Saturday, 18 January 2014

Chakras - A Practical Map to the Human Mind

By Swami Gyan Dharma

Most yoga practitioners have a fascination with the chakras, with the mystical aspect of yoga. The whole subject of the chakras is big and rather complex, but apart from titillating our mystical curiosity they are also a very practical map of the human mind. 

Sw Gyan Dharma in the gardens at Mandala Yoga Ashram

It is often difficult for us to see beyond the mental and emotional state we find ourselves in at any given moment, to see other, and higher, possibilities inherent within us. We tend to be bogged down by the narrowness and constriction of our habitual mental and emotional states. It is important for us to try and remember that our current state of mind is not the only possible way of perceiving; indeed higher spiritual experience is something that is within reach of all of us. The chakras remind us that there are infinitely many more possibilities than simply what we are experiencing in this moment. This can be an important encouragement - a guiding light when   things get a little dark.

We often have the idea that we have to transcend the lower chakras in order to access the higher ones. However it is important to understand that the chakras are an integrated system and that each one of the chakras has a part to play in our lives: we cannot live by the higher chakras alone but we need the lower chakras as well. The process we go through when we begin to open up the chakras is not so much a process of transcendence but more a process of balancing and harmonising.

It is the negative aspects of the chakras that create suffering in our lives. Therefore it is important to understand what work we need to do. For example, the problems we face in the mooladhara chakra are related to insecurity, anxiety and fear.
Mooladhara is symbolised by a red lotus
 Therefore the process of harmonising and balancing this chakra is about finding a way past our fears and insecurities so that they no longer rule, dominate and direct our life. In the swadhishthana chakra the problem we face is our addiction to pleasure and distraction. All the chakras present us with different challenges and opportunities to grow into a bigger version of ourselves. In a well balanced mooladhara we acquire the power to provide ourselves with the necessities of life, like food and shelter and clothing. A person who has harmonized the energy of this chakra is free from insecurity, fear and anxiety.

The most important thing to understand when we are working with the chakras is that they are interdependent. They do not operate in isolation. So we are not trying to leave the lower chakras behind in order to reach the higher ones. We are trying to make use of all the chakras in an integral and intelligent way. They each have something to contribute to a purposeful spiritual life. For example, without the basic necessities of life there is no spiritual life. Without the capacity to enjoy that radiates from the swadhishthana, there is no spiritual life. Without the capacity to create and to manifest projects, which is made possible by the manipura chakra, there is no spiritual life. Without the energy of the anahata chakra and the power of devotion, there is no spiritual life.

In the process of chakra regeneration the two cornerstones we need to focus on are devotion and awareness. They should be the rulers of our lives. For a smooth and healthy awakening of the kundalini (primal energy) we first have to put in the effort to cultivate these two attributes. So firstly we awaken the anahata so that devotion expresses in our life and then we awaken the agya to balance devotion with awareness. When that has been done we can restore the equilibrium of all the chakras and prepare ourselves for higher awakening.

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