What Are The Chakras & How Do They Work?

When I first began learning about the chakra system, I was fascinated. As a fitness trainer, I’d learned so much about the physical body and assumed that the core workings of the body had to do with physiology and anatomy. Muscles, connective tissue, joints, and all the structures I could touch and see.

Then I “met” Reiki and it opened up a whole new world. I began experimenting with feeling into the human body in a way I’d never experienced before. Through Reiki, I could sense subtle shifts in my own and another’s energy. Sometimes it felt dense, other times light and flowing. I could sense where there were blockages in a particular energetic center, and where the energy was excessive or deficient. As my experience grew and my ability to feel these subtle energies sharpened, I devoted my time to learning what these core energies were all about.

The Chakra System

The chakra system originates in the Indian yogic tradition. Over 4000 years ago spiritual masters and seers developed this system that is still regarded today by healers and body workers. It was brought to the West through yoga, meaning to “yoke” or unite the individual with the divine.

Simply put, the seven major chakras express the embodiment of our spiritual energy and correlate with our basic states of consciousness. They are located in the imaginary midline of the physical body, from the base of the spine to the top of the head, but there are also minor chakras too, located in the hands, feet, fingertips, and shoulders. Unified, the chakras represent a series of steps on the pathway to increasing consciousness, and they’re associated with the stages of human development, such as those hypothesized by psychologist Erik Erikson.

We can think of a chakra as a spinning wheel or disk of bioenergetic activity. It receives, assimilates, and expresses our prana or chi––the energy that feeds our life force. The physical location of each one is related to key phases of development and functioning. For example, the lower chakras, which relate to practical matters like movement and survival, are physically close to earth, located in the base of the spine and sacrum. The upper chakras represent the mental realms of existence through symbols, such as language, images, and concepts. The middle chakras, located in the center of the torso, express our sense of power, love, and connection to ourselves and others.

Each chakra represents a major area of human psychological health. Psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression may be an expression of energetic imbalances that, when perceived through a holistic lens, can be better understood and worked with.

The major areas of human psychological health as represented in the chakras are: survival, sexuality, power, love, communication, intuition, and consciousness. Each one is also associated with an element and corresponding universal principle. Earth with gravitation. Water with polarity. Fire with combustion. Air with equilibrium. Sound with vibration. Light with luminescence. Thought with consciousness. Understanding this integration, the chakra system can help us reprogram our lives.

What is energy? Excitement, charge, attention, awareness, or life force.

Seven Rainbow Wheels of Energy

Although we want to approach and work with the chakras as an integrated whole, viewing them as separate energy centers helps us understand how they interact and where issues arise.

Chakra One – Muladhara – Root Chakra

Located at the base of the spine, the muladhara chakra, known as our root chakra, is like our center for survival and self-preservation through a physical identity. Goals of this chakra include stability, grounding, physical health, prosperity, and trust. Associated rights are to be here and to have. When these are not met, fear may arise, bringing with it excessive or deficient energy in this chakra. Excessive energy here may present as heaviness, monotony, obesity, and materialism as the body seeks to “hang on.” Deficiency may present as restlessness, low weight, and spaciness borne through a lack of grounding.

Chakra Two – Svadhisthana – Sacral Chakra

Chakra two, responsible for our emotional identity, is located in the sacral area of the body. Its core energy is associated with sexuality, emotions, and self-gratification. Associated rights of this chakra include the right to feel and to want, with goals aimed at fluidity, pleasure, and healthy sexuality. Guilt suppresses healthy functioning and flow in this chakra, resulting in poor emotional boundaries, addictions, and attachments when in excess, rigidity, numbness, and resistance to pleasure when deficient.

Chakra Three – Manipura – Solar Plexus Chakra

Chakra three is the seat of our power, will, and self-definition. Its core energy, located in the diaphragm area of the torso aims to enhance vitality, spontaneity, purpose, and self-esteem supported by the right to act. Simply put, chakra three is where our ego resides, and the core conflict is shame. Excessive energy in this chakra presents as a proclivity toward being dominating, controlling, aggressive, scattered, and constantly active. When deficient, there is weak will, poor self-esteem, passiveness, sluggishness, and fear.

Chakra Four – Anahata – Heart Chakra

Located in the heart region, this chakra is all about love and relationships, with others and for ourselves. The aim of a healthy heart chakra is balance, compassion, self-acceptance, and harmonious relationships. It’s the seat of our social identity as we relate to and share with others with the right to love and be loved. Grief is the resident demon of this chakra. If the need to love and be loved is denied us, grief will stifle this chakra’s energy. In excess, the heart chakra energy may manifest as codependency, poor boundaries, possessiveness, and jealousy. If deficient, the resulting feelings may be shyness, loneliness, isolation, lack of empathy, and criticism.

Chakra Five – Vishuddha – Throat Chakra

Located in the throat, chakra five concerns our ability to communicate our ideas, thoughts, and feelings. It is the seat of our self-expression and the right to speak and be heard. The overarching goals of this chakra are clear communication, creativity, and resonance. Our creative identity either flourishes or withers depending on the health of the throat chakra, and lying goes against its vitality. Excess energy in the throat chakra may present as excessive talking, an inability to listen, and stuttering. A deficiency may manifest as a fear of speaking and poor rhythm.

Chakra Six – Ajna – Third Eye Chakra

Chakra six is the seat of our intuition, imagination, and archetypal identity. Here, we have the capacity to self-reflect with the goal to enhance our psychic perception, accurately interpret events in our environment, use our imagination, and have clarity of vision. This chakra represents our right to see but it has a large capacity to create illusions that misguide our attempts towards an honest, authentic life. Excessive energy in the ajna chakra may show up as headaches, nightmares, hallucinations, delusions, or difficulty concentrating. A deficiency may manifest as poor memory and vision, lack of imagination, and denial.

Chakra Seven – Sahasrara – Crown Chakra

This chakra represents the top of the chakra system and supports our universal identity––who we are in relation to and through connection with the world around us. It is the seat of our right to know and our self-knowledge with the goals of developing greater wisdom, knowledge, consciousness, and spiritual connection. Attachment to material concerns, people, feelings, and relationships stifle a healthy flow of energy in this chakra. If the energy in this chakra is in excess, a person may be overly intellectual, have a spiritual addiction, confusion, and dissociate from the “real world.” If deficient, learning difficulties, spiritual skepticism, limited beliefs, materialism, and apathy may present.

I provide a variety of modalities that aim to create healing and energetic flow throughout the seven chakras. If you live in the Durham region and would like to learn more about how chakra balancing can support your health and wellbeing, give me a call or email me marnie@journeywithin.ca.