Friday, August 12, 2011

An overview of the chakras

When my teacher said we would be spending a day talking about chakras in our yoga teacher training, I anticipated that it was a topic I would feel somewhat skeptical about. I was just a little resistant to it before we began, because...well. Isn't this just some hippie hoo-ha? Chakra energy bodies don't show up on CAT scans, or in an autopsy. I didn't think they were "real."

But I was surprised at how much they resonated with me, after all.

The basic idea is that the body has 7 energy centers, or chakras, with the word "chakra" translating to "wheel," running in a line from our tailbones to the top of our heads along the spine. Each one is associated with an area of the body, a gland in the endocrine system, a color, and a more esoteric function that it represents.

Putting it very simply, they are:

1. Root - Red, Grounded-ness and security
2. Spleen - Orange, Emotions and desires
3. Stomach - Yellow, Personal power
4. Heart - Green, Love and compassion
5. Throat - Blue, Communication, speaking your truth while listening
6. Brow - Indigo, Intuition and creativity
7. Crown - Violet, Spirituality and higher self

(This chart is useful if you're interested in more info.)

I really like the concept of spinning energy, because really, we are made up of bundles of nerves and electrical activity in our bodies. Plus, everything seems to boil down to the concept of "balance" and "variety" for me. People are not simple creatures. We are complex beings with many interests and many parts of our personalities that, combined, make us who we are. And when one part of ourselves becomes too small or too large, it sort of throws us out of whack. We can't be ALL love and compassion, because otherwise we may not also be creating or speaking our own truths, or tapping into our spiritual selves. We can't be ALL spiritual, because otherwise we would be floating off in la-la land and forgetting to keep our feet grounded in the real world.

I also like that the chakras are usually associated with an affirmation, or a mantra. For example, for the root chakra, "I am safe and secure." This is another place where elephants come in for me! The elephant is associated with the root chakra typically, because it is such a heavy and grounded animal. It can be a good one for people like me to meditate on, because it can be so easy for my mind to spin out of control with anxious feelings. Thinking, I am as firmly grounded as an elephant, I am here, I am present, I am securely tethered to the earth - this can help calm down my tendency to worry about the future.

To reference Eat, Pray, Love again, the author mentions that Saint Teresa of Avila, a catholic in the 1500's, wrote of "union with god as a physical ascension of light through seven inner mansions of being." For some reason, the fact that other people, in other places, of other religions, also wrote about the concept of 7 places in the body that lead to an enlightenment of some kind, solidifies it for me. We can all have our own interpretation, our own metaphors, but there is something there. I believe there is, anyway.

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