Chakras are acknowledged in many eastern traditions; here we will discuss the Chakra system related to the Japanese Energy Healing tradition, Reiki. Reiki is an energy medicine that works to balance the Chakra System through hands on healing. A practitioner uses their training to realign the Chakra system, bringing positive energy to places of emptiness and draining excess energy from places of fullness, ultimately working to create physical and spiritual harmony. There are 7 Chakras distributed throughout the core of the body, each with their own unique nature. They include The Root Chakra, The Sacral Chakra, The Solar Plexus Chakra, The Heart Chakra, The Throat Chakra, The Third Eye Chakra, and the Crown Chakra. Working from the base of the spine (Chakra 1, The Root Chakra) up to the top of the head (Chakra 7, The Crown Chakra) each Chakra individually deals with a major area of the human experience, as well as psychological health – Survival, Sexuality, Power, Love, Communication, Intuition, and Cognition. In “Eastern Body, Western Mind,” Anodea Judith explains that the lower Chakras, being physically closer to the earth, are “related more to the practical matters of our lives, like survival, movement, and action….they are ruled by physical and social law”. In order to feel grounded and safe, these Chakras must be healthy and balanced. In contrast, Judith explains that the upper Chakras “represent mental realms and work on a symbolic level through words, images, and concepts,” as they are physically closer to heaven. In order to think abstractly and feel connected to humanity, these must also be healthy and balanced. Essentially, the 7 Chakras create a ladder from Earth to Heaven, and connect the body to mind, matter to spirit.
There is a flow of energy throughout the Chakra system that can be disrupted by an energetic emptiness, fullness, or emotional blockage in any of the individual Chakras. If energy in one Chakra is blocked, the entire system will be affected. There are multiple directions of energy flow throughout the body. First, energy runs vertically in an upward and downward flow. At any given time, energy should be moving vertically in both directions, creating an even distribution of energy in each Chakra. The upward flow is called the “current of liberation” as it moves toward expression, freedom, and universality. The downward flow is called “current of manifestation” as it moves toward form, boundaries, and individuality. Both directions are important, since it is essential to be grounded in society as well as free in thought. Second, energy runs horizontally in and out of each Chakra. This is the energy current of reception (inward movement) and expression (outward movement). If a Chakra is blocked, giving and receiving “becomes distorted” and the Chakra may become “too open” or “too closed”. Now, we will describe the identities and characteristics of each of the 7 Chakras, and will later discuss how imbalances in energy flow to and from Chakras occur.
Chakra 1, The Root Chakra, represents the basic rights to be here and to have. The purpose of this Chakra is to create a solid foundation. It maintains our confidence that we belong, are secure and safe, and are welcome in the world. It also gives birth to our survival instincts and our awareness of physicality and physical comfort. Its job is self-preservation, and it is developed from the day we are born to 12 months old. When this Chakra is balanced, our spirit is anchored in the physical world and we feel grounded. We feel at home. When this Chakra is imbalanced, we are fearful, mistrusting, and have trouble feeling connected to our physical bodies. A healing affirmation for anyone dealing with an imbalance in their Root Chakra is “I love my body and trust its wisdom”.
Chakra 2, The Sacral Chakra, represents the basic rights to feel and to want. The purpose of this Chakra is to create a healthy emotional identity. It emerges from our physical identity (Chakra 1) because we have to be able to feel our bodies to feel our emotions and listen to their messages. It’s aim is to feel pleasure in daily life. This chakra connects us to our emotional experience and helps us establish our independence. It is developed from 12 months to 2 years old. When this Chakra is balanced, we feel clarity in our opinions, comfortable in our emotional depths, able to enjoy sexuality and connect to others without overstepping boundaries. When this Chakra is imbalanced, we feel guilt and confusion, an inability to enjoy life, and a desperate need to cling to others. A healing affirmation for anyone dealing with an imbalance in their Sacral Chakra is “I deserve pleasure in my life”.
Chakra 3, The Solar Plexus Chakra, represents the basic rights to act and be free. This Chakra embodies our ego identity and self-definition. It holds are personal vitality, self-esteem, sense of purpose and strength of will. It is developed from the time we are 18 months to 4 years old. When this Chakra is balanced, we have a healthy sense of our personal power, the ability to meet challenges and be responsible and reliable. We are also able to have a sense of humor and playfulness in our interactions with others because we are confident in our personal strength. When this Chakra is out of balance, we feel a deep sense of shame, lack of motivation, weak will and passivity. A healing affirmation for anyone dealing with an imbalance here is “I honor the power within me”.
Chakra 4, The Heart Chakra, represents the basic rights to love and be loved. The purpose of this Chakra is to maintain a healthy social identity. This is a pivotal Chakra, as it is located at the meeting point of the lower and upper chakras. Here in the center we find love, relationships, and the opportunity to “transform the self-centered ego of the lower Chakras into the awareness of the larger realm of the upper Chakras”. The Heart Chakra is about self-love, acceptance, and openness. It is developed between ages 4 and 7. In order to find balance and expression in the Heart Chakra, the lower Chakras must be established and healthy. Judith explains, “As the central Chakra in a system of 7, the right to love is harmed when any of the other rights are lost or damaged”. If the development of the lower Chakras is incomplete, or if the needs of the Heart Chakra are not met, negative feelings like grief, codependence, jealousy, lack of empathy, and criticalness arise. A healing affirmation for anyone dealing with imbalance here is “I am worthy of love”.
Chakra 5, The Throat Chakra, represents the basic rights to speak and be heard. This Chakra gives birth to the ability to clearly communicate our thoughts and feelings, and to speak our individual truth. It is our creative identity and our self-expression. It is developed between ages 7 and 12. As the first of the upper Chakras, here we are breaking free into “the symbolic world of the mind”. When this Chakra is balanced, we are able to express our spirit and influence the world around us, as well as effectively listen to others. If we are healthy and balanced in this Chakra, we live life creatively, see immense possibility, and are free from fear. The Throat Chakra brings our lower Chakras to life by giving them a voice. If this Chakra is imbalanced, we tell lies, have trouble listening to others, and may even be afraid of speaking for ourselves. A healing affirmation for anyone dealing with an imbalance here is “I hear and speak the truth”.
Chakra 6, The Third Eye Chakra, represents the basic right to see. This relates to physical vision as well as subtle psychic perceptions. This Chakra is about self-reflection and our archetypal identity. Our intuition, insights, dreams, and imagination, and ability to think symbolically all belong to the Third Eye Chakra. Insight from our Third Eye gives guidance and helps us to ascend to our highest spirituality and access our psychic powers. The developmental time period of this Chakra is adolescence. If this Chakra is balanced we are able to perceive patterns, envision the future, and establish a personal spiritual identity. If it is imbalanced, we will be easily seduced by illusion and denial, be obsessive, have difficulty recalling memories and concentrating, and have an unrealistic self-image. A healing affirmation for anyone dealing with an imbalance here is “I see all things in clarity”.
The last and highest Chakra is Chakra 7, The Crown Chakra, which represents the basic rights to know and to learn. This Chakra develops throughout our entire adulthood, and is our universal identity. “The more our consciousness expands, the larger our identity can become”. Here, we transcend our small, limited world view and identify rather with the entire universe. We begin to see that the lower Chakras, though important, are only small pieces supporting a much larger whole. This Chakra holds the knowledge that we have divinity within, and the ability to pursue mystical experiences, as well as ask questions and analyze new information. Our lower Chakras must be solid and fully developed in order to handle the grandiose ruminations of the Crown Chakra. Imbalances in this Chakra come about from attachment to worldly objects and institutions, forced religiosity, blind obedience, and limited education. A healing affirmation for anyone dealing with an imbalance here is “I am open to new ideas”.
The Chakras are wise energy reservoir’s that relate to the many spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of human beings. They develop during various life stages and are constantly fluctuating throughout our lives. Psychological and physical wounds that are forced upon us, or that we create ourselves through excessively engaging in certain activities or avoiding other activities all together, disrupt healthy energy flow throughout the Chakra system. Ultimately, energetic disruption is a result of using “coping strategies designed to deal with stress, trauma, or unpleasant circumstances. They…restrict the flow of energy through the system, and block the complete expression of both the liberating and manifesting currents. Eventually, they both result in dysfunctional behavior and health problems” (Judith, 20). However, our Chakras are here to guide and enliven us, and proper energy flow throughout the Chakra system can be reestablished with Reiki, energy work, and personal effort with the affirmations discussed earlier. Our challenge in life is to maintain our foundation in Chakra 1 while ascending to Chakra 7, and keeping all of the Chakra’s in between well nourished throughout the journey. Each time we have a disruption in our Chakra system, we have the opportunity to understand ourselves, and the wisdom of each Chakra more deeply. By healing our Chakras and reestablishing free flow within our Chakra system, we are creating fuller and richer lives for ourselves.
Eden, D., & Feinstein, D. (1998). Energy medicine: Balance your body's energies for
optimal health, joy, and vitality. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.
Judith, A. (2004). Eastern body, Western mind: Psychology and the chakra system as a
path to the self. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts.
Personal knowledge from Reiki 1 & 2 Training/Certification in India and San Diego.
Originally published March 28, 2016.