Over the past few decades, much has been written and shared about the chakras. Information drawn from ancient Indian metaphysical teachings has been joined by modern psychological and anatomical awareness to bring about a synthesis of understanding which has practical application in helping us to live healthy, harmonious lives. The chakras are the seven major energy vortices located along the central meridian from the base of the spine to the top of the head which are associated with major organs and glandular systems. They also have psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects and are important to the harmonious function and integration of body, mind and spirit.
The word chakra means ‘a wheel that spins’ in Sanskrit. We can imagine them as orbs or spherical balls of vibrational energy. These subtle energy centers serve as gateways or transfer points between the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our being. As we come to a greater understanding of the chakras and how they work, we are better able to bring into balance the various aspects of our being and create a truly fulfilling life. Vibrant, radiant balance among all the chakras is the goal.
In these times of great economic uncertainty, many people are feeling vulnerable and unsure about their ability to pay their bills and cover their basic survival needs. Issues such as these are very much related to the First Chakra or the Root Chakra as it is known. This chakra is related to the Earth element and has to do with survival issues, what we do for work, how we feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves. Do we feel supported and well taken care of? If not, we need to address these concerns by focusing on that chakra and use certain tools and techniques to enhance its function. When we learn to identify our issues and become aware of which chakra they relate to, we are better able to bring that chakra into greater functionality and allow it to radiate fully the life force as it flows through us.
The first three chakras are related to the physical aspects of our being and are associated with the elements of Earth, Water and Fire relating to our needs for food, water, and energy. Our Fourth Chakra is the transfer point between the lower physical chakras and the three higher spiritual chakras. This Heart Chakra relates to the element Air and is about exchanging energy and of course giving and receiving love. The Fifth Chakra is at the throat level and has to do with communication, relating to the element of Sound or ether. The Sixth Chakra is our mental and vision center and relates to Light, while our Seventh Chakra is our Crown Chakra and connects us with Consciousness and Spirit.
A helpful tool for bringing the chakras into balance employs using the voice to tone and resonate the chakra. Since sound is also a subtle energy, it has the ability to alter our state of consciousness. When sound is coupled with intention, the result is magnified. Of course, one of the most important aspects of making a sound relates to the breath. When we focus on breathing deeply and fully, we are in fact bringing in more of the life force. As we learn to control our breath, we are better able to control our thoughts and our mind. Breathing that focuses on a short, full inhalation and long extended exhalation will have the greatest effect. Including a sound with the exhalation can help to slow down the exhalation, creating the desired ratio of in and out breath. A meditative practice that involves toning can help to resonate the various chakras and bring them into balance.
There are several systems of toning that can be used. The ancient Sanskrit system of Bija mantras can be quite effective. The order of the Bija mantras are (from first to seventh) Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham, Sham, Aum. When done in a meditative state and when possible, using mudras (hand positions), toning the Bija mantras can be a highly effective way to center oneself and resonate all the chakras.
Another system that is helpful uses vowel tones associated with each chakra. These are longer more open tones and can be very effective in controlling the breath and energizing the chakras. A system developed by Jonathan Goldman uses these vowels (from root to crown) – uhh, ooo, ohh, ahh, eye, aye, eee. With the Bija mantras one lets the ‘mmm’ sound resonate, whereas with the vowel toning system, the focus is on the long open sound. The vowel tones can also be done in a scale from low to high, for example using the notes c-d-e-f-g-a-b. The rainbow spectrum of colors can also be visualized from the lower chakras to the higher as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
One can also use a short affirmation to sing or state the principle one wants to focus on for each chakra. It is important that the statement is positive and in the present tense. Repeating it frequently with high intention or using the toning and color visualizations can help to create healthy chakras that will support the well being of body, mind and spirit.