Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Understanding Chakras

The Book of Chakra Healing, Liz Simpson, Sterling Publishing Co., 1999, 243 p

This is a good reference book and a good first book to read. The book is illustrated wonderfully in color throughout. And, in a small book is very comprehensive. But, it is not a powerful book to understand chakras form a Western perspective. However, I recommend reading it.

The organization of the book is around the seven major chakras. It begins with a description of the spirit of energy and chakra balancing. Each chapter thereafter is devoted to a chakra. And, the book ends with a discussion of integrated approaches.

She discusses the seven ways to balance your chakras:

  1. Archetypes
  2. Altars
  3. Physical exercises
  4. Crystal healing
  5. Meditation
  6. Daily questions
  7. Affirmations

Each of the seven chapters devoted to a chakra covers each of these seven ways to balance that chakra.

The main chart of correspondences that occupies four pages in the book is extremely valuable as a reference to the chakra system.

She describes the energy flow from the crown to root chakra, and from the root to the crown chakra through the energetic equivalent of the spinal cord, the sushumna.

In the last chapter, she describes four integrated approaches to chakra healing:

  1. Aroma therapy
  2. Reiki
  3. Reflexology
  4. Astrology

Chakras and their Archetypes: Uniting Energy Awareness and Spiritual Growth, Ambika Wauters, The crossing Press, 1997, 164 p

I had great hopes for this book as it purported to relate the chakras to Western archetypes. And, to a certain extent it did that. However, the language got confusing at times, and made it difficult to discern the differences between some of the archetypes and the correlation to the chakras. Never the less, it was a helpful book for me to read, because it helped me take an accounting, in Western terms, of how balanced my chakras were and where I might have blockages. I would recommend it to any Westerner trying to understand chakras.

The book begins with a discussion of archetypes, myths, and chakras. The archetypes she selected for each chakra are:

  1. Root: Victim/Mother
  2. Sacral: Martyr/Empress(Emperor)
  3. Solar Plexus: Servant/Warrior
  4. Heart: Actor(Actress)/Lover
  5. Throat: Silent Child/Communicator
  6. Brow: Intellectual/Intuitive
  7. Crown: Egotist/Guru

In her model, the first of the paired archetypes listed above is the result of a blocked chakra, the second is open chakra spinning freely and allowing energy to flow up and down through the other chakras. It’s possible to have a blockage in one chakra and not another. But, the energy flow is diminished.

These seven pairs of archetypes provide a quick way for a Westerner to understand the health of their chakra system.

The author writes well, sometimes almost poetic as her introduction to chapter six on the heart chakra:

“The Heart chakra functions as the core of our physical bodies and our spiritual essence. As the heart is the most important organ in our body, known as the Emperor in Chinese medicine, so love is the center of our lives. The Heart chakra allows us to imbue our physical life with the radiance of love, joy, unity, and kinship, and stimulates our sense of touch and delight in life. It is from the spiritual heart that the deepest meaning of life is felt and expressed.

To flourish and develop as a compassionate and loving person we need to be receptive to love. When our hearts are open we are at peace with ourselves and with those around us and we feel harmoniously balanced within ourselves. The experience of love helps us make fuller connections to the beauty and light of other people, as well as ourselves. Love is, after all, the foundation of life.

We are born with open Hearts, but as we enter into the illusions of life which separate us off from the eternal presence of love we shut our hearts down. In this world we need protection for our innocence, our purity and our joy. It is not safe to stay open and vulnerable to the harsh reality of other people's negativity and fear. We could not survive feeling totally exposed to others' pain. As we grow older we learn to protect this vulnerability by closing our Heart center down. Unfortunately we lose our capacity to trust in the ever-present goodness of life and find ourselves fixed in a groove of discontent and unhappiness. What we most long for and desire is then unavailable to us and we may find that we are starving for love. We may try many things to cover the feeling of emptiness, from drugs and sex, to overeating or overworking. We can pretend we are sophisticated and that love doesn't matter to us, but we know in our hearts that it is the only thing that truly counts in our lives and there is no substitute to cover its loss.

When we fall in love we are the most alive and joyful we can possibly be. We have found a significant other to share ourselves with and to know all the glory that God intended us to experience. When we are in love we are at one with ourselves and with all life.

The two archetypes which exemplify the energy of the Heart chakra are the Actor/Actress and the Lover. One is an archetypal portrait of the pretense of love which is not truly integrated in its experience. The other archetype is completely open to and enjoys the wonder of love.”

Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System, Anodea Judith, Llewellyn Publications, 1987, 453 p

This is the most comprehensive of the three books I’ve read on chakras. It’s obviously stood the test of time as it’s been through severed edition and 27 printings.

The book, like the other two is organized around the seven chakras. It begins with a chapter entitled “And the Wheel Turns” that describes the chakra system, its history and its correlations with other systems of thought.

In her model the energy flow through the sushumna represents in Western terms the balancing of the pull of mind and spirit with the pull of soul and body. The journey from the crown to the root chakra she calls the manifesting current for it moves towards form, density, boundaries, contraction and individuality – the pull of soul and body. And, the journey from the root to the crown chakra she calls the liberating current that moves towards freedom, expansion, abstraction and universality – the pull of mind and spirit.

Besides the excellent descriptions of each of the chakras, each chapter begins with a meditation and has numerous exercises and movements that can help balance the chakra. I also found her one word associations for each of the chakras useful:

  1. Root: Solid
  2. Sacral: Liquid
  3. Solar plexus: Fire
  4. Heart: Love
  5. Throat: Communication
  6. Brow: Light
  7. Crown: Thought

The ending chapters are not as powerful those that came before, but it in no ways detracts from the value of the book. Throughout the book, she mentions how chakras interact between people. Her descriptions ring true to my experience. She sums this up in one of the end sections and expands the concept out to cultures. This direction of thought is something that really interests me, for I see the correlation between how groups of people function and the chakra systems of the people in the group.

This is not an easy read, but a book that requires study, and as a result, a book I would recommend for anyone seriously interested in learning about chakras.


At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been looking for good info on chakras. Thanks for the reviews and thoughts.

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