Complementary and alternative medicines are increasingly common and include modalities that are often rooted in ancient practices modified for modern times. They may include Reiki, healing touch, Craniosacral therapy, qi gong, vibrational healing and many others, all promising to make us feel better. The commonality among these practices is that it is all energy work, and when we talk about that, we inevitably hear about chakras. So what are chakras and why do we care? More importantly how does an imbalance affect us, and why do our chakras need to be in better balance and harmony?
The chakras are energy fields represented at various points of our bodies. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, Chakras are “any of several points of physical or spiritual energy in the human body according to yoga philosophy.” The word comes from the Sanskrit cakra, meaning wheel, and was first used back in the 1800’s.
The 4 Bodies
- Joy Gaffney has been doing energy work for more than 15 years. She says we are made up of four bodies, all connected in one:
- Our mental body – our thoughts and perceptions.
- Our spiritual body – how we think of ourselves in respect to our source (God) and how we came into being. It is the spiritual essence of who we are.
- The physical body
- The emotional body – how we handle our feelings when brought into an emotional situation such as conflict, loss, or any experience where emotions come into play.
The 7 Chakras
There are seven major chakras that each effect different areas of the body running from the base of the spine to the top crown of your head. Gaffney describes these energy fields as wheels that are spinning at whatever rate they need to and are all different like fingerprints with each individual. “There is nothing out there in this world that does not affect the chakras at some level,” she says. “Every single thing will affect our chakra system. It’s part of who we are.” And for that reason it’s helpful to understand what they are about and how to keep them balanced. The chakras are not only within our bodies but can be felt approximately 4-6 inches outside the body. She explains the different chakras this way:
- The root chakra resonates and is usually identified by the color red. It is located at the base of the spine and represents our foundation and how we feel about ourselves as a human beings.
- The second chakra or sacral chakra, resonates and is identified by the color orange. It is located just below the navel and is all about the feminine if you are a woman or masculine if you are a man, as well as our creativity and emotions.
- The third chakra or solar plexus, located below the center of the rib cage, resonates and is identified with the color yellow and is our power or will center, having to do with how we project ourselves out into the world. It is related to how we use our power.
- The fourth chakra is the heart chakra which resonates and is identified with the color green and is located at the center of the chest. It is the heart center of love. It has to do with how we think about ourselves and others with love as human and spiritual beings.
- The fifth is the throat chakra located at the throat, and resonates and is identified with the color blue, and when it is more developed it helps us with the ability to step into our spiritual intuitive selves. It is about how we express and experience ourselves in life, how we handle conflict and difficult situations. It is our self-expression tool.
- The sixth chakra, or third eye, ties into the mental aspect of self and resonates and is identified with the color purple. Located between the eyebrows, it is about how you see yourself in truth and how honest that assessment is. It helps us take responsibility for changes we need to make, and gives us greater awareness of our abilities, and the ability to see ourselves honestly. The more honest we are the more clear the third chakra will become.
- The seventh chakra, or crown, is located just above the top of the head and is identified as white. It is the chakra that relates to the spiritual self, not in a religious way but rather a connection about who you are and where you came from, with awareness and increased consciousness that there is something greater than us out there. While all chakras are important in their own way, Joy says the crown chakra is particularly important and very powerful because it is all about life force coming through you.
Each of the chakras affects a particular area of the body, as well as the organs in those areas. When we experience an imbalanced state in any of our chakras, our bodies may respond through a variety of physical disorders as well as nonphysical problems that manifest because of that imbalance.
For example if we have an imbalance in our throat chakra we may experience physical disorders such as thyroid problems, sore throats, neck pain, but we may also find ourselves experiencing excessive talking, arrogance, being manipulative or conversely being timid or shy. When in balance, we can articulate our needs more clearly; we can be good speakers and feel inspired by our creative gifts. On her website JustJoyousOne.com, Joy explains each of the chakras and the associated disorders that can manifest due to imbalance.
“We know when something is out of balance or the chakra is spinning slowly when we have pain in that area that the chakra is governed by,” says Joy. “If we have a sore throat, maybe something needed to be expressed. If we have a headache, maybe we had thoughts filled with judgment. It is a barometer for us to tell what is and isn’t in balance, like a gauge.”
With the heart chakra it is all about how we attach to other people in relationship. If we lose someone we love dearly, our attachment to that person is so strong and we think their love dies with them, so we may crunch our hearts closed causing the heart to feel as if it’s broken. One example is when we hear of one spouse dying and the other follows shortly after because the heart chakra slows down when they are heartbroken. We heal by coming into awareness through talking with other people about what that relationship meant, only to realize that we are all connected even after a loved one is gone.
“We are all seeking some kind of balance, all seeking inner peace,” says Joy. “Our chakra system is always in flux. We continually work on ourselves in a conscious, mental, emotional and physical way in order to find peace with whatever comes into our lives. There will always be difficult situations coming up. However, we can take responsibility for this fully and more consciously. We can take responsibility for our response. We can choose. Conscious awareness of handling situations will directly affect how balanced we are in our chakras. If we are not conscious then we might react with more emotion and find it more difficult to recover from the situation that caused us such distress. Honesty and awareness within one’s self are our greatest tools to bring us into balance.”