We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
What is the Chakra System?
The Traditional Chakra System can be approached as Markers of Consciousness along our human evolution. Most people have heard of the Chakra (cha-kra, not sha-kra) along their journey, but don’t truly understand what the system is about.
There are varying chakra systems in most traditions of Eastern philosophy. They are all slightly different, but the journey of growth with each ascending chakra is the same. The one we will focus on here is the one most traditionally seen. The roots of this system are in Tantric Yoga. Tantra is a broad waving of philosophy that includes many practices of yoga. It is the integration of the many polar forces in the universe.
In this traditional system, there are 7 chakras aligned along the spine. Chakra means wheel. So think of these wheels, spinning along the spine in harmony. Each chakra has a corresponding color, sound, gemstone and focus, and that correlate to our journey in being human.
Some say that if these wheels become “stuck” or out of balance, we can experience a variety of struggles or suffering that can affect our journey. As students of life, we can use various healing techniques to support these areas and progress to higher levels of understanding.
The Subtle Body
So are there really wheels of light spinning along our spine? Well, we wouldn’t be able to assess them on an x-ray or MRI. These wheels are part of our subtle body.
Our subtle bodies are comprised of the energy that make us who were are. This is not our “gross body,” or physical body, but the essence of who we are. We’re talking the energy that moves our body, our intellect, our meditative minds…our life force.
If we think of the chakras as cities to visit along our evolution, then the nadis are the roads that take us there. Nadis are energetic channels in the body, through which energy flows. There are thought to be 72,000 nadis in the human body, with 3 main ones involved in the chakra system.
Depending on which tradition, the ida, pingala and shushumna flow either in between or piercing the chakras to assist in the spinning of the energetic wheel. The Ida is the feminine aspect of energy, the pingala is the masculine flow and the shushumna is the center. Yoga and pranayama practices help to keep these energy channels flowing freely.
Symbology in the Traditional Chakra System
Each tradition of the chakra features a rich and beautiful symbology, that correspond with colors at each energetic point. The symbols seem to change with each tradition, but the colors tend to be the same.
In the classical Tantric tradition, each chakra features a mandala with symbols and petals. There are many disagreements about the meaning of the number of lotus petals, however, one text says that the number of petals corresponds with the numner of nadis that that integrated with that chakra.
There are also geographic shapes associated with each energetic wheel, and in my decades of study, I have yet to find a satisfactory explanation of these shapes. However, I’ve noticed that the triangles point downward in the lower chakras, and upward in the higher chakras, with the two of them coming together in the middle, at the heart chakra.
How to use the Traditional Chakra System
I like to think of the chakras as personality development as we evolve on our journey. If we progress through them from bottom to top they can correspond to personality theories of behavior. When we approach the chakra system in this manner we can focus on soundly building our personality to prepare for enlightenment.
If we focus on the crown chakra first and descend to our root, it can be a beautiful system to manifest our spiritual needs into a grounded reality.
Or we don’t have to think about the chakras as ascending or descending at all. Each chakra is of equal importance, and if one is out of balance it could affect the rest of the system. Chakras can become out of balance, too weak or too strong. One could be off-balance, or they all could be off-balance. It takes time to recognize how they can change and affect our lives.
Take the time to read and explore each chakra in the following blog posts. Which ones resonate with you? I’ve included journalfing prompts to help you explore these concepts and how they affect your life.
I encourage you to notice and fully feel the emotions in your body as you explore these chakras, and allow time for reflection. Through this quiet exploration, you will discover themes that arise. Those themes deserve your attention. Use my suggestions and implement changes and continue to assess for shifts in your consciousness.
We all progress through meditation, yoga, and spiritual practices such as the Yamas and Niyama. This progress towards self-realization occurs naturally over time, with years of practice. The use of chakras is no different.
Let’s do this
Traditional Chakra Theory suggests that we are all typically born with our chakras intact, however, we are typically out of balance due our our human experience.
When we learn what to look for, and address it early, we can avoid further suffering and gain knowledge from our experiences. The goal of all yoga is to raise consciousness, whatever the discipline. And we can use this in adjunct to our practice to further our understanding of our innate nature.
Meet me in the next post and let’s begin.