Chakras are believed to be pycho-spiritual energy centers which exist in a subtle energy body that overlays the physical body. They are said to regulate and manage the proper flowing of the life-force energy, which in Chinese is called Qi or Chi. The concept originated in the Hindu Vedas, but has spread to Buddhism, Jainism and is now widely considered a foundational element of literally all meditational, spiritual and magical systems from yoga, to reiki to hermetic magick.
The concept is rather simple. All things in the universe are made of and surrounded by an endless field of life-giving energy. This energy not only creates physical matter, but it is the essence which gives life to organisms. It flows into and through us, bringing health, happiness, and pleasure. Illness and unhappiness are due to blocking or inhibiting the free and abundant flowing of this Universal Light.
The energy flows through our body, providing the living field that promotes health and well-being, as well as cellular communication and the regulation of all bodily processes. Much like our central nervous system, which sends electrical signals throughout our body, the light-force flows through a network of channels and “meridians” that parallels much of our physical bodies systems, with analogous elements in both the physical and energetic bodies. Just like we have organs in our physical body, there are organ-like things in the subtle body. They are the chakras.
Traditionally, there are hundreds of chakras within our being along with thousands of meridians that carry the life-force to all parts of our body. There are seven “key” chakras in most systems today. However, some discuss more and some less. We will focus on the seven principal chakras of traditional Hindu and Buddhist Tantra and Chinese Qigong.
The Seven Chakras
- Sahasrara – Chakra #7 – The Crown Chakra
- Ajna – Chakra #6 – The Guru or Third Eye Chakra
- Vishuddha – Chakra #5 – The Throat Chakra
- Anahata – Chakra #4 – The Heart Chakra
- Manipura – Chakra #3 – The Solar Plexus Chakra
- Svadhishthana – Chakra #2 – The Sacral or Genital Chakra
- Muladhara – Chakra #1 – The Root Chakra
The seven chakras are said to lie in a vertical column, overlaying a central meridian that parallels the spinal column, called the Shushumna. Life energy flows through this channel between the chakras, like a super-highway of light.
Sahasrara – The Crown Chakra
The Crown Chakra is located at the very top of the head. It is considered the highest and most subtle energy center in the body. It corresponds to a state of pure consciousness and is the point that connects us with the pure Light of the Universe. Beyond this chakra is the pure source of all energy and life. It represents the point of physical manifestation. Below the Crown Chakra, the body becomes more tangible and physical, above it is the realm of pure spirit.
The Crown Chakra is the point at which the male energy, symbolized by Shiva, unites with the female energy, symbolized by Shakti. It is the place of the divine coupling and beyond it energy is undifferentiated. Correspondingly, it is the point where the undifferentiated Light descends and splits into male and female energy within our being as the energy begins the quest to achieve physical reality. Duality does not exist in the Crown Chakra, as it is the point where duality has not yet formed.
It is symbolized by the thousand-petaled lotus. Its primary color is violet. The musical note associated with this chakra is F. The mantra or chant used during meditation, for focusing or activating this chakra is “Om”.
When one is able to focus on and activate the Crown Chakra, one is believed to achieve a state of bliss or nirvana, even if short-lived. This is one of the goals of tantra and yoga.
Ajna – The Third Eye Chakra
The Third Eye Chakra is located near the center of the forehead, between the eyebrows. Some beliefs associate it with the Pineal Gland inside the brain. It is often thought to be a dormant, vestigial eye. It is associated with the attainment of spiritual insight and wisdom.
The Third Eye Chakra is the root of duality, where male and female energies co-exist either having just split as the light descends from the Crown Chakra on its descent into the body or are preparing to unite as one in the Crown Chakra on its ascent out of the body. The wisdom of the Third Eye Chakra is that duality appears real to us, but it is an illusion, for male cannot exist without female, light cannot exist without dark. We are not two things; we are both.
The Third Eye Chakra is symbolized by a lotus with two petals. The shape is often thought to depict an open eye. Its primary color is Indigo. The musical note associated with the Third Eye Chakra is E. The mantra or chant used during meditation, for focusing or activating this chakra is “Aum”.
When one focuses on and activates the Third Eye Chakra, one is said to attain a state of intuition and awareness. It is often associated with mysticism, channeling of divine wisdom and spiritual enlightenment. It is a key touch-point used by a Tantric guru to trigger a state of awakened consciousness.
Vishuddha – The Throat Chakra
The Throat Chakra is located at the base of the throat, in the center, between and slightly above the junction of the collar bones, in the soft, recessed area below the Adam’s apple. It is associated with the ability to clearly articulate and communicate spiritual truths as well as the center of enjoyment.
The Throat Chakra governs our ability to speak, sing and vocalize thoughts and regulates our ability to project our creative energy into the world. It also forms a bridge from the higher chakras into the lower and can become blocked, forming a bottleneck for the free-flowing of energy. It is the seat of the vibrational power of chanting mantra and the expression of enjoyment and sexual pleasure.
The Throat Chakra is symbolized by a sixteen-petaled lotus. It is often shown with a downward facing triangle inscribed inside a circle and containing another circle. Its primary color is Blue, usually shown as a light blue or cyan. The musical note associated with the Third Eye Chakra is D. The mantra or chant used during meditation, for focusing or activating this chakra is “Ham”, with the “h” spoken very breathy.
When one focuses on and activates the Throat Chakra, one is said to attain the ability to interact with the ethereal, non-physical universe and to act as a channel of spiritual communication. It is often associated with teaching, spirit channeling and guru-ship.
Anahata – The Heart Chakra
The Heart Chakra is the center-most of the seven chakras and is located in the center of our being over our heart. It is associated with love, compassion, and beauty.
The Heart Chakra is the center of the transformation of consciousness through universal love. It governs our emotions and our ability to love, both emotionally and physically. It is a channel and connecting point for the flowing of life-force and love energy between two lovers. It is the center of love and is closely connected to the sacral chakra for the sexual union and the deeply felt release of orgasm.
It is symbolized by a twelve-petalled lotus containing two interlocking triangles representing the joining of the male and female energies of Shiva and Shakti in coital bliss. Its primary color is green. The musical note associated with the Third Eye Chakra is C. The mantra or chant used during meditation, for focusing or activating this chakra is “Yam”.
When one focuses on and activates the Heart Chakra, one is said to attain the ability to feel the inpouring of universal light as pure love and to be able to project unconditional love for all people and all things. The Heart Chakra plays a key role in tantric practices, uniting with the Sacral Chakra and with the Heart Chakra of one’s lover, to allow sexual pleasure to flow and merge between the participants as love energy.
Manipura – The Solar Plexus Chakra
The Solar Plexus Chakra is located in the center of our bodies in the area of our solar plexus. Some say it is located two-finger widths below the navel, and others say it located midway between the bottom of the sternum and the naval. It is associated with will, the mind, and personal power.
The Solar Plexus Chakra is the center of the consciousness and the awareness of the self as “I am”. It governs our thoughts and our mental abilities as well as our willpower and personal strength. It also governs and controls our breathing, through the diaphragm.
It is symbolized by a ten-petalled lotus containing a single triangle. Its primary color is yellow. The musical note associated with the Third Eye Chakra is B. The mantra or chant used during meditation, for focusing or activating this chakra is “Ram”.
When one focuses on and activates the Solar Plexus Chakra, one is said to attain the ability to expand the mind and intellect, to solve problems and create concepts and ideas. It helps to empower one to perform tasks and achieve results. It also builds our self-confidence and our personal independence.
Svadhishthana – The Sacral Chakra
The Sacral Chakra is located at the base of the genitalia. For men, this is at the base of the penis and is a sphere that encompasses the testicles and prostate gland. For women, it is centered in the vagina, near the cervix and includes the clitoris, labia, womb, and ovaries. It is associated with reproduction, sexuality, and creativity.
The Sacral Chakra governs passion, creativity, and sexual pleasure. It is the center of emotions and feeling and our ability to feel enjoyment from all things in life. The Sacral Chakra is fundamental in the regulating of the flow of life-force in the body, as it is primarily responsible for the directing of life-force to the creation of new life through procreation.
It is symbolized by a six-petalled lotus containing two circles of different size touching at a point at the top. Its primary color is orange. The musical note associated with the Third Eye Chakra is A. The mantra or chant used during meditation, for focusing or activating this chakra is “Vam”, with the V pronounced in a vibratory manner.
When one focuses on and activates the Sacral Chakra, one is said to attain the ability to expand one’s creativity, to positively manifest the higher emotions of love and to experience deeper, more powerful and more connected sexual pleasure. Like creating life, all creativity is managed and enhanced by the Sacral Chakra. Activating this chakra is a common goal for artists, writers, and other creative people.
Muladhara – The Root Chakra
The Root Chakra is located at the base of the spine. It is associated with root or core of our being. It is the bridge between the subtle, energy body with the physical body. It is also our spiritual connection to the physical universe and the Earth.
It governs our survival instincts and our animal nature. It oversees and drives our need for stability and ability to be courageous. The root chakra is also thought to contain all our memories and experiences, including access to those of our prior lives, and serves as an essential aspect of our personality.
It is symbolized by a four-petalled lotus containing a square. Its primary color is red. The musical note associated with the Third Eye Chakra is G. The mantra or chant used during meditation, for focusing or activating this chakra is “Lam”.
The Root Chakra is the fundamental chakra and the first and last point of connection from our physical being to our energy body and the spiritual realm. Therefore, it is the bridge between physical and spiritual. When one wishes to activate any chakra, one must begin with and master the ability to open and activate the Root Chakra. When one focuses on and activates the Root Chakra, one is said to attain the ability to one’s consciousness and awareness beyond the limits of the physical body.