Making sense of the chakra system in layman's terms.
In my journey to take my power back, I was trying everything: reiki, theta healing, reading psychology, researchers like Brene Brown (I love her work), social cognitive neuro sciences, human behavior via my PhD enrollment, mass coaching, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), Quantum Healing, spirituality, mindfulness (MBSR), enneagram… I started collecting knowledge. I knew that the mind, body and soul are connected and impact each other in a very profound way, but didn’t connect the silos of my learning. This left me feeling like I still hadn’t found that universal key that would unlock this beautiful lock of human bliss. It wasn’t till I did my Yoga teacher training and revisited ‘Chakras’ through the lense of yoga that suddenly it all fell into place.
My focus has always been about the mind, body and soul, hence the DesignYou Model. As you can see from my various topics of knowledge gathering, I did dig into many different modalities. To me they all led me, in their own way, to the same understanding, be it scientific (social cognitive neuroscience, behavioral sciences), academic and development tools (Enneagram) or alternative holistic (Reiki, meditation, and yoga ) understanding. The Chakra system wraps it all up very nicely.
Chakras provide the architecture for yoga. Yoga being the union of mind, body and soul. Though primarily known for the asanas (postures) Yoga is a set of principles, beliefs and practices for hitching matter to spirit, body to mind and personal to universal. Like the biology we have studied describes the architecture of the body through the skeletal, muscular and the nervous system, the chakras define the architecture of the soul through subtle energy centers called the chakras. Currently identified there are 114 chakras and 72000 Nadhis (the energy carrying channels) in the human body. Of these 114, 7 are deemed to be the key centers found along our spine in an energy channel called the sushumna. The sushumna can be equated to a mega highway carrying the prana (the life force) and distributing it through the Nadis.
The goal of the chakra system is WHOLENESS and this is what really spoke to me. We are all born whole and complete, fearless, loved and full of curiosity, till life happens! Through the balancing of our Chakras we draw up a map for our liberation. It simultaneously provides us with a template for transformation and a profound formula for wholeness.
So what are chakras really? The best way to understand chakras is through the direct experience of your prana (subtle energy). Our body handles prana within the cells, our nadis and chakras. First I would like you to experience the energy tangibly – your hand chakras. I use this process to open the energy flow when I am doing a Reiki session.
Opening of your hand chakras
Step 1. Extend your arms out in front of you in a full stretch with your palms open and fingers stretched too. One facing up and the other palm facing down.
Step 2. Keep the stretch in the arm open and close your palm fully, many times (till you are tired). See that you don’t compromise quality for quantity, please see that you stretch your palms and fingers fully and close your fists fully too.
Step 3. Separate your arms shoulder width and relax your palms. Now slowly bring them towards each other yet keeping them about 8 – 10 inches apart both palms open and facing each other.
Step 4. Breathe consciously into your palms and you may experience the subtle field of energy the size of a football between your hands. If you tune in closely and pulse your palms you may also be able to grow this energy ball to the size of a Halloween pumpkin.
I feel a vibration on my palms too 🙂
To me this exercise reflects the practice of yoga and life. Like the hand chakras were activated through the process of expansion and contraction, the asanas help expand and contract our muscular system, our organs like the lungs and heart do it automatically and we expand and contract in our minds through our experiences. With every expansion and contraction we impact our energy flow (the chakra system).
Anodea Judith, a chakra Guru PhD, equates the chakras to chambers of a house for easy understanding. I enjoyed the simplicity of her explanation and am quoting her below.
“Let’s look at the parallel between the chakras in your body and the chambers in your home. Most likely your home has a kitchen – where you receive, process and deliver food. You sleep in your bedroom, shower in the bathroom. When guests come to visit you probably entertain in your living room which is designed for that experience.
Each chamber is optimally set up for receiving, assimilating and transmitting a particular kind of energy. You want each chamber to have what it needs to perform that function: a refrigerator, stove and countertop in the kitchen, places to sit in the living room, a soft place to sleep in the bedroom. You also want each chamber to be clean to perform its function – not too big or small to be comfortable. You want each chamber to have a doorway with light from both outside (through windows) and inside (for when it’s dark), as well as good air circulation. You can definitely have a chamber that isn’t well equipped with these things, but you wouldn’t want to spend much time there.
In the same way your chakras need necessary internal structures to handle the type of energy that is related to their function. For example, to handle earth energy in the first chakra, you need to be able to eat, digest and eliminate food. To have healthy relationships (4th chakra) you need good self esteem, some basic relationship skills and an open heart. The second chakra needs to be able to receive, accept and express sexual and emotional energy. The third chakra handles power, the fifth chakra processes communication, the sixth receives intuition and turns it into insight and the seventh chakra represents consciousness itself.
Each Chakra needs to be able to receive energy from outside, to assimilate that energy into the mind and body complex and to express or discharge the energy. This means that each chakra has a kind of a gateway where the energy enters and leaves the chamber, as well as the core center where the energy is assimilated and distributed through the body.”
Extending this analogy further, if the chamber in question is blocked, cluttered or doesn’t have the required equipment, the chamber cannot function effectively. Sometimes we accumulate too many things which inhibits the outcome of that chamber. The same happens with our chakras. For our chakras and us to function properly they need to be able to receive, assimilate and express. An ineffective function of the chakra can lead to excess or deficiency of energy in the chakras.
And here’s the part that I love - modern and ancient science coming together.
If our body was to receive more food than we can process, we put on weight – equally our energy becomes dense and stagnant because we haven’t been able to process the input. So we can have excessive energy in chakras or depleted energy in our chakras.
An excessive chakra results from our defense mechanism (psychiatry input) that is trying to compensate for something that we didn’t get enough of, this could be safety, pleasure, attention, power or love. Our defense mechanism is trying to gain a sense of fulfillment in that one (or more areas) that it experienced lack of wholeness.
Similarly a chakra can be depleted if there is excessive expression or reduced inflow (chakra blockage). Normally a depleted chakra is a result of the avoidance strategy – avoiding something because we may not have the tools to deal with it, or even as simple as like it. Emotional abuse is the classic case of the third chakra depletion. We avoid taking our power and feel like a victim. We can avoid emotions by numbing them out.
So in short a chakra imbalance can mean excessive or depleted chakra based on how we have reacted to a situation in our lives. It's important to note that one chakra being out of balance impacts all other chakras. For example, if you feel unstable or ungrounded you don’t feel powerful, lack of power affects your power of expression, and as neuro science has discovered that lack of expression can take upto 70% of your cognitive capacity. So now your lack of a balanced chakra shows up in your job with poor decision making, and or relationships, or it could even show up as a medical ailment like stress related diseases.
We are a product of what we take in and what we send out. Through all our experiences, both positive and negative our brain and our body developed coping mechanisms to protect us and keep us alive in a very rudimentary way. As a result we would have leaned heavily on some traits and closed some off. We moved towards or away from things, we either compensated or avoided or did both. What's important to note about this is the experience first happened in our energy body, then in the structures and tissues of our physical body and then in our behaviors which eventually became a self-fulfilling prophecy anchored in our systems as limiting beliefs triggered by a fight, flight or comply response.
What's next now that you have this info?
I hope the reading would have stimulated some thoughts and ideas or at least intrigued you into considering the state of your chakra system. For those who want to take their power back or are struggling with sustaining the process of taking their power back, look into the chakra system. Or wait for the next few blogs where I will address each chakra and what you can do to balance them.