Friday, April 2, 2010

The Seven Day Challenge--Keeping the Light in Your Heart Chakra

Dear Yin Weaver,

We are now entering the fourth week of our Seven Week Chakra Challenge, and halfway through our seven chakras. Below us are the root, womb and solar chakras which help us to function successfully in the material world. Above us are three more chakras which help us mentally, spiritually and vocationally. The fourth or Heart chakra (so called because it sits in the center of the chest at the level of the heart) integrates the mind/body complex. The Sanskrit name for this chakra is Anahata. It is the chakra that enables us to be fully human, fully alive and fully divine.

Each of the first four chakras is related to one of the four elements. Root is related to earth, Womb to water, and Solar to fire. The Heart chakra is related to the element of air. It also represents the quality of love. I’d like to quote Anodea Judith here as she describes the similarities between air and love:

“Air is formless, largely invisible, absolutely necessary, and the least dense of our first four elements. Air is expansive as it will expand to fit any space it is put into, yet it is soft and gentle.

So, too, is love. Love is the expansion of the heart, the transcendence of boundaries, the interconnectedness of spirit. Love is balance, ease, softness, forgiveness. And love at the heart chakra is felt as a state of being, existing independently of any object or person, unlike the passion-oriented love of the second chakra.”
The balanced Heart chakra radiates love for self and others. It reaches out in compassion, unconditional love, forgiveness, hope and inspiration. It draws to itself the same. If the Heart chakra is too open, we give our time, energy and self away, losing our own center. If it is closed down, we become withdrawn, unforgiving, depressed and isolated. We struggle with feelings of hate, envy, fear, jealousy and anger. Physical dysfunctions can result from imbalances in the Heart chakra, such as any and all heart conditions, blood pressure irregularities, asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, lung and breast cancer, and upper back and shoulder problems.

Since this is the air element chakra, we’re going to combine Pranayama (think “yoga for the breath”) with a Mudra (think “yoga for the hands”) for this week’s Challenge. It’s a simple meditation, but it does have a number of steps, so you may want to read through it a couple of times before attempting it.

Sit comfortably with a tall spine, shoulders relaxed and chest open.

Inhale the palms together into prayer pose so that the knuckles of your thumbs are touching the sternum at the level of the heart.

Close your eyes and breathe slowly, smoothly and deeply into your belly and chest.

Quiet the mind using your breath. On the inhale, breathe in silence. On the exhale release any thoughts and distractions.

Continue for one to two minutes.

Next, gently release and rub your hands together, making them warm and energized. Place the right palm in the center of your chest and the left hand on top of the right.

Breathe as if you were breathing directly into the center of your chest. Feel your chest grow warm, radiant and full of energy.

Breathe this radiant energy through your entire body. Feel it flow into your arms and hands and back into the heart.

Continue for one to two minutes.

Next, gently release the palms and turn your hands outwards towards the world.

Breathe. As you inhale, continue to breathe directly into the heart chakra. As you exhale, send the love in your chakra out to the world. You can send it to a specific person or situation, to all sentient beings, or ask it to go where it is most needed at that time.

Continue for one or two minutes. You can repeat the cycle as often as you wish.

According to Hindu philosophy, it is believed another smaller chakra sits just below the Heart chakra. It is called the Celestial Wishing Tree. In front of the tree is an altar for worship. It is believed the Tree contains the deeper wishes of the heart chakra. End with your hands in prayer pose as at the beginning, only bring them down a little lower, in line with this “inner altar.” Direct your breath towards this chakra, and allow it to carry all the prayers, desires, hopes, needs and intentions—known and unknown—towards this Tree. When done with humility it is believed “wishing and worshipping” before this Tree bestows even more than we could ever imagine.


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