Chakras are spiraling energy wheels that allow energy to move in and out of the chakras. An unobstructed flow of this energy indicates good psychosomatic health, abundance, confidence, personal development, well-being, and spiritual revival.
Chakras are a symbolic representation of a spiritual concept. All chakras are located on the central energy channel called the Sushumna Nadi, which runs along the spinal cord. Seven chakras with their respective locations corresponding to the location of the physical body organs are as follows:
- Root (Muladhara) – Located at the end of the tailbone.
- Sacral (Svadhishthana) – Located around the reproductive organs.
- Solar Plexus (Manipura) – Located around the belly button region.
- Heart (Anahata) – Near the heart.
- Throat (Vishuddha) – Near the throat.
- Third-Eye (Ajna) – The Forehead.
- Crown (Sahasrara) – At the top of the head.
We’ll cover each of the above in a non-traditional way without getting into symbolism and religious views.
The Basic Foundation: Safety, Security, Stability & Material Needs
There is a misconception that the material and spiritual worlds are separate. This separation is created by duality. It’s not possible to be spiritual with instability in material life.
The root chakra is all about survival: physical, emotional, and psychological safety. A fully functional root chakra allows us to live a virtuous and fulfilled life by caring for our basic primitive needs like food, water, shelter, sleep, and things necessary for the physical body.
There can be no psychological, emotional, or spiritual fulfillment if the body is sick or deprived of the above-mentioned basic needs. It doesn’t mean that one must be rich to achieve fulfillment and satisfaction, but some basics have to be taken care of before embarking on a spiritual journey.
Actual wealth creation is more of an outcome of a restful psychological state than physical work. If you’re constantly preoccupied with unproductive and self-limiting thoughts, you won’t achieve any happiness or fulfillment no matter how hard you work.
Over many ages, humans have evolved, but some of the primitive traits still remain in our unconscious, and they dominate most of our behaviors.
When low in awareness, we default to those primitive behaviors. We’re not cave dwellers anymore, yet we behave like one when confronted with a difficult situation. Emotionally unregulated, we react explosively and unconsciously to problems that can efficiently be handled gracefully.
It’s okay to be scared when the danger is present and imminent, but not when the fear is created by the anticipation of an unlikely outcome in the future. People who lack emotional control hurt others to relieve their own pain.
Root energy is the seed of consciousness that lays the foundation for the higher energy points. Our mind tends to achieve limitless happiness by acquiring material assets. This tendency, however, can create a never-ending chase or thirst for acquiring material possessions, which, if left unchecked, causes misery.
The root energy center stores subconscious fears, including birth trauma, the expression of which is seen in the solar plexus. So if you struggle emotionally or financially, seek appropriate help through therapy or financial consultation. Meditating on your financial troubles is not going to help.
Spirituality gives a glimpse into our inner world and helps us understand our psychological propensities. Through discipline (unforced), we draw limits and gain empowering control over our senses, including imbalanced thinking. The final expression of spiritual realization is observed in the third eye and crown chakras.
Fluidity: The Source of Pleasure & Creative Potential
The sacral chakra is responsible for our existence. It is how the quality of aliveness comes about. It is associated with fluidity and movement.
If you carefully observe, there are many types of movements happening within us: some are gross, like breathing, heartbeat, etc., while others are subtle, like the movement of thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
If you sit silently, you’ll hear your heartbeat. You can feel the flow of breath in and out of the body. The cold air enters your nostrils, flows into the lungs, enters the diaphragm, and reaches below the belly to provide life force to the orange-colored pulsating energy center.
Additionally, our mind keeps producing thoughts, creating a never-ending barrage of thoughts and emotions. When the mind obsessively ruminates over past events, the creative part of the mind subsides.
And if these thoughts produce afflicting feelings, we habitually distract ourselves by indulging in substances that further move us away from our creative center.
When the mind is restful, our creative potential increases manifolds. The working mind takes over the egoic ruminating mind and produces the finest work.
An emotionally regulated individual spends more time with the working mind. It has the ability of unwavering focus. It’s not a goal-oriented mind, but one that creates things out of a pure passion for the work.
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we lose our passion for exploring and creating. Fear is the primary mechanism through which our society manipulates a child and destroys their creative potential and willingness to explore things.
These fears seep into our subconscious minds, creating blockages in the energy system. When we confront our fears and venture into the unknown, we stimulate the sacral energy. For that to happen, one needs to be aware of their fears and see them for what they are.
Sacral energy makes us more fluid and adaptable, just like water.
In an interview with Bruce Lee that I’m sure most of you must have seen, he says, “Be like water, my friend” – the water is flexible, unbreakable, and becomes the thing that contains it. If you put water in a teapot, it becomes a teapot. You cannot burn water with heat. You can cut it with a knife.
People who achieve incredible feats are flexible. They embrace change. Though it might not seem so, they are not rigid with their techniques and methodologies.
They adapt according to the situation, try out new things, explore new ideas, make changes where required, and seek help when needed. They know their strengths and weaknesses and keep their ego from interfering in pursuing their goals.
Fire: Purpose, Action, & Transformation
As we move towards higher chakras, the energy becomes subtler. We started with a solid foundation, and through fluid, we now come to the fire. The fire energy center is located two inches above the belly button. It fuels the mind-body mechanism to bring about a transformation in the world.
As I mentioned earlier, we need to work our minds and bodies to create an energy balance. Energy stagnation in any part of the body causes diseases and dulls the mind.
Therefore, a certain amount of drive is required to enable the energy flow. In the modern context, it is called the fire in the belly. Manipura or solar plexus energy center provides for the drive to facilitate energy flow.
When this channel is blocked, the mind keeps accumulating energy. When we’re fearful, we procrastinate and avoid discomfort. However, the energy moving through its own will gets collected in different energy centers causing blockages in the flow of prana, which further increases the discomfort.
When the energy demands to flow through the mind-body organism, it manifests as creative thoughts. It’s a clear sign that we need to engage our working minds.
For example, when we find an easy escape in the form of distractions, like playing video games, scrolling through social media feeds, watching tv, and eating comforting foods, we obstruct the flow of energy which causes restlessness, dullness, irritation, and even physical ailments. Over time, seeking distractions becomes a habitual pattern.
There is an undercurrent of fear that stops us from taking action. The fire in the belly gives the body the enthusiasm and strength to cut through the noise and work.
Whether it’s a material or a spiritual goal, the mind needs the power to work. The solar plexus supplies the strength to overcome inertia. Even meditation requires an intent to sit in a posture for some time.
Don’t get confused between the idea of action and effortlessness. The effort is of the thinking mind, which procrastinates out of fear and seeks distractions.
The Manipura works on the working mind where one engages in thoughts to produce creative work. For me, writing this book is effortless because, at this time of writing, my working mind is in action, and my thinking mind is quiet.
One pointed concentration exhausts the mind, but it feels much better afterward. Don’t you feel relaxed after a good workout?
Engaging in activities that produce dopamine without work feels better temporarily till we remain immersed in the activity, but we feel empty later. The thinking mind engages in anger, doubt, worry, anxiety, and self-criticism. It creates inertia.
The idea of work is not to force oneself into doing activities but to examine the forces that create inertia in the first place. For example, when the thought of doing work produces uncomfortable feelings, be with those feelings with complete attention and see them for what they are rather than fighting to suppress them.
The inertia will disappear when you’re fully aware of your inner state. Then you’ll be truly detached from the outcome of your work.
The awareness has the power to burn the deepest afflictions of the mind. For a sattvic mind, work is effortless. The effort is only of the egoic-thinking mind that worries about the outcome rather than allowing the creative energy to flow. As the thinking mind subsides, our purpose becomes more refined.
Air: Love, Kindness, Compassion, And Empathy
The heart energy center is the gateway to spiritual progress. While the lower three chakras help you with the material aspects of life, the heart chakra and beyond are related to spiritual existence and the experience of divine love.
Without opening the heart chakra, it is impossible to feel genuine empathy. The mind will always keep you skeptical and cynical. That is the nature of the mind. The great spiritual thinker Jiddu Krishnamurthy said that every thought you create comes with a contradiction that creates dissonance.
The heart chakra is associated with higher consciousness and spiritual development. We call it the awakening in life where we see the world for what it is without the filters of biases and prejudices. We develop strong empathy and compassion for all beings.
While it is true that opening the heart leads to love, kindness, and compassion, that does not come until we learn to face the monster within. And there’s a monster in all of us, without exception.
Facing the inner demon is one of the most challenging aspects of heart chakra activation, yet it is one of the most liberating. It is why people are often scared of heart chakra meditation. It brings out the most uncomfortable feelings from deep within – the aspects of our personality that get pushed into oblivion.
The heart energy penetrates deep into the unconscious and lights ups the hidden elements. It includes painful feelings, emotions, trauma, abuse, perversions, and other coping behaviors we acquired during childhood.
In my case, it manifested as nightmares. In extreme cases, it creates hysteria in people. I often dreamt about dark shadowy figures with bright red eyes that held me hostage. This phenomenon is known as sleep paralysis in psychology.
These nightmares were symbols of the deep underlying afflictions – the accumulated energy in the shadow that was creating restlessness and needed an outflow by channeling through the conscious mind.
Beyond this mind-body complex, we are spiritual beings experiencing the realm of physicality. Therefore, our spiritual existence is of great significance. Realizing that truth, we ensure a smooth sail in the material world.
When the heart chakra opens, we recognize the presence of supreme divinity within us. There is a feeling of oneness with everything that exists. There is wisdom or clarity that we don’t exist in isolation but live in communion with everything.
If you observe, you’ll see that every process of nature is intricately interwoven. The plants emit the oxygen we breathe and absorb the carbon dioxide we release.
Just imagine what will happen if this cycle breaks down. A slight change in the environment can cause catastrophic disasters. These phenomena are not limited to Earth but extend to the entire universe, which exists as an interconnected whole.
Ruminating about the past (thinking mind in action) keeps us trapped in a vicious cycle. When the heart’s energy activates, the energy of the afflicting thoughts, feelings, and emotions gets cleared up. It releases all grudges, resentment, and ill feelings.
The heart wakes up when the mind quiets down. It makes us sensitive to the flow of emotions and reveals our inner state. The heart has its own wisdom, which paves the way for higher spiritual development. Only an open heart will have genuine faith in the universe and a clear understanding of spirituality.
The word spirituality has become so loaded that it has lost its essence. In my view, it has nothing to do with religion or any religious practices.
A couple of years back, my friend’s father was critically ill and was admitted to the intensive care unit. I’m not sure, but I think it’s called hospice in the USA.
Doctors told us that his chances of recovery were grim. I remember my friend getting a cross and praying for his recovery. While he remained unconscious, she would keep reciting Bible passages. In the end, he succumbed, and she couldn’t bear it. She threw her cross in anger and told me that she had lost all faith in spirituality.
We tend to see situations and circumstances from our limited perspectives, and our ego constantly contemplates how it can avoid painful conditions. This is not spirituality. It is the unconditional acceptance that pain is a part of life.
There’s no escaping the pain in the moment, but the pain shouldn’t translate into long-term suffering. When we lose a loved one, it’s natural to grieve the loss. But that grief should not turn into prolonged mourning.
Ether: Speech, Expression, and Communication
The fifth energy center makes communication possible by translating symbols into information. Now we’re moving away from the physical into the etheric dimensions. The word Vishuddhi means purity in Sanskrit.
Purity of what? The mind. A pure mind is harmonious. Such a mind is free from excessive thinking. It engages with the material world without getting too involved or attached to things, events, and people.
For example, when addressing a group of people, like in a public speaking event, with your throat chakra energy activated, you do not think about superficial aspects like appearance, tonality, etc. Those things become irrelevant because you allow the energy to express itself freely.
You’re not concerned about how people will react or think about your presentation. You simply execute with complete surrender and allow the energy to do its work. In other words, the ego or the thinking mind does not interfere in the execution of the working mind. The pure mind is selfless.
It gives without attaching itself to the outcome of its work. When you’re concerned about the outcome, the result is usually inferior, mainly because you’re projecting a persona to gain applause or validation from others.
You’re not yourself when you’re modifying your thoughts and suppressing your speech to fit the popular narratives. Notice how good public speakers influence people. How are they so effective? Because they speak from the heart.
Heart, by nature, is sattva. They’re not concerned about offending others. Some people will always be offended, no matter what you say.
Some people prefer to read their speech line by line, while others just write a few pointers and expand on them naturally. What’s the difference? In the first case, there is a subtle fear. The person reading or memorizing a speech is more concerned about the presentation than the content.
This does not necessarily apply to formal work situations where you have to deliver instructions to a group. But even in a work-related environment, nothing should stop you from expressing your voice. In a healthy workplace environment, people’s views and opinions don’t go unheard.
If you are in an environment where you’re silenced for every remark, you should rethink your future with such an organization.
The throat chakra is the center of speech, communication, and expression. It gives you the strength to speak your mind. When you don’t offer resistance, the energy expresses with a force that has a deep impact. But there’s a catch here. Let me explain this with an example.
Adolf Hitler, although a horrible human being, was a great orator. His voice had a deep impact on the German people at that time. So does it mean that his throat chakra was active? No! His throat chakra was overactive, which is a sign of imbalance. It brought out his narcissistic traits.
While he perfected his oratory skills, his mind was driven by dark unconscious forces. His was not a sattva mind. He was putting up a persona to project himself as a powerful leader. His actions were driven by fear. And he created the same fear in others.
Another example is Mahatma Gandhi. Although he had a soft voice, his words were powerful enough to shake the foundations of the British empire in India. He didn’t have to scream at the top of his lungs to make himself heard. When he spoke, the entire nation listened.
While Adolf Hitler’s mechanism of spreading hate was propaganda, Mahatma Gandhi’s message was of non-violence, peace, and tolerance. Ramana Maharshi was a man of few words and taught in silence. Many people sitting silently in his presence experienced a spontaneous awakening.
The drive to execute actions comes from the lower chakras, but the purity of mind comes from the throat chakra. The activation of the throat chakra is the beginning of spiritual awakening. It is a transition from dense to subtle energy.
Awakening the throat energy center signifies the strengthening or sharpening of the intellect. A sharp intellect helps us on the spiritual path and to pursue the truth.
Spiritual pursuit requires an open mind, without which one cannot possibly discover the final truth. However, intellect alone will not give the answers to life’s questions.
Light: The Eye of Shiva
From this point and onwards, things change radically. The lower chakras assume an individual striving towards self-growth and material achievements. The third-eye awakening destroys all of that. That is why it is known as the eye of Shiva.
The Shiva, according to the Hindu tradition, is the destroyer of the world. However, what Shiva destroys is ignorance and not the physical world. And ignorance is the sense of individual existence and identification with the limited mind-body complex as a separate entity.
Most people who desire third-eye awakening are unaware of what they are asking for. Will you be interested in a third-eye awakening if I tell you that it will destroy your every belief, identification, and even the attachment you hold towards people?
Are you ready to give up your idea of wealth, success, or even spiritual realization? Most people are unprepared. It requires a certain level of understanding.
The third-eye awakening results in kind-of dispassion toward things and people. This dispassion is not an idea of the ego but happens spontaneously with a spiritual awakening.
It is not that the ego has to make an effort through sadhana or any spiritual practice to become dispassionate. Any achievement of the ego will be temporary and unsatisfactory. The very idea of forcefully invoking the third eye is egoic.
For example, many people experience throbbing in the forehead region while focusing on that region in meditation, but that does not mean that the third eye is opening. It does not make them unique or special in any way.
As I mentioned earlier, the energy itself decides its path. The person trying to manipulate the energy path is doership at its core.
If your concern is that the energy should awaken your chakras based on your preferences, it is your ego that is strengthening. The strengthing of the ego will only obstruct the movement of energy and cause problems.
Q. How do I know if my third eye is awakened?
Ans: You don’t get to know! Till there is “you” desiring third-eye awakening, it is not open. As I said earlier, third-eye awakening is your (the ego) dissolution.
Any person claiming their third eye is awakened is either delusional or a deceiver. Third-eye awakening is the dissipation of contracted energy (or the individual). The individual in which this awakening takes place becomes detached from the worldly ideas of glory, success, and the pursuit of happiness.
That said, individual identification remains to operate in the world, but there is no involvement in anything. So people with an awakened third eye are not crusading for world peace. They are silently working and spreading joy without claiming anything. They are free from the load of doership.
They continue to spread the message of peace without drawing too much attention to themselves. They don’t advocate a method or technique or give a process for spiritual awakening other than bringing awareness of life processes.
Q. I have heard of instances where third-eye awakening drove people insane. What do you think?
Ans: Yes. It happens. That’s what I said earlier. Everyone is not ready for a third-eye awakening. The question is, what do you want to achieve by awakening your third eye? If it is a spiritual achievement, it is no different from worldly material desire.
It’s better to run after material desire than to chase abstract ideas of spiritual awakening. For most people, Kundalini is a fantasy that the ego loves chasing, not knowing that the serpent will bite you in the end. If your identifications with your desires are deep, the kundalini will havoc in your life.
You must have psychological strength (clear channels) with a deep sense of surrender to allow the energy to do its work. If you obstruct the energy consciously or subconsciously, it may cause harm to your mind or body.
You require maturity and a guiding hand. That’s why I recommend an expert teacher if you want to go down this path. Most people, after reading a few theories or scriptures, here and there, start experimenting with their minds. I don’t recommend that.
Q. What about people with psychological disorders like Schizophrenia or DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder)? Should they pursue Kundalini Yoga?
Ans: So here’s the thing. You need clear channels to allow the movement of energy. And the energy will heal you but don’t get the impression that you can do it all yourself.
The first step would be to go for therapy or professional medical advice because some clarity in thinking is required before you take up Kundalini Yoga. You can’t take life-changing decisions impulsively. Kundalini is life-altering.
So first, go for professional help like a psychologist or therapist to get things in life sorted out. After that, find a Kundalini master and tell them about your condition. The master will be gentle with your conditions and not subject you to rigorous spiritual practices.
Accept the fact that you may have to go slow. If you proceed with precautions and pursue spiritual practices along with professional medical help, this will be much more beneficial. To begin with, in such cases, an expert teacher should not recommend third-eye meditation.
Q. What do you think about the calcification of the pineal gland? Do you believe the decalcification of the pineal gland can help speed up third-eye awakening?
Ans: In my opinion, calcification of the pineal gland has nothing to do with third-eye awakening. I don’t know where this idea comes from. Calcifying the pineal gland is typical in young adults, but it is a physical process and has nothing to do with subtle energy.
Of course, if the calcification is too much and causes health problems, you won’t be able to focus on any practice. But other than that, if the energy decides to awaken your third eye, calcification of the gland will not be able to prevent it from doing so.
In general, taking care of your health by eating healthy food, getting adequate sleep, and working out will go a long way in clearing your channels.
If you think that only through decalcification of the pineal gland, without having a sattvic mind, you will achieve third-eye awakening, you’re implying that “I am in charge.” And in my concept, you’re not in charge. You are simply the execution instrument obeying energy’s will.
Thought: Crown With Thousand-Petalled Lotus
While the lower chakras govern the material aspect of survival and thriving in the world, the higher chakras like Ajna (third-eye) and Crown are associated with deep wisdom and supreme knowledge.
At this point, the contracted energy that we refer to as “me” dissolves into the bliss of cosmic energy or pure consciousness. It is symbolically shown as a thousand-petalled lotus, indicating unlimited joy and happiness.
The source of unhappiness is contained in the thought that one is separate from the world. This division between “me” and others becomes the very source of our suffering.
When the third eye awakens, we get the supreme knowledge that everything in life is an interconnected phenomenon. Nothing exists independently on its own.
It destroys our perception of ourselves as a separate entity with name and form. We see ourselves as a whole (where the word holy comes from). It is the destructive eye of Shiva that destroys the illusion of a separate self. Therefore, the third eye is the wisdom center.
The crown chakra is the culmination point where the individual consciousness merges into the cosmic consciousness or source. It brings about natural compassion and kindness for all beings.
For that reason, the crown chakra is located slightly above the head, although some of the crown chakra symptoms are experienced at the top of the head. It is the only chakra that is outside of the scope of the physical body.
The crown chakra is shown by the violet color, which represents a high-frequency state. It is the frequency of pure love, compassion, and empathy. It represents the realization of oneness or unicity and symbolizes inner peace.
We are the pure consciousness whose true nature is eternal-consciousness-bliss (sat-chit-ananda). While immersed in daily living, this illusion that we are limited brings about a sense of lack or empty feeling in our hearts.
We feel unsatisfied and believe ourselves to be broken individuals living a meaningless life. We remain depressed and disconnected from our true purpose. Ramana Maharishi clearly said that self-realization is our true goal. The radiance of self-realization dispels the darkness of doom and gloom.
When the crown chakra opens, we become aware of our true nature or “pure being.” While we operate in the world with a sense of individuality, we don’t identify with it. All identifications lose their grip on us. We don’t crave material pleasures, and at the same time, we don’t even deny the pleasures that we get from nature.
Spiritual awakening happens at the third-eye chakra, where we realize that we’re not the “doers” of our actions. Actions happen due to thinking, but there is no individual thinker doing anything. This realization is harrowing for most people, and in my opinion, it is what the scriptures refer to as “the dark night of the soul.”
Crown chakra awakening is the final deliverance of the spiritual wisdom that comes through the third-eye awakening. The bliss of crown chakra awakening is not circumstantial or based on living conditions. It is eternal bliss of nothingness.