The chakras are energy focal centres located at points along the spine from the root at its base up to the crown of the head. They are not physical tangible objects as such although they do each correspond to an organ or region in the body which is most aligned with them. They are also associated with a sound, an emotion and a colour, for example, the heart chakra's seed mantra is YAM, it is the seat of compassion and joy, and its colour is green. If you wanted to focus on balancing and opening your heart energy you might sit and chant the sound YAM and visualise the colour green, or being in a green wood.
Chakra meditations can help to heal by calling upon sound and colour to help balance energy in the body and mind. In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medicine system and sister science to yoga, the body is viewed as a dynamic whole and imbalances of the mind can manifest as disease and illness as much as any physical malady may affect mind. As well as prescribing what we might think of traditionally as medicine to take for an ailment, an Ayurvedic doctor would also treat mind and body together by suggesting possible adjustments to food, some appropriate yoga postures and maybe also some sound meditation (mantra chanting) that would help to balance your chakra energy.
According to Ayurveda, all disease starts in the mind with upset and distressed thoughts and negative disturbances. That’s not to say that it’s all in the mind when we get sick, but disease progresses from mental and emotional to physical. On a biochemical level, our immune system can be impaired by stress and anxiety, which triggering the fight and flight response, spike cortisol and kick off the inflammatory response in the body, so our systems are overburdened, and it is harder for us to fight off pathogens when we need to. Certainly, stress and mental upset predispose us to physical illness. Physical, emotional and mental – they are all connected.
Sound can be a very powerful healing tool for reducing mental stress and anxiety. You only need to think about how soothing music can be for the soul to know this, how the body vibrates with happy, healing sensations when you listen to music that resonates with you. In chakra meditation, by using the voice to chant seed mantra, your body is actually able to create the vibrations that help to calm and heal mind and body. This can be specifically focussed or more general in nature.
If you are interested in finding out more about the chakras, their meaning and their sounds, I love this website and would highly recommend it: http://ar-yoga.com/feel/chakras/, or just click on the individual seed mantras above. I love the explanations given and the site is very well-designed; it's visually appealing too.
Next month, I will return to the Eight Limbs of Yoga as set out by Patanjali and consider the Niyamas (individual guidances for good living) following on from our look at the Yamas. I hope you are staying safe and well and send much love to you all. Thanks for reading. Namaste.