Chakras: Energy Centers of the Human Body
The entire universe is made of energy, and your body is no exception.
Long before our modern world of technology and science, ancient cultures lived with the knowledge that all living things carry a life force with-in them. They called the centers of energy that move inside of us, the 7 chakras. So what are the seven chakras? Chakra is an old Sanskrit word that literally translates to wheel.
This is because the life force, or prana, that moves inside of you is spinning and rotating. This spinning energy has 7 mian centers in your body, which are the areas where major energy flows intersect, starting at the base of your spine and moving all the way up to the top of your head—connected with the spinal column in an upward flow of energy. In a healthy, balanced person, the 7 chakras provide exactly the right amount of energy to every part of your body, mind and spirit. However, when one of your chakras is too open and spinning too quickly, or if it is too closed and moving slowly, this will hinder the flow of energy not only within that chakra, causing disturbances in the related part of the body, but also between all the chakras which will affect other parts of the body.
By learning about the 7 chakras, you can become more in tune with the natural energy cycles of your body. The chakras control the organs and glands of the body and each of the seven main chakras relates to a specific area in the body. You can use this information to connect physical, emotional and spiritual imbalances with the chakras that empower them. The seven chakras are each associated with different body parts, attitudes and energies. Of course, with those discoveries you can begin to balance your chakras and live a healthy and harmonious life.
It is thought that the positive vibration of gemstones can harmonize the chakras and allow the energy to flow freely. Different stones are thought to be more effective with each chakra, usually associated with the colour of the stones. Some stones, like rock crystal, diamonds, and sugilite, are considered to be helpful in clearing blockages in all the chakras.
Sahasrara, the Crown Chakra
Sahasrara or the crown chakra is the source of the highest intelligence (prajnanam). Located at the tip or crown of the head, it is said to be the chakra of pure consciousness, the master chakra that controls all the others, and the destination of the rising Kundalini where upon one enters the state of Samadhi or unified consciousness without the distinction of subject and object. Its role would be very similar to that of the pituitary gland, which secretes hormones to control the rest of the endocrine system, and also connects to the central nervous system via the hypothalamus. The thalamus is thought to have a key role in the physical basis of consciousness. Symbolized by a lotus with a thousand petals.
Ajna, the Third Eye Chakra
Ajna or the third eye is the source of intuitive or psychic knowledge and linked to the pineal gland. It represents, the syllable AUM and the dual state of Shiva as Shiva and Shakti. Hence, it is said to be presided over by Ardhanarisvara. Ajna is the chakra of time and awareness and of light. The pineal gland is a light sensitive gland, that produces the hormone melatonin, which regulates the instincts of going to sleep and awakening. It has been conjectured that it also produces trace amounts of the psychedelic chemical dimethyltryptamine. Symbolized by a lotus with two petals. (Some argue that the pineal and pituitary glands should be exchanged in their relationship to the Crown and Brow chakras, based on the description in Arthur Avalon's book on kundalini called Serpent Power or empirical research.)
Vishuddha, the Throat Chakra
Vishuddha or the throat chakra is the source of sacred speech and related to communication and growth, growth being a form of expression. It is presided over by the fivefold Shiva (Panchavaktra Shiva) who performs the fivefold functions of creation and represented by the syllable HAM. Shakini is his associated Shakti. This chakra is paralleled to the thyroid, a gland that is also in the throat, and which produces thyroid hormone, responsible for growth and maturation. Symbolized by a lotus with sixteen turquoise petals encircling a triangle with a silver moon inside.
Anahata, the Heart Chakra
Anahata or the heart/emotions chakra is related to love, equilibrium, and well-being and acts as the source of emotional intelligence. It is related to the thymus, located in the chest. This organ is part of the immune system and the endocrine system. It produces T cells responsible for fighting off disease, and is adversely affected by stress. Symbolized by a lotus with twelve green petals called the heart-mind, which encircles a yantra of two intersecting triangles, forming a hexagram, symbolizing the union of the male and female. It is represented by syllable YAM and said to be the seat of emotions and passions.
Manipura, the Stomach/Solar plexus Chakra
Manipura or the solar plexus chakra is related to metabolism, energy, assimilation and digestion, and is said to correspond to the roles played by the pancreas and the outer adrenal glands, the adrenal cortex. These play a valuable role in digestion, the conversion of food matter into energy for the body. Symbolized by a lotus with ten petals with a downward triangle at the center. It is presided over by Bradda Rudra, with Lakini as his Shakti, and represented by the seed syllable RAM. It is the source of physical and mental power, will and resolve.
Swadhisthana, the Sacral Chakra
Swadhisthana or the sacral chakra is located in the groin, and is related to emotion, sexuality and creativity. This chakra is said to correspond to the testicles or the ovaries, that produce the various sex hormones involved in the reproductive cycle, which can cause dramatic mood swings. Symbolized by a white lotus with six petals and a crescent moon inside. With Brahma as its presiding deity and Rakini as his Shakti, it is represented by the syllable VAM. As the charka which empowers the reproductive organs, it is the source of creative and reproductive power.
Muladhara, the Base/Root Chakra
Muladhara, the base or the root chakra is related to security, survival and the basic human potentiality. This center is located in the region between the genitals and the anus. Although no endocrine organ is placed here, it is said to relate to the inner adrenal glands, the adrenal medulla, responsible for the fight and flight response when survival is under threat. In this region is located a muscle that controls ejaculation in the sexual act. A parallel is drawn between the sperm cell and the ovum, where the genetic code lies coiled, and the kundalini. Symbolized by a lotus with four petals encircling a rectangle, with an inverted triangle in it. Ganesha is its presiding deity, with Dakini as his Shakti. LAM is the seed syllable.
The chakra system and Kundalini yoga arose within the Tantric tradition, during the second half of the first millennium, common era. The word Tantra means tool (tra) for stretching (tan) and can be thought of as a loom in which the fabric of nature is woven from the union of opposites. In the West, Tantra is thought of primarily as a sexual tradition, yet sacred sexuality is only a small part of a broad weaving of philosophy which includes many practices of yoga, worship of deities, especially the Hindu goddesses, and integration of the many polaric forces in the universe.
In these traditions, there are seven basic chakras, and they all exist within the subtle body, overlaying the physical body. Through modern physiology we can see that these seven chakras correspond exactly to the seven main nerve ganglia which emanate from the spinal column. There are minor chakras mentioned in the ancient texts, the soma chakra, located just above the third eye, and the Anandakanda lotus, which contains the Celestial Wishing Tree (Kalpataru) of the Heart Chakra, and other texts mention minor sub-levels to the major chakras.