A Quick Guide To Understanding (and Healing) Your Chakra System
There is literature upon literature on the study of chakras, what they are, what they mean, and how to heal them. But in our zest for enlightenment and self-care, we also face the reality that we are busy, result-driven humans who want answers yesterday. Therefore, this is your quick guide to the chakra system. May you benefit from it, and use it to heal, learn, and thrive. Before we dive into each chakra, it’s best to offer a short definition of what chakras are. They are best understood as energy centers in our body, located along the vertical axis of our spine. While there are thousands of smaller chakras spread throughout our body (such as in our palms), there are seven major ones, which are discussed here. Feel free to build upon this knowledge to gain an even deeper understanding of this incredible system.
Stand In Your Roots
Name: Muladhara, Root Chakra
Color: Ruby Red
Location: Base of the spine, specifically base of the coccyx or tailbone
Meaning: Muladhara is our foundation and our first chakra. It governs money, security, survival, and meeting our most basic needs in life. It is closely connected with our early childhood, and particularly in our relationships to our parents or caregivers who ensure our basic needs are met.
Healing: Meditation to ground the body does wonders in healing our root chakra; so does chanting LAM, which is the balancing tone and sound. Eating grounding foods that are found in-season is a powerful Ayurvedic treatment, as is body massage and body oiling, to pull us back into healing physical touch with ourselves.
Lastly, never dismiss the potency of a good hug! Our root chakra develops in our early childhood, and giving ourselves permission to be touched and cuddled re-affirms that we are loved and can therefore, love in turn!
Flow Into Your Creativity
Name: Svadhisthana, Sacral Chakra
Color: Soft Orange
Location: Above the pubic bone and below the navel
Meaning: Svadhisthana is our riverbed, if you will. Its element is water, so you can imagine that this is all about flexibility and flowing with ease. Once we’re rooted in Muladhara, we open up in Svadhisthana. This is the seat of our sexuality and creativity, where we enjoy wellness, pleasure, and bask in our happiness and joy.
Healing: One of the best tools to re-balance this chakra is to play! As we grow into busy adults, playing falls off of our radar. It’s no longer a priority; but the truth is, we’re creatives! In whatever fashion we bring something to life – painting, dancing, gardening, making children, expressing emotion – we create.
The gem of Svadhisthana, therefore, is to make time for things that bring us joy. It’s not so much what we can produce or busy ourselves with, as it is with simply doing something we love for the sake of doing it because it makes us happy.
Fire Up Your Inner Power
Name: Manipura, Solar Plexus Chakra
Color: Golden Yellow
Location: Above the navel and in the solar plexus area
Meaning: Manipura is our inner warrior! This is the seat of our power, self-confidence, and purpose. The element is fire, so it’s heavily related to not just our motivation, but also to our digestion and metabolism. Our solar plexus chakra is the melting pot of ideas, goals, and intentions. This is where we cook up our biggest dreams, and where we feel the kick and flutter of intuition and “gut feeling.”
Healing: Ensuring our gut health is on track is a beneficial priority in healing Manipura. This may mean watching the types of foods we eat, based on our Ayurvedic disposition (or gut reaction to foods we choose); or it may mean slowing down between each bite or drink to allow our food to metabolize properly.
On a more symbolic level, writing down our goals and intentions is a powerful practice in exercising our intuition. Do our goals feel right? Or do they sit uneasy when we write them down or speak them out loud? Simple practices like these will put us more in touch with this chakra, which is much wiser than our logical mind can fathom. Manipura always steers us in the right direction.
Open Your Sacred Center
Name: Anahata, Heart Chakra
Color: Emerald Green
Location: Center of the chest
Meaning: Anahata is where the physical meets the spiritual. It is the exact center between the three chakras below (root, sacral, solar plexus) and the three chakras following above. It is also the heart center where we learn how to express love and receive that love back in our relationships with others, as well as with ourselves. In Sanskrit, Anahata means “unstruck” or “unhurt,” meaning that despite past hurts or heartbreaks, we never lose sight or hope of love.
Healing: Our heart chakra grows in waves when we practice forgiveness – both to others and to ourselves. Creating forgiveness lists and letting go of past hurts is a powerful practice in unburdening ourselves of what no longer serves us. It’s also therapeutic to get into the habit of recognizing our “heart pains,” as they come in from an argument, breakup, or loss.
Stuffing them down only closes our heart chakra, but when we can recognize them, welcome them, and then learn from them as we let them go, we can create space for the Anahata to continue receiving and giving love genuinely!
Speak Your Inner Truth
Name: Vishuddha, Throat Chakra
Color: Turquoise Blue
Location: Throat area, also covering jaw, mouth, and tongue
Meaning: Vishuddha is our portal to speak our truth. Because this chakra governs the anatomy able to give us speech, it literally focuses on how we communicate with one another, and with ourselves! Symbolically, it asks us to question whether our speech is truthful, necessary, or kind. It also asks us to listen with compassion and empathy to others, versus interjecting our own opinions or experiences. It also serves as the energy center that expresses our desires. Vishuddha is cleverly linked with Anahata, where we can take our feelings and express them with love and honesty.
Healing: In a world where we do more talking than listening, finding time to practice and do active listening is paramount for Vishuddha healing! Next time you are with a friend who needs advice or help, practice co-listening by truly hearing what the other person is saying, and then rephrasing it back to them.
If you find yourself having a hard time speaking out (maybe at that meeting or in a group that intimidates you), chanting is a powerful tool! HUM is the tone and sound for Vishuddha, and it helps us feel heard by embracing our own right to speech and expression.
Trust Your Intuition
Name: Ajna, Third Eye Chakra
Color: Brilliant Indigo
Location: Between the eyebrows, deep into the head to the pituitary gland
Meaning: Ajna is closely connected with Manipura. It is our seat of intuition, and that “sixth sense” feeling we sometimes attribute to a hunch or a feeling. It is our ability to sense and become in-tune with the world around us, as well as with our world within us. The third eye chakra also helps us envision our dreams and goals, as well as our creativity that grows in Svadhisthana.
Healing: Because we are now in the realm of the spiritual, meditation is one of the best ways to start healing Ajna, particularly visualization meditations. This is not to say that there aren’t more physical ways to heal this chakra. Indeed, drawing out our intentions or visions we may have for our plans or future is a creative way to express our inner sight.
Furthermore, utilizing breath if we feel congested in this chakra is a healthy breakthrough. Bee’s Breath or Brahmari is a great tool to open up Ajna, as well as clear through any sinus congestion in seasons of allergies.
Connect To Your Divinity
Name: Sahaswara, Crown Chakra
Color: Deep Violet or Pure White
Location: Crown of the head
Meaning: Sahaswara is the last major chakra in the system, and it rests at the crown of our head. It is known as the thousand-petal lotus that blooms and grows in muddy water. Symbolically, it defines our path in life as humans – from our roots and through each chakra pathway, we too, bloom in struggle, suffering, and the like.
Sahaswara is therefore the crowning jewel, if you will, to remind us that we are always connected to our highest selves, to one another, and ultimately, to the Source that creates all.
Healing: While meditation is always a beneficial practice to heal our crown chakra, there is one better tool, and that is silence. If we look at our entire being from the perspective of this chakra system, we can align ourselves to this silence. Starting from the roots that support us, into the waters that shape us, into the fire that fortifies us, into the love that binds us, into the freedom that express us, into the window that trusts us, we arrive into a clear, silent space.
This is the present moment, where pure conscious awareness is all we need. Practicing moments of silence to simply be in this space is healing Sahaswara, and ultimately, healing the entire mind, body, and spirit.
While the chakra system is pictured to travel vertically from the base of the spine up to the crown of the head, this is not the theoretical approach. In the span of our life, each chakra will influence the other, more or less so depending on our life circumstances, decisions, and the like.
And while they fit vertically in a column, they operate more cyclically, always evolving, changing, shifting, and moving. These energy centers give us a blueprint from which to get to know ourselves that much closer, embracing a life-long observation of grand mystery and wisdom.
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