What are the chakras?

Chakras are the energy centres of the body. A Sanskrit word, ‘chakra’ means ‘wheels’ or ‘disk’, and each chakra moves with a spinning motion, forming a vortex. It is these vortices that filter the energy of the environment around us and disperse it throughout our body. Knowledge of these energy centres is ancient, with its precise origins lost in time – it is generally accepted, that the knowledge stems from ancient Hindu teachings.

There are seven major chakras – one enters the physical body at the top of the head, and the other six occur along the vertical midline of the body, with energy entering the body from both the front and the back.

It is important to remember that the chakras are constantly interacting, and that they are no separate from each other than they are from the aura. Think in terms of the chakras being an intense concentration of energy within our entire energy system. Although the energy in the chakras is always moving, the vitality of the energy can lessen if an area of our body is out of balance.

Western cultures generally believe that our behaviour and our actions are largely governed by our intellect. In Eastern cultures, the idea is that the movement of energy into and around our bodies influences our state of mind and therefore our mind. These energy channels are also considered part of our connection to the divine, with a higher consciousness.

There are many exercises, meditations and healing techniques that focus in ‘balancing the chakras’ and aim to help us remove blocks or imbalances to the natural movement of energy. It is believed that when the energy of the chakras is flowing freely and operating as an integrated whole, we will operate at our optimum level of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing.

The inner energy of the seven chakras

Root Chakra

  • Location: Base of the spine
  • Colour: Red
  • Sanskrit: Muladhara
  • Common name: Root chakra
  • Symbol: A lotus of four petals
  • Sound: 'oo'

The meaning of the Sanskrit name Muladhara, is ‘root’, it is concerned with our connection to the earth and our very basic, fundamental needs for survival – sustenance, shelter, the health of the physical body and safety.

If the energy of this chakra is blocked, our connection to nature and the world around us may be weakened. As a result, we are likely to feel spacey or ungrounded, and less stable. In this condition we may neglect our physical needs, and we may become unhealthy and weak as a result of this neglect.

If the energy of the root chakra is overstimulated, we may become too attached to things of the physical world, and place too much importance on material wealth and possessions. We may be unable to develop higher levels of our nature because we are afraid to risk losing our possessions. A person who is unable to enjoy their wealth for fear of losing it, is a perfect example of the root chakra being out of balance.

Sacral Chakra

  • Location: Lower abdomen
  • Colour: Orange
  • Sanskrit: Svadhisthana
  • Common name: Sacral chakra
  • Symbol: A lotus of six petals
  • Sound: 'oh'

The energy of the sacral chakra is connected with change, with creating form from formlessness. Our creativity, whether it is expressed artistically, academically, physically or in the ultimate creative act – producing a child – is energy to the sacral chakra. It is the source of our sexuality. A free flow of energy through this chakra will be manifested as vitality and a passionate approach to life.

The Sanskrit name is Svadhisthana translates to ‘sweeten’ as the energy of this chakra is concerned with the pleasures of life, desires and nurturing ourselves with our creativity. When it is in balance the chakra brings am immense amount of pleasure into our lives. It allows us to see the beauty in all people and things around us and allows us to take delight in our own creative abilities and passions.

If we have an excess of energy in the sacral chakra, we may be overly focused on satisfying our desires, or unaware/ unwilling to acknowledge that it is not always healthy to have all of our desires met. If we have depleted energy in this chakra, we may deprive ourselves of any pleasure, or try to deny that we have desires, and thus stifle our creativity and our passion.

Solar Plexus

  • Location: Solar plexus (upper abdomen)
  • Colour: Yellow
  • Sanskrit: Manipura
  • Common name: Solar Plexus Chakra
  • Symbol: A lotus of ten petals
  • Sound: 'aw'

The energy of the third chakra is concerned with personal power. Our sense of our place in the world, our confidence in ourselves and our self-esteem are centred here. It is the seat of our will. Our ability to stand by our convictions and carry out what we have willed.

With this chakra out of balance, we may be overly sensitive to the reactions of other people, feeling indifference or coolness as rejection, and anything less than totally positive feedback as a criticism to ourselves. Our inner critic may also be operating at a level where we have little confidence in our capabilities, our worthiness or our chances of being loved.

When this chakra is balanced, we are able to accept the responsibilities that are truly ours and be confident in our actions and abilities. We are able todecide how we wish to act and then maintain our chosen course of action. We will also be able to function without the approval of everyone around us. The courage and strength to be who we are without outside approval- is a sign of healthy self-esteem.

Heart Chakra

  • Location: Middle of the chest (heart)
  • Colour: Green
  • Sanskrit: Anahata
  • Common name: Heart Chakra
  • Symbol: A lotus of twelve petals
  • Sound: 'ay'

The fourth chakra is connected with unconditional love. It affects our ability to consider others, to be gentle in our expectations of ourselves and to empathise with the challenges and the joys experienced by others. It is a link between our intellect and our spiritual selves.

Unconditional love is a state of being – it can also be a conscious decision. We can engage our will (the third chakra) and direct love to the fourth chakra to all those around us. When we are aware of how all things are interconnected, and give unconditional love to all those around us, we have a great sense of inner peace and wellbeing.

A person who is continually giving, even when they are in need themselves, is likely to be out of balance in third chakra (solar plexus). Similarly, someone who denies any empathy with those around them and is unable to show compassion would likely have depleted energy in the heart chakra.

Throat Chakra

  • Location: Throat
  • Colour: Blue
  • Sanskrit: Visuddha
  • Common name: Throat Chakra
  • Symbol: A lotus of sixteen petals
  • Sound: 'eh'

Expression and communication, both verbal and non-verbal, are the themes of the throat chakra. Some mystics believe that the throat chakra is responsible for telepathic abilities that are often associated with picking up on the thoughts of others. You may be experiencing these abilities when you know a phone is about to ring before it does, or when you know is on the phone before you answer a call. From an energy viewpoint, this kind of telepathy is possible because every living thing is connected by the energy that flows through the chakras.

When this chakra is in balance, we are considered and thoughtful with our communications, and aware of how they affect others around us. We are able to express our needs and our desires and maintain our personal integrity with communications – to speak our truth without being hurtful to others.

When this chakra is out of balance, we are likely to be over-talkative, and to speak about noting in particular. In this state, it is very difficult for us to listen, and those around us are unlikely to spend very long listening to us. When we have depleted energy in this chakra, we are likely to be uncommunicative, or we give unclear messages in our non-verbal communications.

Third Eye Chakra

  • Location: Just above the eyebrows in the centre
  • Colour: Indigo
  • Sanskrit: Ajna
  • Common name: Third Eye Chakra
  • Symbol: A lotus of two petals
  • Sound: 'ih'

The third eye chakra is where the conscious meets the unconsciousness, where our imagination meets our inner sight. The development of this chakra involves becoming aware of our intuition and extrasensory perception. This is the energy of clairvoyance, and of other abilities such as precognition (the ability to know of an event before it happens) and psychometry (ability to sense information about an event or person by touching or holding a related object).

An excess of energy in this chakra can mean that a person will be too influenced by the psychic realm and may become ungrounded, disorganised or disoriented, and appear spacey. A depletion of sixth chakra energy can lead to a person being seen as narrow minded and fixed in their thinking. They may be uncomfortable with anything that challenges them to think or feel something beyond their usual tunnel vision.

If we have a balanced sixth chakra, we can utilise this additional information and combine it with our innate wisdom in order to make decisions that are not based on fear or ego. We are able to use our minds and the power of visualisation to have a positive impact on our surroundings and to improve the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us.

Crown Chakra

  • Location: At the top of the head
  • Colour: Violet
  • Sanskrit: Sahasrara
  • Common name: Crown Chakra
  • Symbol: A lotus of one thousand petals
  • Sound: 'ee'

The seventh chakra s about insight, inner knowing, and self-realisation. It is the home of our spirituality and our connection to the divine. The Sanskrit name for this chakra means ‘thousandfold’, referring to the number of petals of the lotus that represents this chakra.  It symbolises the unlimited nature of our thought processes.

This chakra is the portal through which the energy that is the human life force enters the body. From the crown chakra, the energy filters down through every other part of the body and through each of the other chakras. The strength and vitality of this energy n a person reflects their level to personal development.

Developed to its full potential, the energy of the crown chakra brings the highest level of consciousness and is an indication that the person has mastered the challenges of all the other chakras.

Many healers and mystics believe that humankind, as part of the evolutionary process, is moving towards an even larger number of people who are fully developing this chakra. When the majority of people have developed the crown chakra, it is expected that human kind will take a great step forward, away from the needs and conflicts of the lower chakras towards a more spiritually oriented existence.

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