Category Archives: Chakras

Heart chakra: Divine power within you

This week’s spotlight is on the fourth or Heart Chakra — our emotional center. The awesome power to transform our lives and our world, through the energy of the heart, remains largely untapped for many of us. But it need not be.

Need catching up? Visit any of these previous entries in The Rainbow Within Chakra Series:

1st: Root chakra
2nd: Sacral chakra
3rd: Solar plexus chakra
4th: Heart chakra
5th: Throat chakra
6th: Third-eye chakra
7th: Crown chakra

Questions to ponder regarding the Heart Chakra:

  • What emotional memories do you still need to heal?
  • What relationships need healing?
  • What fears do you have about being emotionally healthy?
  • Whom do you need to forgive, and what prevents you from releasing the pain you associate with these individuals?
The Heart Chakra is positioned just behind your heart. The fourth chakra is a place of balance, located halfway between three chakras that deal with the physical/earth (root, sacral, solar plexus) and the three chakras that deal with the spiritual/heaven (throat, third eye, crown).

The Heart Chakra is the home of unconditional love. It becomes imbalanced when we are unable to forgive, when we hold resentment.

Emotional and mental indicators of a heart chakra imbalance

  • Resentment and bitterness
  • Grief and anger
  • Self-centeredness
  • Over protectiveness of self
  • Issues with hope and trust

Physical symptoms associated with heart chakra imbalance

  • Heart problems
  • Asthma/allergies
  • Lung problems, like cancer or pneumonia
  • Upper back and shoulder problems
  • Breast cancer

Traits of the heart chakra

  • The color is green. A luscious, verdant green embodying the love of Mother Nature.
  • The element is air. This chakra is airy and light, and has the energy of movement and transformation.
  • The seed sound is “YUM” This is mentioned for those who meditate. This would be an appropriate chanting phoneme, since sound is a powerful primeval force.
  • The verb is “I love.”
  • The sense is touch.
  • The associated endocrine gland is the thymus, located in the center of the chest.
  • The Heart Chakra has to do with your ability to give and receive love.
  • Christian Sacrament: Marriage. Honoring the need to love and care for yourself so that you can fully love another and enter into true partnership.
  • Jewish Sefirot: Tif’eret. The energy of compassion, harmony and beauty.
  • Healing thought: Love is Divine Power.

The Heart Chakra holds victim patterns. Caroline Myss, PhD, talks in her book, Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, about “leading with your wounds.” In a nutshell, it’s about how our hurts actually benefit us in some way. So we hang onto these hurts fiercely, even as they destroy us.

Here’s a personal example. I grew up with severe asthma. I learned pretty early on (albeit at a subconscious level) that this condition got me things and got me out of things. It got me Mom’s attention, Teacher’s attention, special handling. It got me out of vacuuming at home and out of doing the 600 yard dash in gym class. While it also brought me allergy tests and shots, asthma became part of my identity. After 2+ decades of being asthmatic, I did not know how to be otherwise.

At the end of a year in Japan during my late 20s, I returned to the States with pneumonia. Follow up care revealed places in my right lung that were damaged by an allergic reaction to mold. I was back in a dry climate, but the problems persisted. It was time to deal with this illness on a more conscious level.

Enter Ethel, a modern-day mystic. Ethel was leaving her job as program director at an adult learning network, and I was hired to replace her. During the time that she trained me in my new job (and in so much more), I began to see another way of dealing with illness and old wounds.

There’s more to the story, but for now I’ll just say that I began to release my need to cling to “my” asthma. I became aware of times when lung problems worked FOR me. Like when I was dismissed from duties (“Your sisters will rake the leaves. We don’t want you to wheeze.”) or when I got attention (“Boyfriend, I need you! I can’t breathe you must give me some TLC!”). I began to see that there were other, healthier ways that I could get my emotional needs met, if I were to simply be conscious of what I was really after.

(To head off any misunderstanding: I am NOT saying that I was faking symptoms to get attention. Asthma was a real medical condition, like many others. But I believe such real medical conditions can also be treated energetically and consciously.)

This didn’t happen in an instant, it wasn’t easy, and it’s an ongoing process. It means releasing victim patterns I’d carried my entire life. It means parting with a segment of my identity. It means being honest with myself from moment to moment. It means giving up the perks that come with my wounds. It means change, and it takes time.

Tapping into the transforming energy of your Heart Chakra. Here’s a powerful practice that uses the transformative energy of the heart. It is called tonglen, a Tibetan word meaning “taking and giving.” Practiced mystics will do this on behalf of all humanity, but I see no problem with starting small. Use it to heal yourself.

Pema Chodron
says, “Tonglen reverses the usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure and, in the process, we become liberated from a very ancient prison of selfishness. We begin to feel love both for ourselves and others and also we being to take care of ourselves and others. It awakens our compassion and it also introduces us to a far larger view of reality.”

1. Get yourself into a meditative state. This can be done while sitting, while lying down, while hiking in nature, while walking (have a labyrinth nearby?) , or while creating art or music or dance. Do what allows you to lose yourself.

2. First become aware of your breathing for a few moments. Follow your breath in and out of your lungs.

3. Tonglen breathing has three parts for each breath:

  • Inhales: imagine you are breathing in all the suffering there is from this condition (infertility, the loss of a child, or cancer, for example). Allow this suffering to open your heart further and awaken your compassion for all who deal with it. Ask God, Jesus, your spirit guides or whomever to bless all the suffering that you accept into your heart. This is the opposite of the avoidance of pain — it requires the welcoming of it.
  • At the top of the breath, pause for just a moment to allow your heart to shift and transform the yuckiness it holds. Hold the intention to do so.
  • Exhales: imagine the suffering energy being cleansed and transformed by your heart and sent from your lungs back to the world. Only now what was dark is now light, what was gunky is now clear. Envision this metamorphosis, as performed by your open and aware Heart Chakra. You willingly take in suffering, transform and release it, and joyfully send out compassion and healing. Keep up the three-part breathing, mindfully. Fill up your room, your home, your neighborhood with this magnificently pure, love energy.

4. Flow and transform for 5, 10, 20 minutes. No hard rules — just do it as long as you can stay focused on bringing in the “bad” and sending out the “good.” Don’t worry about doing this right. Make the practice yours and play with your heart’s own transforming power.

5. Pat yourself on the back for setting aside some time to be conscious and still.

Why Forgiveness is good for your heart

I’ll close with this quote from my journaling calendar that attests to the self-interest in the act of forgiving:

“You must forgive those who hurt you, even if whatever they did to you is unforgivable in your mind. You will forgive them not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because you don’t want to suffer and hurt yourself every time you remember what they did to you.” —Don Miguel Ruiz

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This post researched, in part, from Anatomy of the Spirit , by Caroline Myss, PhD.

The paintings for this series were created by Lisa Brown-Olsen. Her work is featured at Maitri Yoga.

Solar Plexus Chakra: the Fire Within

Welcome to the yellow chapter of my Chakra series.

In case you’re new here, this is the fourth of eight parts. Here are links to The Rainbow Within Chakra Series to get you up to speed:

1st: Root chakra
2nd: Sacral chakra
3rd: Solar plexus chakra
4th: Heart chakra
5th: Throat chakra
6th: Third-eye chakra
7th: Crown chakra

This  spotlight is on the third or Solar Plexus Chakra — our ego base. It is the seat of our personal power, and the place where we carry unresolved fear, anger and guilt. It is also where we feel love for ourselves.

Questions to ponder regarding today’s chakra:

  • Do you like yourself?
  • Are you honest?
  • Are you critical of yourself and others?
  • Do you tend to place blame as a way of protecting yourself?
  • Are you afraid of responsibility? Or do you take on responsibilities for others?

The Solar Plexus Chakra is positioned just below the bottom of the cartilage of your breast bone — about a fist-width above your belly button. Here are some indications that you’ve got an imbalance in your Solar Plexus Chakra.

Emotional and mental:

  • Problems with trust
  • Being on either the giving or receiving end of fear and intimidation
  • Low self-esteem, self-confidence or self-respect
  • Sensitivity to criticism
  • Lack of personal integrity — a disconnect between your values and your deeds. Breaking your personal code of honor.
  • Continual need for approval by someone who is not you.

Physical symptoms associated with imbalance:

  • Ulcers
  • Intestinal problems (large or small)
  • Pancreatitis or diabetes
  • Digestive issues (acute or chronic)
  • Anorexia or bulimia
  • Dysfunction of the liver, kidney, gall bladder or spleen

The Solar Plexus Chakra becomes active as you move from childhood to adulthood, as you become capable of standing on your own.

  • The color is yellow.
  • The element is fire. As in “fire in the belly.”
  • The seed sound is “RUM” (This cracks me up — what a great mantra for the belly. But the sound is actually pronounced more like “room.”
  • The verb is “I can.”
  • The sense is sight.
  • The associated endocrine gland is the pancreas.
  • The Solar Plexus Chakra has to do with your personal power and love of self.
  • Christian Sacrament: Confirmation. Becoming responsible for the quality of person you are. Coming of age, making and honoring your own commitments.
  • Jewish Sefirot: Hod and Nezah. Hod is the energy of the majesty of G*d and Nezah symbolizes the endurance of G*d. Together they are the source of prophecy — your “gut instinct.”
  • Healing thought: Honor Oneself.

A wise man once told me that being grown up (which is the life transition of this chakra) means seeing the world as it is, not how you think it should be.

I notice a huge energy drain any time I focus on what is missing from my life rather than on what I have. By accepting what is, by loving myself and my life, by accepting responsibility for what I, in fact, have created at a deep, soul level, I then live in integrity.

The clearer I can be in my Solar Plexus Chakra — meaning I continually dissolve energy blocks that result from fear and dishonesty — the clearer and louder my inner knowing is. I can tune in to my built-in guidance system that clues me in to people, situations, and decisions.

The muddier I am and the less mindfully I react to people and situations around me, the more difficult it is to “feel” the guidance in my gut. I am then living in the grip of fear, and that makes everything icky. For when I live in fear, I feel powerless. I must then pause to call back my power from all the people and situations I’ve left it with.

In the past I have violated this guidance by staying in a relationship that I knew wasn’t good for me, preferring to stay and be taken care of than to leave and face my fear of standing alone. I once stayed years too long in a toxic job that adversely affected my health.

With the relationship, I was finally pushed out by a major upheaval (which seemed awful at the time, but was actually an answer to my prayers).

And dealing with the job situation while I was learning about energy work, I was able to employ my personal power more and put into practice my favorite phrase: “leap and the net will appear.” But it wasn’t easy to take that leap. How would we possibly live on half our income, with a baby daughter and one more adoption ahead of us? Once I aligned my gut feeling and my actions, the Universe aligned to support my decision. I have combed over our finances in Quicken, and I can’t tell you how it happened, but it did.

Dr. Caroline Myss talks about the true nature of our physical bodies. “From a spiritual perspective, any and all physical assets and limitations are illusory. Yet a person’s acceptance of or resistance to them is critical to entering spiritual adulthood.”

Then she reflects on the third chakra challenges of a person in a wheelchair (but the example can be made to any physically limiting condition, including infertility): “The fact that the physical world is an illusion does not mean that the wheelchair does not exist or that her physical problem is not real. Rather, it means that nothing in the physical world can contain or limit the power of the human spirit.”

I have seen people in the blogosphere free their spirits, and I am in awe for their courage and grace. For example, a certain blogger (hint: she will be on the BlogHer panel with me) has committed to living her life the way it is rather than the way she thought it should be. She is unplugging from negative people and circumstances, invoking her own beautiful and majestic spirit, and is rebuilding her life with endurance (Nezah) and dignity (Hod). We get to watch as this act of integrity, joined with her writing creativity, propel her to becoming a strong and internally guided voice.So, as I go forward in my day, my intentions are to honor myself and to listen to my inner knowing. To integrate my thoughts, words and deeds. To keep my personal power intact and to not give it away to anyone or anything outside me.

And maybe to have some RUM at the end of the day (virtual mojito, anyone?).

I invite you to do the same.

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This post researched, in part, from Anatomy of the Spirit, by Caroline Myss, PhD.

The paintings for this series were created by Lisa Brown-Olsen and are published with permission.

Sacral chakra: Sex, Money, Power

The title sounds like a new-season TV series, no?

In reality, the Chakras are the seven “wheels of energy” (in ancient Sanskrit) that manifest health or dis-ease in our physical and energetic bodies.

Visit any of these other entries in The Rainbow Within Chakra Series

1st: Root chakra
2nd: Sacral chakra
3rd: Solar plexus chakra
4th: Heart chakra
5th: Throat chakra
6th: Third-eye chakra
7th: Crown chakra

Recently, I wrote about the Root Chakra, which lies at the base of the spine and holds the often unconscious messages of The Tribe. Up now is the second or Sacral Chakra — our sexual center, our creative center.

Your Sacral Chakra is positioned just behind and below your belly button. Here are some indications that you’ve got things going on in your Sacral Chakra.

Emotional and mental issues associated with the Sacral Chakra:

  • Blame and guilt
  • Money and sex
  • Power and control
  • Creativity
  • Ethics and honor in relationships

Physical symptoms associated with imbalance:

  • Chronic lower back pain
  • OB/Gyn problems
  • Sexual potency
  • Urinary problems
  • Infertility
  • Disease of the reproductive organs

The Sacral Chakra is where we deal with primary relationships. Addictions (powerlessness) are often based here.

  • The color is orange. This is the place between the groupmind of the Tribe (red, 1st chakra) and the seeds of Self (yellow, 3rd chakra).
  • The element is water. There is ebb and flow, an awesome power to both create and destroy.
  • The seed sound is “vum” .
  • The verb is “I feel.”
  • The sense is taste, a very sensual way to experience the material world.
  • The associated endocrine glands are the gonads.
  • The sacral chakra has to do with partnership, creativity, power and control.
  • Christian Sacrament: Communion. The symbolic meaning is to receive grace (the “host”) representing holy union with Christ and with the people closest to you.
  • Jewish Sefirot: Yesod, the procreative force of G-d, merging energy into physical form.
  • Healing thought: Honor one another.

We come into the world with an energetic need to connect, at a soul level, with others. People come into our lives reflect us to ourselves, and to help us find Truth. All is one and Honor one another are two such Truths. We’ll see more Truths as we progress through the chakras.

Whereas the first chakra is rooted in oneness (the groupmind of the Tribe), the second chakra brings out duality and opposites, primarily the male/female.

In this seat of creativity is choice. Every time we make a choice, we are creating our reality. Ultimately, it’s not really the choices we make that matter, but how we make them. For when we choose from fear, there is nothing but our own ego (which is an illusion) to support our choice. However, when we choose from love, we receive the full support of the Universe. To do so requires the proverbial leap of faith.

The Sacral Chakra is about control, and how we all eventually come to the conclusion that we can’t really control the physical world. What we CAN control is our inner responses to the external world. Through our lives, we tend to look for the external “it” that will bring order to our chaos.

I’ve called this my “I’ll be happy whens.” I’ll be happy when I get the degree; find the dream job; meet my soul mate; have a baby; complete my family; make a little more money.” But when my happiness is pegged to something outside me, there is always another externality to take its place. In the meantime I am not happy now — only looking toward happiness in the future.

Blocked energy in the second chakra can bring on impotence, infertility, endometriosis, depression. But when energy is free to flow through our Sacral Chakra, we are able to continually renew our lives. Flowing creating energy frees us from habits and ruts. It manifests when we create music, poetry, videos, blog/journal entries, artwork of any medium, and any other manner of expression.

Gossip, manipulation and meanness — expressions that come from fear — are also ways to use creative energy, but with a net drain from the Sacral Chakra.

Blogging is, for me, a creative activity. It has me looking at my world with more observant eyes, a more conscious mind. Many bloggers are opening their Sacral Chakras with the process of blogging.

Here is a short story about my own healing process. A long time ago, my main issue was my health — primarily in my lungs. I experienced an allergy to a common mold that was affecting the quality and possibly the length of my life. At the time I was running an adult education network, and my job was to interview applicant teachers and help them develop their course descriptions.

One day two people came in to propose a class on a holistic way to manage allergies. As an aside, the man looked at a kitschy plaque on my desk that said, “I am allergic to morning.” He suggested I put it away, that I not insert the word “allergy” into my mind multiple times a day. I think it, I am it, he explained. The Universe pays attention to my mind chatter.

So. A word of caution in the same vein to some infertility bloggers (and I’m aware that no one has asked for my assvice): Be careful who you declare yourself to be. The Universe will support your creative declaration. You want to be Infertile4ever.blogspot.com? You got it. Call yourself cantgetpreggers.wordpress.com? Okey-dokey. If your entire persona is tied to being neveramom.com, the Universe will comply — for who would you be if not this identity you’ve worked so hard on?

By blogging, you are creating. So do it consciously and with awareness of who you want to be.

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This post researched, in part, from Anatomy of the Spirit , by Caroline Myss, PhD.

The paintings for this series were created by Lisa Brown-Olsen and used with permission.

Root chakra: red, tribal, survival

Visit any of these other entries in The Rainbow Within Chakra Series

1st: Root chakra
2nd: Sacral chakra
3rd: Solar plexus chakra
4th: Heart chakra
5th: Throat chakra
6th: Third-eye chakra
7th: Crown chakra

_________________________

Last time I introduced the concept of the chakras, the seven “wheels of energy” (in ancient Sanskrit) that manifest health or dis-ease in our physical and energetic bodies.

Today, it’s all about the Root Chakra, which is located at the base of your spine, at your tailbone. Might you have any Root Chakra issues on occasion?

Emotional symptoms associated with imbalance:

  • Nervousness, insecurity
  • Inability to stand up for yourself
  • Fear for your safety
  • Strong, stifling need for stability or security
Physical symptoms associated with imbalance:
  • Chronic lower back pain
  • Varicose veins
  • Colon polyps or cancer
  • Kidney problems
  • Leg or foot pain
  • Depression
  • Immune disorders

The Root Chakra is where we hold tribal issues. To help explain what that means, let’s go through some specifics.

  • The color is red. As in blood (blood ties, blood vengeance, blood brothers, bloodlines)
  • The element is Earth. As in where roots go.
  • The seed sound is “lum.”
  • The verb is “I have.”
  • The sense is smell, our most primitive of senses.
  • The endocrine glands most affected are the adrenals (“fight or flight”).
  • The root chakra has to do with survival, grounding, security, and safety.
  • Christian Sacrament: Baptism. The symbolic meaning is to welcome you into the community — the tribe — of Christ.
  • Jewish Sefirot: Shikhinah, the mystical community of Israel. Its symbolic meaning is similar: to welcome you into the community of humanity and the spirit of Earth.
  • Healing thought: All is one.

And lest you think this is just an ancient thought with no relevance in the modern world, the same idea occurred to Abraham Maslow in 1943 when he put First Chakra issues on the first step of his hierarchy of needs.

We pick up our tribal thought patterns by osmosis — they are practically in the air we breathe. These beliefs are questioned only as we begin to live more mindfully and consciously, choosing thoughts and beliefs that serve us and discarding the ones that don’t.

And tribal messages DO serve us — or at least they did at one time. We NEED to know certain things to live in the harsh world of scarcity, where strangers bring harm and our ways are best. Think Cro-Magnon man. Think tribes in the bible. Think Native Americans and Europeans. Think Palestinians and Jews, Tutsis and Hutus, Croats-Serbs-Bosnians, Sunnis and Shiites.

Here are a couple of messages I’ve plucked from my awareness. Do you carry any of them?

  • Save for a rainy day
  • Family is everything
  • It’s too bad we have to age
  • To be a teenager is to be rebellious
  • You can never be too rich or too thin
  • If you can’t have children, what’s the point of living?
  • I would die if he/she ever left me
  • Justice is the cornerstone of our society

Are these beliefs absolutely true, or just tribally true?

And do they serve me now? Actually, it would be quite freeing to release some of these thoughts. Maybe I already AM rich enough and thin enough. Maybe I could choose NOT to dread my children’s teenage years. I’d like to think compassion is equally important as justice, and that all people have value, not just those who procreate. Since the only alternative to age is death, maybe I’ll embrace age, wrinkles and spider veins and all.

I’m a grown-up now, and I can choose which beliefs to hold and honor. I’m thankful to my tribe for guiding me as I learn to survive on my own, but I no longer need it to control me.

Individuals can outgrow a belief, and so can an entire tribe. Dr Caroline Myss has a dramatic example of the The Tribe outgrowing a belief. I’ll arc the decades-long experience into just a few story boards:

In October, 1929, the American economy crashed and the Great Depression began.

Americans described themselves as being “crippled” economically. With the double whammy of a drought and bad farming practices, we also became agriculturally “crippled.”

There was a polio epidemic in the 1930s and 1940s. Children absorbed the tribe’s energy and were susceptible to the viral disease as well as the economic dis-ease.

We elected to the Presidency FDR, “a living symbol of both physical weakness and indomitable resilience.”

A tribal event, WWII, brought pride and power back to the country. We were “on our feet” again . We had shifted from feeling powerless to feeling powerful. Soon after, Jonas Salk discovered the vaccine for polio.

We had a tribal shift in consciousness.So. What tribal beliefs do you carry that no longer serve you? What would you like to shift in your life?

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This post researched, in part, from Anatomy of the Spirit , by Caroline Myss, PhD.

The paintings for this series were created by Lisa Brown-Olsen. Her work is featured at Maitri Yoga, included with permission.