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What are Chakras? A Beginners Guide to Chakras

What are Chakras? A Beginners Guide to Chakras

Posted by Diana McMahon-Collis

Most people have probably heard of the term "chakra" or "chakras" but many wonder what they really refer to. As a practising astrologer and tarot reader, as well as someone interested in alternative healing, I have found plenty of reasons to acquaint myself with this energy system. Over the years I have collected quite a few books and other items that relate to the chakras in one way or another. I have also learned how to meditate on the chakras to balance them.

In this article I hope to offer a useful insight to anyone interested in learning more about the chakras, including a meditation which you can try yourself to see what rebalancing feels like!

Where does the chakra philosophy come from?

The Eastern concept of chakras comes from Indian culture, specifically from Hindu philosophy. The term Chakra is itself Hindi in origin and means "spinning wheel". The system of chakras is now used widely in the West alternative healing and spiritual practices and has become popular not least because of its accessibility for both mediation and colour healing applications. The chakras are also at the root of the human aura, a magnetic field that stands outside the visible body. The aura is visible through specialist (Kirlian) photography apparatus and to individuals who have the gift or ability of being able to observe the aura with the naked eye. Some of the healing colour applications that have emerged from our modern understanding of the aura include aura-soma, where bottles of coloured fluids are used to help diagnose conditions and trigger healing in the patient.

Chakra balancing is in and of itself a whole system of personal healing though and can be performed without the assistance of a therapist. Chakra balancing is viewed as a rebalancing of energies at all levels, including physical, emotional and psychic. The chakras as a whole form an energy system, relating specifically to a number of points or sites in the body.

Through these sites colour is able to enter and be reflected and the condition and appearance of such colour eminences may change according to our mental, emotional and physical conditions. It helps us to understand how chakras work if we remember that this is a holistic system. In other words if we are looking at healing the heart chakra, we need to be considering healing not only from the point of view of our physical condition but also in relation to our emotional well-being, since both areas relates to functions of the heart.

We can see connections between colour healing and the chakras through various formats, including the use of rock crystals or precious gem stones, which are linked with various emotional and physical conditions and with specific areas of the body. Pink or green stones relate to the heart chakra energy and can therefore be useful for issues to do with love, caring and relationships, as well as towards physical healing of heart conditions.

How many Chakras are involved and which body areas do they relate to?

There is some disagreement as to the number of chakras but usually there is seen to be no less than seven and no more than eleven. The conventional wisdom cites seven chakras. Below is a table showing the various body areas and components that are associated with each of the chakras. As you can see each chakra relates to quite a few different factors.

ChakraRelated Body Areas
CrownPineal gland, central nervous system, cerebral cortex, right eye
BrowPituitary gland (some also say pineal gland), nose, ears, left eye; some say "third" eye
ThroatThyroid gland, hypothalamus, parathyroid, throat, mouth
HeartThymus gland, heart, lungs, arms, hands, circulatory system
Solar PlexusAdrenal glands, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, nerves, muscles, nervous system
SacralProstate gland, spleen, ovaries, womb, genitals, testicles, bladder (some say adrenals)
RootAdrenal glands, kidneys, colon, spinal column, legs, bones

Chakra Healing - Reiki, Crystals & everyday healing

Practitioners who use crystals in healing will often place appropriate crystals on the related sites on the body. These may be crystals that accentuate the natural colour of those areas or which are designed to counter specific blockages. There is even a branch of colour healing which focuses on the chakra functions in the spine. An easy way to get in touch with strengthening chakras on a day to day basis is to wear clothing and accessories that will help. Once you identify which chakra needs support you simply surround yourself with the related colour as much as possible. Identification can be as simple as knowing that you have a health problem in a particular area, or recognising where the feelings are located in your body with regard to an intense emotional issue.

If you feel bruised from a previous encounter with someone, for example, you may be aware of the associated feelings in the solar plexus area, just underneath the chest. If you look at the larger, Chakra Colours table below under solar plexus you can check the physical location of the feeling (i.e. "below chest") and note the related colour (Yellow) and crystal (Citrine) to wear. For simple, everyday crystal healing you may like to try an item of chakra jewellery that contains all seven crystals relating to the chakra energies. (see right hand side of this page) (Or type the word chakra into the site's search facility).

Chakra Colours - correlations to body sites, crystals & human functions

The table below indicates the predominant colour associated with each chakra and the related crystals. There is also information about the body location and connected human functions and ideas that link with the chakras. The bracketed inclusions relate to crossover areas where different practitioners approaches vary.

The Chakras and their associated colours and qualities

Chakra & ColourLocation & CrystalConnected Qualities, Ideas & Functions
Violet (or Magenta)
Top of Head
Amethyst, Clear quartz, high vibrational crystals
Union of divine/infinite intelligence with human nature; inspiration, spiritual will/self, idealism, perfection
Indigo or violet
Centre of forehead
Intuition, imagination, vision, clairvoyance, wisdom, devotion, concentration, creative visualisation
Sky Blue
Throat area
Turquoise, blue lace agate, lapis lazuli
Communication, speech, creative writing & expression through sound; truth, knowledge, loyalty
Centre of chest
Malachite, Jade, aventurine, rose quartz
Unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, balance, peace, understanding, harmony, centre of the soul
Below chest
Citrine, yellow agate, amber, yellow calcite
Self-esteem, willpower, confidence, warmth, humour, physical energy, nervous sensitivity, centre of human recognition
Lower abdomen
Sexual desire, procreation, change, joy, tolerance, harmony, adapting to new ideas
Base of spine
Red jasper, garnet, ruby, also hematite
Survival instinct, self-preservation, courage, grounding, material stability, vitality, passion, the power to create

Clearing & Balancing through Meditation

One my favourite methods for balancing the chakras is to use a visual meditation, which simply follows a natural route through the body from top to base. The main source of inspiration for this meditation came from Doreen Virtue's little book called "Chakra Clearing" from Hay House, where she gives a longer, but nonetheless easy to follow, Chakra-Clearing Meditation. Below is a brief description of how this works.

Meditation/Visualisation Practice to Clear Chakras

I imagine the chakra in each area as a horizontal wheel or disc, a bit like a CD, focussing in on its colour. I note its current condition. I trust my intuition here. Usually I can tell by my feelings if the chakra is blocked or troubled in some way and I visualise this as the disc turning only very slowly if at all and being weighed down and dull with brown caked-on residue. This may not sound very nice but it usually fits for how I feel in that area of my body!

The good news is that the next step helps to clear and rebalance the chakra. This involves seeing the brown residue start to lift as I breathe more deeply and mentally allow the wheel to start turning faster. This coincides with seeing the brown replaced by a sparkling, bright white light. It is almost like watching some sort of welding in action, with sparks flying, only the process is very easy and relaxing. I do this all the way down from the crown chakra to the root, by which time I usually feel a good deal lighter.

Some time after such a meditation my body seems to go through a physical detoxification, suggesting that the emotional and physical lightness are indeed linked. If you have never tried anything like this, I can thoroughly recommend it. Before I attempted a chakra meditation I must admit that I thought that the chakras were just an interesting idea or spiritual focus. After the first time of working with them, however, I was convinced that they are real, live areas in the body.

Whatever the truth may be, it seems that going through this process is beneficial both mentally and for physical well-being. So do give it a try! And do not worry if you know that you are not a particularly visual person by nature. If you are more auditory by nature, use words - perhaps you can tell yourself that the wheel is spinning in each area.

If you are more tactile by nature, you may be able to feel the condition of the wheel or disk changing. Doreen Virtue's Chakra Clearing book is very helpful as it goes step by step through the meditations. If you prefer to listen to the meditations read by the author you may like to try Ian Welch's Guided Meditation for Chakra Healing.

When is a good time for Chakra work?

I think the real answer to this is any time! Some people suggest a daily ritual of meditation to balance the chakras, which you may prefer to do in the morning to start your day on a positive note. I find that any time that I think of doing the meditation is a good time. One particularly good time to meditate on the solar plexus chakra is when I am feeling emotionally bruised after a difficult exchange with someone else. Perhaps the other person did not mean any harm or anything personal, but I might have come away from the situation feeling somehow attacked and crumpled. Work on the solar plexus will usually help this to heal.

This can be anything from using visualisation to wearing a keeping a citrine crystal close to my body or eating yellow peppers in my salad! As part of my work as a spiritual reader I also try to make a habit of incorporating some personal chakra focussing before and after seeing clients. I find that, in giving spiritual readings, there is a definite psychic energy exchange that takes place between myself and the person I am seeing. Being very sensitive by nature, I do easily pick up on another person's feelings and energies, whether or not they actually say much about themselves and their experience in the consultation. This is very helpful for tuning into my client's issues and assisting them with any problems or aims, but after the consultation I want to return to just my own feelings and situation.

I usually find this easiest if I use some form of conscious ritual or technique. The meditation based on Doreen Virtue's method above is very good for this facet of rebalancing. I find that it can also be helpful before a reading. But if I am short of time I will often use a short version of a grounding visualisation exercise given in Robin Wood's book "The Robin Wood Tarot: The Book" (from Livingtree).

This involves mentally aligning the chakras in your mind's eye, focussing in on the colours as usual. The visualisation takes you on into placing roots in the earth visualised beneath your feet and allowing a bright, white fountain of energy to emerge and go back into the ground. It is a very energising meditation and I find it especially helpful when I know that I am going to be giving a number of readings in a row such as at local event evenings. (You can find a fuller selection of current items available by typing the word "chakra" into the search facility in the top navigation bar on this page, or click here - chakra products - for a full list on this site.) I hope that this article have given you some idea of what chakras are and how you can use this spiritual healing system to your benefit. Good luck with your adventures into the world of chakra healing!

© and Diana Collis 2005. All rights reserved


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