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Chakra Meditation

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Introduction.

More than 2,000 years ago the Hindu yogis of India made a special effort to tune in to, and map, the energies of the 'aura' or 'subtle body'. Since then various, sometimes contradictory, descriptions have come down to us via a number of different routes including 'tantric yoga', 'laya yoga', kundalini yoga' and (relatively recently) 'theosophy'. The apparent contradictions between different traditions surely illustrate that this can be a complex and difficult area to investigate. With that complexity in mind, however, I have attempted to supply here a simple introductory 'generic' chakra meditation that synthesises information from a number of sources. Not claiming to be an expert in this area, I would suggest that anyone wanting to go further with subtle body work should a) quite probably, find a teacher who knows what they ate talking about b) get clued up on the the different traditions alluded to above. It's appropriate that I emphasise that I am not naturally clairvoyant.

The energy of the subtle body is not something that can be seen with the normal eye, and even though yogis began to model it a long time ago, with sensitivities developed through meditative practise, currently science tends not to admit it's existence. As yet such things cannot be measured with the tools of normal scientific research. But. Acupuncture (for instance) works, (even if science can't explain how it works) and acupuncture also deals with the energies of the subtle body. So clearly something is going on! Clearly the energies of the subtle body are not completely illusory. However, we do need to proceed with caution. Here are some of the problems we face:

rotating dot Firstly, few of us are strongly clairvoyant, with the ability to percieve subtle body energies directly with some kind of 'inner eye'.

rotating dot Secondly, because we are not naturally or strongly clairvoyant, few of us are in a position to come to our own conclusions about the veracity of the often-conficting maps of the subtle body that have been handed down, where one tradition says that a certain chakra is red, whilst another says that it is gold, and so on.

rotating dot The third important point to bear in mind is one that has often been overlooked by Western writers. It concerns the traditional images of the individual chakras, where each one supposedly has a number of 'petals', along with a colour or colours for the central area, and a colour or colours for the petals. Traditionally, also, a chakra will have been represented as having a certain set of Sanskrit letters inscribed on the petals, along with symbols in the centre such as crescent moons, geometric shapes and so on, like this for example:

muladhara chakra image

The important point to remember here however is that these images were not meant to be 100% figurative. They were not meant to represent chakras as they would look if only we had sufficient paranormal ability to see for ourselves.
The images were meant to be used primarily as metaphorical meditational devices, with symbols that illustrate complex sets of correspondences. Often the traditional symbolism of the chakras is an attempt to link different 'levels of reality' in a manner analogous to the correspondences of the Kabalistic Tree of Life.

rotating dot So is there anything we focus on here that is NOT metaphorical? Yes, it would appear that there is. Insofar as the chakras represent the most important centres of the subtle body, it may be most useful to visualise them as energy vortexes. Each one may be seen as a 'whirlpool' in a flowing energy system that both extends beyond and interpenetrates our physical bodies. It is a basic magical axiom that 'energy follows thought', and that being the case, we can alter the state of our subtle body by 'merely' thinking about it: we can centre consciousness on one or another area, we can increase or reduce the amount of energy present in that area, we can change the frequency of the energy in a certain area and so on. The subtle body can also be thought of as an 'organising structure', that in a number of important ways determines the nature of the physical body on the plane 'beneath', as it were. This idea is fairly fundamental to both magic and shamanism. If 'wrong' thought or feeling has caused disturbances in the subtle body, which in turn have caused disturbances in the physical body, then just maybe we can work on the original disturbances by working on the subtle body (rather than the physical body). Suck it and see! Just maybe you don't even need to know the mental or emotional 'content' of the disturbances to do this kind of healing...

So. The 'stripped-down' meditation here assumes the existence of a subtle body, that exists primarily on the 'etheric plane'. The etheric plane should be thought of as a plane of reality 'just beyond' the physical plane. We also assume these 'whirlpools of energy' known as chakras have an objective existence, where the body's subtle energy is most concentrated. A central energy channel, roughly analogous with the spine, is taken to be the strongest means by which chakras are connected to each other. For the purposes of this meditation we also assume that we can bring about positive changes in the energies of the subtle bodies by focussing, in an appropriate meditative way, on those energies, and that by practising subtle body meditations like this we can increase our sensitivity to the subtle body.

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The Practise.

Choose a Posture you feel comfortable with. Then relax the body by concentrating on each part in turn, allowing the stress in that area to fall away. (See Basic Relaxation). Spend a minute or two on this.

Now focus on your breathing, allowing it to become deeper and more regular, without force. If your mind wanders off in any direction, gently bring it back to an awareness of each breath you take.

Be aware of the passage of the air into and through your body. In your mind's eye try and follow it as it passes down into the lungs. Imagine the oxygen being taken from the breath, and imagine oxygen-rich blood flowing from the lungs to your heart. Try and visualise the heart distributing this red blood throughout the body, to all of your muscles and nerves and up into your brain. When the blood comes back to the lungs it brings back carbon dioxide waste which is breathed out.

Sense the heart beating. Let your heart be relaxed, and efficient. Visualise the body in it's entirety. Think on how the body is a homeostatic system, that is, how it balances itself perfectly when allowed to do so. Breath is basic. Breath is life. You breathe in and you breathe out. Feel the energy of each breath, sustaining life.

Now I want you to try and visualise a rainbow-coloured but almost invisible prana energy, being taken in to your body along with the oxygen that you absorb from each breath, so that just as you absorb the oxygen from the air, so on some subtle level your body is also storing up this special energy. Visualise the body as a whole with the heart at the centre, and imagine the field of your body's subtle energy surrounding you like a cocoon of yellow-orange light. Visualise the energy that your body takes from the air merging with the yellow-orange light of the cocoon of your etheric body and making it 'brighter'. Don't force anything though. Just try and maintain a sense of this energy within you and around you.



muladhara chakra image

Now focus on a point at the base of your spine, visualising a whirlpool of your subtle body energy there. Imagine the iridescent prana energy energising this area in particular, but also try and imagine prana energy from the earth rising up into you. This chakra is traditionally known as the muladhara.

It is apparently related to the adrenal gland, the kidneys and the spinal column in the physical body.

It also has the following symbolic associations- think about each one in turn.
A red-coloured circle surrounded by four golden petals.
The element of earth.
The density of matter.



svadisthana chakra image

Now focus on a point in the small of the back, between the navel and the pubic bone, about three inches above the first chakra. Imagine the iridescent prana energy that you absorb from the breath energising this area in particular. This is traditionally known as the svadisthana chakra.

The svadisthana chakra is apparently related to the female ovaries and male testes in the physical body.

It also has the following less concrete associations- think about each one in turn.
A salmon-like orange-coloured centre, encircled by six white petals.
The element of water.
The moon.
Ego.
Sex energy.
Survival instinct.
Creavitity.



manipura chakra image

Now focus on a point about one and a half inches below the navel. Imagine the iridescent prana energy energising this area in particular. This is traditionally known as the manipura chakra. When the manipura chakra succumbs to stresses of any kind, the effects are immediately felt both in the physical body and in the emotions. As healers we can use this, since if we energise the energy system in this area, and help integrate the energies of the chakra with the rest of the energy system, then the effects of that should propagate throughout bodymind. Also, if we are able to sense any kind of 'pull' on the manipura chakra, then this can help us understand what is going on, as, with practise, we may come to recognise the source of the 'pull' in the energy system by tracing it back to physical organs, thoughts, feelings or memories. This is where yoga and shamanism surely have a lot in common!
Martial artists in a number of different traditions also use an understanding of the importance of this chakra to the energy system as a whole, for instance in directing shrieks to the solar plexus of an opponent, with the aim of disrupting their 'ki'.

This chakra is apparently related to the digestive system, the spleen, the pancreas and the gall bladder in the physical body. It is also related to the unconscious mind. While all of the lower chakras are related to 'the emotions' our current emotional state is most strongly manifest in the manipura chakra.

There are also the following associations that we can think about.
A red-coloured centre with ten dark blue petals.
The element of fire.
Willpower.
Personal power.
Prudence.



anahata chakra image

Now focus on the region of your subtle body in front of your physical heart. This is traditionally known as the anahata chakra. Visualise prana energy flowing both in and out of this chakra and see it shining with it's own beautiful golden light. As you lightly rest your consciousness here, so you sense a strengthening, a brightnening, of the energy. This chakra is at the centre of your subtle body, and, metaphorically speaking, it is also the place where spirit and matter meet, the scene of the alchemical marriage, so to speak.

This chakra is related to the heart, blood, and the circulatory system in general, along with the immune and endocrine systems in the physical body.

It also has the following symbolic associations that it may be useful to mull over.
A smoke-coloured central region with twelve red petals.
The sun.
If you are familiar with kabbala at all, then the anahata chakra corresponds closely to the kabalistic central sphere of tipheret.
Soul, 'higher self' or 'holy guardian angel'.
The element of air.
Perseverance.
Patience.
Equilibrium
Objectivity.
Compassion.
Non-egoic love.



vishuddha chakra image

Now focus on a point in the front your neck halfway between your shoulder-blades and your chin. Imagine prana energy energising this area in particular. This is traditionally known as the vishuddha chakra.

This chakra is apparently related to the thyroids, the rate of metabolism, and the lungs in the physical body.

It also has the following more fluffy associations.
Communication.
The 'veil' between the manifest and unmanifest realms.
Telepathy.
Clairaudience. (Extra-sensory hearing).



ajna chakra image

Now focus on a point just above your eyes, behind your forehead. Visualise iridescent prana energising this area. This is traditionally known as the ajna chakra. The word ajna means 'command', in the sense of 'spiritual guidance', since by meditating on this chakra, the practitioner is reputed to enhance their ability to tune in to the highest, or deepest, levels of existence: that is, the tao, dharma, or buddha-nature rather than the mere karma that normally rules us. The two large petals on each side of the chakra in it's symbolic representation supposedly relate to the connection of the chakra to the two subsidiary energy channels, the ida and pingala, that entwine themselves around the central shushumna channel running all the way up from muladhara to sahasrara. For the moment we don't need to concern ourselves with the complexity of the lesser channels. In your own time just try and concentrate on a simple energising of the chakra, and see if you can balance the energies of the chakra with those of the rest of the system.
This chakra is apparently related to the pituitary gland in the physical body.

It also has the following more fluffy associations.
The third eye of clairvoyance, also known as psychic vision, although it may be the case that this attribution of clairvoyance to the ajna chakra may be quite recent.
Deep intuition and insight.
Now with your consciousness remaining focussed on the ajna chakra, just let yourself relax completely, always 'bringing yourself back' if you drift away or get distracted. Meditate like this on the ajna chakra for another four or five minutes: I won't say anything for that time.



sahasrara chakra image

Now focus on a point half an inch or so above the top of your head. This is traditionally known as the sahasrara chakra, which is also related to the pineal gland in the physical body. Briefly visualise the whole of your subtle body, with the sahasrara chakra here as the crowning glory of all of them, shining with a bright white light.
Now imagine that you are in the high Himalayas on a calm moonlit night. From your vantage point you can see for a huge distance across the mountains, where there are no other people at all. You are free. Above you the sky is a deep ultramarine blue, with thousands of stars shining brightly in the thin air. Imagine yourself looking down on the mountains from above, from way up in the earth's orbit. Now go further still, way out into the depths of space where the earth is just a tiny speck. Remind yourself, or try and imagine, some sense of the spirit that underpins, and interpenetrates, the vastness of space from end to end. With some sense of that divine presence, come back to centre on the crown of your head again, and imagine that there is a pure white light flowing down into you through your sahasrara chakra, energising your whole being with beautiful healing energy.
Remember that all of the chakras in the subtle energy system absorb energy in greater or lesser degrees. Let all unneccessary blocks disappear.
All of the chakras transform energy too: pranic energy from the environment is converted to etheric energy within us. Let there be no blocks in the expression of that energy.
Finally, let's just meditate on 'integration' for a minute: let all of the different parts of the subtle body system work well with each other: let the whole of it work efficiently as one integrated unit.
In a couple of minutes we are going to draw the practise to a close.



OK. Slowly come back to being aware of your physical body, and in your own time come out of the meditation. (See Opening And Closing A Meditation)

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Contribution: Richard Ebbs, Leeds, England.

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