I think you and I are conduits for Love. We’re places where Heaven comes to earth. Life is a school of Love and our job here is to learn to love, to care and be cared for. Often this is amazing, yet sometimes it hurts. How do we maximize the bliss and minimize the pain (or put it into a broader, more joyful perspective) though? I think the answer lies in our chakras, and not in a woo-woo way (and don’t worry I’ll get to what a “chakra” is shortly :). (Let me pause here for a quick shout out to Eoin Finn for giving me the phrase “conduits of Love”, thanks brother! <3 )
Picture a guitar. Guitars are made to be beautiful conduits for music. YET, if the musician doesn’t TUNE the strings, what she/he plays will be less amazing than it could have been, or quite possibly terrible sounding. Our lives are much the same, without fine-tuning our beings we won’t be the miraculous instruments of Love and Heaven we’re created to be.
When we tune our charkas, we tune our lives and become better conduits of Heaven. So, what exactly do I mean by that? We’ll start at the beginning. What’s a chakra? It’s an ancient yoga system for understanding the relationship between our bodies and life-energies. In the yogic way of thought there are seven chakras, or energy centers, along our spinal column. The Sanskrit word “chakra” translates to “wheel”, so these energy centers are like hubs of vitality and life. The genius of this ancient system, in my mind, is it links our physical bodies to our spiritual energies, as well as our emotional experiences.
The chakras are numbered 1-7 and ascend from the base of our spine to the crown of our head. In English they’re referred to as the root, sacral, solar, heart, throat, 3rd eye, and crown chakras. The thinking is ideally our energies flow freely through and between these chakras (while some yoga schools say it only flows from the bottom up, I land on the side saying the energy moves both ways), yet often we get stuck or blocked in a place, two, or three, and these blockages prevent us from being fully alive, energized, enabled, loving, and peaceful. For instance, have you ever been in a situation where you had no voice, or had a time when you felt insecure, or lived for awhile in your head, or felt disconnected from your sexuality, or like you didn’t know who you are? These would generally be viewed as blockages in a corresponding chakra.
Now that we have a bit of a foundation, we can move on to the juicy good stuff. If you are interested in knowing more about chakras, you can learn more here: http://www.chopra.com/articles/what-is-a-chakra#sm.0018sethy10zpetxsk51kfnxgcxky
While we have seven chakras, they can be more broadly grouped into three categories (which I learned from Eoin Finn). The root, sacral, and solar chakras (from the base of our spine to our belly) form our sense of self, identity, and ego. The fourth chakra (heart) is where our love and connection to and care for others sit. Finally, the throat, 3rd eye, and crown chakras (from our throat to the crown of our head) is where we connect to Spirit.
In short, the chakras are yoga’s system for understanding, balancing, and tuning our confidence, identity, and sense of self … with our connection to, care for, and love to/from others … with our connection to the Divine and the inexplicable peace, calm, and joy we receive from that relationship.
Now we get to how you and I can do yoga without leaving the chair you’re sitting in, counter you’re lounging over, bed you’re laying in, or wherever reading this blog happens to find you. Are our egos, hearts, and spirits balanced, unblocked, and working in harmony? We don’t need to go anywhere or do any yoga poses to explore and discover where we are in these areas today, and THAT is practicing yoga, right here and right now!
To put it differently, by talking about tuning our chakras I’m simply saying are our sense of self, love of others, and connection to God in harmony? Are they all flowing optimally? Are we balanced in these places?
Now, while I’m speaking more in philosophical terms, we can often also feel these in our bodies. When our self confidence is deflated or identity is devalued, it can show up in our pelvic floor or belly. If we feel disconnected from others or hurt by a lover, our heart can hurt. Conversely, when we’re off course in life or disconnected from the Divine, we might feel out of our minds, frazzled, fearful, or anxious.
In my experience we generally think of our ego as “bad”. In my mind, that’s unfortunate. Our egos are actually good, they’re what get us out of bed in the morning, they’re what lead us to achieve and do things, they’re what drive us to invent and perform. The problem, which is all too frequent in the U.S., comes when we let our egos be our bosses. Your ego is meant to motivate you, NOT guide or direct you.
So, when it comes to our sense of self, to our root, to our identity. Are we confident and grounded, or unconfident and shaky, or overconfident and rigid? Is your and my ego properly inflated, underinflated, or overinflated? When our first three chakras are properly tuned, when they’re unblocked and operating smoothly, we’re confident and secure in our identities without being arrogant or overpowering of others.
A key question here is do you feel safe? Do you feel cared for? Are you comfortable in your own skin? When we’re not, then yoga would say one or more of these chakras is blocked, so we need to take some time to work on ourselves, to rebuild our sense of safety, security, and identity (perhaps by even fleeing a dangerous situation or relationship!)
Because when we have a cared for, grounded, safe, and confident sense of self, then we can freely and fully proceed to loving and caring for others. At various points in my life I’ve been both too meek and too boastful. When I was busy beating myself up and thinking I was a terrible sinner only fit for hell, I had ZERO love to give to others. Conversely, when I thought too highly of myself, I gave ZERO love to others because I was too busy loving myself and taking their love for myself. That said, when we’re tuned, when we’re balanced in our own skin, in our sense of self, THEN we can freely and fully love and be loved by others.
When we’re in harmony with our own self AND with those around us, we’re ready and open to connect to our Creator. Note, while I am laying this out linearly and in a “this then that” type of format, I think it actually flows and moves in all directions. In other words, a properly inflated ego can lead us to connect well with others and God just as easily as an encounter with the Divine can lead us to balanced sense of self. Likewise, a loving relationship with a friend can bring us to a properly loving relationship with our self.
When our spiritual side of things (chakras 5-7) is in order, we’re able to connect more easily and readily with the Divine. As I alluded to at the beginning, this connection is what gives us a freer and larger perspective of things. The best way I can describe my experience with God during meditation is Light. It’s an experience of Light, which leaves me with a strong and unshakeable sense of peace and joy. The Divine Light and its resultant peace and joy seem to remain and sometimes even amplify in the midst of sorrow, hurt, and pain.
When our spiritual selves are clear, open, and available to the Divine, we receive a gift of peace that passes understanding. The best way I can put this is we FEEL to our VERY BONES the truth the mystic Julian of Norwich communicated when she said God told her: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” When we operate from a place that’s convinced ALL is and will be well, then (going back down the chakras) we can more easily and joyfully give our love away to others. In fact, we can literally just give love away without expecting anything in return or being attached to its result, because we’re operating from a place of peace.
Furthermore, from this grounded place we then hold our very selves loosely but lovingly. We realize we matter and are cared for, AND we’re just a small self who’s part of something SO MUCH bigger. As we “descend” from our connection with God to love for/from others and sense of self (i.e. ego), we do so from a divine place that sees you’re of infinite worth and value, you’re incredibly loved … and so is her, him, me, and everyone!
The Rabi Hillel used to walk around with two notes in his pockets. One read: “I’m a speck of dust.” The other reminded him: “The world was created for me.” I think a tuned person; a tuned conduit of Love/Heaven is you and I when we live simultaneously as if both those statements were true. In that place we’re free to love and be loved from a space filled with abundant peace and joy.
I think when we harmonize our chakras, i.e. our sense of self with our love for others with our connection to the Divine, life get’s pretty dang awesome. Love spills out and Heaven rains down for you, me, and everyone else. What do you think? Is there anywhere you could use a tune-up?
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Grace and peace,