I decided to anatomize myself in chakras in order to learn a bit more about them. What are chakras? Are mine broken? Can I see them? Can I feel them? Get ready for an information overload…
David Gordon White traces the modern popularity of the seven chakra system to Arthur Avalon’s The Serpent Power, which was Avalon’s translation of a late work, the Satcakranirupana. Below is his description of the seven chakras:
Sahasrara, which means 1000 petalled lotus, is generally considered to be the chakra of pure consciousness, within which there is neither object nor subject. Symbolized by a lotus with one thousand multi-coloured petals, it is located either at the crown of the head, or above the crown of the head. Sahasrara involves such issues as inner wisdom and the death of the body. Its role may be envisioned somewhat similarly to that of the pituitary gland, which secretes hormones to communicate to the rest of the endocrine system and also connects to the central nervous system via the hypothalamus. Sahasrara’s inner aspect deals with the release of karma, physical action with meditation, mental action with universal consciousness and unity, and emotional action with “beingness.”
Ajna is symbolized by a lotus with two petals, and corresponds to the colors violet, indigo or deep blue. The seed syllable for this chakra is the syllable OM, and the presiding deity is Ardhanarishvara, who is a half male, half female Shiva/Shakti. The Shakti goddess of Ajna is called Hakini. Ajna (along with Bindu), is known as the third eye chakra and is linked to the pineal gland which may inform a model of its envisioning. The pineal gland is a light sensitive gland that produces the hormone melatonin which regulates sleep and waking up. Ajna’s key issues involve balancing the higher and lower selves and trusting inner guidance. Ajna’s inner aspect relates to the access of intuition. Mentally, Ajna deals with visual consciousness. Emotionally, Ajna deals with clarity on an intuitive level.
Vishuddha is depicted as a silver crescent within a white circle, with 16 light or pale blue, or turquoise petals. Vishuddha may be understood as relating to communication and growth through expression. 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. Physically, Vishuddha governs communication, emotionally it governs independence, mentally it governs fluent thought, and spiritually, it governs a sense of security. It plays an important role in Dream Yoga, the art of lucid dreaming.
Anahata is symbolised by a circular flower with twelve green petals.Within it is a yantra of two intersecting triangles, forming a hexagram, symbolising a union of the male and female. The seed mantra is Yam, the presiding deity is Ishana Rudra Shiva, and the Shakti is Kakini. Anahata is related to the thymus, located in the chest. The thymus is an element of the immune system as well as being part of the endocrine system. It is the site of maturation of the T cellsresponsible for fending off disease and may be adversely affected by stress. Physically Anahata governs circulation, emotionally it governs unconditional love for the self and others, mentally it governs passion, and spiritually it governs devotion.
Manipura is symbolized by a downward pointing triangle with ten petals, along with the color yellow. Manipura is related to the metabolic and digestive systems. Manipura is believed to correspond to Islets of Langerhans, which are groups of cells in the pancreas, as well as the outer adrenal glands and the adrenal cortex. These play a valuable role in digestion, the conversion of food matter into energy for the body. Physically, Manipura governs digestion, mentally it governs personal power, emotionally it governs expansiveness, and spiritually, all matters of growth.
Swadhisthana is symbolized by a white lotus within which is a crescent moon, with six vermillion, or orange petals. The Sacral Chakra is located in the sacrum and is considered to correspond to the testes or the ovaries that produce the various sex hormones involved in the reproductive cycle. Swadisthana is also considered to be related to, more generally, the genitourinary system and the adrenals. The key issues involving Swadisthana are relationships, violence, addictions, basic emotional needs, and pleasure. Physically, Swadisthana governs reproduction, mentally it governs creativity, emotionally it governs joy, and spiritually it governs enthusiasm.
Muladhara or root chakra is symbolized by a lotus with four petals and the color red. This center is located at the base of the spine in the coccygeal region. It is said to relate to the gonadsand the adrenal medulla, responsible for the fight-or-flight response when survival is under threat. Muladhara is related to instinct, security, survival and also to basic human potentiality. Physically, Muladhara governs sexuality, mentally it governs stability, emotionally it governs sensuality, and spiritually it governs a sense of security.
For a typical person- this shit is farfetched. How is it that the space between my eyebrows is indigo and plays an important role in balancing higher and lower selves? Beliefs that I did not grow up with are naturally difficult to accept. I know that yoga itself comes from the same origins that this does and that the energy in the body is greater than any doctor can explain. However, like a typical person in this day and age, it’s difficult for me to believe in something I can’t see, touch, and feel. The ‘science’ of going inward is something I think everyone can benefit from improving on, and I know learning things like this always broadens my perspective on my body and its limitless capabilities.