HJ: It has been my experience that fundamental understanding of the chakras is one of the most powerful concepts we can have in our arsenal throughout our spiritual journey. Having an awareness of these powerful energy centers and their function begins the process of learning to work with them at further and further levels of subtlety. The skill of being able to identify blockages in your own chakras is priceless and can save much unnecessary pain, struggle and hardship on the spiritual path. Energetic blockages at the chakras cause imbalances in our energy fields and hence thoughts, moods, health and actions. Furthermore, they are extremely common. Knowing how to identify and work through these is a truly powerful tool. This all begins with a fundamental understanding of what they do, what they effect and how they operate. One can then begin to connect the dots and understand many facets and aspects of their existence from health to spirituality and more.
How does one work with the chakras? I have found the following methods to be very powerful: Yoga (specifically Kriya and Kundalini yoga, although Hatha Yoga is powerful too), meditation (especially when combined with visualization), breath work (pranayama), working with crystals and gemstones, chiropractic adjustments, mantras (very, very powerful), sound healing/healing music, and crystal/tibetan bowls. There are of course more ways than this to work with the Chakras, but that list should give anyone interested in exploring and opening their chakras a solid launching point.
One caveat thought — working with the chakras is intense and can release incredible amounts of stored energies and repressed memories. It is best to only undertake practices to open and clear chakras when one is prepared mentally, spiritually and physically to deal with the powerful energies that will be released. They can be disruptive if one does not have discipline or a guide. For that reason, I suggest one of the best books on the topic I have ever come accross:
Kundalini Tantra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati — Truly a fascinating and enlightening read.
The Seven Human Energy Chakras
According to the tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, the human body has seven “force centers" or energy focal points that are used for the reception and transmission of energies.
These are known as chakras.
It is typical for chakras to be depicted as either flower-like or wheel-like centers for energy which produce energy for various aspects of our lives. These seven energy centers are rooted along the spine starting from the base of the spine and extending to the top of the forehead.
When tapped into through meditation, these energy channels can be used to benefit your life in many different ways.
There are various ways to activate and channel energy through these chakras through meditation. Each chakra is associated with a certain color from the rainbow.
Starting from the spine up, the colors of the rainbow go in order for each energy center. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet all in order from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Below is a list and explanation of each chakra and where they are located in your body.
I find that once you are able to visualize color in your meditation and realize where each energy center is in your body, you can begin to cleanse and activate these chakras and see a great improvement in your life.
Here is a list and explanation of each chakra:
Sahasrara: The Crown Chakra
Sahasrara, which means 1000 petalled lotus, is generally considered to be the chakra of pure consciousness, within which there is neither object nor subject. When the female kundalini Shakti energy rises to this point, it unites with the male Shiva energy, and a state of liberating samadhi is attained. Symbolized by a lotus with one thousand multi-coloured petals, it is located either at the crown of the head, or above the crown of the head. Sahasrara is represented by the colour white and it involves such issues as inner wisdom and the death of the body. Its role may be envisioned somewhat similarly to that of the pituitary gland, which secretes hormones to communicate to the rest of the endocrine system and also connects to the central nervous system via the hypothalamus. According to author Gary Osborn, the thalamus is thought to have a key role in the physical basis of consciousness and is the ‘Bridal Chamber’ mentioned in the Gnostic scriptures. Sahasrara’s inner aspect deals with the release of karma, physical action with meditation, mental action with universal consciousness and unity, and emotional action with “beingness".
In Tibetan buddhism, the point at the crown of the head is represented by a white circle, with 32 downward pointing petals. It is of primary importance in the performance ofphowa, or consciousness projection after death, in order to obtain rebirth in a Pure Land. Within this chakra is contained the White drop, or Bodhicitta, which is the essence of masculine energy.
Ajna: The Brow Chakra
Ajna is symbolised by a lotus with two petals, and corresponds to the colors violet, indigo or deep blue. It is at this point that the 2 side nadis Ida and Pingala are said to terminate and merge with the central channel Sushumna, signifying the end of duality. The seed syllable for this chakra is the syllable OM, and the presiding deity isArdhanarishvara, who is a half male, half female Shiva/Shakti. The Shakti goddess of Ajna is called Hakini. Ajna (along with Bindu), is known as the third eye chakra and is linked to the pineal gland which may inform a model of its envisioning. The pineal gland is a light sensitive gland that produces the hormone melatonin which regulates sleep and waking up. Ajna’s key issues involve balancing the higher & lower selves and trusting inner guidance. Ajna’s inner aspect relates to the access of intuition. Mentally, Ajna deals with visual consciousness. Emotionally, Ajna deals with clarity on an intuitive level. (Note: some opine that the pineal and pituitary glands should be exchanged in their relationship to the Crown and Brow chakras, based on the description in Arthur Avalon’s book on kundalini calledSerpent Power or empirical research.)
In Tibetan Buddhism, this point is actually the end of the central channel, since the central channel rises up from the sexual organ to the crown of the head, and then curves over the head and down to the third eye. While the central channel finishes here, the two side channels continue down to the 2 nostrils.
Vishuddha: The Throat Chakra
|Vishuddha (also Vishuddhi) is depicted as a silver crescent within a white circle, with 16 light or pale blue, or turquoise petals. The seed mantra is Ham, and the residing deity is Panchavaktra shiva, with 5 heads and 4 arms, and the Shakti is Shakini. Vishuddha may be understood as relating to communication and growth through expression. This chakra is paralleled to the thyroid, a gland that is also in the throat and which produces thyroid hormone, responsible for growth and maturation. Physically, Vishuddha governs communication, emotionally it governs independence, mentally it governs fluent thought, and spiritually, it governs a sense of security.In Tibetan buddhism, this chakra is red, with 16 upward pointing petals. It plays an important role in Dream Yoga, the art oflucid dreaming.|
Anahata: The Heart Chakra
Anahata, or Anahata-puri, or padma-sundara is symbolised by a circular flower with twelve green petals. (See also heartmind.) Within it is a yantra of two intersecting triangles, forming a hexagram, symbolising a union of the male and female. The seed mantra is Yam, the presiding deity is Ishana Rudra Shiva, and the Shakti is Kakini. Anahata is related to the thymus,located in the chest. The thymus is an element of the immune system as well as being part of the endocrine system. It is the site of maturation of the T cells responsible for fending off disease and may be adversely affected by stress. Anahata is related to the colours green or pink. Key issues involving Anahata involve complex emotions, compassion, tenderness, unconditional love, equilibrium, rejection and well-being. Physically Anahata governs circulation, emotionally it governs unconditional love for the self and others, mentally it governs passion, and spiritually it governs devotion.
In Tibetan Buddhism, this centre is extremely important, as being the home of the indestructible red/white drop, which carries our consciousness to our next lives. It is described as being white, circular, with eight downward pointing petals, and the seed syllable Hum inside. During mantra recitation in the lower tantras, a flame is imagined inside of the heart, from which the mantra rings out. Within the higher tantras, this chakra is very important for realising the Clear Light.
Manipura: The Solar Plexus Chakra
Manipura or manipuraka is symbolised by a downward pointing triangle with ten petals. The seed syllable is Ram, and the presiding deity is Braddha Rudra, with Lakini as the Shakti. Manipura is related to the metabolic and digestive systems. Manipura is believed to correspond to Islets of Langerhans, which are groups of cells in the pancreas, as well as the outer adrenal glands and the adrenal cortex. These play a valuable role in digestion, the conversion of food matter into energy for the body. The colour that corresponds to Manipura is yellow. Key issues governed by Manipura are issues of personal power, fear, anxiety, opinion-formation, introversion, and transition from simple or base emotions to complex. Physically, Manipura governs digestion, mentally it governs personal power, emotionally it governs expansiveness, and spiritually, all matters of growth.
In Tibetan buddhism, this wheel is represented as a triangle with 64 upward pointing petals. It is the home of the Red drop, or red bodhicitta, which is the essence of feminine energy (as opposed to the Shakta system, where the kundalini energy resides in Muladhara). It contains the seed syllable short-Ah, which is of primary importance in the Tummo inner fire meditation, which is the system by which the energy of the red drop is raised to the white drop in the crown.
Swadhisthana: The Sacral Chakra
Swadhisthana, Svadisthana or adhishthana is symbolized by a white lotus within which is a crescent moon, with six vermillion, or orange petals. The seed mantra is Vam, and the presiding deity is Bramha, with the Shakti being Rakini ( or Chakini ). The animal associated is the crocodile of Varuna. The Sacral Chakra is located in thesacrum (hence the name) and is considered to correspond to the testes or the ovaries that produce the various sex hormones involved in the reproductive cycle. Swadisthana is also considered to be related to, more generally, the genitourinary system and the adrenals. The key issues involving Swadisthana are relationships, violence, addictions, basic emotional needs, and pleasure. Physically, Swadisthana governs reproduction, mentally it governs creativity, emotionally it governs joy, and spiritually it governs enthusiasm.
In Tibetan buddhism, this is known as the Secret Place wheel. Below this point the Shakta tantra and Vajrayana systems diverge somewhat.
Muladhara: The Base Chakra
Muladhara or root chakra is represented as a yellow square, with 4 red petals. The seed syllable is Lam, the deity is Ganesh, and the Shakti is Dakini. The associated animal is the elephant Ganesha. This chakra is where the 3 channels are merged, then separate and begin their upward movement. Inside of this chakra is wrapped up the goddesskundalini three times around a black lingam. It is the seat of the red bindu, the female drop (which in Tibetan vajrayana is located at the navel chakra). Muladhara is related to instinct, security, survival and also to basic human potentiality. This center is located in the perineum, which is the region between the genital and the anus. Although no endocrine organ is placed here, it is said to relate to the gonads and the adrenal medulla, responsible for the fight-or-flight response when survival is under threat. There is a muscle located in this region that controls ejaculation in the sexual act of the human male. A parallel is charted between the sperm cell and the ovum where the genetic code lies coiled and the kundalini. Muladhara is symbolized by a lotus with four petals and the colour red. Key issues involve sexuality, lust and obsession. Physically, Muladhara governs sexuality, mentally it governs stability, emotionally it governs sensuality, and spiritually it governs a sense of security.
There is no chakra that exists in this position within Tibetan buddhism. Instead, below the secret place wheel, there are 2 other wheels, the jewel wheel, which is located in the middle of the sex organ, and the wheel located at the tip of the sex organ. These wheels are extremely important for the generation of great bliss, and are involved with tantric consort practices.