A review by Natasha Bal: Chakra Meditation – Transformation Through the Seven Energy Centers of the Body – by Layne Redmond
In order to reach our higher Self, we must journey through 7 heavens, 7 planes of existence, 7 dimensions of consciousness, and 7 spheres of energy, known as the chakras. “The chakra system is the electromagnetic structure of our consciousness, created by the flow of our life force (prana) through the mind and body.” Chakras are the intersections along these main energy channels (nadi). They regulate physical, mental, and emotional states. If the flow of energy is blocked or interrupted our physical & mental health are effected; how we see ourselves & others is effected; how we function in life is effected; as is our ability to reach our highest potential.
The mind has infinite potential waiting to be brought forth. The goal of yoga is to clear the mind so that we can understand who we are and what our purpose in life is. Hatha yoga asanas: “postures place the body in positions that cultivate relaxation, concentrated awareness, and a meditative state, while massaging, stretching and stimulating the internal organs. Asanas also open and clear the energy channels and chakras within the mind & body.” Asanas are important for preparing the body for meditation.
When all the chakras unify and connect with the source of all creation this is the state of Nirvana or Bliss. The personal Self becomes the eternal Self. In order to do this we must awaken the Self to a higher dimension of awareness by clearing repressed memories and anxieties, and developing intuition and understanding. In deep meditation the awakened mind allows both hemispheres of the brain (representing all pairs of opposites) to function as one.
Most people are stuck in the first three chakras which can be seen as “life-threatening” or “planet-threatening” as they involve only “me”. It is important to move consciousness up to 4th chakra and then beyond.
Techniques and Tools for Meditating
Mantras are sounds that transform the vibrational levels of the body, brain and nervous system in order to bring the mind into calm awareness.
Mudras create energy circuits, so no prana escapes.
Bandhas are muscular locks preventing loss of prana.
Nada yoga: Ultimate reality originates from primordial first sound. This sound is represented by the sound of drums since drumming echoes this cosmic heartbeat. The mind and body pulse to the rhythms of the life force.
Pranayama exercises help to awaken Kundalini and generate and store pranic energy in the chakras. Pranayama clears energy passages.
Chanting seed syllables helps balance and restores chakras.
Yantras help centre and bring attention inward for meditation and this concentration loosens samskaras and dissolves blockages. The Yantra for each chakra contains the Lotus flower, the symbol of womb of consciousness.
The 1st Chakra: Muladhara; Concerned with physical survival (located at the base of spine)
When Muladhara is balanced one does not allow fears to have conscious control, one can let go limitations & internal conflicts, we feel secure within ourselves, have what we need but not more, we are not defined by what we have. It is a place of beginning; support for the other chakras. Unbalanced we feel a need to conquer, control, acquire, own material possessions. We feel a fear of the future, depression, low self-esteem, fear of pursuing dreams.
2nd Svadisthana: Sexual energy, fantasy, desire for relationships, pleasure seeking (located in the lower abdomen).
The second chakra is linked to the sense of taste (literally and metaphorically) and the element of water. In unblocking Svadisthana we learn to see ourselves beyond relationships.
A balanced second chakra allows one to stop relying on others for fulfillment, focus on creativity, gain insight, refinement, discrimination, wisdom of creative thought. Unbalanced it creates feelings of lust, anger, greed, delusion, pride, envy. It is the “Storehouse of karma” (samskaras), of experiences for current and past lives, the repository of unconscious, wounds from past relationships or abuse. It can override intelligence & conscious mind.
3rd Manipura: Our place in the world (located at the navel, solar plexus)
Manipura is linked to sight. As we balance this chakra, visions move from fantasy to reality & we get the ability to fulfill visions. We begin to explore what we believe, feel, and think; we bring emotional & physical hunger into balance. We overcome fears of making decisions, assuming responsibility and trusting others.
A balanced Manipura allows us to: set & respect healthy boundaries, become non-domineering and not be dominated, to create healthy self-esteem, develop self discipline, and feel an empowered sense of self. Unbalanced we feel competitiveness, assertiveness, courageous, don’t consider consequences, need for (intense passion for) power, respect and recognition; need to control of others through anger, vengeance, violence, personal power. When energized we transform views of self and others from those formed by 1st and 2nd chakra influences.
4th Anahata: Power of compassion and love. “Seat of the soul” (located at the heart centre)
This is where we begin our spiritual path. Anahata is a bridge from lower (basic, instinctual) to higher (spiritual) chakras. We begin consciously centering energy, thoughts and actions. We begin to feel the humming pulse of the universe. This same vibration can be felt in the hearts of all beings. The forth chakra is linked to air and touch.
Balanced& energized, Anahata brings love, faith, devotion, inspiration, and balance in relationships. Balanced; we achieve forgiveness, compassion, dedication, hope, trust, the ability to heal self and others. It has a profound effect on health (air, prana and blood). Through forgiveness we release the control past wounds have on us. The forgiveness is mostly to benefit us. We can move into a life free from conflict and angry emotions. True spiritual evolution generally leads one away from what society expects and perhaps away from some people in our lives.
5th Vishuddha: Power of communication of ideas of truth & beauty (located at the throat).
Verbal & nonverbal thoughts sensed in Manipura are received in Vishuddha. When activated we can verbalize & communicate information from other chakras; we can receive and understand info from dream states; we gain the ability to communicate creatively & effectively & express powerful truths. We begin to understand the role our own consciousness has in how events unfold.
Vishuddha is connected to sound and hearing. Here we experience space, the vastness of space before experiencing transcendence. As Kundalini gets to Vishuddha we feel contentment, serenity, and detachment. Intuition expands & becomes more accurate.
6th Ajna: Power of meditative & cognitive awareness (located at the centre of the brain)
Ajna is responsible for intuition, clairvoyance, learning to live in the moment. It is the mind centre for processing & perception (of reality). When the mind is grounded here we can awaken lower chakras and begin to see the world without a filter. At Ajna body, mind and spirit fuse.
When activated the sixth chakra brings intelligence and concentration; the memory expands, the mind becomes strong and steady; intuition increases and extra sensory perception develops. We must become detached observers. When the mind is still, awareness comes & Self is being revealed.
7th Sahasrara: Realization of spiritual self (located at or just above the crown of the head)
It is the source of reality, where self image, ego and desire are gone. It is where we experience super-conscious awareness of Self as infinite; bliss. At Sahasrara, Kundalini Shakti and Shiva unite and anything becomes possible. Here the collective energy from each chakra where the mind/body meets higher consciousness we find Infinite intelligence. All chakras are experienced simultaneously and thus the Self. This is the culmination of Kundalini journey; and individuality dissolves into truth (sat), consciousness (chit), bliss (ananda). The sound is AUM.
Each chakra must be open, energized and balanced to reach the clear mind of our original nature where everything is realized.
Purification practices for chakra meditation
Full Yogic Breath: increases oxygen, develops awareness, improves lymph drainage, massages the organs around the diaphragm, calms.
Eye Exercises & Eye Lock: releases stress and anger, develops concentration and mental stability, and circulates energy back to sixth chakra which stimulates paranormal vision and super-conscious perceptions.
Breath of Fire, Kapalabhati: invigorates and energizes the brain, cleanses the respiratory system and expels carbon dioxide, purifies ida and pingala.
Nadi Shodna: purifies energy channels, balances ida and pingala, cleanses blood and adds more oxygen, increases concentration and clarity.
Mula Bandha: redirects prana to Sushumna to awaken Kundalini Shakti, energizes Muladhara, triggers relaxation and stress reduction.
Fixed Gaze (Trataka): stabilizes awareness of sixth chakra, concentrates the mind and improves memory.
Kundalini Shakti – energy of the life force- lies sleeping at the base of the spine until awakened. When awakened she flows up the spine energizing and opening the chakras. At the crown chakra she unites with Shiva and the true nature and potential of the mind is activated. This happens when barriers and obstructions are removed.
Practice regularly and you begin to store pranic energy to remove blockages and begin your spiritual journey.
Natasha Bal 2011.