Continuing my study of “Visceral Awareness” (see previous entries), I’m learning that I’m all about that chakra. Literally.
Something to which I gave scant regard, until I got into my 40s, was how little attention I paid to the physical manifestations of any emotions I was experiencing. Like most of western culture, I was usually “caught up in my head,” allowing thoughts to churn like a Wall Street stock broker on acid, my attention inundated by events of the past and potential future outcomes.
In recent years I “stumbled” (although they’ve always been a part of me) across the “seven chakras.” The Sanskrit word “chakra” can literally be translated as “wheel” or “disk,” and in the context of yoga practice there are said to be seven of these “swirling wheels of energy (called “prana”) where matter and consciousness meet” throughout our bodies. According to The Chopra Center (see this article):
“These swirling wheels of energy correspond to massive nerve centers in the body. Each of the seven main chakras contains bundles of nerves and major organs as well as our psychological, emotional, and spiritual states of being. Since everything is moving, it’s essential that our seven main chakras stay open, aligned, and fluid.”
Say what? Hang with me. One of the ways our chakras can “stay open” is through focused awareness. The Chopra article continues, “Since mind, body, soul, and spirit are intimately connected, awareness of an imbalance in one area will help bring the others back into balance. Take for example, a wife, who has recently lost her husband. She develops acute bronchitis, which remains in the chest, and then gets chest pains each time she coughs. The whole heart chakra is affected in this case. If she realizes the connection between the loss and the bronchitis, healing will occur much faster if she honors the grieving process and treats that as well as the physical ailment.”
These are the physical locations of our chakras, and the emotions or needs that tend to manifest in each one:
* Root Chakra — Base of spine in tail bone area (feeling grounded, survival issues)
* Sacral Chakra — Lower abdomen, about two inches below the navel and two inches inward (sexuality, pleasure, abundance, well-being)
* Solar Plexus Chakra — Upper abdomen in the stomach area (self-confidence and self-worth)
* Heart Chakra — Center of chest just above the heart (love, joy, inner peace)
* Throat Chakra — Throat (expressing feelings and truth)
* Third Eye Chakra — Forehead between the eyes (intuition, imagination, wisdom, decision-making)
* Crown Chakra — Very top of the head (spirituality, bliss, sense of inner and outer beauty)
A practice I find helpful is to meditate upon these seven locations, focusing my attention on one at a time. I allow my consciousness to “flood” the location, feeling it as deeply as possible. This has been especially helpful to me when it comes to alleviating lower back pain (Root Chakra focus) and calming myself during times of stress (Heart Chakra). The best yoga teachers help students to make connections between the various movements and poses of the body, and the energy centers they are engaging while doing so.
I have a few “reminders” in my house that prompt me to regularly focus on my chakras. One is a simple visual print-out of the body and the seven energy centers, which I keep front and center on my refrigerator. I also have two identical chakra “sun-catcher” crystals, which I’ve hung at the top of each of my two eastward- facing large windows. At a certain time of the morning, the sunlight hits the crystal in my upstairs studio at just the right angle, and I see hundreds of little colors dancing throughout the sacred space where I work and write. Each color corresponds to a chakra. This visual majesty is an inspiring, peaceful reminder that my truest essence is conscious, divine energy, just like all living things.
Are you still reading this? Pause now and take note of any physical ailments you’re feeling in your body. Scroll back up this blog to see the emotion or need that is connected to this particular location in your body, and then reflect on what’s been happening in your life that might indicate a mind-body-spirit connection. Picture divine energy flowing to that spot where you have discomfort or pain. Do this regularly for a few days, and see if you notice any relief. It’s not a one-shot deal; like any other mindfulness activity, it requires diligent practice to move toward mastery.
I end this blog entry the same way as the previous ones: Let’s keep doing this practice together, even if we’re not able to discuss it or observe each other. We’ve got this! (Well, we might not have it yet, but with perseverance and mutual support, we shall progress.)