Originally posted on RLT, July 2004.
Recently Bowtie wrote a very comprehensive post on his experience with meditation in a “how-to” format. The kind of meditation he discussed is a directly introspective form, since the purpose is to ask questions of yourself once in an altered state, and to, ideally, find answers to said questions. I have tried a few forms of meditation techniques over the years, and the kind Bow excels at never worked for me. However, I did have great success with one technique, which I’m going to discuss here.
So, what are Chakras, and where did this system of belief come from?
The Chakra system originates in Early Hinduism, although Buddhism is usually assigned with creating this system, this is incorrect. The Hindu texts, the Upanisads, are believed to be written before the creation and propagation of Buddhism, and it is in this text that we find reference to the tradition of the Renouncer, in which the chakra system first originated. It was believed that there was existence of a ‘subtle’ (or spirit) body with centres or “wheels” (chakra) located along its central axis, connected by channels (nadi), along which flows the energy (prana) or life-force that animates the body. Chakras, therefore, are these wheels that, due to their channelling and storage of life-force, can have a direct effect on the body and mental processes. There are seven chakras positioned along our central axis, our spine, all of which are believed to be connected to internal organs, various emotions, and more spiritual elements (such as grounding to the earth, opening the mind to higher-knowledge, etc). It’s easiest if I label the charkas from 1-7 whilst explaining their purpose and colour, both things crucial to this meditation technique.
Chakra 1 is positioned at the very base of the spine and is therefore our grounding chakra, often called the “root” chakra. It is usually depicted as red in colour and should be the first chakra one focuses on at the beginning of meditation, for by ‘opening’ this chakra one grounds themselves to the earth, a crucial endeavour before seeking to open the mind to the higher realms of consciousness. It is a reminder of yourself and your purpose, and is the earthy polarity to the intangible nature of the spiritual realms.
Chakra 2 tends to be given two main positions, abdomen or groin, and it’s personal preferences as to where you would like to imagine this orange coloured energy centre. Either way, this chakra embodies our sexual energy and is closely tied in to our sexual organs, just as the root chakra is connected to our spine and lower body. Due to its connection to sexuality, it is sometimes said to be the centre to our many emotions, too (personally, as an aside, I think this demonstrates an early understanding of the connection between women’s menstruation and mood, and the difference between male and female behaviour, something we now know is due to hormones).
Chakra 3 is located at/in your solar plexus and is yellow in colour. It is considered to be a powerful chakra due to its position in an area of the body often considered to have special spiritual significance within many spiritual systems. Often the solar plexus is deemed the centre of the human body, and can be an area of great strength, or great weakness. Therefore, this chakra is related to personal strength, integrity, and health.
Chakra 4 is called the “heart” chakra due to its position in the centre of our chest (where the heart was once believed to reside). It is, fairly obviously, connected to love, deep emotions, and the dynamic power of opposites that create the equilibrium of sacred sacrifice and energy. Its association to love, however, is its most prominent feature, with ‘love’ including compassion, loving-kindness, and the true, all-pervading love for every sentient being of an Enlightened One. It is deemed green in colour.
Chakra 5 is located in the throat and is thus associated with creativity, personal expression, and communication. More importantly, however, it is associated with breath. Breath control is one of the “Eight Limbs of Yoga” as described in the traditional Hindu system, and was believed to have powerful physical and spiritual effects on the body. This chakra is blue.
Chakra 6 is often described as violet in colour, and it is positioned between our brows, making it the “third eye” chakra. It is deemed our intuitive pathway; our psychic centre of connection between our five directly sensory senses, and our sixth, intuitive, psychic sense. It is believed traditionally that this chakra can be unblocked, therefore allowing the individual to gain psychic powers in which to further their spiritual journey and study.
Chakra 7 is our “crown” chakra, positioned at the very top of our head. In some traditions it is seen as purple, in other’s white (I feel white is more appropriate due to its spiritual meanings). It relates to consciousness as pure awareness. It is our connection to the greater world beyond, to a timeless, spaceless place of all knowing. When developed, this chakra brings us knowledge, wisdom, understanding, spiritual connection, and bliss, and is therefore deemed the most important chakra within the system.
Now, for the technique itself, which I simply call “chakra preparation”.
The first step is to familiarise yourself with your chakras. To do this, I recommend lying down on a flat surface, preferably the floor or a yoga-mat, since bed mattresses naturally give under weight, and it is traditional (and helpful) to have a naturally aligned spine during chakra meditation. Once you’re lying down (and have previously familiarised yourself with the colour and position of each chakra) slowly allow yourself to become away of your body. Start from your toes and work your way up; just allowing your mind to really focus on the sensation in each limb, each muscle, leading to a deeper awareness of your physical body. When you get to your chest allow yourself to become aware of your breathing. Is it fast or slow? Even or unsteady? Are your shoulder and neck muscles tense? Are you hands in a fist? Once you’re aware of your body and what each muscle group is doing, slowly start focusing on relaxing. Imagine yourself sinking into the floor as tension oozes out of you; disappearing into the ground and being readily absorbed and recycled by the earth. Once more start from your toes, slowly easing every muscle until your body feels light and relaxed. By this point your breathing should have slowed naturally, if not, focus on that now. Breathe in for three, hold for one, and then out for three. Really feel the air rushing into your lungs as your diaphragm moves down and your ribs out; the gentle contraction of muscles around your ribs as the air is forced out, etc. . . until your breathing is deep, even, and steady.
Now, think about your chakras. Start with the root chakra. Visualise it as a wheel or circle of red light. Is the red dark, ruby coloured, deep or light? Focus on the details of the colour and the shape of the wheel until a clear picture is in your minds eye. Once this has been established, imagine this chakra slowly unfurling like a lotus blossom; its edges opening outwards until its colour is deep, bright, and beautiful. Your chakra is now (for all intents and purposes) open and ready for work. Think about what it’s connected to; what elements, emotions, and organs it is associated with. Do you have a problem in this area? Does more or less energy need to be directed here? Does the chakra seem dull or dirty and in need of cleaning? If yes, can you visualise yourself clearing and caring for the chakra? Can you change its colour from dull to bright again? Keep practising until you can.
Some people lose concentration at this point, and if your mind does wander, I recommend focusing on breathing once again. The key in this meditation is to turn your mind inwards using your body as a means of focus; or channel for your mental attention. Once concentration is regained (or, of course, if it never wavered) continue as above until all chakras are open and glowing.
Considering the mental difficulty of concentrating for so long, I recommend doing the above as a single meditation for a few weeks before moving onto the next step. Each time you meditate, your focus will increase, and trying to do too much at once can be detrimental to your progress.
Ok, so, you’ve done the above exercise for a few weeks, your concentration is excellent, and you can clearly see your chakra system in your minds eye each time you practice. Excellent! Now, onto the next step, which I call “waterfall visualisation”.
Do the exercise above, like usual, until all chakras are open and you have checked for any ‘problems’ within the system. Now, once this has been completed imagine the red light of the root chakra flowing up to meet the orange light of chakra 2, collecting that orange colour and taking it up to chakra 3; combining all 3 colours, and then moving to the next chakra, and so on. Imagine this movement as a reversed waterfall, with the colours smoothly flowing upwards until all are pooling around the crown chakra. Now imagine them flowing down your body to pool at your feet; a cacophony of beautiful, startling colour before they start their movement up once more. Repeat the visualisation until you can clearly distinguish each colour within the waterfall; seeing them pool and cleanse each chakra in turn before moving on. At the end of the visualisation (when you are beginning to lose concentration, or feel each chakra is clear and healed), simply imagine the coloured water smoothly returning to their proper pools; clean, bright, and healthy, before you slowly allow yourself to come back around. You might find yourself so relaxed that you don’t wish to move, and that is exactly what you’re aiming for.
The purpose of this exercise is to centre yourself. Once the attributes of each chakra are understood you can make changes to yourself by healing, maintaining, and opening each chakra. Simply put, they become a mental and spiritual channel for you to transform your consciousness.
How is this related to therianthropy, you wonder? By calming the mind and working through a visualisation that leads to a state of mental harmony, upon waking you are then in the perfect state to ask yourself deep, difficult questions. Fear, discomfort, anxiety, happiness, hope, are all gone and replaced with a very deep sense of peace and the mental concentration to doggedly pursue the answers to your questions. For me, entering meditative states and then asking questions just didn’t work, and I tried for months. For some reason my brain simply echoed questions back at me, or wandered aimlessly. Although I did get a chance to work through some of my day-to-day frustrations and worries, the deeper questions eluded me. With chakra meditation I found the perfect way to relax my body and to build a powerful mental concentration. It got to the point where upon ‘waking’ the answers to previously asked or mulled over questions would flow to the front of my mind for realisation and inspection without any conscious effort involved for my part.
That is why I believe this type of meditation can lay the foundation for removing mental blocks (subconscious or otherwise) and allowing one to reach the mental, and physical, state needed to ask those difficult, challenging questions.