Anahata Chakra : Heart Centre
An emotional place :
To go to for connecting to and responding to others.
Primarily concerned with:
- Relationships (with other conscious beings), needs of others and community as well as oneself.
- Significance and consequences of things / actions both for oneself and for others.
- Evolution, interpretation and expression of one’s values and aspirations.
Connects to :
- One’s sense of self and non-self – and thus to other conscious beings and the community one exists in.
- Emotional feelings and emotional responses to things.
Air / gas / fluid
- Strongly associated with chest, heart, upper back, arms, hands and respiratory system.
- Movement – one’s own through and in the world and also movement in the world around one.
- Compassionate, generous, loving and nurturing of others.
- In relation to (one) self and one’s values and aspirations.
- Includes sharing “This is what I know, what do you know ?”
- Includes exploring nature of selfhood – “What am I?”, “What matters to me?”, “What are my assets” ….
- Creating a sense of self and identity (including choosing one’s morals, values and aspirations).
- Creating a sense of “non-self” – “what is not me – and in what way is it not me?”
- Creating aims, objectives and goals based on one’s morals, values, desires and aspirations.
- How one feels about or towards things (including oneself) – “Does this matter to me?”, “What way do I care about that?”
- With choices and discussions (by living life) – “What choices do I have?” and “How do I choose?”
- Things considered in relation to (one) self and assigned meaning or value in relation to what matters (morals, ethics, aspirations, desires ….) to oneself - subjective information / consideration.
- Assessing and assigning meaning and value to information (and things) in relation to oneself and what matters to oneself.
- Using intuition – feeling the significance or meaning of things.
Activity / doing
- Purposefully and with motivation as given by one’s aspirations (aims, goals, objectives).
- Choosing and evolving one’s aims, objectives and desires by reference to one’s values, morals and aspirations.
- Putting things in context to one-self.
- Caring about things.
- Collaboration and team work.
- Evolving and developing oneself including sense of identity, personality and character.
- Aided by interacting with “non-self”, especially other people.
- The attitude is one of “ What is the significance or value of this in relation to the things that matter to me? ”
- The Ancient Greeks used to consider a person’s intelligence and personality to be associated with the heart (not the brain as we do today in the “modern” western cultures). From a western anatomical point of view this does not “feel” right, but from a chakra point of view this makes a lot of sense. It is from Anahata, the heart centre, that come one’s aims and aspirations (cf. “heart’s desire”) and thus one’s sense of purpose and motivation : vishuddha and ajna supply information and analysis to guide decisions and swadhistana and manipura supply the energy and resources for carrying out / implementing decisions, but the decisions, the
direction of action comes primarily from Anahata. So from a chakra point of view, Anahata is the centre, the heart of one’s being.
When acting skillfully from this place:
- One acts with awareness of and consideration of the needs, wants and feeling of others as well as those of oneself.
- One acts purposefully, having found aims and goals that offer a balance in one’s desires, aspirations, morals and values (and one’s perception of the needs and desires of others).
- One is likely to be perceived to be : - approachable, friendly, kind, helpful, caring, responsive, responsible, considerate, purposeful, graceful, dutiful …. And so on.
Issues that may occur when acting unskillfully from, or when stuck in, this chakra or when it is too dominant :-
It is possible, in the process of exploring the nature of oneself and “non-self”, to discover that some aspect of oneself or the things
around one are not as one would wish. Such dissatisfaction is not necessarily a bad thing – it can give one the impetus and motivation
to act – to make things better. However, it can also be uncomfortable and unsettling. And, where one can see no way or means of
improving what one is dissatisfied with, it can lead to one feeling emotional sensations of inadequacy, being incapable, powerlessness
and despair. This is emotionally painful – and the more one cares or the more important the source of dissatisfaction, the more painful
this is. Where this is an issue, working with Swadhisthana (to develop an acceptance of things as they are) may help, but may also
open one more to experiencing emotional pain. Working with Muladhara (to develop in settled calmness and ability to endure)
may help if one feels uncomfortably unsettled or in emotional pain. Working with Manipura (to develop one’s ability to act and
cause change) may help if the source of dissatisfaction is something that can be resolved / improved, but where it is not, this is
likely to make you feel more restless and unsettled.
This is where one cares about and gives greater importance to things and those who are related to oneself. This might be in terms
of family, friendship, being of same nation, being of same religion, being of same ethnicity and so on. In our culture it is considered normal, healthy and socially useful for one to care more about the welfare and needs of one’s family and friends than others. (Some religions and spiritual texts seem to advocate something different – being “alike to friend and foe, to family and stranger”). What is potentially problematic is only caring about those associated with oneself or caring about them at the expense of those not associated with oneself. When this occurs, one feels morally able to treat those who are not associated with oneself as nothing or less or worse than nothing. Thus the slightest harm or insult to one’s group (or one inside one’s group) from anything outside the group is seen to be extremely unreasonable and provocative and that no response can be too extreme or unjustified. Thus extreme acts of violence, aggression, cruelty and suppression to those not of one’s group may come to be seen as not merely justified and reasonable but morally righteous and even one’s duty! This sort of attitude can help to seed and exasperate wars
and encourages development and expression of anger and hatred. Working with Ajna (to develop a greater
view of self-associations and to see potential consequences of group aggression) may help.
Self-Centered / Ego-full
It is normal to be the centre of one’s perceptual universe and to see things in relation to oneself. But to see things solely in
relation to oneself and one’s own experiences and concerns can be to lose sight of perceiving things in any other terms. That is,
one’s perception becomes filtered and flavoured into thoughts of “I”, “me” and “mine” – leading to a distorted perception of reality
around one. This does not necessarily lead to selfishness and inconsideration of others (although it often does encourage such a thing).
For example, one might be genuinely interested in a friends experiences, but interpret them as being similar to one’s own experiences
rather then accepting the context and meaning one’s friend wishes to give them. It can also lead to one taking things personally which
were in fact intended more generally or indeed not intended to relate to oneself at all. Where this is an
issue, working with Ajna (to develop ability to perceive things more objectively) is likely to be helpful.
Self-Important / Self – aggrandizement
Of course, oneself and one’s concerns are important to oneself but expecting oneself or one’s concerns to be important to others is usually unrealistic and irritating (to others).
Working with Ajna (to develop perception of one’s placing in the world) is likely to be helpful.
Being self-righteous (believing in the rightness of one’s aims and actions) is useful to a degree as being riddled with doubt can leave
one paralyzed with indecision. However, being so sure that one’s views, values and aims are “right” or “righteous” that one is not open to considering other views (etc), or considers those with other views (etc) as less than oneself, closes the possibility of further self-development and encourages attitudes of arrogance, intolerance, condescension and hubris. Working with
Vishuddha (to develop a questioning attitude to one’s values and aims) is likely to be helpful.
Anahata is typically considered to be the seat and origin of “good” emotions and feelings such as love, compassion, empathy, and
devotion. But it is also, in my view, origin of other emotions such as hate, anger, enmity, jealousy, envy etc. If the desire to be kind,
to make things better springs from the heart centre, so can the desire to be cruel and to cause harm. My view is that this is why so many
religious and spiritual texts emphasize the importance of having a “pure” heart. Working with Vishuddha will help
develop discrimination in which emotional seeds one allows to grow into a guiding force.
Emotionality / Temperamental / Hyper-Responsive
Feeling things emotionally is useful, but one can let one’s emotional responses and feelings over-dominate – with the result that one
responds or reacts to things too quickly or inappropriately. My view is that emotions are about letting one know what matters to one
and so are important in helping set one’s agenda (aspirations) and giving one motivation. But once that is done, other facets of one’s
being are more likely to be helpful – such as Manipura for achieving one’s aspirations or Ajna for developing a plan for achieving one’s
aspirations. Where one has a tendency to excessive emotionality or is temperamental,
working with Muladhara (as a settling and calming influence) is likely to be helpful.
Emotional Agitation / Emotional Distress
This is similar to above, but with the added factor that one’s emotions / feelings are turbulent, painful or acutely intense. Whatever the
nature of the emotion, the thing that the emotion relates to is something that matters greatly to oneself. Working with Ajna to develop a
greater perception and understanding of the things that matters may help – but it may also just intensify the feeling that it matters. This
may be particularly so over emotional issues where there is nothing to be done to make things better – such as grief over the death of
a loved one. Otherwise, working with Swadhishana (to help one become more mellow and accepting)
and Muladhara (to help one become calmer and more settled) is likely to be helpful.
Obviously there is nothing wrong with good intentions per se – after all plenty of religious and spiritual texts emphasize the importance
of having good intentions. And yet we also have warnings such as “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. My view is that it is
dangerous to think that having good intentions is sufficient for one’s actions (or inaction) to have good (or desirable) consequences.
Also, intentions may be good as in nice or desirable but be unrealistic and thus inappropriate. Working with Ajna (to develop one’s
perceptions and planning in relation to one’s intentions) is likely to be helpful. And working with Vishuddha (to develop greater
discernment in how one allows one’s intentions to become expressed in action) is also likely to be helpful.
Attachment / Obsessions / Willfulness
The Anahata centre is where one decides what matters to one – ideally one finds a balance in one’s concerns and interests. But it
is not uncommon for things to come to be perceived to be predominantly important – possibly to the exclusion to all else. This takes
one in the direction of being obsessed or overly attached to a desire or aspiration (as opposed to sensations). This is not necessarily
inappropriate as it can lead to useful drive and focus to achieve what one desires – but it certainly is not without dangers. Where this is
an issue, working with
Swadhisthana (to develop in acceptance of how things happen to be) may well be helpful.
Selfless Service / Acting for the sake of “non-Self”
Selfless service is highly recommended in many religious and spiritual texts and it tends to be great for those around one and for
the society one lives in. But, taken to excess, it risks one giving out from oneself (resources, energy, motivation and so on) to such
an extent that there is nothing of oneself left to give. Some attention to oneself and one’s own needs means one remains strong,
resilient and able to keep on giving and being of service. Working with Muladhara and Swadhisthana can help with ensuring that
oneself remains able to act for the sake of “non-self” as well as oneself.
Issues that may occur when one inadequately accesses this chakra or when it is weak :-
This is where one gets so involved and engaged with something (e.g. sensations, doing, thinking) that one forgets oneself. For
short periods of time, where one is not in danger, this may be helpful and appropriate. However, if one forgets oneself for extended
periods, one also forgets to attend to one’s basic needs – and this often shows in forgetting to eat or sleep. Where this
is an issue, in addition to working on Anahata, working with Muladhara may well be helpful.
Disengaged / Not caring / Apathy / Indifferent / Withdrawn
May be there really is nothing that matters to one in the sense of one being “non-attached” as advocated in many religious and spiritual
texts – in which case maybe one is beyond having any need to worry about things like chakras. Otherwise it is quite likely there is good
reason for becoming disengaged such as emotional pain of caring or feeling impotent – unable to improve matters or make progress.
Working with Anahata thus may not be the most helpful approach to take – as it may merely increase feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and emotional pain like despair. In working with Muladhara (to develop in ability to
endure even emotional pain) and Manipura (to develop in ability to do) is likely to be helpful.
Indecisive / Procrastination
When one is not particularly aware of what matters to oneself, making decisions and getting on with things can be difficult. In addition to
working with Anahata, working
with Ajna may help (so long as one takes care not to spend too long “navel gazing”!)
Impersonal / Aloof / Detached / Insensitive / “Heartless”
If one loses a sense of relationship of things to oneself, then one can act (and make decisions) without reference to oneself and
without emotional feeling or connectivity. In “professional” type situations this can be highly appropriate, leading to decisions and
actions being made without personal bias. However, amongst family and friends, to act from such a place is to act “without heart”
and is usually felt as unpleasantly impersonal. Where this is an issue, working with Anahata is likely to be most helpful but working with
Manipura (for warmth) and Swadhisthana (for accepting and experiencing) may also be helpful.
Aimlessness / Directionlessness / Purposelessness
My view is that it is from Anahata that one’s aims and sense of direction or purpose in life comes – without that, life can feel empty and
meaningless. Working with Anahata can help, but it can also simply make one more aware of emptiness – in which case working with Swadisthana
can help one with accepting and enjoying not having a particular aim or direction in life.
Laziness / Lacking in will-power or motivation
Quite simply, if something does not matter much to one, then there is little reason for motivation, applying will-power or acting. Working
with Anahata can help one find the
things that really matter to one and thus give one the impetus to act and get on with things.
Humility / Poor self-esteem / Poor sense of self-worth
Many religions and spiritual texts recommend humility – one of the benefits of which is that it tends to encourage one to be open to
receiving advice and learning. But a major danger of poor self esteem or sense of self worth is it encourages a lack of care of self and
the lack of attention to one’s needs – in extremes this can even lead to active self-abuse or self-harm. Working with Anahata with regard
to receiving love and nurturing may help, but it can also bring into sharper relief one’s feelings of worthlessness. Working with Swadhisthana
(to nurture oneself and remind oneself of the enjoyableness of life) is likely to be helpful.
Innocent / Amoral
With a poor sense of self and non-self, actions become unattached to a self which might consider appropriateness or value of actions.
The questions of “right” or “wrong” of actions, duty or responsibility simply do not arise. Such a person is innocent – guiltless in intention,
regardless of how well or not well the consequences of their actions may turn out. Working with Anahata may help where this is an issue –
an alternative work around might
be to use Ajna to develop an abstract set of morals and values to give to Anahata to work with.
Negligent / Irresponsible
This strongly relates to the above. Where there is a poor sense of self (and non-self) then there is little self to have a sense of duty or
responsibility. Working with Muladhara
and Anahata may be helpful in developing a sense of self and duty associated with selfhood.