Chakras are centers of energy, or life-force, within our bodies. There are seven major ones, and each one corresponds to a major plexus (network) of arteries, veins and nerves. Each one is also associated with a different endocrine gland, and has control over certain parts of the body. When the energy of a chakra is not flowing freely, the result can be physical illness or it can result in mental, emotional, or spiritual imbalance. Often, a physical illness is paired with another type of imbalance.
This illustration that I found floating around Facebook is a really concise chart, which makes it very useful, as long as you know exactly what the terms mean. It is also useful for this discussion because unlike other charts, it doesn’t superimpose the chakras on a representation of the physical body, because today’s post focuses on mental, emotional and spiritual imbalances, rather than physical ones.
On the left are the results of freely-flowing energy through the various chakras in the body. On the right, are the types of imbalances that result in blockage of energy. At first, the terms don’t seem like opposites, which is why I said above that you have to know what the terms actually mean. I would make a couple of changes in this list, as I explain below.
Let’s start at the bottom of the chart. The Root Chakra (red) deals with survival. When it is clear, it gives us a sense of security and groundedness, as well as a connection with Mother Earth that is more than purely physical. If we substitute the term “security” for “survival,” it becomes clear why fear is the result when the energy is blocked, since fear is the absence of security. Fears can result from a number of situations, including attack, pain, death, loss, reprisal, exposure, or the unknown. A little fear can be a healthy thing when it alerts us to danger and thereby prolongs our survival in the physical world, but when we allow ourselves to feel fear on an ongoing basis, the fear begins to dictate our actions, closing off one avenue of escape after another until we are incapacitated because we feel we have run out of options. When fear is chronic, we begin to believe that we cannot survive whatever it is that we are afraid of, which is another reason why fear is the opposite of survival.
The most time-honored way to beat back fear is to face it, head-on. As we face fear after fear, we establish a track record. Soon, we begin to realize that we are perfectly capable of dealing with pain and loss. We realize that the situation we feared is not nearly as bad as we had imagined it would be. We realize, also, that it’s perfectly OK to ask for help to face our fears. Once we wake up to the fact that we are Soul, that Soul is immortal, and that we have lived and died many times before, we also get over our fear of death. Those who have had, and can recall, a near-death or other out-of-body experience are especially blessed, as they can understand at the level of personal experience what it is to survive beyond the confines of the physical body.
The next one up is called the Sacral Chakra (orange). It deals with pleasure not only in the matter of sex, but also in the context of being with others in the family unit and beyond. When energy is flowing freely through this chakra, we experience sex as a loving act, and we have a healthy, outgoing personality that attracts others. We have that “I’m OK” feeling. If the energy in this chakra is blocked, we feel guilt and shame, and we may become addicted to one thing or another in the attempt to feel “OK” again.
Guilt is what we feel when we accept responsibility for violating a moral standard that we believe in. In other words, we know right from wrong, but for some reason we did the wrong thing anyway. It is important to realize that we can feel guilt whether we have actually committed a wrongful act or not. As long as we ourselves believe that our action was wrong, it doesn’t even matter what other people think. The word “guilt” is often used interchangeably with “remorse,” but as a number of people have pointed out, guilt comes from the mind, while remorse originates in the heart. Both are an awareness that we have done something wrong, but remorse sets into motion a true change within us, a change of heart. It signals an intention to heal and/or to make restitution for injury or damage.
When we experience ongoing guilt without true remorse (the opportunity to heal), we feel shame, which leads us to the conclusion we, ourselves, are bad (and not just our thoughts, words or actions. When we decide that we are bad, we then begin to feel unworthy, certainly not worthy of any type of basic pleasure. Pleasure and guilt are opposites because of the underlying self-image that we have of being “OK” or “not OK.” One of the reasons we tend to succumb to addictions when the energy in this chakra is blocked is that when we feel we are not OK, then we begin to believe that something outside of ourselves can give us the “OK” feeling. (In the illustration above, shame is given as the opposite to willpower, and there’s some truth in that, but I will offer another opposite term, below.)
The only way to feel “OK” again is to make a conscious decision. The impetus for this must come from within ourselves. Once again, it’s perfectly fine to ask for help, but we, ourselves, must do the asking. There has to be a realization that we are loved by the Creator, and that we don’t “deserve” the negative situations we find ourselves in. We have to realize that our minds are a tool to be used by Soul, that which we truly are. We can program the mind with positive self-images, and the mind will automatically begin a more positive output of thoughts. This will not happen all of a sudden, though. It takes a long time to turn ourselves around from a negative self-image. This is one of those situations where the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
When the Solar Plexus Chakra (yellow) is clear, we feel confident and in control of our lives, and that’s when we can say that we have willpower. We can set an intention and follow through to the point that our intention is manifested in ordinary reality.
When the chakra is blocked, we suffer a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem, which is what shame is – that “not OK” feeling. But since I used shame as the ultimate opposite of pleasure, I’m going to offer another term, here: powerlessness. Due to the underlying “not OK” feeling, we get the sense that we are unable to do for ourselves, or that anything we might do will not solve our problems or accomplish any good.
The cure for this blockage is actually the same as the cure for guilt/shame given above: deciding that we’re loved and “worth it.” Once we decide this, we stop owning all the negative stuff that comes our way. We stop believing that we deserve it. Unconsciously, we begin to create more positive circumstances, because we have started to reject the negative ones that no longer match our energy signature.
The clear Heart Chakra (green) allows us to feel love, compassion, tenderness, and a sense of equilibrium. We bond with others emotionally. We are capable of extending trust and forgiveness to others. We learn acceptance and tolerance of others’ differences.
When this chakra is blocked, we experience grief, which is a sense of loss, because we believe that we have lost some kind of connection. The actual loss could be called bereavement. Our response to loss is grief. We may feel grief at the death of a child, a spouse, a parent, a sibling or other family member, a friend, a mentor, or a pet. We may also grieve when someone we love moves away, when our kids move out of the house, when we experience divorce, or when we lose custody of a child. We may experience grief at the loss of a job, whether from a firing, layoff, or retirement. We may feel the loss of trust, the loss of faith, or a loss of our own physical autonomy as we age, or when we experience physical disability due to injury, illness, or aging. Grief is a natural response to loss, but when it becomes chronic, we can sometimes be stuck in a state of denial, anger and bitterness, or despair and depression. All of these outcomes make it impossible for us to maintain relationships or create new ones, because our focus is on ourselves, rather than on others.
After a loss and a normal period of grief, it is important to re-organize our lives in order to move forward. The loss is a part of our lives, but not at the center of it, so we can begin to focus outwardly again. As with everything else, there is no rule that says you can’t ask for help.
The Throat Chakra (blue), when clear, allows us to express ourselves, and to express truth. We are able to experience true two-way communication. We are able to express ourselves meaningfully and clearly, and to get our message across to others without distortion. We are also able to receive messages from other people and from Divine Spirit, in the guise of our dreams, as well as in terms of our intuition. We say how we really feel, rather than telling people what they would rather hear. We express what is, rather than what we think should be. .
When the Throat Chakra is blocked, we cannot communicate clearly, and sometimes we cannot communicate at all. In simplistic terms, full, clear communication is “truth.” A partial truth is still a lie. So is a garbled truth or a misstated truth.
To clear this chakra, we must pay attention to our use of words and language, and we must make a conscious effort to ensure that our messages are as clear as we can make them. It’s not anyone else’s job to understand us. It’s our job to make ourselves understood. In order to receive incoming messages clearly, we must learn to remember and interpret our dreams, pay attention to our intuition, free our minds from bias, and learn to reserve judgment. Like any other fundamental change, this is not going to happen very fast. It is the work of lifetimes.
The Third Eye Chakra (indigo) deals with intuition and imagination, both of which allow us to experience insight. What is insight? It is a deep level of understanding that goes beyond what you can perceive with your five senses. It is an understanding of relationships, particularly that of cause and effect. When this chakra is clear, we are aware of the physical world as more than just a bunch of atoms and molecules arranged into physical forms, or a set of chemical and mechanical processes. We understand that the physical world is only one aspect of Creation, and that it is a place of learning for Soul. We see our lives as gifts from a loving Creator, opportunities to grow and to be of service. We are aware of protection and guidance from Divine Spirit, which comes in many forms.
The opposite of insight is illusion. This is what we perceive when we use only our physical senses. Most people think that our senses allow us to see is “reality” but what we see, hear, taste, smell and touch is not all there is. For example, when sand is magnified 250 times , you can see that it’s a pile of very tiny stones and shells that are quite beautiful and very colorful. When we magnify the blood, we see red cells, white cells and platelets. When we point a telescope at an area of space that seems devoid of stars, we find, and high magnification that it is full of stars, galaxies and planets, not to mention clouds of gas and all kinds of other things. Physicists tell us that the molecules of solid substances such as wood and rock are actually vibrating, if slowly. We can’t see a television transmission at all as it travels through the air, but we can receive it on our TV set. When we’re blindfolded and our ears are plugged, we can still sense that someone is standing nearby. We sometimes know exactly who’s calling before we even look at the caller ID, or even what a personal letter will reveal before we open the envelope. There’s so much more to our world than what we can perceive physically.
When we fail to take into consideration other people’s intentions, we can misunderstand their actions. That is also a form of illusion. Trouble results when we take an illusion at face value. For example, the co-worker who was angry at you at work this morning may not have been angry with you at all. She might simply have been angry with herself for overreacting to her child the other day, or perhaps she was acting out her fear that her aged mother is about to die.
Learning to see beyond the illusions of physical life is a task that we are engaged in throughout all of our lifetimes on this planet. It is one of the basic reasons that we are all here.
Finally, an unobstructed Crown Chakra (violet) allows us to connect with Divine Spirit. Meditation and lucid dreaming are easy and natural for us. When the energy is blocked, what holds us back from full connection with Divine Spirit is our attachments to physical world things. We can be attached to physical items, such as money and possessions, or addictions such as food, sex, drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol. We can also be attached to non-physical things, such as status, power, prestige, rank, our own opinions, or having to be “right” all the time. We can also be attached to people. Anything or anyone that keeps us attached to the physical world holds us back from full and unobstructed connection with Divine Spirit.
Having something in the physical world is not the same as being attached to it. It’s OK to have money, for example, and to use it to buy necessities and pleasures, but when our desire to acquire more and more of it begins to dictate our actions to the point where we don’t care how many relationships are destroyed, how many toes are stepped on, or how much of Mother Earth is destroyed in the name of greed, then we are attached to it. We can enjoy our possessions and our relationships with those around us, but if we feel that life is not living without some thing or some person, then we are attached.
Like learning to love unconditionally, communicate clearly, and see beyond illusions, learning to recognize and maintain a direct contact with God is the work of many lifetimes. 🙂
Image credits for the individual chakra images: Sacred Centers, Anodea Judith, www.SacredCenters.com.