The Higher Chakras
Last week, I shared a bit about the three lower chakras (root, sacral and solar plexus) and some practices that I like to do to keep those areas open and flowing in my life. This week, I will introduce you to the four higher chakras: the heart, throat, third eye and crown chakras.
While the lower chakras deal primarily with our physical and emotional stability and well-being, the higher chakras are all about our “higher” needs and pursuits. To use Maslow’s Hierarchy as a comparison, while the lower chakras represent our basic needs, the higher chakras deal more with our psychological and self-fulfillment needs. As I pointed out last week, you don’t need to believe in the physical reality of the chakras in order to use this model as a beneficial tool. Think of each chakra as representing different aspects of your life that can be brought into balance.
The four higher chakras are more psychological and spiritual in nature. We’ll step through each one in order:
6. Third Eye
The heart chakra is located in the general area of your heart. It’s color is green and it is typically associated with the classical element of air. The heart chakra is a bridge between the lower and higher chakras and, as such, links the stability and sense of well-being of the lower chakras with the more aspirational nature of the higher chakras.
Not surprisingly, the heart chakra is all about giving and receiving love to others as well as yourself. When the heart chakra is blocked, we tend to be closed off from others and can sink into bitterness and resentment. When it is open, we are able to connect with others with loving kindness and compassion.
I like to pull from the Buddhist practice of Loving Kindness when thinking of opening the heart chakra. The simple loving kindness mantras of “may all being be happy,” and “may all beings be safe” help generate the loving energy associated with the heart chakra.
The throat chakra is one of my personal favorites. First of all, I love the color blue and that’s the color associated with this chakra. Secondly, it’s all about being willing and able to speak your truth and if you’ve read any of my posts, you know I’m all about self-expression and speaking my truth. While all of the chakras we’ve discussed so far are about finding your sense of well-being, connection, personal power and love, the throat chakra is more about communicating all of that inner work with the world. When the throat chakra is open, we are able to communicate clearly and openly. Our message comes through as intended and can be easily heard and understood by others. When the throat chakra is closed, communication and honest expression can be difficult and even feel impossible.
The throat chakra is associated with sound and music, so singing is a great way to open up a closed throat chakra. I find that singing helps me connect to the throat chakra is a very visceral way because I can feel the vibrations in my throat.
I cannot overstate the importance of practice for both verbal and written communication. Groups like Toast Masters which provide a topic and allow you to practice speaking and presenting on that topic are a great way to open up your throat chakra. Even starting your own blog or YouTube channel and dedicating yourself to posting every week are great ways to work on your communication and open your throat chakra.
Third Eye Chakra
The third-eye chakra is associated with color indigo and is also known as the “brow” chakra. It is traditionally located at the center of the forehead where your eyeball would be if you were a cyclops. It’s also the location of your prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that responsible for our executive function.
I want to highlight the connection of this location with our higher functioning brain because I think it helps to illustrate what this chakra is all about. The third eye chakra is associated with our intuition, imagination and wisdom. While the lower chakras are all about our connection to the physical world that we can see and touch, the third eye chakra represents that which we cannot see.
The third eye is certainly more “spiritual” in nature but even if you’re not a particularly spiritual person, there is value in working on this area. It’s basically about learning to have faith in your imagination and ideas even when you don’t have physical evidence to back them up yet.
When the third eye chakra is closed, it’s harder to connect with your inner wisdom and intuition. It’s harder to predict the next right step when faced with difficult choices and harder to “trust the process” before you start seeing results in the real world. When the third eye chakra is open, you have earlier access to your imagination and are able to trust your intuition and thought process.
The third eye chakra is second highest of the seven chakras. Learning to open up and access your intuition may be a lifetime practice; so don’t worry if you struggle in this area, many of us do. It is even said that this chakra doesn’t really begin to develop until we are in our late thirties and early forties.
A great practice for opening the third eye chakra is “future self” journaling. I do a journalling practice called “five perfect days” where I imagine five possible future scenarios and what a perfect day in my life would look like. This exercise encourages me to look at my life as it is today and then open up my imagination to project into the future. Future Self journaling can be an incredibly powerful tool for giving yourself permission to dream about what you want in your life. That is what the third eye chakra is all about: learning to open up your inner vision.
The seventh and last chakra is the crown chakra. It is the highest chakra and is traditionally located at the crown of the head. I often think of the fontanelle at the crown of a baby’s head when reflecting on the location of the crown chakra. The crown chakra is the most spiritual of all the chakras, it represents our connection with the “divine.” This is the divinity of your own understanding and may vary from person to person depending on their spiritual beliefs.
Personally, I like to think of the crown as my connection to the universe as a whole and in this way, for me, it echos the root chakra which connects me to the earth. The crown chakra connects me to the timeless universe in the same way that the root helps me stay grounded to the here and now.
The crown chakra is associated with the color violet or sometimes pure white light. My qigong mentor taught me to visualize a pure white light that pours down into the crown chakra as part of my practice and so that is the color I most strongly associate with the crown.
Fully opening the crown chakra is, essentially, enlightenment. It is the full realization that everything connected and our experience as separate beings is a delusion. Even if you’re not yet an awakened master, you can still tap in to the wisdom of the crown chakra. Opening the crown chakra is about opening up your recognition of your connectedness to everything around you. Reflect and meditate on your connection to the universe. I like to head to the beach and stare out at the ocean or even just step out into my backyard to gaze up at the stars. Anything that helps you experience the vastness of the universe and your small place within it helps to open up the crown chakra.
Throughout this series of posts on the chakras, I’ve tried to keep things relatively simple, straight forward and down-to-earth. I’m a strong believer that anyone can use the chakra model as a powerful tool in their self-care toolkit for development and growth.
One of my favorite morning meditations is a twenty minute “chakra tuning” visualization where I take a few minutes to focus on each of the seven chakras and check-in with how I’m feeling in each area. The Meditative Mind YouTube channel has great background music for this practice. Spend two or three minutes checking in with each chakra and see how you feel in each area.
Find yourself feeling bitter and resentful? It might be a good time to focus on your heart chakra with some loving kindness meditation.
Did your boss ask you where you see yourself in five years and you came up empty? Focus on the third eye chakra with some “future self” journaling.
I encourage you to make the chakras your own and find how they can help you in your life and practice!
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