What we are talking about when we talk about chakras.
It’s easy to feel mystified about chakras.
That could be because chakra systems are characterized differently depending on who is talking and what time period they are talking about. It also may be because the subject is not simple or concrete. Yet most agree about this: at their core, when contemplated, visualized, meditated upon or heard as drumming or singing bowl sounds, chakra systems can be vehicles for psychological, physical and/or spiritual healing. They are, themselves, mystical.
Today we most likely visualize chakras as numbering seven, corresponding to the colors of the rainbow and fitted to the spinal column from coccyx to the top of the head. But this is not the only view, nor was it the first.
Often described as subtle energy centers, chakras’ roots grew from ancient Sanskrit-written, Hindu practices. Those early yogic texts describe five-chakra systems, six-chakra systems, seven, nine, ten, twelve, twenty-one and more. They were identified as focal points for meditation and visualized as discs, wheels or flowers.
In those early texts a chakra was considered to be an intersection point of the body’s major energy channels, called nāḍīs. While there are tens of thousands of these nāḍīs, the most important one is the central channel – related to but not identical with the spinal column of the physical body.
When we discuss chakras today we are talking about the same system of energy consciousness. Chakras are still seen as wheels and flowers and energy vortexes. Yet, visualized through the lenses of modern Western knowledge, including psychology and physiology, they have expanded into a form that lets us better see ourselves – in mind, body, behavior and culture.
Yes, todays chakras are generally numbered as seven. They can correspond to certain colors, sounds, deities, gemstones, seasons, foods and more. This newer conceptual model helps us to balance and express our energy, advance our consciousness and facilitate healing. And that’s what we are all here for, aren’t we?
Stay tuned for additional reports on chakras this month, including more focus on the different chakras, how to activate and work with them, and how to use the chakra system to cleanse, or clear our energy.
It goes almost without saying that the study and contemplation of chakras can be a lifetime pursuit. Here are some resources to support this quest, many of which can be found right here at The Om Shoppe.
Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System, by Anodea Judith
Know Your Chakras: Introduction to Energy Medicine, by Helen Chin Lui