The origin of the Chakras began thousands of years ago, when they were first mentioned in the Vedas – the ancient Hindu texts of knowledge. Today, with the incredible popularity of yoga and wide-spread interest in alternative healing, they have come into the awareness of the contemporary main-stream culture.
But the Chakras are still widely misunderstood. They are seen as mystical, eastern, yogic, esoteric. And though it’s now common in our contemporary parlance to hear things like, ‘I think my chakras aren’t balanced’ or ‘open your heart chakra’, there is still little understanding of what these kinds of phrases mean.
So, it’s my hope that I can help demystify and unpack the chakras in a more practical and accessible way. Because whether you know it or not, your chakras are functioning in your life right now. Moreover, they are your personal doorways to your spiritual growth and physical health.
The seven chakras are energetic disks of energy (chakra in Sanskrit means wheel) and information that are housed along the spine. While they are inside the body, they also connect, assimilate and contribute to the energetic information contained in the human energy field, or aura. This field of personal energy surrounds and pervades the physical body, and it is directly affected by the external environment around us.
In addition, the chakras are located near (and in relationship with) the major glands of the endocrine system. The endocrine system regulates and oversees all the biological processes of the body; this system is also responsible for the physiological response to the energetic information it receives through the chakras.
It is widely believed in holistic and Eastern medicine that all physical dysfunction begins first as energetic and/or emotional imbalance. The chakras are the ‘portals’ through which energetic disturbance moves into the tissues of the body.
The chakras are the ‘organs’ of our energetic anatomy, and the information contained in them makes up all of who we are – our beliefs, habits, emotional life, fears, sexuality, survival instincts, familial connections, relationship to spirit etc.
When the chakras are open, clear and spinning, they are functioning optimally and unconsciously. They work naturally, in much the same way that the lungs, heart, stomach, kidneys, eyes, brain etc. effortlessly carry out their respective functions.
But when there is imbalance or blockage in one or more of the chakras, we can lose vital aspects of ourselves. This contributes to psychological impairment and/or physiological problems that can undermine our growth.
QUALITIES OF INDIVIDUAL CHAKRAS
The above diagram shows the seven major chakras and their location in the body. Each chakra contains qualities, attributes and information that I will summarize as follows. Also included in the following are explainations of how a chakra might become compromised.
I will start from the seventh chakra at the crown of the head, and work down the body to the first at the base of the spine.
7TH CHAKRA (crown of the head) – INSPIRATION
This chakra is where we receive inspiration from our ‘higher self’, or from Spirit. It is the seventh chakra that receives guidance from ‘above’ and brings it into our conscious awareness. This guidance is the ‘voice’ that urges us to start a new exercise program, write a book, move to another city, change careers, leave a relationship etc.
The seventh chakra becomes blocked when we don’t listen to inspiration, when are disconnected from a ‘higher power’, or when we have beliefs about ourselves and the world that make the guidance we are being given impossible, inconvenient, or frightening.
6TH CHAKRA (center of head) – THINKING AND VISUALIZATION
This chakra houses our ability to think, visualize, and intuit.
The sixth chakra becomes impaired when we don’t allow ourselves to take in new ideas, when we don’t trust our intuition and intellect. And, when we have beliefs about ourselves and the world that would make it futile to visualize something new for ourselves.
5TH CHAKRA (throat) – COMMUNICATION AND WILL
This chakra houses how we communicate and express ourselves. It is also the seat of our personal will.
Fifth chakra dysfunction is caused by a compromised ability to speak and communicate our personal truth. When we have beliefs about ourselves and the world that cause us to limit our expression, or if we lack the will to support our true integrity, this chakra can become impaired.
Also, when there is incongruency between the head and the heart, the fifth chakra (located between these two points) will often be compromised. This almost always manifests as an addiction. Addiction lives in the fifth chakra.
4TH CHAKRA (center of chest) – LOVE AND RELATIONSHIP
This chakra is the place of love, compassion, empathy and relationship.
A closed or compromised fourth chakra occurs when we ‘close our hearts’. Most often this has to do with fear and control. We fear the free intercourse with the world and ourselves in it. We close the fourth chakra as a way to protect ourselves from hurt, rejection, abandonment, and the inherent instability of life.
3RD CHAKRA (solar plexus) – SENSE OF SELF
This chakra contains our personal power, self esteem, ego, persona; who we think we are in the world.
When we fail to fully individuate, when we have mistaken beliefs about our true and authentic nature, when we lack the esteem for ourselves that leads to personal empowerment and clarity of self, the third chakra will fail to function at optimally.
2ND CHAKRA (two inches below the navel) – SEXUALITY, CREATION AND EMOTION
This chakra is where we feel most deeply. It is the seat of our sexuality and our impulse to create. It is through deep emotion and physical sensation that we make manifest whatever we choose to bring forth into the world. It is also the place where we have the most access to the deep knowing and wisdom of the body (listening to your gut).
Sexual wounding and sexual disconnection, fear of being in one’s body, and stifling feelings can all cause imbalances in the second chakra.
1ST CHAKRA (base of spine/perenium) – SURVIVAL NEEDS, EARTH CONNECTION
This chakra contains what we need to continue as a species – our most basic survival needs – food, shelter, clothing; and the fight and flight response
Homelessness, un-groundedness, disconnection from family, poverty, and severe trauma can all be causes for imbalance in the first chakra.
MANIFESTATION THROUGH THE CHAKRAS
It is important to note that the chakras, despite their individual qualities and characteristics, work together as an entire integrated system. And if even one is compromised, it can effect the integrity of the whole.
One of the best ways to illustrate this is by looking at the chakras as a pathway toward the manifestion of a singular goal.
Let’s explore the goal of writing a book and run it through the chakras system:
7TH CHAKRA (crown of the head) – INSPIRATION. You have beeninspired to write a book. You get a message, a feeling, an idea, from Higher Self, from Spirit, that you should write a book.
6TH CHAKRA (center of head) – THINKING AND VISUALIZATION. Youthink about the book. You visualize what it would be about, and what it would look like. Who would read it? How would you organize it? Could you get it published? Is this book worth the energy and time it would take to create it?
5TH CHAKRA (throat) – COMMUNICATION AND WILL. You begin to talkabout the book, and figure out how to find your voice in this book. How would you communicate your ideas? Would the language be formal or colloquial? Do you have the will to commit to the long hours of creating this book? How would you have to organize your life in order to make writing this book a priority?
4TH CHAKRA (center of chest) – LOVE AND RELATIONSHIP. You pour your heart into the book. You give it your love. You develop arelationship with what you are creating and you cultivate relationshipswith others (publishers, literary agents) that will help and support this endeavor.
3RD CHAKRA (solar plexus) – SENSE OF SELF. You identify yourself as a writer. It has become a way in which you think of yourself; a part of your identity. I am a writer.
2ND CHAKRA (two inches below the navel) – SEXUALITY, CREATION AND EMOTION. You feel what it’s like to write the book, and you have all the emotions associated with doing so. You are in the thick of thecreative process. You feel the fatigue of hours in front of the computer, the frustration of accidentally deleted work, the excitement of a chapter that you hadn’t previously planned.
1ST CHAKRA (base of spine/perenium) – SURVIVAL NEEDS, EARTH CONNECTION. You’re book is published and available on amazon.com. You are paid money for your book which provides you with food, clothing and shelter. Your book has entered the world.
As you can see in the example above, it is the negative/limiting beliefs that we hold (I’ll never be a writer, I am not intelligent enough to be a writer, I always fail at everything, I don’t have the will-power to write, I am afraid I will fail, I don’t have a unique voice, I can’t afford to take the time) that keep the chakras from being open, clear pathways for manifestation.
Further, if there is an energetic or physical constriction in the area of a chakra or the chakra itself, we may have less access to the vital contribtion that a certain chakra contributes to the process of manifeastion.