The Sanskrit word ‘chakra’ literally means ‘wheel’, in context with the subtle body of a human being it symbolises invisible swirling wheel of energy, governing the overall functioning and life experiences of the person. Although there are over hundred minor chakras, seven of them are major ones, having their physical representation in nerve plexuses and endocrine glands. These seven major chakras are located through the base of the spine to the crown of the head, each one corresponding to the physical wellbeing as well as psychological and emotional states of being.
Chakra is said to be in balance when it is optimally activated – this state of chakra in common parlance is referred to as ‘aligned and open’. And it is said to be imbalanced when it is not functioning optimally, thus referred to as ‘misaligned and blocked’ state of chakra. In some cases, it could even be wide open, which again is a kind of imbalance. Here blockage simply means that energy is not able to flow through it harmoniously, which has an impact on all aspects of life, not just on the state of chakra alone.
Energy that flows through the chakra is vital life force i.e. prana shakti, which keeps us active, vibrant and alive. Activating the chakras not only enables us to tap into the higher psychic energy associated with their enhanced functioning but greatly benefits the related physical counterpart (the origins in our body). This process begins with awareness of imbalance which is akin to diagnosis. As only after that one can be guided to work at healing, cleansing and rebalancing through focus, concentration and guided meditation. But before seeking guidance to balance chakras, one must know what the balanced state of specific chakra manifests in life.
The Root Chakra: Muladhar
Muladhar is a combination of two Sanskrit words, ‘Mula’ meaning root and ‘Adhara’ meaning base, thus it lies at the base of the spine.
This chakra is related to the basic physical and emotional needs of each individual. When these needs are met, one feels content, stable and joyful. It is the foundation for all the chakras and is responsible for safety, security and survival.
If you often feel anxious, fearful, insecure, there is great possibility that your Muladhar is imbalanced. This imbalance manifests in the body as some a dysfunction in our eliminatory system i.e problem in colon or bladder or lower back, leg or feet issues to state a few examples. Once this chakra is balance one feels grounded, stable and safe.
The Sacral Chakra: Swadhisthan
Swadhisthan lies above the Muladhar chakra, it refers to one’s dwelling place and represents movement plus change. This chakra is associated with desires, feelings, sensations, emotions, creativity and sexuality. One’s relationship with people around and the world at large is mainly driven by this chakra.
Thus, when it is balanced, relationships in life are harmonious, there is emotional stability, sensory experiences give pleasure and creative juices flow at their best. Similarly, there are various signs of its imbalance, such as feeling isolated or dis-connected from the world, fear of change, overwhelmed by emotions, dependency on those who give pleasure and security, over indulgence, lack of creative inspiration and so on.
At the level of the body, this chakra governs the functioning of liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas and reproductive organs. Balancing this chakra makes one open to creativity and restores wellbeing at all levels.
The Navel Chakra: Manipur
Manipur, said to be located around the navel in the solar plexus, in itself it means a lustrous gem. This chakra is associated with the qualities viz. self-confidence, self-motivation, clarity of goals and the like which make one a gem of a person.
Thus if this chakra is imbalanced, one suffers from low self-esteem, lack of purpose, confidence and motivation and has decision making issues. Similarly, having clear goals and moving towards achieving them with confidence contributes towards aligning this chakra.
At the level of the body, Manipur chakra governs metabolism and digestion, hence strengthening agni (the digestive fire) influences the state of this chakra.
The Heart Chakra: Anahat
Anahat, right in the middle of seven chakras with three below and three above, is all about love and compassion. It is not just in the centre of chakras but is the centre of being as well. Every experience of life leaves a residue in the heart and mind.
More often than not the impressions of negative experiences give rise to grievances, hatred, anger and so on, which further block the heart chakra. But by letting go of painful experiences, negative feelings and hurts, be it past or present residue, it can be brought to balance. Holding on to grudges or harbouring negativity are self-destructive. Another important point to note is that it’s not just about extending love but receiving as well, as only the balance of giving and receiving opens one to new experiences and to the world at large. Only then can one have the feeling of freedom, expansion and oneness with all that is.
At the level of the body this chakra corresponds to the heart.
The Throat Chakra: Vishuddha
Vishuddha means pure, thus referred to as the purification centre, and due to its position at the throat region it is also called as ‘the throat chakra.’ It is mainly associated with communication (especially through the spoken word, mantras and their sound vibrations), creativity and self-expression.
This chakra is connected with the element ‘ether’ i.e. space, thus the powerful vibrations arising from the mantra chanting, done with right intonation, has an impact on aligning this very chakra. When it is out of balance, physical dysfunctions manifest in neck, shoulders, throat, thyroid and parathyroid glands, mouth, teeth, gums and ears, in such case one would have difficulty in expressing clearly. On the other hand, clear and effective communication, creative expression, resonant voice are indicators of balanced state of this chakra.
The Third Eye Chakra: Agya
Agya chakra, the powerful centre of intuition, is categorised as the chakra of higher realm, it is so because of its position which is between the eyebrows, also called as the third eye, meaning beyond the physical senses.
Our perception of the world is via five senses and we rely on them so much that we have lost touch with our sixth sense which is beyond them and thus is a source of real knowing. In fact when we say sixth sense, this is what we refer to i.e. the sixth chakra and once we begin to trust it then our decision making is guided by intuition rather than mind or intellect.
This chakra represents inner wisdom and gives rise to extrasensory perception viz. telepathy, clairvoyance, lucid dreaming and so on. It can be brought to balance and alignment through certain meditation and pranayama practices, the change that it can bring in the journey of life and its experiences is beyond expression.
The Crown Chakra: Sahasrar
Sahasrar means thousand petals, thus also referred to as the thousand petal lotus chakra, having great significance in spiritual evolution across all traditions. It is said to be located on top of the head, like a crown, hence the name.
Unfurling of this chakra is indicative of self-realisation, enlightenment, transcendence, for it is connected with the higher Self. We can also call it the point of liberation i.e. freedom from suffering, freedom from ignorance, freedom from miseries.
At this level, the fleeting experience of the phenomenal world fades away and being one with all-pervasive divinity becomes the reality. One doesn’t know oneself as limited to mere body, mind, intellect but as pure consciousness beyond the confines of name and form – eternal, blissful, ever-conscious. It is a point of no return where a drop becomes the ocean. In fact it is not even about becoming but realising that the drop, which one mistakenly identifies with, has always been the ocean.