1 - Introduction
The Wisdom of the Chakras: Tools for Navigating the Complexity of Life
Some people are extremely bright yet emotionally crippled, others are very loving yet their daily lives are chaotic. Many have great faith but very little clarity, while others are creative but stymied by a lack of confidence. Why are people so lopsided in their development? Why do some of us feel love but find ourselves unable to express it? Why do some of us commit ourselves to an endeavor "from the heart" but again and again wind up disenchanted? Why do some of us feel confident and powerful within ourselves but become frightened when we try to realize our potential? What is the reason for such contradictions?* * *
I had the feeling that the answers might lie in the chakra system. I was by no means an expert in this system, but I knew that the seven ethereal centers of the chakra system represented the different qualities of our nature and that the crown chakra in particular was the main source of happiness or conversely, depression. So, some twenty years ago I turned to an examination of the chakra system to see if it could explain the imbalances that seemed to me so prevalent. I found that it did even more. It offered remedies to right our imbalances, which are the obstacles that prevent us from becoming the people we want to be and the beings that all of us have the capacity to become—which is to say, the spiritual beings that all of us in fact are.
This book is the result of my explorations and my counseling work with many people. I hope it will help those who find themselves and sometimes their lives out of balance, and I hope that the practical results that occur will encourage people to look more deeply into our common nature and perhaps begin to see that our nature is also the nature of the cosmos.
Before we enter the rich and illuminating territory of the chakra system, I want you to understand the perspective from which I write. When I was nineteen, I had a transforming experience. I met a trance medium who asked me if I wished to speak with anyone who had died, and I immediately knew that I wanted very much to speak with my mother who had passed away two years earlier. The medium did not know that my mother had died paralyzed with crippling multiple sclerosis. Yet once in trance, the medium had to lie down as she took on my mother’s former physical state. I could see my mother’s face superimposed over the medium’s and with great effort she spoke. My mother said, “Do not mourn for me, for I chose what I endured to learn compassion for those who suffer. No matter how things appear on the surface, if you look deep enough there is always justice.”
I had no doubt that it was my mother who was speaking to me, even though I had been skeptical. During this experience, it was as though a veil was lifted from me, and I became, almost instantly, a different person. Almost instantly, I saw the whole world differently, saw the whole universe differently. The capacity of clairvoyance, the ability to perceive beyond the material world into the spiritual realm, a realm that includes auras, past lives, earth bound spirits, and heavenly beings, was activated within me.
Some people are born with the gift of clairvoyance; other people can develop it through the practice of focus and concentration. In my case, I had clairvoyant experiences as a child, but pushed them away because of fear. After my spiritual awakening with my mother my clairvoyance came back with great intensity. I then began to appreciate that it was a gift and not a problem.
Following this enormous shift, I was able to perceive the material world as only one small part of existence. I discovered that people are not finite beings but spiritual identities united in an ordered evolutionary process, and I was able to see that all individuals—I stress this: all individuals—are collectively growing toward the consciousness of spiritual principles.
I also began to have direct contact with guides in spiritual dimensions. These guides or helpers are spiritual entities, sometimes referred to as "guardian angels." They are individuals who have energetic bodies rather than physical ones, and they act as supporters and teachers to those in the material world. Communicating through thought, vision, and direct voice, these ethereal teachers have given me tools and techniques for integrating spiritual and material living. The host of spiritual guides who have become my teachers have taught me a philosophy of life and an understanding of the relationship between the Spirit, soul, and personality.
The Spirit, I came to understand, is the essential self; it does not change or evolve, it is always constant. The Spirit is the only facet of the self that does not change, evolve, or grow. This conscious essential immutable force exists throughout life and is always good, always light-filled; it does not waiver from life-sustaining principles. It is the essence of our nature. This essential identity never alters from one lifetime to the next or from one dimension to the next.
At the same time, each Spirit has an individual emphasis. One Spirit may emphasize nurturing, another wisdom, and still another creativity. The predominant quality within our individual Spirit is our core nature.
The soul is a container or covering of the Spirit. The soul allows the Spirit to have the identity and animation that establishes our unique individuality. Without the soul we would return to oneness and there would be no individuality. Our souls are complicated; all memories, skills, relationship patterns, talents, and traumas from past life experience reside within it. Not surprisingly, much of our life’s effort is directed toward healing the traumas of our soul, so the light, purity, and individual essence of our Spirits can manifest.
The soul in turn is covered by the personality, which is determined by many factors including genetics, conditioning from parents, society, and education, past life influences; and our spiritual essence. My guides teach that true fulfillment comes from actualizing one’s spiritual nature at the personality level. This is accomplished through healing fears and misconceptions that have been generated by past and present life circumstances.
The Spirit is like a bright shinning sun that gets covered by the clouds of fear and trauma that exist in the soul and personality. As spiritual qualities are personified in daily life, the soul and the personality gradually become healed. Therefore, to heal ourselves and to actualize our core nature, access to the Spirit within and without is essential.
In this book, I often refer to "my guides," for they are regular sources of my understandings. I know that many people regard talk about clairvoyance, spiritual guides and visits from the dead as nonsense. I also know that many others have these kinds of experiences and simply regard them as fact, which is how I regard them. This is the truth as I know it, and far from wanting to hide it, I believe it is something readers should know and perhaps consider.
At the same time, I believe that the insights that have come to me can speak to people who might not share my spiritual perspective. This is why I frame the lessons in these pages in language that does not immediately depend on a belief in the existence of a spiritual reality.
But there is a larger and subtler point here. There are many people who do not believe in a spiritual reality yet feel connected to it through personal experience. I hold that anyone who experiences, a feeling of inspiration—through any number of possibilities: nature, art, a pet, laboratory research, the study of mathematics, or a host of other possibilities—is actually in touch with and connected to spiritual reality and gains the benefits of this connection.
I shall have more to say about this, but for now I want to make clear that I do not see the world as divided between those who recognize spiritual reality and those who do not. Rather, the world, put simplistically, consists of three groups of people: those who recognize spiritual reality; those who likely do not recognize spiritual reality but who nonetheless are connected to it through certain experiences, including the experiences of inspiration; and those so undermined by imbalance and faulty understandings that they have blocked off their access to spiritual reality, a condition they can change. All these people are equally spiritual beings.
I believe that the lessons of the chakra system can speak to all three groups.
The word chakra means “wheel” in Sanskrit. There are seven major chakras aligned from the top of the head to the base of the spine. These chakras are actually located in the etheric body, an energy body that is blended with the physical body and continues to exist following the death of the physical form. In the etheric body, the chakras are centers of force that have designated points or circumferences within the physical body.
Each chakra center represents a different part of our nature, and it is through the chakra system that we receive, emanate, and process our life experiences. This network of energy interconnects the body, mind, emotions, soul, and spirit. When the chakra system is operating in a healthy manner—when all the chakras are open and in alignment—we actualize spiritual qualities such as trust, clarity, love, confidence, and well-being. When the chakra system is not operating in a healthy manner—when a chakra is closed and the system is out of alignment—we actualize such qualities as impulsiveness, lack of confidence, fear, and depression. We may even come to actualize illness: Over time, if an imbalance in the chakra system is not corrected, it is likely to manifest as a physical problem.
The unique attributes of each of the seven chakras may be described as follows:
Chapter by chapter, this book addresses each of the chakras, describing their individual qualities and components. However, the chakras never operate separately. The study of the chakra system is similar to the study of anatomy; each chakra needs to be discussed independently, but it is always understood that each functions as part of an interdependent cooperative system.
- The Crown Chakra, located at the top of the head, is the center of trust, devotion, inspiration, spontaneity, and happiness, and is an access to spiritual dimensions.
- The Third Eye Chakra, in the middle of the forehead, is the center of focus and concentration, wisdom, clarity, clairvoyance, and discernment.
- The Throat Chakra, located (obviously) at the throat, is the center of power, confidence, expression, growth, and truth.
- The Heart Chakra, in the middle of the chest, is the center of love, joy, generosity, courage, and forgiveness.
- The Solar Plexus Chakra, located in the navel area, where you experience butterflies when you’re nervous, is the center of feeling, emotion, harmony, and intuition.
- The Identity Chakra, situated at the mid-point between a woman’s ovaries and at a comparable location in men, deals with the balance between the receptive and directive forces and with relationships, sexuality, creativity, and one’s identity in the world.
- The Base Chakra, located at the base of the spine, is the center of discipline, responsibility, order, and one’s comfort in the physical body and on the earth.
Some readers may wonder, why another book about the chakras? Aren’t there many books about chakras? Can it be that this book offers something that the other books do not? Since my understanding has come from experiential knowledge instead of scholarship, I can not answer this question directly.
My guides encourage simplicity and experiential knowledge rather than intellectual approaches to spiritual concepts, and I began my study of the chakra system through observation, and I avoided reading books on the subject. I looked and learned everywhere; from people on the street, at the movies, in the grocery store—everywhere. Whenever I saw people, I also saw the seven energy centers emanating from them. Even in photographs and on television, I found that I could perceive and interpret people’s chakra centers.
Eventually, I began applying information about the chakras—gathered from observation, clairvoyance, and contact with my guides—in my counseling practice, teaching, and indeed, in my personal life. I was pleased to discover that what I had gained from my experiential encounters with the chakra system can dramatically improve one’s quality of life and can help people actualize their potential. I found through experience that the chakra system both offers a framework to understand numerous common combinations of imbalances and provides tools to integrate our different characteristics, thus creating more harmony and balance in our daily lives.
With an understanding of the chakras, weaknesses can be identified and strengthened. Too often we have been conditioned to emphasize our strengths and to avoid our weaknesses. Yet our weaknesses can be our greatest teachers if we embrace them and work with them. In this way, the chakra system offers a mechanism for healing and deeper self-knowledge, as well as a more comprehensive and compassionate understanding of others.
As I used my understanding of the chakra system in working with others, I was told by many people well-versed in the chakra literature that my approach was entirely different from anything else they had ever read. For example, the chakra literature commonly enjoins people to "follow the heart." My guides, however advise against this injunction when making decisions, because the heart chakra is a radiator not a discriminator.
My guides also encourage me to start at the crown chakra when teaching this system, even though it is customary to begin with the base chakra. Starting from the base, we must do all the work ourselves. When the crown is open and functioning well, we connect to spirit, and we become aware that we are never alone in the process of growth and transformation. We experience a greater sense of interconnectedness, and receive help from guides and the God force, the source of all knowledge. This awareness of interconnectedness and spiritual assistance fosters trust and supports the development of all the other chakras.
I believe that the information in this book is quite unique. It shows how the chakra system functions in everyday life, how our thoughts, words, and actions affect this system, and how the chakras shape us. It also provides practical exercises that are easily integrated into daily life to heal each chakra and so attain the alignment that is the basis of a healthy and , I believe, a spiritual life.
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