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Chakras: what are they and why are they so important for health?
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Chakras: What Are They & Why Are They So Important For Health?

Chakras have only recently become more well-known, with the growth in popularity of yoga and New Age philosophies in general. They are a complex and ancient energy system that originated in India. They were first mentioned in the Vedas, ancient sacred texts of spiritual knowledge dating from 1500 to 1000 BC. There’s a lot one can study about them.

Chakra in Sanskrit means “wheel” and refers to energy points in the body. Each chakra is thought to vibrate at its own frequency in a circular pattern, funnelling energy from the universe into the body’s energetic system. These centres of energy are also believed to serve as seats of consciousness. They should stay “open” and aligned, as they correspond to bundles of nerves, major organs, and areas of our energetic body that affect our emotional and physical bodies.

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Looking to historical texts and practices may provide us more powerful insight than modern science into the mind-body aspects of the chakra system.   

Chakras Are The Gateway For Subtle Energy

According to Eastern medical systems, the body contains channels through which flows an invisible but nutritive energy called chi, loosely translated to mean vital energy or life force. Furthermore, there is an implied energy surrounding the body, referred to as subtle energy.

Subtle energy both informs and transcends the faculties of the five senses without a person knowing. It is taken into the body via the chakras, and translated into a form of energy that the body can use at the cellular level. Just as the pineal is the energy transducer for environmental information, the chakras are the energy transducers for subtle energy. Subtle energy is a healing energy that anyone can learn to perceive and utilise. It is a crucial, but often missing, component in health care.

Subtle energy is the foundation of integral physiology, which is a medical paradigm that unites the enormous contributions of Western medicine with the profound insights of Eastern systems of health, a truly integral philosophy of healing. Supported by scientific research, integral physiology bridges belief systems and offers a neutral language that people of myriad backgrounds can use to communicate with one other about experiences that extend outside of known science. 

Functional Theories Of Chakras

Joseph Loizzo, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in Complementary and Integrative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, has linked modern maps of the central nervous system (CNS) with maps of the subtle body. Loizzo proposes that the chakras can be cross-referenced with maps of the central nervous system: The crown chakra with the neocortex. The third eye with the prefrontal cortex. The throat chakra with the limbic system. The heart chakra with the midbrain. The solar plexus with the pons. The sacral and root chakras with the medulla oblongata. 

Rather than controlling a specific part of the body, as previous scientific models of the chakras have proposed, the model by Loizzo links the chakras with brain-body structures that provide the conscious mind with information about the CNS and its processes. Nonetheless, Loizzo states that scientists cannot empirically assess this theory because the technology necessary to do so is still lacking.   

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Psychological Theories Of Chakras

Chakra theory is compared with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which outlines an sequence of needs that one must satisfy in order to develop and grow. For example, in her book Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self. Anodea Judith relates Maslow’s need for physiological safety with the root chakra. Safety with the sacral chakra. Belonging with the solar plexus. Self-esteem with the heart chakra. Self-actualisation with the throat chakra, and transcendence with the third eye and crown chakras.

Chakra theory is also frequently related to Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, which maintains that personality develops in a predetermined order from infancy to adulthood. Judith associates Erikson’s “trust vs. mistrust” stage with the root and sacral chakras. “Autonomy vs. shame and doubt” with the solar plexus “Initiative vs. guilt” with the heart chakra. “Identity vs. inferiority” with the throat and third eye chakras, and “intimacy vs. isolation,” “generativity vs. self-absorption,” and “integrity vs. despair” with the crown chakra. In her book, Judith also relates chakra theory to a number of other psychological theories of development, including Piaget’s stages of cognitive development and Freud’s psychosexual stages.

The main difference between chakra theory and Western psychological theories of development is that chakra theory maps development to energy stored and held in the body. In this sense, viewing development through the lens of the chakras is more holistic, embodied, and more keenly attuned to the mind-body connection than Western paradigms of development. Thus, Western scholars have proposed chakra theory as a stand-alone model for growth-oriented development that is distinct from traditional psychological views of development.

Scientific Limitations On The Chakras

Linking the chakras to psychology is frequently limited to mental and emotional development, whereas anatomical and functional theories of the chakras are nearly always restricted to the physical body. Yet, he challenge for anyone interested in explaining chakras is to be able to demonstrate how something nonphysical could interact with the physical. Evidently, our tendency to see the mind and body as separate entities in the West makes it challenging for chakra theory to be explained.

Modern science still lacks the tools to measure the subtle energy that makes up the chakra system. Both in the academic sphere and in consumer culture, our understanding of the chakra system in the West has been reductive. Although we may look to science to conceptualise the chakras within Western paradigms, at present, looking to historical texts and practices may provide us more powerful insight than modern science into the mind-body aspects of the chakra system.

The 7 Chakras

There are seven main chakras that run along your spine. They start at the root, or base, of your spine and extend to the crown of your head. That said, some people believe you have at least 114 different chakras in the body. The chakras most often referred to are the 7 main ones that we’ll explore in more detail below.

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Root Chakra

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Muladhara or the root chakra is located at the base of the spine. It is identified with basic survival and self-preservation. It helps you feel grounded and able to withstand challenges. A blocked root chakra can manifest as physical issues like arthritis, constipation, and bladder or colon problems, or emotionally through feeling insecure about finances or our basic needs and well-being. When it’s in alignment and open, we will feel grounded and secure, both physically and emotionally.

Sacral Chakra

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Svadisthana or sacral chakra is located in the genital area, just below the belly button. It is identified with sensuality and procreation. This chakra is responsible for your sexual and creative energy. It’s also linked to how you relate to your emotions as well as the emotions of others. Issues with this chakra can be seen via problems with the associated organs, like urinary tract infections, lower back pain, and impotency. Emotionally, this chakra is connected to our feelings of self-worth, and even more specifically, our self-worth around pleasure, sexuality, and creativity.

Solar Plexus

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Manipura or navel chakra. It is located in the abdominal or “belly” area and is identified with the assertion of will, confidence and self-esteem. As well as helping you feel in control of your life. Blockages in the third chakra are often experienced through digestive issues like ulcers, heartburn, eating disorders, and indigestion. It’s the chakra of our personal power. This means it’s related to our self-esteem and self-confidence.

Heart Chakra

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Anahata or heart chakra is located in the upper chest. It is associated with the expression of unconditional love, ability to love and showing compassion.

Blocks in our heart chakra can manifest in our physical health through heart problems, asthma, and weight issues. But blocks are often seen even more clearly through people’s actions. People with heart chakra blocks often put others first, to their own detriment. It’s the middle of the seven chakras, so it bridges the gap between our upper and lower chakras, and it also represents our ability to love and connect to others. When out of alignment, it can make us feel lonely, insecure, and isolated.

Throat Chakra

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Visuddha or throat chakra. Located in the throat, it is associated with creativity and verbal expression. Voice and throat problems as well as any problems with everything surrounding that area, such as the teeth, gums, and mouth, can indicate a blockage. Blocks or misalignment can also be seen through dominating conversations, gossiping, speaking without thinking, and having trouble speaking your mind. When in alignment, you will speak and listen with compassion and feel confident when you speak because you know you are being true to yourself with your words.

Third Eye

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Ajna or brow chakra and is located in the centre of the head behind the eyes. This chakra is associated with wisdom. And you can thank this chakra for a strong gut instinct. That’s because the third eye is responsible for intuition. It’s also linked to imagination.

Since this chakra is physically located on the head, blockages can manifest as headaches, issues with sight or concentration, and hearing problems. People who have trouble listening to reality, who seem to “know it all.” Or who are not in touch with their intuition may also have a block. When open and in alignment, it’s thought that people will follow their intuition and be able to see the big picture.

Crown Chakra

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Finally, the Sahasrara or crown chakra is located just above the crown of the head and symbolises not only the highest state of consciousness but complete and total union with the source of all creation.

The crown chakra is linked to every other chakra and therefore every organ in this system. So it affects not just all of those organs, but also our brain and nervous system. It is considered the chakra of enlightenment and represents our connection to our life’s purpose and spirituality. Those with a blocked crown chakra may seem narrow-minded, skeptical, or stubborn. When this chakra is open, it is thought to help keep all the other chakras open and to bring the person bliss and enlightenment. 

Getting Familiar

As these are all energetic centers of the body that correspond to feelings, one of them probably resonated with you as you were reading. A different one may resonate with you tomorrow. It’s likely that one resonates with you more than any others as a continuous problem, a chakra where you often deal with blocks. Other blockages may pop up every now and then. In the chakra system, these patterns have specific terms and there are recommended treatments.

What Does It Mean If A Chakra Is Blocked Or Unbalanced?

There can be a depletion of energy flow or too much energetic activity in a chakra, each will manifest into different outcomes. When a chakra is low in energy you’ll have difficulty expressing the particular qualities associated with that chakra. When a chakra is overactive, the qualities are a dominant force in the person’s life. This can have both physical and emotional effects.

For example, the first chakra is about security, survival, and the foundation of our life. If it’s under-active, it can show up as depression and insecurity. If there’s too much energy, it can show up as fearlessness without precaution or hoarding because you need more to feel secure.

In general, the location of the chakra that’s out of balance may affect the parts of your body in close proximity to that chakra. This includes your organs, bones, joints, and tissues near that area. Psychologically, imbalances in the chakras may cause an emotional disturbances.

This may lead to increased anger, sadness, fear, or indecisiveness. It’s important to pay attention to both the psychological and physiological sensations because they can inform each other and uncover the root cause of the experience. Experiencing too much stress, physically or mentally — may cause one or more chakras to be out of balance.

Moreover, Personal habits such as poor physical alignment or posture, eating unhealthy food, or self-destructive behaviour may cause a chakra to be imbalanced. Prolonged imbalance may lead to physical disease and illness, musculoskeletal issues, and mental health challenges like depression or anxiety.

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How To Unblock And Align The Chakras

chart showing unbalanced and balanced chakra models from the international journal of transpersonal studies
International Journal of Transpersonal Studies

Firstly, the most important thing to understand that we are all made up of pure energy. We share this energy with the Earth. And the Earth gives and sustains life in every living thing. Balancing your chakras requires a vast range of knowledge. It is important that you understand each chakra function and capability. This knowledge will help you heal them when they are unbalanced.

When you feel off or unwell, chakra balancing is a way to heal these energy centres. Understanding how the chakras work is an important aspect of learning how to work with them. Any mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual ailment can be caused by a blockage or imbalance.

You can also use chakra stones, bracelets, crystals, reiki, smudging, or meditation. But being well informed and educated about the system will help you overall. But regardless of using chakra stones, bracelets, crystals, reiki, smudging, meditation, or vibrational healing, one must be well informed about the system overall.


In Conclusion

The chakra system will remain, a dominant force, not only in Eastern spirituality but worldwide in positive psychology. The chakra system is a path for inner revolution, with the ability to drop all the religious beliefs, constraints, prejudices and create the space within to conceive the infinite and timeless truth. Revolution of the chakra system started long back, with the oral tradition, while maintaining exceptional accuracy of their knowledge across the generations. Scientific studies for both the seven-chakra system and the 114-chakra system is crucial for modern positive psychology, neuropsychology and healing.

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