(Adapted from the book, Effortless Mind: Meditate with Ease by Ajayan Borys)
You’ve no doubt heard about the chakras. But what are they? Are they even real or something just imagined as a focal point for meditation?
Great questions. Let’s take a deeper look and see…
Chakras are said to be centers of energy and consciousness in the body. Descriptions of such centers, particularly along the spine and in the head, have been found in spiritual traditions in many parts of the world. They are found in the Vedic, Yogic, and Tantric traditions of India, in Tibetan Buddhism, in Sufism, and even in Mayan spirituality.
Related descriptions of spiritual energy in the body and subtle pathways conducting that energy (nadis in Sanskrit) are found in ancient Goddess cultures of Europe, traditional Chinese medicine, and ancient Egyptian texts. Even the accounts of Christian mystics like Saint Teresa of Avila bear remarkable resemblance to experiences related to the opening of the chakras and spiritual energy described by Indian yogis. Such experiences in so many divergent cultures are an indication that maybe, just maybe, spiritual energy and the chakras are real and not simply concepts…
An innocent experience of the chakras
When it comes to spirituality, it’s easy to be a skeptic. Ultimately, it usually requires personal experience to dispel skepticism. It may or may not help you decide whether chakras are real, but here was my first personal experience of them.
The following experience took place in the early 1970s, before I had so much as given a thought to the chakras. In fact, it happened while I was in a light sleep. I was on an extended meditation retreat, practicing for many hours a day a form of meditation that had nothing to do with chakras in any overt sense. On this particular day, I’d had several especially deep meditations. That night, shortly after I fell asleep, I felt a surge of spiritual power seemingly drawn from my inner thighs into my perineum, where I experienced an intense ball of energy and light. That power was drawn up through my body, and as it reached the location of each chakra in the core of my body, it flared into a bright ball of energy, one chakra after another in quick succession. When it entered my head, the brilliant light brought me to full awareness and I woke up.
This unexpected and unsolicited experience of the chakras was for me proof of their existence. (Not that I doubted it; I hadn’t even given a thought to chakras.) Not only had I not yet studied the chakras and knew nothing about them, but I was also asleep during the experience. It took place without any anticipation, yet was entirely vivid. The energy had been real. I had no sense whatsoever that I had been merely dreaming.
Another aspect of this experience later added to my conviction it had been real: I was surprised at the time that the experience distinctly began with a rush of energy from my inner thighs into my root chakra. This didn’t make any sense to me—even when I later learned about the chakras, which start in the perineum and go up from there. What was the reason for the distinct sensation of energy in my inner thighs that immediately prefaced my experience of the chakras?
Only many years later did I learn of a particular nadi (channel for the flow of energy), which is called gupta nadi, or the hidden nadi. Energy flowing through this nadi, which runs up the inner thighs into the root chakra, is well-known by yogis as a stimulus for the opening of the root chakra and for sending energy up the nadis in and around the spine to open the other chakras. How could I have so distinctly felt that, with no previous knowledge, if chakras and nadis were only imaginary?
Since that day long ago, I’ve experienced the chakras countless times in meditation, further validating (for me at least) their existence. Of course this may not convince anyone else of the existence of the chakras. Ultimately, though, that doesn’t matter. Over the years I’ve learned that believing in chakras is not the point. The point is to experience and open them. So let’s take a brief look at the chakras.
The word chakra literally means “circle” or “wheel.” There are many such centers of energy and consciousness throughout the body, seven of which are identified as primary ones.
The first five of these are associated with elements; for instance, the root chakra is associated with the earth element. This is not an arbitrary association; the chakra is actually the locus in the body for that element. Clearing the chakra strengthens, balances, and harmonizes the particular element in the body, resulting in benefits to the mind, body, and personality.
Following is a description of the location of each of the primary chakras and a brief summary of the benefits of opening each one. I examine these benefits in more detail in my book, Effortless Mind: Meditation with Ease.
Muladhara, or the root chakra (earth element).
The root chakra is located in the area of the perineum between the anus and genitals. Clearing and opening the root chakra releases negative and contracting instincts relating to security and survival. As a result of this clearing and opening, you feel a trust in life, a sense of safety and security, happiness, and a sense of self that is solid and grounded.
Svadhishthana, or the sacral chakra (water element).
The sacral chakra is located at the base of the spine near the tip of the tailbone. Clearing and opening the sacral chakra releases attachments, addictions, and tendencies to repress desires and emotions. The result is a harmonious relationship with one’s emotions and sexuality and ease of creative expression. Like a pure, unimpeded stream, you flow with your natural emotions, your natural desires, and with your life as a whole.
Manipura, or the navel chakra (fire element).
The naval chakra is located in the spine at the level of the navel. Clearing and opening the navel chakra releases issues relating to personal power, including anxieties and fears or a need to dominate. The result is a genuine, expansive, secure sense of personal power characterized by acceptance and tolerance of others. When you have cleared the navel chakra, you will attract others and be a natural leader. Your personal power will shine in a balanced way that benefits yourself and others.
Anahata, or the heart chakra (air element).
The heart chakra is located in the spine at the level of the heart. Clearing and opening the heart chakra releases emotional attachments and selfishness, resulting in unconditional love, compassion, well-being, and devotion. Like the air shared by all beings, your love nourishes all.
Vishuddha, or the throat chakra (space element).
The throat chakra is located in the spine at the level of the base of the throat. Clearing and opening the throat chakra releases issues relating to an inability to find and speak one’s truth. This results in authentic and eloquent self-expression. You naturally abide in your higher Self, and your speech expresses the truth of your whole being.
Ajna, or the third-eye chakra (mind).
This chakra is located in the center of the head at the level of the eyebrows. Clearing and opening the ajna chakra releases the tendency to cling to a gross material perception of life or an overreliance on dry rationality and rejection of the spiritual and intuitive. The result is genuine spiritual vision and intuition — a clear, deep perception of the inner reality of life. This is the opening of the eye of wisdom.
Sahasrara, or the crown center (transcendental pure consciousness).
The crown center is located at the crown of the head. Clearing and opening this center unties the knot of identification with ego and separation from others, resulting in an expansive and blissful realization of the Infinite and of oneness with all, enlightenment.
Note that, although it is good to have some understanding of the chakras, when it comes to actually meditating, all you need to know is the location of the chakras. Beyond that, simply enjoy the innocent experience, free of ideas. That is the best way to ensure you get the full benefits of the meditation.
Copyright © 2013 by Henry J. Borys (aka Ajayan)