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Some General Notes on Chakras



Contents:





Introduction – What are Chakras?

The Sanskrit word “Chakra” has the following meanings : wheel, circle, vortex, circular movement.

The term Chakras is typically translated to mean “Psychic Centres” or “Energy Centres”. The idea being that they are centres (or places) where energy / prana / awareness collects, is stored, is transformed and is distributed to where needed. And, just as electricity produces different effects depending on which appliance it passes through (e.g. light from a light bulb, heat from a radiator, sound from a radio), so too energy / prana / awareness will have different effects depending on which chakra it is directed to flow to or through.

Another way of thinking about chakras is as places or means for interchange and dialogue between different aspects of one’s being as indicated by the terms physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

Personally, I find it helpful to think of chakras as different emotional / mental modes – each with their own flavours, usefulness and potential dangers.



Number and Location of the Chakras

There are said to be hundreds of chakras but most books only discuss the seven main ones (and one of these is often said to not really be a chakra!) There is some debate as to whether they are located anywhere in the physical world – some saying that they only become manifest when one wills them to do so and that, in theory, one can make them become manifest anywhere one wishes. However, the majority view appears to be that the main chakras exist (in some sense) along the line between the base of the trunk and the crown of the head. (Within this overview, there are different views about the exact location of some of the chakras).




Brief Summary of the Main Chakras

Sankrit Name (an English Name)

Translation of Sankrit Name

Location

Main concerns

Muladhara (Base Support) mula – root ; adhara - place Base of trunk / pelvic floor Being, having, personal safety, survival
Swadhishthana (Sacral centre) swa – one’s own ; adhishthana - abode In front of the sacrum Sensory experiences, pleasure, survival (of species)/reproduction
Manipura (Power Centre) mani – jewel ; pura - city Near the diaphragm Doing and achieving things. Power – the ability to do
Anahata (Heart Centre) anahata – non vibrating or unstruck The heart or near the heart One’s relationships with others, Emotional feelings, Desires
Vishuddha (Purity centre) vishuddha - purification Throat Communication & information. Regulation & purification
Ajna (Third Eye) ajna - command Near middle of brain Perception, insight, understanding. Organizing and Orchestrating.
Sahasrara (Crown centre) Sahasrara – thousand (which is a symbolic way of indicating the infinite) The crown of the head or above – often said not to really be a chakra as it is external to the self. What is not yet known (and the unknowable). The Infinite. The eternal. Universal Spirit / personal soul – Divineness / the immortal.




Relationship between the chakras

Because of the apparent way the chakras are located physically one above the other in sequence, there is a tendency to think of chakras in hierarchical terms. That is, with “lower” chakras being (themselves or concerned with things that are) in some sense gross, unrefined, base and mundane. The “higher” chakras being then regarded as in some sense progressively more subtle, refined, sublime and “heavenly”. From this perspective, chakra work is concerned with “journeying” or evolving through the chakras – “awakening” and refining each chakra in turn until one reaches the top chakra (where one becomes “open” to enlightenment). A related (and complementary view) is that one should work down the chakras drawing down the “more refined” qualities of the chakra above to help one refine and evolve the chakra just below.

Personally, I prefer to think of chakras as being non-hierarchical and. in some sense. superimposed on each other so that they mutually complement and support each other. From this perspective, the issue is working to develop balance and harmony between the chakras and developing good connections and dialogue between them so that they aid and support each other’s activities. Also, because I think of the chakras as non-hierarchical but as having different sorts of usefulness, the issue becomes one, not of getting into a “better” chakra (in some absolute sense), but of being able to move between the different chakras according to the needs/circumstances of the moment.



Working with the chakras

“Healthy” chakras are typically described as being balanced, in balance or in harmony. Conversely, “unhealthy” (or unbalanced or disturbed) chakras are typically described as being under-active or over-active, over-closed or over-open, blocked or unstable. Also, if a chakra is out of balance, this may disturb other chakras – for example, if a chakra is blocked, this might mean that “energy / prana” that would otherwise flow through it gets redirected into another chakra, or that insufficient energy / prana flows through the chakra to reach another chakra. Chakras are also described as being dormant, as in “not yet awakened” or developed – the potential exists but it is latent rather than realised or available to be accessed.

So chakra work is largely about identifying chakras which are out of balance and engaging in practices that are likely to encourage the chakras to become balanced. Once the chakras are balanced and working harmoniously, then one can start working on dormancy – awakening potential qualities that are currently dormant. To work actively on dormancy before the chakras are in harmony is to risk making less stable something that is already unbalanced.

Which particular practices are likely to be helpful with regard to one’s chakras will be highly dependent on oneself (state of one’s chakras), one’s circumstances (needs of the moment) and what one considers important (one’s values and aspirations). However, I give some general pointers below – they may not be the best approach to take in all circumstances, but they will for most students and for most of the time, be close to the safest approach.

Some general pointers for working with chakras:

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