6 comments on “How to Use the 7 Chakras to Get in Touch with Personal Vitality”

How to Use the 7 Chakras to Get in Touch with Personal Vitality

We can use chakra meditation to help understand the nuances of our body, pinpoint our areas of weakness or overuse, and bring healing to those specific energetic centers.

Each of the chakras has traditional meanings that help us focus on tendencies that characterize the specific energy center.  If we meditate upon each center in a progressive fashion from bottom to top, we become acquainted with a more nuanced understanding of our deepest self.  By accessing each center or wheel, we activate its innate dynamism which propels us to a new level of vibrancy.

The first chakra, Muladhara or Root Chakra, originates from the base of our spine and governs down through the bottom of our feet.  Muladhara, which means “root-support,” is traditionally pictured as red.  By breathing deeply into this chakra with love and healing light, we both wash away any impurities and also strengthen our sense of stability and groundedness in our lives.  By focusing on the root chakra, we gain confidence and serenity and a foundation of security.

The second chakra, Svadhisthana or Sacral Chakra, is situated just below the navel and the small of the back.  Svadhistana is translated as “one’s home,” “loveliness,” or “sweetness.”  It is conceived as an orange energy.  By nurturing the “sweetness” in our sacral chakra, we can heal sexual woundedness and cultivate our natural sensuality, creativity, and enthusiasm for life itself.  This home of “sweetness” is the wellspring of vitality.

The third chakra, Manipura or Stomach Chakra, oversees our will and is lit by the color yellow, like the sun.  Manipura is often translated as the “place of jewels.” Instead of overusing our will and willpower by pushing ourselves or others around, we can learn to breath in the yellow light of the sun to remind ourselves to release the will and willfulness.  When we relinquish our pushiness, we activate a subtle—more gracious and yet more effective—source of power.  Manipura is the cache of our life’s purpose and that is why it is called the “place of jewels.”  When we breath into this chakra, we allow our destiny to manifest easily instead of rushing around chaotically.

The fourth chakra, the Heart Chakra or Anahata, is visualized with the color green.  Green is the color of nature—its peacefulness, growth, and verdancy.  The word Anahata means “whole” or “unbroken.”  By breathing into our heart center, we can heal all brokenness, bitterness, and loneliness.  The heart chakra’s intrinsic “unbrokenness” promises us that whatever happens in this life, we can always return to the heart chakra to become whole again.  We can even regrow our innocence here.

The fifth chakra, Vishuddha or Throat Chakra, directs the voice and the breath with its sky-blue light.  Vishuddha means “pure,” so as we breath into this chakra, we purify our lives.  The throat chakra is the passageway from the central body to the head; therefore, when we heal the throat chakra, we become more cognizant of our bodies and the wisdom that is housed there—an embodied form of integrity.  Sending healing and loving breath to our throat chakra brings us into honesty as well as authenticity.  Through the breath, we clarify ourselves, which is why many meditation practices focus on the breath.  Vishuddha is the hall of purified communication.

Depicted as the blue violet of the night sky, the sixth chakra, Ajna, often called the Third Eye, is located on the forehead and between the eyebrows.  Ajna means “knowing” or “perception.”  Here is the seat of our imagistic eye.  By opening our third eye, we begin to see and know deeply into the lives of others and into the nature of reality itself.  Imagination and empathy are married in this chakra, showing us the real meaning of insight.  Our intuition and wisdom emerge when we allow our third eye to open.  By breathing light and love into Ajna, we activate an ability to perceive the inner workings of other humans, nonhuman animals, plants, and the material world.

On the crown of the head or slightly above the crown, the seventh chakra is called the Crown Chakra or SahasraraSahasrara means “thousand-petalled,” “thousand-spoked,” or “thousand.”  Thousand traditionally is the number of infinity: in other words, this chakra refers to our Infinite Nature.  The Crown Chakra is often experienced as infused with lavender or white light.  As we move up into our highest chakra, bringing lucidity and openness through our breath, we can clear our sense of confusion and awaken our awareness of what is sometimes called “cosmic consciousness,” “enlightenment,” or “knowledge of God.”  Regardless, the cleansing of our crown chakra brings a profound experience of serenity and even bliss.

As we practice chakra meditation, we will notice areas that we overuse or that feel weak.  By breathing gently into the particular chakra, we can ease the burden of that chakra and learn to balance our personalities.  Through balance and purification of the chakra energy centers, we access and increase our internal strength and health.

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Dr. Kaiya Ansorge.  Dr. Ansorge is academically trained in psychology, philosophical theology, and religion. She began practicing chakra meditation while living in India and found the practice transformative. She now leads chakra meditations regularly for groups and individuals in addition to other workshops, classes, and life coaching. You can find her and her free videos and audio pieces at www.kaiyaansorge.com. You can connect with her through Facebook or Twitter.

 

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11 comments on “Three Signs That You Would Benefit From Meditation”

Three Signs That You Would Benefit From Meditation

There aren’t many of us who wouldn’t benefit from meditation. In our hectic modern world, simply dedicating 20 minutes a day to peace, quiet and reflection is an act of self-care, giving us the space we need to slow down and switch off. However, there are times in life when the need for meditation can feel particularly keen, and if you recognize these signs, it may be time to start, ramp up or recommit to your meditation habit. 

1. You are tired more often than not

Feeling exhausted all the time is a common issue for us modern humans. So many of us drag ourselves out of bed, power ourselves through the day with caffeine and then – despite feeling tired all day – find it difficult to sleep at night. Every month in the USA, people type “tired all the time” 18,100 times into Google, a small hint of just how many of us feel dogged by fatigue. 

This kind of weariness seems to be a symptom of our increasingly demanding lives, and many of us wish for more motivation and energy. With more energy, we wouldn’t spend our work days in a waking doze, banking up unfinished tasks and creating stress. It would also be easier to achieve our goals in other areas of life – it’s not unusual to find ourselves crashed out on the sofa when we do have any spare time, rather than doing any of the stuff we aimed to do. 

Meditation gives us some of the rest we need in life. By focusing our mind on a mantra, practicing yoga or embracing mindfulness, we soothe our mind and body into a state of deep relaxation, allowing ourselves to switch off in a way that’s otherwise hard to achieve. This, in turn, gives us the energy boost we need, and generally makes us feel that little bit more awesome throughout the day. 

2. It feels like you have no time 

Time is something of a preoccupation in today’s culture. Our whole lives are defined by the almost arbitrary whims of the clock, in a way it would probably be difficult for our distant ancestors to imagine. Instead of following the cyclical, seasonal and celestial-based timekeeping of early humans, whose major concern was keeping the tribe fed and safe, we sacrifice much of our time to earning money and squeeze everything else in whatever time we have left. 

The result is a feeling that we simply don’t have enough time to pursue our own hobbies, build our relationships, or to just laze about if we fancy it. The speed at which the world zips by imbues us all with a false sense of urgency, where any delays or mishaps feel like an absolute disaster. Amongst the rush, we can forget about what’s actually important. 

While meditation can’t stop the clock, it can slow the pace of life a little through a change in our perception. Meditating every day provides us with a sense of calm, increasing our focus so we can appreciate the small things in life. Furthermore, because meditation can make us more productive, we tend to work through tasks with more speed and accuracy, giving us more time to simply enjoy ourselves.  

3. ‘Stressed’ is your default state 

It’s pretty normal to get stressed out every now and then, but being stressed all the time is a completely different matter. Unfortunately, like tiredness, the feeling of being constantly under pressure is something an awful lot of us can relate to. Chronic stress can make life feel far less enjoyable, as we are rarely “in the moment” but always thinking about whatever’s nagging away at us. Too much of this, and life begins to feel like it’s nothing but a meaningless list of chores and worries.  

One of meditation’s most famous and well-research benefits is reduced stress. With stress causing havoc for our health, sleep and mental wellbeing, it’s this benefit which is perhaps the most far-reaching of all. 

In many respects, meditation (in all its forms and throughout the ages) has been developed to direct the mind away from the mundane and everyday, in order to experience glimpses of the deeper truths in life. It may well be this which helps us rise above persistent worries and daily frustrations, making stress something we can manage without becoming overwhelmed. 

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Holly Ashby. Holly is a wellness writer who works with Beeja Meditation, a meditation center offering an alternative to mindfulness in London, and holds meditation events such as the music-based Shavasana Disco. 

7 comments on “Nourishing the Way: Feeding the Birds”

Nourishing the Way: Feeding the Birds

Excerpt from The Magic Ten and Beyond by Sharon Gannon

The secret to wealth is to give generously to others. Whatever we give will come back to us many times over. 

Remembering God and being kind to others is the most important job that any of us has in this life. Being kind to others is the essential ingredient to being able to remember God— to be able to see ultimate reality. Developing kindness and compassion toward others is the sure way to happiness. But how does that work?, you might ask: Doesn’t being kind to others in a charitable way only benefit the others? No. Kindness benefits both the other and yourself. Others do not exist independently; they have come from your past karmas. They only exist in your life because you see them as existing. The Hindu sage Patanjali explains this in the Yoga Sutras: vastu- samye chitta-bhedat tayor vibhaktah panthah PYS IV. 15. This can be translated to mean: each individual person perceives the same object in a different way, according to their own state of mind and projections. Everything is empty from its own side and appears to you according to how you see it. 

When you are unkind to someone, you plant a seed to see unkindness. For example, you judge someone as a greedy person. As soon as you think or say that, you plant a seed that will ensure that greedy people will appear in your life. 

When you see yourself as poor, as not having enough to be able to share and be generous to others, you plant seeds for seeing yourself as a victim of poverty, and that will become your reality as you continue to nourish that perception of yourself. You have a choice: you can see yourself as an enlightened being or as a victim, but you can’t have both. If you eventually want to see yourself as an enlightened being, then begin that process by seeing others as holy beings. How you treat others will determine how others treat you; how others treat you will determine how you see yourself; how you see yourself will determine who you are. 

If you want to rid the world of greed, you must destroy the seeds in your own mind that cause greed to appear in the world. In other words, you must do your best to be kind to others— to take care of others as if they were your own self. Other- centeredness is the secret to overcoming the disease of self-centeredness. Put others before yourself. Be more concerned for the happiness of others than for your own happiness. This will dissolve otherness and reveal the oneness of being.

Kindness is the key to Yoga. 

Without the development of kindness toward others, you cannot make progress in yoga. Taking care of others is a sure way to increase your own happiness. When we do things with the intention, first and foremost, of making ourselves happy, we only increase our identification with our small self— our body, mind, and personality. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali cites this identification as the major obstacle to Yoga, calling it avidya, which means ignorance or mistaken identity. The yoga practices are designed to help you drop your self-centered concerns and become more other- centered. Being more other-centered expands your sense of self and increases true self-confidence. If you observe unhappy and depressed people you will find that they usually are self-obsessed. The key to uplifting yourself is to do what you can to uplift the lives of others. 

Why birds? When you feed the wild birds, you karmically assure that you will always have enough to eat and that wildness will not die inside you. Birds as well as other wild animals are having a hard time surviving in a world dominated by self-centered human beings. When you nourish wildness in another you keep it alive within yourself. Most people assume that birds, being wild, know how to take care of themselves, and feel that taking care of them should not be our responsibility. But the fact is, we have polluted with pesticides or destroyed most of the wild forests and fields where they might have been able to find an abundance of nourishing food. Birds require so little to live— a few good organic seeds and a couple of drops of fresh water— and while it may not be much, it can mean the difference between life and death for a feathered person. 

THE PRACTICE Before you feed yourself— even before you drink a cup of coffee or tea in the morning— feed the birds. Fill up a bird feeder outside your window or at least put some organic seeds or bread crumbs on a windowsill. If wild birds aren’t nearby, feed your cat, dog, or other family member.

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Editor’s note: Published by permission of the author.

0 comments on “Blessing the Way: Giving Blessings”

Blessing the Way: Giving Blessings

Excerpt from The Magic Ten and Beyond by Sharon Gannon

When we are at peace with the other people in our lives, we can be at peace with ourselves.

The other people in our lives exert a tremendous amount of power over us. Thoughts of them fill our waking and our dreaming life. We become sad, angry, jealous, or depressed by focusing on the faults and shortcomings of others. We dwell on the insensitive way they are treating us or have treated us in the past. We often blame others for why we aren’t succeeding or why we can’t achieve the happiness we deserve. We feel treated unfairly by others, unloved or not loved enough. We think that we deserve better. We often feel sorry for ourselves and long to be surrounded by loving and supportive people who think we are amazing. Right? And our excuse is always, “If only he would stop . . .” or, “If only she didn’t do . . .” We too often feel that other people are in our way— in the way of our happiness. The others in our lives are actually providing us with the way. But we must be willing to see them in that light.

To be free of all the nasty people in your world is possible.

Have faith in the knowledge that all the nasty people in your world can change. But don’t wait for them to change on their own, or you’ll be waiting forever! You must change them yourself. If you want someone to be a holy being, you must see him or her as a holy being. They actually only exist in your own mind anyway. They have come from your own past karmas and appear according to how you see them.

How you see anyone or any situation in your present life is due to your past karmas— how you have treated others, in your past. When the great saint Ramana Maharshi was asked, “How should we treat others?” he replied, in yogic fashion, “There are no others.”

We cannot escape our past karmas— the actions we have already done— but we can start now and do our best to plant the kinds of seeds we want to see grow in the future. Cultivating forgiveness, kindness, and friendliness toward others results in spiritual strength. So much suffering comes from seeing ourselves as a victim of others— as a repository for their selfishness, cruelty, greed, insensitivity, and so forth. We see the world as “out there,” coming at us, instead of taking responsibility and realizing that the world we see outside of us has come from inside us, from how we have treated others in our past. Others provide us with a karmic projection— a mirror in which to see ourselves.

The way of the yogi is to dive deeper. The nature of the eternal soul is joy, and this is the only true reality; everything else is temporary. When one realizes the nature of his or her own soul they discover the true Self— that which can never be harmed by anyone. Through the practice of giving blessings to others you come closer to the experience of the power of your own soul— the power of goodness.

When we hug someone we pull them toward us and hold them against our heart. We communicate that we want to be at peace with them, and that we wish them well. To hug someone is to bestow a blessing from the goodness of one’s heart.

It is a well-known fact that only saints give blessings. Well, how do you think a saint becomes a saint? Yes, it is through the practice of giving blessings. As the blessing comes through you, it changes you. By giving blessings to someone else you change the negative perception of that person in your own mind and you also change the perception of yourself as someone who sees negativity. Giving blessings is an anonymous way of changing your world— it can turn devils into angels. And it can all happen in the privacy of your own mind— you don’t have to “meet them for coffee” and talk it out. If you aren’t willing to see someone as a good person, how can you expect him or her to be one? The power is in your hands— well, actually, your mind. The question is, how willing are you to forgive, to let go, and to allow love to lead the way?

Compassion is infinite; you won’t run out, so don’t be stingy with your blessings— give your blessings to everyone— to the people you don’t like as well as the ones you do like. Blessing the ones you love and seeing them as holy beings ensures that they will remain holy, blessed beings in your life.

THE PRACTICE

Allow the image of someone you know to arise in your mind. As you inhale, silently say, “Blessings and love to—” and as you exhale, silently say the name of that person. Continue focusing on that same person or allow other people to float into your consciousness. As you give the blessing try to visualize the person filled with joy and surrounded by light.

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Editor’s note: Published by permission of the author.