|By: Paul S. Cilwa||Viewed: 5/27/2018
||Topics/Keywords: #Chakras #Metaphysics #Spirituality||Page Views: 501|
|What a chakra is, where the idea came from, and why anyone might care.|
If you are reading this book, you probably found it in the New Age section of your local bookstore or library, or a friend gave it to you. Either way, youíve expressed an interest in personal spiritual development, also known as the New Age movement. But you wouldnít be reading this book unless you found the whole topic somewhat intimidating. Let us pose some possible concerns you might have:
- You donít believe you are psychic
- You donít believe anyone is psychic
- You fear that the New Age movement may be contrary to your traditional religious roots
- You are doubtful that things with Hindu names can be of much value to you
- You are doubtful that things without corporate brand names can be of much value to you
In this book, we are going to address these issues in a light and carefree way. Why not? Although you may have been brought up to expect that personal spiritual development must be a somber and serious undertaking, the fact is that nothing could be farther from the truth! The reality is that God (or, if you prefer, All That Is) is a happy and joyous Being, and the only way to get closer to that Being is to become happier and more joyous yourself. After all, one cannot become "one with the light" by clinging to darkness!
A Quick Definition
The word chakra is a Hindu word meaning, roughly, "spinning wheel". According to Hindu belief, there are seven of these energy centers located at seven points within the body. These energy centers each have a specific purpose, just as the heart and the lungs have different, specific purposes. But, since they are not usually tattooed on the body or are easily recognized as a physical feature we tend to not think of these centers as being real. Their purposes and effects are more subtle than the purposes of the physical organs.
If your heart rate decreases enough, your blood pressure drops, your respiration slows down, and you may fall asleep or faint. These effects are easy to measure and feel. If your heart chakra slows down, you may sense a feeling of loneliness, emptiness, futility. These feelings would be difficult to measure—but, if youíve ever experienced them, you know they are real.
Chakras are usually presented as being, physically located in real space—for example, the heart chakra is traditionally "located" in the area of the physical heart, right about the sternum or breast plate on the chest.. Well, itís important to realize that chakras are, by definition, non-physical. Therefore, they do not exist in the same kind of space as a heart or a Volvo. Nevertheless, we can pretend that chakras have physical coordinates. This gives us a place within our physical bodies to become better acquainted with the works, the plumbing. It doesnít take a lot of mumbo-jumbo to see that something keeps it all working. The places we identify with each chakra, are based on that chakraís primary purpose or effect. So the heart chakra, which gives us that wonderful warm feeling in the chest when working properly, or that horrible empty feeling when it is not, is identified with the place in which we feel those feelings. The throat chakra, which is activated when we communicate, is "located" at the home of the vocal chords, and so on. (A person whose primary means of communication is American Sign Language might find it more convenient to imagine the "throat" chakra as being located at the hands.)
The Hindus werenít the only culture to map chakras, by the way. Most ancient cultures accepted the existence of a chakra system as a given; and the mapping of which chakras do what, is amazingly consistent from culture to culture. And, before you dismiss these ancient cultures as "primitive", remember that, primitive or not, most of them consisted of literate populations and kept efficient, stable governments for thousands of years. One of these cultures, the Chinese Shang dynasty, maintained peace and prosperity for seven hundred years! We Americans have been unable to maintain both peace and prosperity for seven consecutive decades, so perhaps a little respect for these ancients would be in order.
Because the chakras are non-physical (but real), we moderns need to learn a new way of perceiving what is "real". Or, perhaps a better way of phrasing it would be to say we need to distinguish between different "levels" of reality. If a telephone is "real"; so is sadness. We are used to saying that sadness is a "state" rather than a "thing". To work with chakras, you need to understand that states are also things. They indicate whatís up with a particular area of our life. Well, so do chakras. As a matter of fact, you can access chakras similarly as you do a telephone. You can learn to dial up and listen. There is a wealth of information on that line!
Letís Be Scientific
As a rational, scientifically-minded person, you are aware that your physical body consists of a variety of organs, such as the heart, the brain, the uvula. You are also aware that it consists of something else we canít quite define: It is alive. We understand, scientifically, the processes of life—the chemical bonds, the molecular reactions, the interplay of electricity and fluids and temperatures. Yet Western doctors donít understand why a cell should die, and they cannot restore a dead cell to life. Even modern techniques such as cloning, organ transplants, and in vitro fertilization, take advantage of observed abilities of the living cell that scientists do not fully understand or control.
We live in a young culture, however. Yes, weíve gotten an astonishing grip on the workings of the physical universe. That grip has given us television, the ability to cure some diseases, and roll-on deodorant. The thing to remember, however, is that—in spite of our cultureís own self-congratulatory press—not everything can be understood or manipulated through physical means alone. Our own lives are the constant, stunning reminder of this.
Experiencing Psychic Phenomena
When people state that they are not psychic, they usually mean that they do not possess powers they feel are extraordinary. The model most people seem to have of "being psychic" is Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars. But extraordinary is as extraordinary does. For example, you can probably write a readable sentence or paragraph in English. You may not find that to be extraordinary. But when Shakespeare does the same thing, the results can be extraordinary indeed! And even writers like Jacqueline Susanne, or Dean Koontz, whose prose may not quite reach Shakespearean proportions, nevertheless manage to make a lot of money and communicate with and move millions of readers, by writing a bunch a paragraphs in English. Thereís quite a range of possible literary prowess; and maybe your supposed "lack" of psychic ability lies less in the absence of that ability, than in your lack of development of these talents.
Presumably, if you were willing to devote the time and energy to perfecting your writing and marketing abilities, you, too, could become a novelist of some renown. With less effort, you could still manage to churn out a yearly Christmas or holiday letter that would leave your personal friends and relatives laughing, crying, and informed. Psychic development runs a similar range. If you drop everything else, find a guru and study for fifty or sixty years, you, too, could become a famous seer or guru. But with far less effort, you can learn to develop your psychic abilities for your own benefit. And, as youíll learn in these pages, such development begins in large part with discovering your own chakras, and exercising them as you would any muscle, to make them stronger and more subject to your conscious control.
The thing to remember, is that psychic phenomena is usually very subtle. Thatís why itís possible for intelligent people to "not believe" in "psychic powers." Interestingly, the same people usually do believe in "hunches" or "intuition". They only get nervous when the word "psychic" is used. The same people will feel a need to give a "rational" explanation (no matter how forced) for any supposedly psychic thing they encounter. In so doing, they find themselves making rational-sounding, but irrational, statements. "It was only the wind" they might say, when they mean, "It was only an astonishingly well-timed, coincidentally aimed and mind-bogglingly fortuitous gust of wind that just happened to affect that one thing and go unfelt by the rest of us."
Letís Be Religious
The New Age movement, by virtue of its universalist message, by definition lies beyond the belief structures of all fundamentalist religions, as does television, pre-marital sex, and slacks on women. This frightens some people, who assume that if something isnít included within the religious context, it must necessarily go against it. Yet, the same people customarily accept as good many things not specifically addressed by their religious beliefs—the health benefits of exercise, for example.
No matter what your religious belief system, understanding yourself and how you function cannot conflict with it. Isnít "Know thyself" a Biblical admonition? Some people also worry that explaining the "mysteries of the soul" will in some way eliminate the need for religious faith. Yet, many mysteries have been solved through the years—we can now predict solar eclipses, and we understand that lightning striking a house has more to do with the lack of lightning rods than the wrath of God. There will always be plenty of mysteries, and there will always be a need for faith. After all, the more things we come to understand, the more things we realize we have no clue about! For adherents to religious faiths, any personal exploration that brings one closer to God must be a good thing.
And how can you tell if your chakra experiments are bringing you closer to God? Well, as with all other metaphysical things, youíll just know. It may be imagination, it may be psychic, it may be God—but, whatever it is, itís realÖso make the most of it.
A Chakra Experiment
To see how subtle, and yet real, a chakra can be, you can try this experiment. All you need is about 20 minutes of peace and quiet. (Now, you, there, in the corner—stop laughing! If necessary, you can make this time before going to bed or by setting your alarm clock a few minutes early.) Youíll need to know, starting this experiment, that youíll be undisturbed; so begin by taking the phone off the hook.
Sit comfortably and close your eyes. (You can lie down if you prefer, but try to not fall asleep.) Take five deep, slow breaths in which you inhale, hold, and exhale for equal amounts of time. (Three to five seconds for each step is about right. In other words, count to five as you inhale, then hold as you again count to five, then exhale slowly as you count to five again.) Adjust the number of seconds as needed to help you feel relaxed. If you find yourself expanding your chest so far your shirt buttons pop, or exhaling with an explosive burst, slow down! This is a meditation, not an aerobic exercise.
(By the way, this is the way to start any meditation. Scientific studies performed in the sixties, when Transcendental Meditation became popular, showed positive health and mental results from simply doing this breathing/relaxation exercise and then resting for 20 minutes. It turned out that whether chanting your mantra or not, there was still benefit in taking time out to relax.)
Anyway, once you have relaxed, let your attention be drawn to the area of your heart chakra. This is a spot that coincides where your heart is located in your chest. This is the pump of your body. If itís going, youíre alive, and you may continue with the experiment.
Imagine your consciousness to be a pinpoint of floating light. Imagine yourself to be this pinpoint. What might your chest cavity look like, if you were gnat-sized and it was transparent and intangible? Under your control, guide your focus around the whole heart area—above the chest and within it, a little to the left, a little to the right. Feel your way around. Imagine finding your internal organs: your rib cage, your heart as it beats, the air-filled sponges of your lungs.
Now, feel around for something more subtle. You are looking for one, particular, tiny little spot. Think of it as your heart chakraís G-spot. Youíll know it when you find it, because, when you do, you will suddenly feel the sensation of love.
The spot is small, so donít be surprised if you almost immediately lose it. But you can find it again; and, with repeated attempts, youíll find you can hold onto this spot for longer and longer periods of time. Itís also possible that you may not find it at all on your first attempt. Even if you only get near it, youíll get that sudden love sensation. The more dead-on you hit the spot, the stronger the sensation will be.
Now, this much of the experiment alone should prove the point: You can influence your feelings, your state of being, simply by directing attention to a chakra. Again; the Western traditionalist will insist that, because your imagination was involved, none of this experience was real. What such a materialist misses, is that your imagination is real! And your feelings are real. They may not be made of the same kind of reality as, say, an internal combustion engine or social unrest, but they are real nevertheless.
How real is imagination? WellÖwithout it, there would be no internal combustion engines, nor social unrest, either.
But wait, thereís more. If you try this experiment—itís called a heart meditation, by the way—once a week for three weeks, youíll notice something new in your environment. Somehow, people will seem more friendly to you, and youíll find yourself responding more positively to them. Sometimes youíll even find yourself seeing a stranger and feeling yourself filled with love for him or her. Imagination? PerhapsÖbut real, nonetheless. And, unless you are a Hollywood agent or personal injury lawyer, desirable.
The History of Chakra Awareness
There is actually nothing "new" about the New Age. Neither are chakras a new invention. People have known about these energy centers or vortexes for thousands of years. Hindu religions as well as Buddhists, Christians, Jews and Muslims all include information of these centers in their holy writings. Many indigenous cultures around the world are steeped in the beliefs of sacred energies within the physical body.
The Sumerians may have been the first to study these centers, which had cycles and seemed to exist for them in real time and space. These areas of the human form could be detected by the physicians of their day. Operations were performed, taking these chakras into consideration. Archeologists have unearthed skeletons that show evidence of major brain surgery—and, because the cranial holes show signs of healing, we know the patients lived for years after their operations. A great deal of Sumerian writings have survived, thanks to the fact they were recorded on clay tablets rather than floppy disks, and their doctors left clear descriptions of their procedures and techniques. The Sumerian civilization didnít collapse so much as it evolved into all the great middle eastern cultures of later history, including the Egyptian, the Greek, and the Roman; and these techniques continued to be passed on in one form or another. However, through the centuries the technology behind the techniques was temporarily lost, because the techniques were taken on faith. They were eventually rejected as folk medicine at the arrogant dawn of scientific rationalism; it wasnít until the last few years that science has rediscovered some of the principles. Of course, translating the Sumerian documents hasnít hurt!
In ancient China right up through modern times, doctors of medicine and healing are taught about these vortexes and how they operate. Many indigenous cultures also know about them. So how come we sit here wondering about them ourselves? How come those ancients were so clever to come up with these ideas? Maybe they werenít so clever—maybe they just took lots of time to find out for themselves. After all, the Sumerian culture flourished over five times as long as there has been a United States. Hopefully we can learn from them and not need another 800 years to shift our attention to spiritual matters. Itís never too late to start remembering, and here we are!
How Many Chakras Are There?
The traditions that teach of chakras have always spoken of seven. However, there is a New Age tradition that we live in a time of increased spiritual awareness, a time when new information is ready to cross the boundaries between All That Is and Earth. It has been said that "Twelve is the number of the age," and certainly the past two millennia have seen the number twelve come into its own. There were twelve apostles, twelve signs of the Zodiac, even twelve sides to the iron crystal that some scientists say forms the center of our Earth. Modern tradition says that there are many, many chakras; that once, seven were all that mattered because of the state of humanityís development; and that now, we can take advantage of twelve. Three of the five additional chakras are "located" beyond the physical body, while the other two connect the traditional seven to the planet itself; by sending our point-of-consciousness to them, we stretch our ability to perceive at a distance, which brings further benefits—just as jumping farther and farther benefits an athlete training for the decathlon.
The Format of This Book
In the remaining chapters, we will examine, one per chapter, the twelve known chakras. For each chakra we will examine its primary purpose, list the symptoms of a weak chakra (helping you decide which of your chakras needs the most work), provide hints for finding the chakra, and propose an visualization or meditation to activate and strengthen it.
Think of these exercises like gym exercises. You know you must do them for your own physical health; so you throw yourself into them and make them fun. Exercising your chakras is good for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, so make time for them and motivate yourself to do them with the same fervor.
After all, no one wants a puny chakra!
We also provide colors, sounds, and tones associated with each chakra. These may mean nothing to you. But some people "think" in colors, or in sounds, or in musical notes. For these people, know the color, sound or tone associated with the chakra will help them zero in on the energy there.
The fun begins on the next page. So, what are you waiting for?