What is a Chakra?
An excerpt from Chakra Healing for Vibrant Energy by Michelle S. Fondin
Chakras are energy centers within the body. The word chakra means “wheel” or “disk.” Think of the chakras as spinning vortices of energy. Everything is composed of energy and information. Every object emanates from movement and vibration. The seven main chakras align along the spine, starting at the base of the spine and moving up to the crown of the head.
In the ancient Indian texts called the Vedas, we learn that the physical body is made up of the five great elements called the mahabhutas. Those five elements are space (akasha), air (vayu), water (jala), fire (tejas), and earth (prithivi). The elements are the building blocks of nature and therefore build our bodies as well.
Ancient texts go on to explain that we also have a subtle body. This subtle body is nonphysical and energetic in nature. The subtle body is governed by prana, or vital life force. Prana circulates throughout the body and mind. It is responsible for the flow of energy and information. In the subtle body, prana travels through channels called nadis. Nadis are circulatory channels within the body such as veins, arteries, the respiratory system, the nervous system, the digestive system, the excretory system, and the reproductive system. Think of nadis as the information highway to your mind, body, soul, and spirit, just as the internet is the information highway that brings information to your browser.
If you have a difficult time grasping the concept of the subtle body, reflect on your mind and thoughts. Thoughts are nonphysical entities. Yet ask anyone who thinks (and that would include all of us), and they will tell you that thoughts are quite real. Scientists have been able to pinpoint areas in the brain where thoughts originate or take place, but slice open a human head and you won’t find one thought in there. According to Vedic texts, the mind, intellect, and ego also reside within the subtle body.
Now let’s go back to the example of the internet. When you want information, you want it fast, right? You’re doing research for a work project or a school report, or getting the scoop on a guy you want to date, and you don’t want to wait forever. In the infancy of the internet, with dial-up modems, you could log on, go get a cup of coffee, use the restroom, do your nails, and then the AOL voice of “You’ve got mail” would finally vibrate in your ever-so-waiting ears. But today, in the world of fiber-optic cables and Wi-Fi, information comes pretty much as quickly as you can type in your question. And when it doesn’t come that fast you get frustrated.
For your body to work at an optimal level, the channels through which information travels must be open for that information to get quickly to its destination. If they’re blocked, or if there is an abnormality where the information pools in a given area, you won’t receive the information you need when you need it. So the nadis are the highways or the fiber-optic cables, and prana is the package of information that needs to be carried.
In total, we have around 88,000 chakras in the body, and the seven main chakras are the information hubs. They gather information on certain aspects of your body, mind, spirit, health, and life. When adequate energy flows to these chakras, that energy fills the area with the information each chakra needs to perform its unique specialty.
Like a highway, your body is constantly moving, changing, growing, and being modified by outside influences. While you may intend to keep the energy and information flowing throughout your body at all times, your lifestyle choices, life experiences, and outside influences may hinder the flow. Fortunately, certain practices can help keep these channels open and information flowing freely, and in this book you will learn what you need to do to achieve this goal quickly and easily.
The Philosophy of the Chakras
The concept of the chakras comes from ancient Indian texts of the Tantric tradition. Tantra is a complicated and important nonreligious philosophy. The Tantric texts are separate from the famously known Indian texts, the Vedas, from whence Ayurveda came.
In the West we tend to associate the word Tantra with sex. While sex is mentioned in the Tantric texts, it’s meant to be reserved as a practice for only the most advanced yoga practitioners. The main goal of Tantra is to explore the deep mysteries of life and to become liberated within the confines of this world.
The word Tantra means “to weave.” Tantra is the process of weaving together the body, which has great wisdom, and the mind, which has immense power. By heeding the wisdom of the body and by harnessing the power of the mind you can find the enormous beauty in life on this planet and achieve self-mastery.
The symbolism and stories of the chakras, including their deities and mysticism, are beautiful, colorful, complex, and certainly worth exploring. For the sake of brevity, I will teach you the basics of the chakra system. The foreign words I present come from Sanskrit. For the most part, Sanskrit is no longer spoken but is rich in the roots of language, as many modern English words stem from Sanskrit root words.
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Michelle S. Fondin, author of Chakra Healing for Vibrant Energy and The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda is owner of the Ayurvedic Path Yoga and Wellness Studio, where she practices as an Ayurvedic lifestyle counselor and as a yoga and meditation teacher. She holds a Vedic Master certificate from the Chopra Center and has worked with Dr. Deepak Chopra teaching yoga and meditation. Find out more about her work at www.michellefondinauthor.com.
Excerpted from the book Chakra Healing for Vibrant Energy: Exploring Your 7 Energy Centers with Mindfulness, Yoga, and Ayurveda. Copyright © 2018 by Michelle S. Fondin. Printed with permission from New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com