We each have seven energy centers that are commonly known as chakras. When I studied with a Shipibo shaman in Peru, he called them “nawis” or “eyes of the soul”. These days, I believe people are learning more about chakras through the spiritual trends we see on social media. So, what are chakras anyway? I’m here to tell you that they are the gems that literally control everything. If you know how to activate and use them wisely, you can change your whole life.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve learned more about energy centers through my tai chi practice and by reading Your Seven Energy Centers, A Holistic Approach to Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Vitality by Elizabeth Clare Prophet. When you get right down to it, energy is all there is. Everything is energy. Everything around us and inside of us is just pure energy. The energy centers that align with our spinal system (our chakras) can either work in our favor by lighting up like an electrical system or become blocked and create blockages in our lives as well. If you’re still on the fence about all of this, let me explain each one.
1st Chakra — Root Center
The root chakra is at the base of the spine and is known to control our foundation. When this energy center is active and balanced we can feel safe, stable and grounded. If the base chakra is healthy, we feel connected to our environment and all other chakras are able to thrive from a solid foundation. The root chakra gives us the ability to relate to the material world, our physical bodies and physical manifestations.
When the root chakra is thrown off, we may feel scattered, chaotic and anxious. Connection to the body feels difficult and we may search for sources outside of ourselves to fill the void. Overactive sexual activity can also disrupt the base center as well, so having discernment in how we have sex (sacred energy exchange) is vital if we want to maintain this chakra’s strength. Trust me, having lots of sex is cool, just make sure it balances out with the rest of your life and doesn’t become the main event. When my root chakra feels unbalanced, I feel jittery, discouraged, depleted and warped.
To strengthen the root center, physical exercise works every time. Going outside and taking a walk in nature is also my go-to. I like to make sure there are plants and fresh flowers all around the house, and the sight and smell of living things do wonders for my foundation. The use of essential oils helps a lot too. Rubbing a bit of eucalyptus on my wrist in the middle of the day is a sure way to bring me back when I feel like I’m spiraling. Remember your roots and the rest will surely follow.
2nd Chakra — Soul Center
This is one of my favorite energy centers since it is the focus of life creation. It is the center that we focus on activating in tai chi. This chakra is known as the “seat of the soul”. When this chakra is active and balanced, we feel free, expressive, and we’re able to transmute our ideas into the world. We take action toward a goal that is in alignment with our true soul selves from this center. When the action we take is from the ego, this center can become blocked and disrupted.
The ego is the imposter of the real self and is formed by the many preconceptions we adopt from our upbringing. The ego is intolerant, cruel, self-serving and seeks its own justice. It’s the mask that we wear when we want to fit into confined spaces that may feel safe and familiar. The soul center is only strong and active when we allow ourselves to move past habits and patterns and break free into the unknown.
The soul center is balanced and active when we allow ourselves to connect with what is real and true for us. Divine creativity can be expressed from here. One way to open up this energy center and experience true freedom is to cultivate a spirit of forgiveness. Simply forgiving ourselves and others for wrongdoings can deepen a water well of creative inspiration. The act of letting go has so much power over the health of the soul center. I also find that free-form dancing opens up my soul center in a way like no other. I always feel so free after a good hour-long dance off.
3rd Chakra — Solar Plexus
The solar plexus is the energy center that I personally have the most challenges with. It is our identity center. It is the center that holds our fear, anxiety, judgment, unwillingness to forgive, our aggression, and passivity. Oomf. I feel it right now just thinking about it. This is the center that holds our inner peace. It is where we feel those “butterflies” when something grabs our attention in a significant way.
Keeping this energy center balanced requires us to find peace in our lives and the decisions we make. We must learn to walk the “middle path” and have temperance. This is not an easy task for dramatists such as myself. The challenge of strengthening this chakra is mastering our desires and emotions and riding the waves instead of being consumed by them. A balanced solar plexus feels harmless, helpful, compassionate, peaceful and receptive to all possibilities.
4th Chakra — Heart Center
The heart holds the key to the flow of all other energy centers above and below. The heart is obviously the center where we hold our love, for ourselves and everything around us. It is where we generate compassion, so a disrupted heart center can manifest as hatred, disgust, neglect and selfishness. The mystic and saint John of the Cross said “the goal of life, our ultimate union with God, can only be achieved through the living flame of love”.
When the love center is strong, we see the world as merely extensions of ourselves. We have a deep compassion for ourselves and our actions toward others reflect that. I’ve been dealing with a nagging pain in my right shoulder blade and left collar bone. I tell myself that it may just be that I’m sleeping in an awkward position, but really I know that there are blockages in my heart chakra. The pain in our bodies are messages for us to interpret what our bodies need.
We don’t have to approach the world in a lovey-dovey manner in order to have a balanced heart center. We just have to allow things to be as the are. When we accept differences and love something without trying to change it, that’s when we strengthen the heart. Having an ability to let go strengthens the heart. We know the heart center is on fire when we can give and receive love in abundance without conditions or expectations.
5th Chakra — Throat Center
I love to sing. It has brought me so much joy ever since I first found out I had a voice. The throat center governs our expression. Up from the heart and out into the air is how our throat center gives breath to life. It is power. What you say is important. It can either be healing or harmful. Supporitve, kind speech can be just as powerful as wrath and critical speech. Speaking with the truth and conviction that comes up from the soul center is a sure way to use the full force of the throat chakra.
One way I have found to strengthen the throat center is practicing the art of silence. Take time to give this energy center rest by having long periods of listening rather than exhausting it with words. I love sipping tea with honey. It feels so good against my throat center which I use every day in my field of performance art. As an actor, my throat is my main instrument and if it’s been overworked then I cannot work. So I’ll especially pay attention to how much energy I use in the throat when I’m in social settings. If I spend more of my energy in awareness, I always feel good about it in the end.
Gossip and unnessesary announcements can weaken the throat center. A blocked throat center can take away the power your voice has to create divine manifestations. It can take away your ability to truly influence others. So, when you feel the time is right, and you open up your mouth to speak, strike hard and true.
6th Chakra — Third-Eye Center
I like to think my third eye is the strongest chakra I have right now. This is the energy center of intuition. It is the eye we see the unseen with. The third eye is positioned between the eyebrows and gives us the ability to see the reality of any situation (regardless of how it may appear). A little trick I like to use is tapping my third eye with my index and middle fingers when I need to see more clearly. Our thrid eye center will always, always reveal what’s behind the veil. This is the center of awareness.
When the third-eye is blocked, we exprience confusion, falsehoods and get stuck in a fog of mental criticism. Honoring our intuition and listening the voice inside gives our third-eye more juice to thrive on. It makes our ability to visualize stronger and our imagination more vivid. Imagination is a gift. When we imagine something, we have the ability to make it real. All we have to do is give it energy and attention. That’s it. I promise, that’s all.
On the other hand, what we choose not to give energy to will wither and die. This sacred energy center has both the power to create and destroy. The things we focus our attention on and water will grow. Everything else will fall away because it needs energy to survive. It’s that simple. Allow the third-eye center to be the light that shines on what you truly want, and what is truly there to take charge of and create your own path.
7th Chakra — Crown Center
We receive divine messages through the top of the head into the crown chakra. This is the energy center of understanding, enlightenment and open-mindedness. When it is balanced and open, you may experience a “stroke of genius” or a thought “out of nowhere”. It is energy received that has come down from the heavens. Keeping this chakra open is a way to stay connected to a Universal source of information.
When the crown is blocked, we become self-centered, narrow minded and may display a sense of intellectual pride. This can come at a time when you think you know all there is to know about a topic. We can shut ourselves off by becoming mentally rigid and cutting off the flow of our crown center. To keep this chakra open, just remember that the only thing you know is that you know nothing. If you can accept that, an entire galaxy of knowledge will make itself available to you whenever you need it. Try it, and find out.
Calling On Your Center
If you’re new to the knowledge of chakras and all of this seems a bit overwhelming, don’t fret. Energy work is the work of lifetime and it will take time and the consistent practice of just being aware to start making changes in your life. Fortunately, I have an easy way to connect with your energy centers that will hopefully feel good to you and help you to at least get a grip on the centers as influential forces you can indeed control.
I like to sit in meditation and visualize each chakra one by one. Picture them as they are, fiery eyes of the soul lined along the front of the spine. Start at the base (root) center and visualize it there at the base of your spine, bringing your awareness to it. Then move on to the second center, about two inches below your belly button, and bring your awareness to it. Visualize it growing stronger and warmer. Do this for each energy center spending at least three minutes on each one.
Observe the transformation in your life as you become more and more aware of how these energy doorways create and form your perception. Then observe how much you have the power to control this perception. “Balancing the chakras” is not just a fancy term being thrown around in this new-age spiritual movement. It is the real deal. If you can take charge of your inner world, your outer world will follow suit.