Saturday, August 18, 2012
"Mantra Meditation...Chakras...And Health"
We have all taken birth through cosmic energy or Pranashakti, which after giving birth to us lies dormant at the base of our spine, called the Muladhar Chakra where it is called Kundalini Shakti, and controls the functioning of our entire body through nadis. This pranashakti, as it descends to the spine, gives rise to seven subtle energy centres which are called Chakras. These chakras are junction points where matter, Energy (oorja) and consciousness (Chitta) come together in a very high concentration. Mantra meditation on the various chakras can give rise to tremendous health benefits if practiced correctly. In order to understand it one needs to comprehend the basics of the chakras. Characteristics of chakras: They are related to the five elements from which the entire universe is formed, namely Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. By virtue of their relationship with these elements, they bear typical characteristics of these elements. Each has a number of petals which have a specific significance Each chakra controls the functioning of an endocrine gland (which produce hormones) and specific parts of our body. Each chakra has a specific colour (the colours of the Rainbow VIBGYOR) and stores emotional memories, which is why we “feel” certain past memories in different parts of the body. Each chakra can be activated by a mantra specific for it. The mantra brings it into balance as a result of its vibration. Chakras also have a relationship with the Gunas of Prakriti, namely Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. The Vishudhi and Agya Chakras are related to a Sattvic pravriti, concerned with purity and virtue, and the consciousness is centered at the Third Eye Centre. The Anahat Chakra is responsible for Rajas, which is characterized by passion, and wordly activities etc. The lower chakras, namely Manipur, Svadisthan and Muladhar are related to Tamas, characterized by inertia, arrogance and pride. Muladhar Chakra: “Mula” means root and “dhara” means vital part. Hence it is the foundation of all the other chakras. It is known as the first chakra, Root or the coccygeal chakra since it lies at the base of the spine. It is also called the Saturn Chakra. It is related to the Earth element, hence responsible for our foundation (just like Mother Earth is responsible for the foundation of the entire planet), grounding, stability, balance, and structure as it is responsible for our skeleton, blood production, hair skin, etc. It is related to our sense of smell and to Apana Prana, therefore, responsible for elimination of wastes from our body. Predominance of this chakra makes us hard working, determined, and also lead to attachment with our surroundings, people etc. This chakra has four petals which denote the four psychic functions, namely Mind (Manas), Intellect (Budhi), Consciousness (Chitta), and Ego (Ahankar) which originate here. It is related to the colour Red which signifies Shakti, symbolizing awakening of sleeping consciousness to alert consciousness. The Mantra for this chakra is “LAM”…..Laaaaammm When this chakra is out of balance it makes us lazy, stubborn, and cynical while its deficiency leads to weakness, infections like flu, common cold and to attachment to the world around us. The most characteristic negative feature of this chakra is a sense of profound fear, which is related to annihilation of the self or the human race. This chakra is, therefore, related to our survival instincts. Svadisthan Chakra: ‘Sva’ means vital force and “dhisthana” means abode…hence “seat of the soul” It is also called the Sacral Chakra as well as the Jupiter Chakra and is related to the Water element and supposed to be the seat of the subconscious mind. It has six petals, which represent our negative qualities like Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mad and Matsya, all of which need to be overcome. This chakra is related to the fluid elements in our body (because of its proximity to the water element) like blood, urine and semen and also to the reproductive system and the organs associated with it namely, uterus, ovaries etc. The functioning of the urinary bladder and prostate are also controlled by it. The Sacral chakra has a very strong relationship with our emotions, receptiveness and intuition, hence imbalance in this chakra leads to depression and misery. Water is a symbol of hidden danger and immense power when out of control leading to feelings of lust and features of Tamasic acts. It is responsible to the sense of taste and Vyana Prana (Circulation). Deficiency in this chakra leads to menstrual problems, uterine fibroids, prostatic dysfunction, cancers of the urogenital tract etc. The colour it is associated with is Orange, symbolic of the rising Sun indicating rising consciousness. The mantra associated with this chakra is “VAM”…Vaaaaammm Muladhar and Svadisthan Chakras together constitute The Dosha of Kapha as described in Ayurveda, which is characterized by a heavy build, fine skin, beautiful eyes, a fairly stable personality, a graceful walk and a happy temperament. The negative qualities of this dosha, when out of balance are tendency to the development of Obesity, weight gain, laziness etc. Manipur Chakra : The other names for this chakra are Lumbar and Solar plexus chakra as well as the Mars Chakra and is related to the element Agni. It has ten petals, symbolic of the five pranas (Prana Udyana Samana Vyana Apana) of which Samana Prana predominates and also the five Up pranas namely Nag (Burping), Kurma ( Blinking), Devadutta (Yawning), KriKala(Sneezing) and Dhananjaya or movement of heart valves. Manipur chakra responsible for digestion absorption and assimilation. Here digestion indicates digestion of not only of the food we eat but also our thoughts. It also takes care of the functioning of the liver, pancreas and stomach as well as the immune system. It is associated with the sense of sight. When imbalanced it leads to anger, destructive qualities restlessness and turbulence, manifesting as a Type A personality (characterized by anger, hostility, aggression etc). Imbalance also aggravates gastro intestinal, liver, pancreas, stomach problems as well as Diabetes Mellitus. Often, when one is tense or worried one feels a tightness in the stomach area. Manipur chakra is associated with the colour Yellow and its Mantra is “RAM”….Raaaaammmm” The colour yellow is associated with the neuromuscular system. Manipur chakra is responsible for the ‘Pitta” body type of ayurveda, an imbalance of which leads to heart burn, peptic ulcers and heart disease also (due to anger) Pitta body types are farsighted, have a sharp intellect, often very hungry, ambitious and are over achievers. Imbalance of these lower centres ie Manipur, Svadisthan and Muladhar lead to Tamasic tendencies. Anahat Chakra: Also called the Heart Chakra as well as the Venus Centre and is related to the element Air or Vayu and is the seat of Naad or Anhad shabd which means “Unstruck” sound and has twelve petals which indicate Bliss (ananda), peace, harmony, love, purity, unity, understanding, empathy, clarity, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. It is responsible for our feelings and, therefore, to the sense of Touch. Anahat Chakra is related to Prana and responsible for the functioning of the heart, lungs, thymus and the immune system. Those who have a well balanced anahat chakra are sociable, forgiving, full of love and are fast thinkers. When out of balance, it leads to loneliness, depression, greed (Lobha) avarice, hoarding possessions etc. Diseases like heart disease, lung problems, also occur. The colour it is associated with is Green which indicates a balance of mind body and spirit. Its Mantra is “YAM’…Yaaaaammmmm This chakra, as mentioned above is related to a Rajasic tendency, which means that when in contact with people of Sattvic temperament, it can progress to Sattva but if in contact with Tamasic people, it can regress to Tamasic habits. Vishudhi Chakra: It is also called Throat Chakra. Another name for this is the Mercury Chakra and is related to the element Akash or Space and has 16 petals which are symbolic of our sixteen potential qualities as well as the 16 vowels of the Sanskrit language. It is concerned with the functioning of the Thyroid and Parathyroid glands, larynx, vocal cords rational thinking, intelligence and communication by virtue of its relationship with the sense of Sound and hearing sounds of the Universe. When out of balance it leads to self centredness, ego (Ahamkar) and feelings of “I, me, Mine ” and diseases of the larynx, like laryngitis, laryngeal disorders, thyroid problems etc. One often feels a sense of tightness or constriction in the throat when this is imbalanced or when one cannot ‘speak up” The Vishudhi Chakra is associated with the colour blue (Aasmani) and the Mantra “HAM”…Haaaaammmm Both Akash and Vayu together constitute the Vatta Body type which is characterized with movement and people of this type are usually thin, very intelligent, creative, good at grasping things(but forget very easily too)!When out of balance they are nervous , anxious, may have premenstrual problems, Hypertension, and irregular heart beat. Agya Chakra: It has various names like Ajna Chakra, Command Centre, Third Eye Centre, the Sun-Moon Chakra etc and is the centre for clarity, wisdom, insight and is the boundary between human and divine consciousness. It is also the meeting point of the Ida, Pingala and Sushumana Nadis. Agya chakra is related to the Mind element and has two petals symbolic of the presence of the Atma (Self) and Parmatama (God). Its qualities are Sat (Truth), Chitta (Consciousness), Ananada (Bliss), Ekta (Unity), and Shunyata (Emptyness) and is related to the Mind as it controls the functioning of the Manomaya Kosha (Mind Sheath) and the Vijnanmaya Kosha (Intelligence sheath) and related to intuition, clairvoyance, awareness, insight etc. When out of balance due to stress , physical trauma etc it can lead to headaches, Migraine etc. Its colour is Indigo (neel) and Mantra is SHAM”…Shaaaammmmm Lifting your eyebrows repeatedly activates this chakra. The Vishudhi and Agya chakras, as mentioned above are related to a Sattvic temperament. Sahasrar Chakra: It is also called the Crown Chakra, is situated about four fingers above the top of the head and has a thousand petals which face downward. Its awakening means revelation of Divine splendor and is, therefore, beyond, space and time. It is related to the colour violet (Baigani) and to the Mantra “AUM”….Ohhhhhhmmmmm If one remembers the pneumonic VIBGYOR it is easy to remember the colour of the chakras. Starting from the top, V stands for Violet (Sahasrar), I is for Indigo (Agya Chakra), B is for Blue (Vishudhi Chakra), G is for Green related to the Anahat Chakra, Y stands for Yellow ( Manipur Chakra), O is for Orange ( Svadisthan Chakra) and R stands for Red related to the Muladhar Chakra. Chakra Meditation: Sit with your spine straight (as we sit for Pranayam) though any comfortable position can be adopted but the head and spine must remain straight (legs hanging down if sitting on a chair), eyes gently closed, and in ‘Gyan Mudra” For all the chakras, take a deep breath and concentrate on the respective chakra and its colour, chant the appropriate chakra while exhaling. One needs to do this frequently during the day for proper relief. Method: Take a deep breath and while exhaling concentrate on the Muladhar chakra at the base of the spine and the colour red, chant Laaaaammmmmm (Just like we chant Aum, loudly at first, then a little softly, stressing on the Mmmmmm part). While doing this tuck your stomach in. On doing this you can balance the red colour in your body as well bringing about an improvement in your feelings of fear, insecurity, and problems related to excretion and elimination. While inhaling, one can visualize energy in the form of white light (prakash) entering the muladhar chakra from the earth. With exhalation, it is a good idea to visualize the colour red traversing your body and entering into your aura. Similarly chant Vaaaammmm for the Svadisthan chakra, concentrating on this chakra on your lower spine a little higher than the Muladhar chakra and the colour orange. This way you can balance your Orange colour, and help improve sexual problems, or problems related to menstruation, endometriosis, ovaries, uterus, prostate and urinary bladder. In this case also you can visualize energy or white light entering into your Svadisthan chakra from the earth through your legs and orange colour circulating in your body and going out into your aura during exhalation. For the Manipur chakra, concentrate on this chakra on your spine just behind the umbilicus and the colour yellow. Chant the mantra Raaaaammmm. By meditating on this chakra, control over anger, stress as well as stomach problems can be improved. Again, visualize white light entering this chakra from the earth during inhalation and the colour yellow flowing through your body and into the aura during exhalation. Do the same for the heart chakra concentrating on the heart chakra( situated behind your heart on the spine at the back) and Green colour for problems of loneliness, depression, grief, heart or lung problems etc. chanting the appropriate ,mantra, Yaaaammmmm ….during inhalation, visualize white light entering this chakra from the front and green colour circulating through your body and going out during exhalation. For the Vishudhi Chakra, concentrate on the spine behind the throat and the colour blue (Asmani) and chant the mantra “HUM”…Haaammmm for problems related to the thyroid, parathyroid or communication.(Often one finds oneself unable to voice one’s opinions….meditating on this chakra is helpful for this condition). In this instance also, visualize white light entering your vishudhi chakra from space (akash), during inhalation and blue colour (asmani) circulating throughout your body and going out into your aura during exhalation. Concentrating on the Agya Chakra, situated between the eyebrows and the colour Indigo (Neel) chant the mantra ‘SHAAM’….Shaaaaammm for headaches, migrane etc. During inhalation, visualize white light entering into this chakra from above and dark blue colour circulating through your body and finally going into your aura during exhalation. Finally meditate on the Sahasrar Chakra, situated above the head, concentrate on this chakra, the colour violet (Baigani) and chant the Mantra “AUM”…Ommmmmmmm. While inhaling, visualize white light entering into your sahasrar chakra from above and violete colour circulating in your body and then going into your aura while exhaling. Aum mantra needs to be chanted loudly at first, then softly and finally mentally without any sound. Whenever meditating on any chakra for any medical problem, do so as frequently as possible but continue whatever other medical treatment you are taking for your problem, whether medicines, exercises etc as prescribed. Meditating on the chakras also brings about a feeling of profound peace. Sources: “Radical Healing’ by Rudolph Ballantyne, “Yoga In Daily life” Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, ‘The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga written by Goswami Kriyananda, Deepak Chopra/ David Simon lecture series and the internet.