the chakra system describes the architecture of the soul. And just like we may study the architecture of the body, the bones and the muscles and the ligaments. But what is the architecture of the soul that lives inside? It also has a structure. It has a pattern. It has a way of relating from the inside to the outside world through seven sacred elements: earth, water, fire, air, sound, light and consciousness. And these elements exist within us and they exist around us. We step on the earth, we drink water, we are warmed by the fire, we breathe the air, we communicate through sound, we see through light and we are in a field of consciousness.
And so as we align ourselves with the sacred architecture of the soul we simultaneously align with the other world. And we find as we clean up this area at home that things change in our life. Things become more aligned. They become easier. Relationships become easier. Communication becomes easier. And a vital energy inside begins to awaken and bring a sense of well-being and presence.
So let’s begin with examining just what is a chakra. First of all, it’s a word from India, from the language of ancient India called Sanskrit that means wheel or disc. And in some ways, although I don’t think the ancients had this mind when they gave it that name it is like information on a disc that you would install on your computer. And a way to look at this is to consider that your body is your hardware. Some people have male hardware, some people have female. We can be tall, we can be short, we can be wide, we can be thin. But this is our hardware. It’s the physical body. And onto your hardware throughout your whole life you have installed a lot of software. That includes your memories, your thoughts, your beliefs, the things you’ve been trained to do, the things you’ve studied. All of that is like your software, which is installed onto your hardware.
But what allows the hardware and the software to connect is the life force energy just as the electricity in a computer is what allows the hardware and the software to connect. And if your cell phone battery were to go dead it wouldn’t matter how much you have stored on there or whether you bought the latest model, it needs that electricity going through it to connect. And in the same way our programming tells our life force where to go in the body and where not to go. It might tell you, “oh, it’s better to be quiet.” And so your programming tells you to shut down the area of your throat chakra. Or it’s not safe to really open your heart and love and so your programming is actually blocking the energy from coming into your heart.
And so if we look at the life force energy as what the chakra’s handle then we can begin with a working definition. My definition is that chakra’s or a chakra is an organizing center, just like an office is an organizing center. It’s a place of organization. So a chakra is
an organizing center for the reception of life energy. For the assimilation of life energy like how do I take it in and distribute it through my body and mind and for the expression of life energy. So centers of organization for the reception, the assimilation and the expression of life energy. And so in that way, chakras are portals between the inner world and the outer world. And if I am going to receive from the outer world I want that portal to be open so that I can receive. That I can also take that in and assimilate it into my being in the same way that you might be taking these words in right now and assimilating them into what does this mean to you? And then, of course, we express, we express our love. I’m expressing through my throat chakra right now.
And so each and every chakra needs to be able to handle the energy on its particular level. And as we mentioned the sacred elements: earth, water, fire, air, sound, light and consciousness that we need to be able to take in earth, for example, which we take in through our food. We assimilate it, we digest it and turn it into calories and vitamins and minerals and we express it through walking around and doing activities and burning up the energy of the calories that we’ve eaten. And so that’s just one example. We also receive emotionally and we process those emotions on the inside and we express our emotions and we receive energy from the things we do, from the environment, and we assimilate that and we express energy and we receive love and express it and receive communication, take it in and express it. We receive through our eyes and see. And we receive through teachings and understandings and great wisdom and through learning and through our thoughts and consciousness. And then we might express those thoughts, as well.
So each of the chakras could almost be thought of like a chamber in the temple of the body. And just like a chamber in your home there’s a kitchen. That’s where you bring in your food. And the living room is where you entertain your friends. That each of these chambers is designed to handle a specific type of energy. And so just like you would want your kitchen to have cupboards and a refrigerator and a counter so that it’s an appropriate place to bring food in and prepare it, each of the chakras needs to be able to appropriately handle that life force energy that comes in from the outside and goes from the inside out.
And so in this system we will be talking about seven basic energy centers or chakras. And there are many different systems and many different people that give different numbers for the chakras. Even the ancient texts, which come from the tantric period of yoga philosophy, tantra means a weaving together of polarities. Even they have some different numbers. But the most common and the most elegant system is a system of seven. And at those seven centers are arranged in a vertical column of energy that is your personal connection between heaven and earth. And it’s often thought of as the rainbow bridge, this column of chakras because each one of the chakras vibrates at a different frequency and so it was correlated to sounds and colors. And if we open this channel between heaven and earth then we are connecting the basic polarities of above and below, of mind and body, of spirit and matter, of inside and outside as well. So the tantric system of the chakras is an integrative system. It allows us to integrate these polarities for our wholeness.
Now, it’s said in many mythologies that the rainbow bridge, which connects heaven to earth will break down as doomsday approaches meaning that heaven and earth will no longer be in connection. So it’s been my personal journey in my lifetime to make a commitment to restore the rainbow bridge by teaching the chakras to everyone so that we find this within our very self. And perhaps we can avert doomsday by connecting our physical body and our emotions and our power into the higher frequencies of spirit and wisdom and truth and thereby evolve ourselves and evolve our planet.
So when we talk about this vertical column of energy you might imagine that this connection between heaven and earth, well, we can bring energy up from the bottom to the top and we can bring energy from the top to the bottom. It’s like two-way traffic going across a bridge. And so when we move from the bottom to the top, which is the way most people have come to look at the chakra system that we move from the fixed form of earth to a little bit more fluid form of water to fire, which is radiant and yet doesn’t have any hard edges to air, which is invisible and fills the room and gives you every breath to sound, which can travel a distance to light, which we can see from a distant galaxy to
consciousness that is in some ways everywhere at once and completely immaterial. And these elements as you move up become freer and more expansive with each step.
And so as we move up the chakras we call this the current of liberation. We get liberated from our fixed forms. We move upward toward consciousness, toward awakening, toward a wider perspective. You can see farther than you can send sound and you can hear sound farther than you can breathe and so as you come down the chakras from the top you begin in your highest state of consciousness and then you bring it down into vision, what do you see? And you bring it down into communication. And you bring it down into relationship and into action. And into feeling and moving things in place. And finally into physical form, which is your manifestation of your highest idea. And so as things become denser as we come down the chakra column we call this the current of manifestation. It is that downward current that originates in an idea. Originates, perhaps, in spirit, in guidance that gets more crystallized and more specific as you come down so that you can manifest your highest ideals.
So generally first we liberate to get our blocks out of the way. And then we can reach that highest consciousness and we manifest. But the truth is we are living in each chakra all the time. And it just depends on how open and functioning that is. And if we think of the chakras, as I mentioned, like a disc that stores programming that you put on your computer then some of our programming has some bugs in it. If you’re unable to keep a successful relationship together then perhaps you have a bug in your programming on the heart chakra. If you feel like you have trouble communicating or being heard perhaps you have a bug in some of your programming in the fifth chakra. If you feel like you’re afraid to take your power, afraid to take action or you have difficulty following with your will, following through maybe you have a little bug in your third chakra program.
So part of the work we do is understanding how and where did your chakras get programmed to begin with. And in this way we correlate the seven chakras to different stages of childhood development in which a child is learning basic things about the world. They’re mastering certain tasks and each one of those tasks then builds on the other. For instance, a child is learning how to operate their body and then they’re learning how to
move about and then they’re learning how to do things and they’re learning how to be in relationship and how to communicate and how to imagine and create and how to connect with higher consciousness as we get older .
And so as we go through each chakra in turn we will be talking a little bit about those developmental stages so that one can look back at their life and go, “hmm, yeah, that was a difficult time in my life. No wonder I have trouble with this chakra. Or that particular period of my life went quite well. No wonder I’m somewhat balanced in that chakra.” And you can perhaps do a little reprogramming to get the bugs out of your chakras so that you have a smoothly running program that is effective for your goals and desires.
As a great big tube, a channel from heaven to earth if I want to raise energy up and you can imagine you could suck water up through a straw but as soon as you let go the water goes back down, right? So if I wanted to bring energy up in my chakras how do I keep it there? Maybe I want to bring some energy into my heart to be able to rely on that in a lonely moment. Well, think of the chakras as sort of like storage pouches in this tube of energy, this column of energy between heaven and earth. Now these storage pouches can become what I call, either excessive or deficient. And basically you can imagine an excessive storage pouch is so packed full, maybe in your home you have a closet that’s like that and there’s just no room for anything else. Or a surface that has so much stuff on it it’s not organized. Or, you know, excessive you could think of it as a traffic jam on the highway that there are too many cars and they’re all stuck. And that would be a chakra that has too much energy, it’s bound up, it’s condensed and you might think it’s open but it’s actually not. It’s a kind of blockage. And by contrast there’s a different kind of blockage that I call a deficient chakra and that is when you have this concept of a tube and you have squeezed some part of it tight. So if I wanted to close my heart chakra once upon a time perhaps I drew my shoulders in and I pulled my chest back and energetically I contracted at that part of my body. Now that would mean that I can’t move energy all the way from the bottom to
the top because it gets stuck there or from the top to the bottom or it’s not very open if someone wants to give me some love and my heart chakra is contracted I can’t very well receive it.
And so by and large the excessive chakras that have too much they need to get rid of some stuff. They need to let go. They need to detach. They need to sometimes move on to a different chakra. Whereas the deficient chakras they need to open. They need to learn to receive. They need to expand. And so some of the exercises will address this opening and closing. And you can think that the excessive chakras, well, what causes that? Basically it is a coping strategy that one developed in life that is compensating for something that was perhaps a former wound or something you didn’t get. For example, if you felt like you didn’t get enough love and attention growing up perhaps you compensate by wanting to be with people all the time. And wanting them to affirm that they love and, you know, being on the phone and connected and always being social and having difficulty being alone. That would be a compensating strategy. Or if you felt powerless as a child maybe you compensated to try to work yourself into positions of power or you tend to control things around you. Or you’re seeking after power. That would be a compensating strategy that would be an excessive third chakra.
And a deficient chakra results from an avoidance strategy. So let’s say I don’t want to feel my feelings. Let’s say there’s some feelings in there that I’d rather not feel. Well, I might close down my second chakra, which is related to emotion and then my consciousness says, “well, I don’t feel anything. I’ve just pulled myself out of it and I’ve constricted that,” which means I’m trying to avoid my feelings. Or maybe I avoid taking my power. I don’t want to take any risk. I don’t want to rock the boat. That would be a deficient third chakra or I avoid speaking. That would be a deficient fifth chakra. So as we go through each of the chakras in turn we will learn a little bit about this and we will learn how to examine our own coping strategy. Do we do too much of something? Do we do not enough of something?
And when we talk about balancing the chakras and living in balance and living in balance between above and below and inside and outside and living a balanced life of wholeness then we are in part talking about balancing this tendency to compensate or
avoid, to be excessive or deficient. But we’re also talking about having a balance between each and every chakra. Understanding that each one has a central importance. We can’t skip any one. Each one is essential in the journey between heaven and earth.
So now that we have talked about some of the basics and we understand what a chakra is and how the system is a formula for wholeness, ultimately we need to understand that chakras are not things as much as they are an experience. And so I’m going to invite you to go inside and into a guided meditation so that you can have an experience. They ultimately occur in your inner world. So I don’t suggest that you do this while you’re driving but find a quiet place where you can drop in deeply. Where you can find a comfortable place to sit with your spine upright but not rigid. In fact, you might want to make little micro-movements just to get comfortable as you find your center. And then close your eyes and disconnect from the outer world and connect with your inner world.
That place beneath your skin. That place that is uniquely yours. And as you close your eyes bring your attention to your breath. And just notice it coming in and out. Maybe opening your mouth just a little, relaxing your face, relaxing your jaw. And begin to lengthen your breath. Take in a little more air then you normally do. And let the breath all the way out. Following your breath as it comes in and goes out. And as you follow your breath you may notice that on the in breath there is a slight tendency for the energy to lift upward. So as you inhale imagine lifting your crown, the top of your head up towards the heavens. And as you exhale you may notice that there is a subtle and gentle settling down toward the earth. The shoulders soften. “Ahh.” The chest softens and things move downward. So as you exhale imagine allowing everything to settle right into where you are sitting. To settle into your body. To settle into the earth. And sending roots down, imaginary roots, right down out of the base of your spine energetically pressing your sitting bones down into your chair or your cushion. And at the same time you send those roots down you lift your crown up. So you’re stretching your spine in your core in two opposite
directions. Lengthening the spine. Continuing to breathe in and up and out and down. And this very simple meditation of lifting the crown and extending the roots downward begins to bring your chakras into alignment. As if you were taking the two ends of a necklace that had seven beads upon it and if you lift one end and you pull down the other end you find that all the beads come into alignment. And so imagine these seven sacred centers strung like beads on this deep cord of the soul. Perhaps a column of light.
And that we’re first going to imagine and acknowledge and feel the base chakra. A lotus of four petals considered a bright red. At the very base of your spine with roots that go down your legs to connect with the earth. The name of the root chakra is muladhara, which means root support or foundation support. And imagine it grounding you, settling you, containing you safely and securely. In fact, the first chakra is holding you.
Rising above the roots that go into the earth we come to the next chakra, the second chakra whose name, svadhishthana means one’s own place. And here you might want to move around a little bit making little micro-movements with your spine. And as you do you actually increase the fluid in your spine to move up and down and the element water that is connected with this chakra talks about learning how to be fluid and even juicy. So we imagine this as an orange center, a lotus of six petals with a smiling crescent moon. And I think of the crescent moon like a bowl of water. So imagine this area of your body holding the waters of your soul.
And then rising above the water to the next chakra we come to the third chakra, the manipura chakra. Its name means lustrous gem. And this is the element fire. Imagine a glowing, hot fire burning in your solar plexus that gives you vital energy that strengthens your will, that gives you a sense of power. We see the yellow color of the fires of the third chakra contained within its symbol a lotus of 10 petals and a downward pointing triangle in the center grounding down into earth, widening as it comes up. The 10 petals like the 10 fingers of the hands a glowing yellow, manipura.
And as the flames rise up and you take your next breath you come into the air of the heart chakra. Right in the middle of the chest including the lungs, the ribs, even coming down the front of the arms into the hands where we reach out to connect with another. The
name of this chakra is anahata, which means sound made without anything striking, unstruck, unhurt. So as you breathe in and fill your heart with air imagine you are breathing in the love of the heart chakra filling yourself with that love. And as you exhale from your heart you’re giving that love out into the world in a constant exchange. Each inhalation fills your heart with air and love. Each exhalation softens the body and allows that love to flow outward. So we imagine this chakra as a glowing green like the green of springtime. A lotus of 12 petals inside of which is two intersecting triangles. The triangle representing spirit coming down into matter, matter rising up into spirit. Perfectly balanced at this central point of the chakra system, the balance point of the heart.
And next we rise up to the throat chakra, chakra five called vishuddha, which means purification. This is related to the element sound. And imagine a deep, vibrant blue and waves of sound emanating out from your throat chakra in self-expression. And waves of sound being received by your throat chakra. Relaxing your throat and your jaw especially toward an inner listening of that still, small voice within. You can imagine this lotus is holding 16 petals again with a downward pointing triangle grounding our self-expression into truth.
And next we rise up into the sixth chakra often called the third eye located in the center of your head. So if you imagine halfway between the right and the left of your head, halfway between the front and the back at brow level that would be the area of your sixth chakra, your third eye. The center of light and vision and intuition. This chakra is called ajna, which means to both perceive and to command. Sometimes known as the command center. It’s element is light. So you can imagine your mind filling with limitless light. You can imagine it tinged with the color of a deep blue and a lotus is a circle, which represents the third eye with two petals, which I think of as the two physical eyes. At the center of the circle is a downward pointing triangle that, once again, represents spirit descending into matter. This is our center of insight, of vision, of imagination, of dreams and of limitless light and color.
Opening your vision to limitless light we then, at last, come to the crown chakra, the seventh whose name is sahasrara, which means thousand fold, infinitely blooming. And
here you can imagine a lotus of a thousand petals, perhaps a violet and white infinitely blooming from the top of your head receiving the energy of the divine the way a flower receives the sunlight. Drinking that in and even as the world is unfolding around you your consciousness is a dimensionless point at the center of this lotus. Still and quiet. The witness. The awareness that dwells within.
And now imagine all of these chakras are open and there is a wide open channel from above your head to below your base. You’re open and expanded, centered and relaxed and ready to take a deeper exploration into each of the seven chakras in turn. Take as long as you like in this beautiful stillness and when you feel complete, open your eyes.
So when we’re talking about energy I would like to share with you a very simple and basic exercise so that you can actually feel in your body a sense of what I’m talking about here. So allow your hands to come out straight, one hand up and one hand down. Just because working with polarities. Elbows straight. And now open and close your palms rapidly. All the way open, all the way closed. So we’re going back and forth between two polarities, open and closed. This is the basic pulsation of the universe, which in yoga we call spanda. And then you can turn your hands over and do it a little bit more and I imagine by now your hands are getting a little bit tired. So that means they’re charged up. Now take your hands apart just with relaxed palms and slowly bring them together. And just pause when you sense almost like a magnetic field between your hands. Perhaps your palms are tingling a little bit. Maybe you feel like there’s a little force field separating your palms. Some people describe it as a spongy feeling. And just notice if you can feel that. And then slowly take your hands apart and see if you can still feel it in your hand not only feeling what’s between your hand but what is within your hand.
So what we just did is we opened the small sub-chakras in the hands. And through that expansion and contraction we essentially pumped energy into the hands and when the hand chakras are opened they’re most sensitive to what they can feel and, of course, this
one’s opened also so you’re creating a field of energy and you’re more sensitive to feeling it. So that’s pretty easy. Now when it comes to the body the same principal of expansion and contraction applies but with body it gets a little more complicated. And virtually all the postures of yoga or hatha yoga, which is a system of movements and postures are designed to move energy through the body. We open the chakras and we stimulate the flow of energy through the body into these various areas.