A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE CHAKRAS
The word chakra literally means wheel, circle, vortex, or whirlpool. The chakras are connected to a network of psychic channels called nadis, which correspond to the nerves but are more subtle in nature. The major chakras are seven in number and are located along the pathway of sushumna nadi which flows through the centre of the spinal cord. Sushumna nadi originates at the perineum and terminates at the top of the head.
The chakras are depicted symbolically as lotus flowers, each having a particular number of petals and a characteristic colour. The lotus symbolizes the three stages- ignorance, aspiration and illumination. It represents spiritual growth from the lowest state of awareness to the highest state of' consciousness. The petals of the lotus, inscribed with the beeja mantras or seed sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet, represent the different manifestations of psychic energy connected with the chakras and the nadis leading into and out of them. Within each chakra is a yantra comprised of the geometrical symbol of its associated element and beeja mantra. Within the yantra there is also a presiding deity, which represents particular aspects of divinity, along with the corresponding vahana or vehicle which is an animal form, representing other psychic aspects related with the particular centre.
CHAKRAS ASSOCIATION WITH THE PHYSICAL BODY
On a physical level, chakras are associated with the major nerve plexuses and endocrine glands in the body. Endocrine system is a system of glands which secrete hormones directly into the blood stream rather than through a duct to regulate activity in other parts of the body. It is instrumental in regulating metabolism, growth, development, puberty, tissue function and also plays a part in determining mood. The names of the glands & the chakras are muladhara (adrenal glands), swadhasthana (gondas/ovaries), manipura (spleen/pancreas), anahata (thymus), vishudha (thyroid/parathyroid), ajna (pituitary gland), sahasrara (pineal gland). The ideal condition of chakras is that they all be open and active, and neither underactive (closed) or overactive. If your chakras are closed, you can perform meditations to open them again. Sit in meditation and focus on each chakra for 30-40 seconds, one at a time going up, then focus on each one going down, then again going up. This is one round. In this way you can make one more round. While doing this, you will just be in a flow through all your chakras, running both the upward and downward current. Once your chakras are open and active, you should feel more balanced, happy and at peace.
MULADHARA CHAKRA / ADRENAL GLAND
Location: Base of spine, between anus and genitals.
Bij Mantra: Lam
Muladhara Chakra is the first Chakra in ascending order. It is just below the junction where Ida, Pingala and Sushumna Nadis meet. Muladhara means support or pillar to all the other chakras as the other chakras are above this. This chakra is the seat or dwelling place of primal energy, kundalini Shakti. Kundalini, which gives power and energy to all the chakras, lies dormant at this chakra waiting to be released and merged with Shiva in the crown center.
On the physical level, this chakra is related to the adrenal glands, the kidneys and the spinal column. It is responsible for the fight and flight response when survival is under threat. Physically, muladhara governs sexuality, mentally it governs stability, emotionally it governs sensuality, and spiritually it governs a sense of security. When this chakra is underactive we get diseases like constipation, piles, varicose veins problem, knee problem, body pain & jaundice. If this chakra is over-active, we become materialistic, greedy, obsessed with being secure and resist change. The concentration and meditation on Muladhara chakra helps rectify disorders of these functions & enhance inner stability and balance.
SWADHISTHANA CHAKRA / GONDAS, OVARIES
Location: Slightly below the belly button
Bij Mantra: Vam
The literal meaning of the word swadhisthana is one's own abode. The Sanskrit word swa means self and sthana means dwelling place. Although kundalini resides in the muladhara chakra, actually her home is not there. When you begin to experience kundalini you will find her in her real nature not at the base of the spinal column but at swadhishthana chakra, her own abode. Swadhistliana chakra is the chakra of creativity, pure attention and pure knowledge. It is the one which connects us to the inner source of inspiration, and enables us to experience the beauty around us. By purifying this centre the animal nature is transcended.
On the physical level, swadhisthana chakra is related to the female ovaries and male testes. It looks after our liver, kidneys, and the lower abdomen. It is responsible for assimilation, procreation, lymphatic system, and menstrual secretions. Physically, Swadisthana governs reproduction, mentally it governs creativity, emotionally it governs joy, and spiritually it governs enthusiasm. When this chakra is underactive, we get diseases like diabetes, blood cancer & many other diseases related to this gland can occur. If this chakra is over-active, we tend to be emotional all the time. We’ll feel emotionally attached to people and will tend to focus on sex too much. Visualization of this centre can help rectify disorders of these functions & provide a channel for projection of energy & more specifically thought energy.
MANIPURA CHAKRA / SPLEEN PANCREAS
Location: one hand-span above the belly button
Color: Golden bright yellow
Bij Mantra: Ram
Mani means jewel, Puri means city. Manipura means the city of jewels. It is so-called because, being the fire centre, it is lustrous like a jewel and radiant with vitality and energy. Manipura is the centre of self-assertion, dynamism and dominance. This chakra is the one that gives us the sense of generosity, complete satisfaction and contentment. It represents expansive consciousness, and the desire for power. The main quality of this center is peace - clearing this chakra can relieve stress and tensions. When the manipura chakra succumbs to stresses of any kind, the effects are immediately felt both in the physical body and in the emotions.
On the physical level, this chakra is apparently related to the digestive system, the spleen, the liver, the pancreas and the gall bladder which produces and secretes enzymes, acids and juices necessary for the digestion and absorption of nutrients. The adrenal glands located above the kidneys are also related with manipura. They secrete adrenaline into the blood during an emergency situation. This has the effect of speeding up all the physiological processes, making the mind sharp and alert, the heart beat faster, the respiration rate more rapid and so on. The body is then prepared for a more intense level of activity than normal in what is commonly called the 'fight or flight' reaction. Physically, manipura governs digestion, mentally it governs personal power, emotionally it governs expansiveness, and spiritually all matters of growth. If this chakra is under-active, people suffer from sluggishness or malfunctions of the digestive system; can have weakness in the body, indigestion, stomach, intestinal, and colon problems. If this chakra is over-active, we are domineering and probably even aggressive. Visualization of this centre can help rectify disorders of these functions & brings us energy, effectiveness, spontaneity and non-dominating power.
ANAHATA CHAKRA / THYMUS GLAND
Location: centre of the chest (in the area of the cardiac plexus).
Bij Mantra: yam
Anahata means unstuck. In the heart centre is the unstuck vibration of the eternal nada (sound). It is where an internal, unborn and undying vibration, the pulse of the universe and pulse of human existence can be experienced. Anahata chakra is the centre of unconditional love, emotions, compassion, selflessness and devotion. This is the place where resides our true Self, which is eternally pure and unaffected by anything. It is from our heart that the compassion and love manifests & the feelings of universal brotherhood and tolerance begin to develop and all beings are accepted and loved for what they are. The heart chakra gives us the sense of responsibility, complete security, confidence and pure behaviour towards others.
On the physical level, this chakra is related to the heart, blood, lungs and the circulatory system in general, along with the immune and endocrine systems. Physically Anahata governs circulation, emotionally it governs unconditional love for the self and others, mentally it governs passion and spiritually it governs devotion. The disharmonious activation of Anahata chakra leads to love-related problems that appear in some tragic cases (divorce, death), perturbation of the endocrine gland corresponding to it - the thymus gland. If this chakra is under-active, it can cause asthma or various heart conditions. If this chakra is over-active, we are suffocating people with our love and our love probably has quite selfish reasons. Visualization of this centre can help rectify disorders of these functions. Then we get cosmic love and obtain all other divine qualities. All our worries, doubts and fears are destroyed.
VISHUDDHI / VISHUDDHA / THYROID GLAND
Location: base of throat, above where it joins the chest
Color: Sky Blue
Bij Mantra: Ham
The word shuddhi means 'purification' and the prefix vi enhances this quality. It is the centre of the pure consciousness, and creativity. Right understanding and discrimination develop at vishuddhi chakra. Here the dualities of life are accepted, allowing one to flow with life and let things happen as they will, without distinguishing between good and bad. It is the chakra of pure relationships with others, and of playful detachment.
On the physical level, vishuddhi chakra is apparently related to the thyroids, the rate of metabolism, and the lungs in the physical body. It controls the activity of the vocal cords, of the hearing, of the pharynx and esophagus. Physically, vishuddha governs communication, emotionally it governs independence, mentally it governs fluent thought, and spiritually, it governs a sense of security. If this chakra is under-active, people will get cold, cough, thyroid problem & lack of communication skill. If this chakra is over-active, we tend to speak too much, usually to domineer and keep people at a distance. Visualization of this centre can help rectify disorders of these functions such as the feelings of superiority or inferiority, all jealousies & it activates ability to telepathy, clairaudience. (Extra-sensory hearing) enhances.
AJNA CHAKRA / PITUITARY GLAND
Location: exact centre of forehead
Color: Indigo or deep blue
Bij Mantra: Aam
This centre is also known by various names such as: the third eye; jnana chakshu (the eye of wisdom); triveni (the confluence of three rivers); guru chakra and the eye of Shiva. The word ajna means command. In deeper states of meditation the disciple receives commands and guidance from the guru, and from the divine or higher self, through this chakra. Ida and pingala nadis merge with sushumna nadi at ajna running all the way up from muladhara to sahasrara. If Ida and pingala nadis are out of sequence, it indicates that something is disturbed in the energy circuit between mooladhara and ajna. It is a gate which opens the way for our consciousness to ascend to its final destination, which is the seventh center.
On physical level, ajna is apparently related to the pituitary gland and the small brain which secretes hormones to communicate to the rest of the endocrine system and also connects to the central nervous system via the hypothalamus. The hypophysis has a vital role in the physical basis of consciousness. This is the centre where wisdom and intuition develop. If this chakra is under-active, one will have negative thoughts, lack of energy, making more bad karmas. If this chakra is over-active, one may live in a world of fantasy too much; in excessive cases hallucinations are possible. He who concentrates at this centre destroys all the karmas of the past lives. The benefits that are derived by meditation on this chakra cannot be described in words.
THE SAHASRARA / PITUITARY GLAND
Location: whole top of head above the hairline
Bij Mantra: Om
Sahasrara Chakra is not really a chakra but our connection to our higherselves and to the divine, the abode of Lord Shiva. The word sahasrara means one thousand. This chakra is visualized as a shining lotus of a thousand petals. In the centre of the lotus is a shining jyotirlingal lingam of light, symbol of pure consciousness. It is in sahasrara that the mystical union of Shiva and Shakti takes place, the fusion of consciousness with matter and energy, the individual soul with the supreme soul. When kundalini awakens, it ascends through the chakras to sahasrara and merges into the source from where it originated. Having attained this, the yogi attains the super-conscious state and supreme knowledge and passes beyond birth and death. It is like our umbilical / navel (um-BIL-i-kuhl) cord to "God."
On physical level, sahasrara charka is related to the pineal gland. The pineal gland is a light sensitive gland that produces the hormone melatonin which regulates sleep and awakening. Its proper functioning helps to improve thinking power and intelligence. It is large in children, but shrinks at puberty. This chakra gives us the direct, absolute perception of reality on our central nervous system. It symbolizes detachment from illusion; an essential element in obtaining supramental consciousness of the truth that one is all and all is one. Sahasrara chakra integrates all the chakras with their respective qualities. It is the last milestone of the evolution of human awareness.
Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna