Many websites will explain a chakra as being a ‘wheel’ of energy, or a series of spinning vortices. To the uninitiated, this can seem ludicrous, illogical, or downright false.
Let me start by saying, that the only way to determine whether or not a chakra is real, let alone what one is, or how they can be detected and manipulated, is to become the experimenter of your own energetic system, to enquire internally instead of relying on any external source or opinion. Your body is at once the scientist, the laboratory, and the experiment all rolled into one. Beautiful, eh?
There is also a lot of New Age crossover with Jungian psychology, Yogic philosophy, and occult mysticism. I am not poo-pooing any of this, but I know from first-hand experience, that many approaches to chakra theory can be alienating and confusing, so the only way is to make sense of it for yourself, in your own terms.
So let me break down the way I see it.
As a human, I am comprised of energy. Everything is energy. The solid matter that makes up my physical form is made of vibrating energy particles. Much of it is visible to me, but a large portion of it is not visible to the naked eye. There is a broad spectrum of information available, and I can only perceive just a small slither of it. For example, the eye cannot see infrared, but we know it is there.
Likewise, our bodies are the storehouse of a great deal of energetic information. Much of it is subtle. When I say subtle, I mean in the way that a feather is subtle compared to a brick.
Energy is stored in the body in many ways – for example, fatty deposits. But it is also stored through psychological and emotional anchors – in the form of belief systems, traumas, and repressed or subconscious information. It may be considered that everything that is true about you that you don’t yet know is ‘subconscious’ – it does not mean that it is untrue, it is just that you are not yet aware of it.
The modern chakra system which is widely discussed describes seven main chakras. They have sanskrit names, but for simplicity, I will use the English terminology. Each is associated with a body part/gland, but not only that, they can be described as having psychological and metaphysical characteristics.
For example, a bank safe may contain bank notes. To open the safe door requires somebody with the characteristic of patience, safe-cracking, or perhaps just a massive drill. Those who have not cultivated these abilities cannot access the safe. The chakra system is similar.
Each chakra has an optimum setting – a balanced setup which allows energetic information to pass through it. There can be blockages, as well as excessive or deficient flows of information. Anything other than balanced means that there is a form of inauthenticity about it. It is dysfunctional.
These dysfunctions can manifest as psychological or emotional imbalances. For example, the first and foundational chakra – the root – if imbalanced could result in the experience of fear or mistrust.
What I find beautiful and elegant about the entire system is that is has a geometric counterpart concordant with the shape of the human body. What I mean by this is that the root chakra, being the first, is at the base of the system. The second, the sacral, is above this in the body, then the third and fourth, and so on. They stack together like a pyramid, with each chakra becoming more subtle and refined the further up the system. Logically then, just as a building constructed on uneven ground is unstable, the chakra system relies on a series of open and balanced levels.
I can see that much of this is speculative unless you have studied your own energetic body. However, to continue the analogy is to realise that each of these seven chakra ‘categories’ are actually the homes of certain psychosomatic traits. For example, trust and survival belong to the root chakra. Those with an imbalanced root chakra may struggle, psychologically, to trust others, or on a practical level, they may lack the necessary resources to guarantee their personal safety and longevity on a day to day basis, for example, lack of clean water or comfortable shelter. An imbalance here creates a destabilising effect for the rest of the system above, which governs certain mental/emotional traits such as honesty, compassion, insight, and so on.
Think of the chakra system as a filing cabinet, each drawer sorts and contains parts of the subconscious mind. To access and utilise the files in the cabinet, there must be free-flowing awareness through the entire system.
The below table illustrates the seven chakras, their balanced trait, the method of integration, as well as the shadow manifestation.
CROWN – UNIVERSAL CONNECTION – SURRENDER – ATTACHMENT
THIRD EYE – INSIGHT – CLARITY – ILLUSION
THROAT – COMMUNICATION – HONESTY – LIES
HEART – LOVE – COMPASSION – GRIEF
SOLAR PLEXUS – WILL POWER – FOCUS – SHAME
SACRAL – SEXUALITY – PLEASURE – GUILT
ROOT – SURVIVAL – TRUST – FEAR
Quite simply, when an individual first recognises their subtle, energetic body, they begin a process of self-realisation, which could be described as a spiritual journey, and often involves the process of ‘shadow work’ – or identifying and understanding how their energetic blueprint has influenced their thoughts and actions leading up to the present moment, and beyond.
The shadow was a term used by psychologist Carl Jung, and it essentially refers to any poisonous, unhelpful, or harmful projections of the subconscious due to an imbalance in energy, or friction between our conscious mind and that which we are yet to become aware of.
Thus, the ‘method of integration’ is the lesson that we must meditate upon and embrace in order to comprehend, appreciate, and allow the different forms of energy present in the body to flow, and how they may be held in place with psychosomatic anchors. This form of inner enquiry typically means a great deal of soul-searching as our instilled values are questioned, and the beliefs systems that have been held in place, perhaps for a lifetime, are challenged, healed, and rearranged by our processing mind.
To clear the chakras is to balance the entire system, and allow for our inner presence to shine with clarity into all the dark places of our subconscious, to become enlightened to the truth that we are all connected.
So, how do we access the chakra system?
The main tools are meditation, visualisation, and sound – but I’ll leave this for another post.