By Marlyse Carroll
(Author of ‘Am I Going Mad? The Unsettling Phenomena of Spiritual Evolution’ www.amigoingmad.com.au)
Ancient yogis of India as well as Taoist sages of China obtained their remarkable knowledge of the human body through introspection and direct experience rather than in laboratories. By meditating, they became so intensely aware of themselves that they internally felt and saw their major blood vessels, nerves, and organs.
Not only did they understand how the physical body functions, they also perceived the existence of subtle energy channels linking each human being to a central life force. In India, this knowledge became part of Ayurveda, or the Science of Life. In China, it gave rise to the Tao, an equally sophisticated philosophical and medical model.
These civilizations recognised the existence of two complementary aspects of life force energy.
- Universal Energy Field. In Taoist philosophy, it’s called Chi. In Zen Buddhism, it’s called Ki, and in India it’s called Prana. These different names all refer to the Universal Life Force that is the source of all creation.
- Human Energy Field. This energy is individual, yet it is linked to the Universal Energy Field. Electromagnetic in nature, it emits its own characteristic radiations. It can be seen and measured as a luminous body that surrounds and interpenetrates the physical body.This field, also called the aura or subtle body, is divided into several layers, which interpenetrate and surround each other in successive levels. Each layer is composed of finer substances and vibrates at a higher level than the previous one.These structured layers contain an energetic representation of all the forms that the physical body holds, including internal organs, blood vessels, nerves, etc. They also hold thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, attitudes, in other words all the subtle elements of mind and soul.
The subtle body also contains other components not recognised in Western medicine. These include swirling cone-shaped vortexes called chakras, and channels to distribute energy throughout the body. The main vertical channel following the spine is called the Sushumna. Other channels (about seventy thousands of them) are known as nadis.
This energetic system forms the basis of TMC (Traditional Chinese Medicine), with acupuncture a tool of energy regulation.
What is a Chakra?
Chakras are the subtle energy centres within us that integrate our physicality with our thoughts, emotions and spirituality. They are like the turning points where all these different parts of our Being connect with each other.
- Most commonly, it is taught that the human body contains seven major chakras and numerous minor ones.
- Major chakras are located in the subtle body along the Sushumna, from the coccyx to the top of the head.
- Five of them are situated along the spine and two in the head.
- Their role is to connect all levels of our Being: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, as well as to connect each one of us to the Universal Energy Field and to each other.
- Chakras are traditionally linked to different organs, senses, emotions, attitudes, levels of consciousness, colours, sounds and symbols.
- The traditional positions of the seven major chakras all correlate to a physical major gland or glands, and/or a main autonomic nerve plexus.
From an energetic point of view, chakras have an important role to play: These centres are moving and active, that’s why the word ‘chakras’ translates in English to ‘wheels’ or ‘vortexes’. They absorb the Universal Energy, break it up into component parts and then send it along secondary energy channels called nadis to the nervous system, the endocrine glands and then the blood to nourish the body. In that way, they revitalize the physical body.
By energizing the physical body, they regulate our overall functioning. When our chakras are open and active, we feel good, strong and healthy. We function harmoniously on all levels.
On the contrary, when we are out of emotional and physical balance, some of our chakras get ‘out of sync’. They stop spinning at the right vibration. They can even get blocked, which first leads to dis-ease, and eventually to serious physical problems.
The Seven Major Chakras
FIRST CHAKRA: In Sanskrit, which is the ancient language of India, the first chakra is called Muladhara, which means ‘root/support’. Also called the base chakra, it’s situated on the perineum, between the genitals and the anus, and its colour is red.
Physically, Muladhara influences the bones, legs and large intestine. Chemically it relates to the adrenal gland.
Its psychological function is linked to our survival and its major emotion is fear. This fear often relates to money and our ability to look after ourselves. It also relates to our connection with our ‘tribe’ those closer to us, such as our extended family and the people we work with. It is the chakra that grounds us, which gives us a sense of stability.
First positive level of awareness: I am well supported by life on this planet.
Emotional threats to this chakra include a lack of connection with nature, deep fears about the future of Planet Earth, disharmonious family relationships, poverty/scarcity consciousness (a ‘not enough’ feeling about most things).
When this chakra is blocked, we feel powerless, we cannot turn dreams into reality, we feel disconnected, unsupported, cut off from any abundance and unable to do anything about it. Physical malfunctions include obesity, haemorrhoids, constipation, sciatica, degenerative arthritis, anorexia nervosa and knee troubles.
SECOND CHAKRA: Swadhisthana means ‘sweetness’. Its colour is orange and it is related to the gonads, which are the glands regulating our sexuality. Swadhisthana has its root in the first few vertebrae of the sacral region. It is linked to our sexuality. All fluids in the body are balanced through this centre. Other physical organs controlled by this chakra are the womb, genitals, kidneys and bladder.
New level of awareness: I’m open to a loving intimate relationship.
Emotional threats to this chakra include anger at past or present lovers, fear of sexual intimacy, past sexual traumas, guilt feelings associated with sex, suppressed creative urges.
Malfunctions include fluid disturbances of the blood or the lymph, as well as impotence, frigidity, uterine or bladder problems.
THIRD CHAKRA: Manipura, or the ‘lustrous jewel’ centre, is physically evident as the solar plexus. Its colour is yellow, and it is associated with our will, our power, and with emotions of joy or anger. The organs connected to Manipura are the stomach, pancreas, spleen, and liver, as well as all the muscles of the body. The solar plexus (sun centre) is sometimes called the second brain because it controls so much of what we do and how we feel about ourselves.
New level of awareness: I take full responsibility for my life.
Emotional threats to this chakra include low self-worth, victim consciousness, fear of taking responsibility for one’s life and actions, inability to express anger in an appropriate way, cowardice.
Blockages at third chakra level may elicit anything from ulcers to liver problems and gallstones. Other imbalances are digestive problems, diabetes and hypoglycaemia.
FOURTH CHAKRA: Anahata, the centre of ‘unstuck sound’ is also called the heart chakra. It manifests through the cardiac plexus and the thymus gland. Its colour is green. Its psychological functions relate to love, balance and compassion. The organs influenced by Anahata are the heart, lungs, arms and hands, as well as the skin.
New level of awareness: I love myself and others.
Emotional threats to this chakra include deep grief linked to past traumas, a fear of feeling emotions, a fear of rejection or abandonment resulting in a refusal to love again, lack of compassion and highly judgemental attitudes.
So imbalances at that level are likely to manifest as heart problems, high or low blood pressure, disorders of the lungs and/or skin problems, such as eczema.
FIFTH CHAKRA: Vishuddha, or ‘with purity’ centre, is the last of the chakras rooted upon the spinal column (cervical or neck vertebra, in this case). Its colour is blue and it relates to communication, creativity and connection. The hypothalamus, the thyroid and parathyroid glands, as well as the pharyngeal plexus and vocal cords are associated with Vishuddha. Other body parts include the ears, mouth, arms and hands (also partly controlled by Anahata).
New level of awareness: I communicate openly and honestly.
Emotional threats to this chakra include a lack of emotional honesty, the fear to communicate one’s true thoughts or feelings, refusal to hear others’ true thoughts or feelings, suppressed creativity, lack of willpower.
Malfunctions include thyroid problems, speech disorders and deafness. Other imbalances will result in neck aches and recurrent viral infections such as the flu.
SIXTH CHAKRA: Ajna, the centre of ‘command’ or ‘perception’ is situated in between the eyebrows, 3-4 centimeters inwards. Ajna is the Third or All-seeing Eye and its colour is indigo, a mixture of red and blue. Its function relates to intuition, imagination and dreaming. The physical organs it controls are the eyes and the pineal gland, which is said to be linked to spiritual realms.
New level of awareness: I know there is more to life than what my physical senses perceive.
Emotional threats to this chakra include strong attachments to all things material, a disregard for anything psychic or spiritual, a fear of experiencing or following ‘gut feelings’, a highly rational mind-set that has suppressed imagination.
Physical imbalances manifest as blindness, headaches, migraines and/or nightmares.
SEVENTH CHAKRA: Sahasrara is also called the Crown Chakra. Sahasrara means the ‘thousand-petaled’ centre. This is a reference to the thousands upon thousands of brain cells contained within the cerebrum, with which this chakra is related. Its colour is violet and it relates to inner knowing, understanding and bliss. The gland connected with Sahasrara is the pituitary, which is the master gland of the physical body.
New level of awareness: I am connected to everything in the Universe.
Emotional threats to this chakra include a fear of stepping in the unknown, fear of madness and an inflated ego with all its pretences and fears. Guilt feelings also are a big hindrance to the opening of the 7th chakra (‘I don’t deserve bliss’).
Imbalances result in feelings of alienation, confusion or depression.
Eastern vs Western
perspectives of evolution
The chakra model gives each one of us full responsibility for the quality of our life experiences.
- In the Eastern perspective, everything in the universe is connected at an energetic level. And we’re part of this unified field, whether we consciously know it or not.
- Optimum health is achieved by maintaining a clear energetic connection to the Universal Energy Field, with the chakras receiving and distributing this energy to related physical and subtle organs.
- The chakra model offers a linear cartography, where clearly defined levels of spiritual evolution follow each other. And our personal evolution is linked to the amount of energy available to each chakra, from the root to the crown.
- Spiritual phenomena occur naturally as we grow and evolve.
- Ayurveda (ancient ‘science of life’ of India) offers practical steps to bring harmony/flow where there are blockages. It gives specific advice on nutrition, lifestyle, sexual and other psycho-physical practices (i.e. yoga, breathwork) and spiritual practices (i.e. mudras, meditations, service, worship).
- Practices aim at moving more energy up the sushumna, which in turn help us evolve from victim consciousness to enlightenment. Each person is therefore responsible for their own wellbeing.
- Optimal personal evolution is achieved when a subtle energy called Kundalini rises up the Sushumna and opens up the seventh chakra.
And here’s a brief outline of how spiritual evolution is viewed
in the West:
- Spiritual evolution has been traditionally based on religion, which gives responsibility to someone else.
- Each one of us is a separate being living in a world where everything else is also separate. Please note that Quantum physics say the opposite (‘everything is connected’), but this knowledge isn’t philosophical mainstream yet!
- Within us, body, mind and spirit are also treated as separate entities. The body-mind paradigm is now slowly changing with the development of psychoneuroimmunology (body-mind medicine). But spirit is still definitely out!
- Mainstream psychiatry views spirituality as a liability to mental health.
- Spiritual phenomena are therefore considered pathological, leading to diagnoses of mental illness and pharmacological treatment.
For more information on the various stages of evolution from Eastern, Western, medical and scientific perspectives please return to: Click here to return to Articles on Spiritual Evolution
And to check the book Am I Going Mad?, please click here
- Myss, Carolyn PhD. ‘Anatomy of the Spirit’
- Judith, Anodea ‘Wheels of Life’
- Carroll, Marlyse ‘Am I Going Mad? The Unsettling Phenomena of Spiritual Evolution’
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