind that opposing characteristics can fall as either a deficiency or excess in a chakra. For example, I like to focus on the fifth chakra because oftentimes I have difficulty expressing my feelings and have a fear of speaking to large groups of people. This is a deficiency in the fifth chakra (throat) that needs to be built up. It is interesting to note that someone who has a dominating voice, talks too much and has a hard time listening, is inherently dealing with an excess or overcompensation of the same chakra another person may have a deficiency in. Essentially, you can have two completely opposite traits (fear of speaking and talking to much) stemming from the same unbalanced chakra.
“Excessive and deficient chakras do, however, have some things in common. They are both a result of coping strategies designed to deal with stress, trauma, or unpleasant circumstances. They both restrict the flow of energy through the system, and block the complete expression of both the liberating and manifesting currents. Eventually, they both result in dysfunctional behavior and health problems.”
There are two ways to approach the meditation practice as you move through the chakras and hone in on areas you prefer to focus on. You can force the energy current downward by starting from the crown of the head and working your way down to the root chakra. This focus on grounding and is considered a current of manifestation. As we move from thought down to the earth we are manifesting visualizations and words into concrete form. A groundedness. This option is rooted in sensation and feeling and eventually moves us toward individuality and form. On the other had, you can force the energy current upward by starting from the root and working your way to the crown. This focus is on consciousness and is considered a current of liberation. In working your way upwards you are moving toward abstraction, freedom, expansion and universality.
“It is the basic premise in this work that a human being needs a balance between both of these currents in order to be whole. If we cannot liberate, we cannot change, grow, or expand. We become like automatons, unconsciously stuck in monotonous routines, our consciousness lulled to sleep from boredom. By contrast, without the current of manifestation we become aimless and empty – dreamers flying into vast realms but unable to make commitments or completions. When we combine both currents, we have the mating of cosmic polarities known as the hieros gamos, or sacred marriage. This union of opposites creates limitless possibilities.” (Anodea Judith).
The first chakra, the root/support chakra, is located at the base of the spine.
Function: survival and grounding
Basic rights: to be here and to have
Goals: stillness, stability, grounding, physical health, prosperity, trust.
Meditation: I AM.
Affirmations: It is safe for me to be here; I love my body and trust its wisdom; I am immersed in abundance.
The second chakra, the navel/sacral chakra, is located in the lower abdomen, genitals and womb.
Function: desire, sexuality, pleasure, procreation
Basic rights: to feel and to want
Goals: fluidity, pleasure, healthy sexuality, feeling
Meditation: I FEEL
Affirmations: I deserve pleasure in my life; I absorb information from my feelings; My sexuality is sacred; I move easily and effortlessly; Life is pleasurable.
The third chakra, solar plexus chakra, is located in the area above the navel.
Function: will and power
Basic rights: to act
Goals: transformation, vitality, spontaneity, strength of will, purpose, self esteem
Meditation: I DO
Affirmations: I honor the power within me; I can do whatever I will to do; The fire within me burns through all blocks and fears.
The fourth chakra, the heart chakra, is located in the center of the chest.
Function: love and relationships
Orientation: self-acceptance & acceptance of others
Basic rights: to love and be loved
Goals: balance, compassion, self-acceptance, good relationships
Meditation: I LOVE
Affirmations: I am worthy of love; I am loving to myself and others; I live in balance with others.
The fifth chakra, the throat chakra, is located in the throat.
Function: communication and creativity
Basic Rights: to speak and be heard
Goals: clear communication, creativity and resonance
Meditation: I SPEAK
Affirmations: I hear and speak the truth; I express myself with clear intent; Creativity flows in and through me; My voice is necessary.
The sixth chakra, the third eye chakra, is located in the center of the forehead above the eyebrows
Function: seeing, intuiting and imagination
Basic rights: to see
Goals: psychic perception, accurate interpretation, imagination and clear seeing
Meditation: I SEE
Affirmations: I see all things in clarity; I am open to the wisdom within; I can manifest my vision.
The seventh chakra, the crown chakra, is located at the crown of the head.
Function: understanding and awareness
Basic rights: to know
Goals: wisdom, knowledge, consciousness, spiritual connection.
Meditation: I UNDERSTAND
Affirmations: Divinity reside within me; I am open to new ideas; The world is my teacher; I am guided by inner wisdom.
I know this is a lot of information to take in, but if you are anything like me, you will find it fascinating. As I said previously, just focus on what speaks to you, what you feel drawn to. Perhaps you want all your meditations this week to focus around the heart chakra and thus, cultivating love for yourself and for others. Or, perhaps each day you want to focus on a single chakra and tuning into the purpose, goals and affirmations within it. This is what I will be doing. Either way, please share your experience with me!
** Featured Image taken from: http://earthdna.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/chakra-healing-meditation/