Thursday, June 28, 2012

Time to Get Your Heart On

Let's talk about your heart chakra.  Wait, wait, wait, no, let's just talk about your heart first.  The physical thing that pumps blood for you.  How does it do that?  It's electric!  It's using an electrical timing system to know when to contract and release and which way to go.  The heart's electromagnetic field (EMF) is five thousand times stronger than that of the brain (also electric).  While we're comparing it to the brain, consider also that the 60 - 65% of the heart's cells are neural, just like the cells of the brain.  The heart and brain are in constant communication, in fact, studies have shown that incoming information is received first by the heart, parsed there, then sent up to the brain.  The heart is also an endocrine gland, producing at least 5 major hormones in the body.  In the developing fetus, the heart is active before the brain.  It's been shown that in meditations focused on the heart (so, not transcendental), the heart can be made to glow, yes, actually give off light.  I mean, we all give off light anyway, but this is visible light at a rate of one hundred thousand photons per second.  That's the heart.  What a glory hound. 

Your heart chakra does not reside within your heart, but rather is superimposed above the area of the heart in the body.  The staggering body of symbolism involving the heart is literally mind-numbing (perhaps because the brain is a wee bit jealous), and all of it is derived from hunches that have since turned out to be facts.  It's the center of love.  The cells of your heart are so tightly organized that an overall ethos, if you will, is far easier to achieve in this area than any other.  Feeling furious?  Yeah, the heart started it.  Falling in love?  Thanks, heart!  So, small wonder that the heart chakra is associated with healing.  This chakra is bright green (with a pink center - it's preppy!), and when it's open and spinning at a happy rate (above 500 on Dr. Hawkins' Map of Consciousness scale, but that's another post), your body is able to function as the powerful, astonishing healing machine it's built to be. 

What does love have to do with healing and immunity?  Only everything.  Time to site musicians again.  The Talking Heads speak the truth - we are creatures of love.  Love brings us here, love sustains us and love heals us.  The most important source of this love you require comes from your very own heart.  Our purest state is that of love, so things like stress and emotional dissonance are at odds with who we really are, and if we can't work that out, we become sick or die.  Hamlet contemplating the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, wondering if death might be better, is a man whose heart chakra is closed and hermetically sealed.  What would have healed him of his deep state of depression?  Love.  Forgiveness.  No small feat, forgiving an uncle guilty of patricide and a mother too blind to see the truth, but doable, though doubtless it would take more than 5 acts and be pretty tough to watch.  Still, the curtain would not fall on a stage littered with dead bodies, probably. 

Want to open your heart chakra?  Spend some time thinking of the beings that make you smile - people, pets, meerkats at the zoo, that sort of thing.  Spend some time listing anything at all that makes you feel just a wee bit lighter inside.  The light feeling is the dark cloud lifting, truly!  I'll start you off - a nice cup o' joe on a leisurely morning, a smile from a baby in the line in front of you, the intently interested head cock of the dog who thinks a trip to the park might be imminent, plenty of food to eat, new shoes, a cooling downpour on an exceptionally muggy day...OK you take over now.  Go.

Friday, June 22, 2012

In the Zone

We interrupt this regularly scheduled chakra informational programming to bring you musings of a different sort.  Now that I'm a new age hippie type I notice when things seem to take on a theme in my day to day life and this topic is one that keeps coming up.  I feel compelled to wax advice-y. 

It's about your so-called comfort zone.  You need to get out more.  By "you" I mean everyone.  From the truly agoraphobic to the world traveler who can catch a quick nap in nearly any environment, everybody.  It is within the realm of the familiar that we languish.  Inside our comfort zones we allow our growth to be stunted, we remain in unrewarding jobs and relationships, we pass on opportunities, we feed our gremlins (they are the critters that live in your brain and thrive on complacency, whining, 'yeah but's and fear of any type).  The comfort zone, like so much legislation, is facetiously named.   If you take a look around your own comfort zone and cannot come up with at least 3 things in it that are decidedly uncomfortable to you, you are most likely in a coma. 

The Cliffs of Insanity!
I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, along the river by the same name (holla, home!).  Summers were spent swimming in the river and all the various creeks and brooks and mud puddles it fed.  On Stony Creek (which was, indeed, stony) there was a rock cliff beside a swimming hole, maybe 12 or 15 feet high, if that, though to 5'3" me it seemed miles high.   It was common practice to climb to the top of the cliff and jump into the water below.  The first time I swam there, I stood at the top of the cliff for what felt like years, talking myself into jumping.  Other, less cautious, kids were doing it over and over and not one of them had incurred an injury.  Yet, it seemed batshit crazy to just jump off a cliff.  I stood, peering over the edge, my feet firmly rooted.  Finally, my friends shamed me into it (bless them).  I jumped.  I splashed into the cool water below, sank to the bottom, and shot back up like a buoy, exhilarated.  Then I did it twenty-seven more times (at least) because if was so much fun.  This friends, is my metaphor for life outside your comfort zone.  Too many of us are lingering at the edge, watching others play, seeing them enjoying themselves, but thinking certainly we could not enjoy that.  So, we aren't having any fun.  The longer we terry there, the more the gremlins convince us we belong there, that taking that leap would be the death of us.  That is because your gremlins cannot swim.  Now is your chance to drown them!

There is very little fun to be had in the comfort zone, even the things that truly do provide comfort - love of friends and family, home, security, familiar stuff - are at risk when we refuse to grow and change.  I am begging you to venture out, even just a little.  Once you get started, it's hard to stop, and, from well outside my own comfort zone I promise you, there's nothing better than that. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gut Feelings

I apologize for the absence, but I'm back now.  So, where were we?  Oh yes, moving on up to the solar plexus chakra.  I think we all have a spot we think of as home inside ourselves.  Our cliches have real meaning and it's not for nothing that we so often say things like "she lives in her head" or "I just know it in my heart!" or that something "catches in my throat".  Daily events send us each to the various chakras where our strongest response to an incoming stimulus stirs.  My solar plexus chakra, located, as one would certainly hope, directly over the solar plexus (base of the sternum, where the ribs meet, a few inches above the belly button), is where I live, so to speak.  Or, rather, it has been for the past couple years.  No says I can't or won't relocate; it's almost certain I will. 

This chakra, yellow in color, has sway over the adrenals and pancreas.  It's also related to the immune and nervous systems and is a big player in the digestive system.  Bear in mind that digestion not only refers to our ability to breakdown food and use its nutrients, but that we also use this word to describe how we handle thoughts and ideas.  It's no surprise, then, to learn that the solar plexus chakra is considered a person's power center.  Just as we digest our food - determining what should be discarded and what can be put to use and how - we digest the details of our very existence.  I resisted naming this post for a song but if I had named it for the tune it causes me to hum, you'd be hearing Oingo Boingo's Who Do You Want To Be? right now.  But you see, I was good, and didn't do it.  Still, this is a question we mull over in our solar plexus chakra.  Our level of confidence, our willingness or lack thereof to suffer fools, our desire to get up and go - all smolders in our gut.  Ever suffer a major letdown of some sort and feel like you've been punched in the gut?  Energetically, you have. 
This is you, with your 3rd chakra balanced.  Awesome like a hotdog.

Keeping the solar plexus chakra balanced and happily spinning away is the best way to be sure you assert yourself in the world; that you confidently occupy the space you want here.  On a physical level, issues of the adrenals and digestion are a pretty good indicator that this chakra is out of balance, and addressing the energy portion of these symptoms is the genesis to alleviating them.  It is not the only method for healing, of course, but if you do not work on the energy portion of what ails you, you will certainly experience other symptoms in and around the same area, until you do.   

Thursday, May 17, 2012


From the root chakra, we move upward to the sacral chakra.  Sacral, because it's right around the sacrum, a name that shares its etymology with "sacred".  Within the sacral chakra we find the source of the old bit about having to love yourself before you can love anyone else.  The sacral chakra houses the expression of the personality, of individuality, but also, the source for our need and ability to reach out to others.  When our sacral chakra is balanced and open, we can more effectively know and appreciate ourselves and subsequently, more effectively be a part of our world. 

Here's the source of our creativity.  Literally, as it's linked to our reproductive organs, but also on a more imaginative level, because it spawns our creative expressions.  Due to all these heady responsibilities, the sacral chakra is associated with the sacred; it's no mistake this part of our body is named for it.  How you define and relate to "sacred" in your life is unique to you. 

This chakra is often symbolized by the moon, which seems fitting.  The moon is mysterious, appears in the dark of night and quietly and effortlessly controls the tides.  Oh the symbolism around this stuff!  The moon, water, sacred spaces, it all has a bearing here and it's worth it for you to check in with your own sacral chakra to see where your mind goes.  Regardless of how it hits you, you really should give it some thought, because these poor lower chakras are too often shut down, ignored or even repressed.  We're made to feel a little nervous by their raw, tactless and somewhat barbarian rhythms.  We worry our own inner Incredible Hulk, werewolf or the like is stirring in there, just waiting to be released, and that once we do that, there's no getting things under control again.  These are ego-based concerns, and it's not fair to relegate them to our own, let's call it, nitty gritty.  Your nitty gritty, I assure you, always moves in peace with every living thing.

On a less esoteric note, this chakra regulates the sex organs, the bladder, prostate (if that's how you roll), womb (if the prostate's not your thing), the kidneys and of course, the sacral nerve plexus.  When you're ailing in any of these areas, your sacral chakra needs some healing because the energy it's taking in and pushing out, is not quite right.  Once you can jump start that gear, you'll be on your way to feeling better (and so will the people you hang out with, because you're blocked sacral chakra is sort of being a jerkwad to them). 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Kick It Root Down! I Put My Root Down!

It is possible for me to name a blog post without referencing a song, but it's very, very difficult.  Today we're going to talk about the root chakra.  I recommend a soundtrack of African drumming for this (not the Beastie Boys, they're really more solar plexus than root, despite what they say).

Here's a bit of the skinny on the root chakra.  It's only a bit of the skinny because one could compose an entire tome on the topic of the root alone, but are you here for that kind of in-depth contemplation?  Of course not, this is blog, for cryin' out loud.  I've digressed, let's move on. 

The root chakra houses your will to live on this earth.  The will to live sounds like it should be written - The Will to Live in some fancy typeset not available in Blogger's list of fonts.  But let's break that down, shall we?  When we choose things for ourselves that are arguably bad for us, this is an expression of the will to live, or, rather, a lack thereof.  So, everything from throwing ourselves from a rocky precipice to the unforgiving rapids fifty feet below, to dating someone you know to be a horrible match for you, to badmouthing yourself out loud or in your head,  to opting for the Snickers bar instead of the apple is in play.  When these are the types of decisions we are making, not only the root, but most assuredly the root, is in need of some attention.

On a physical level, the root chakra affects the adrenals, the spinal column and the kidneys.  Here's one example of how we tie this together: you are incessantly exhausted and can hardly force yourself to get out of bed in the morning.  Your exhaustion seems to lead to constant, low-level illness.  So you're tired, catching every cold that goes around, can't shake that annoying cough or you succumb to seasonal allergies seemingly every season.  When you go see your doctor, she tests your adrenal glands and tells you your levels are wonky ("wonky" is definitely a medical term).  It is likely she will recommend a pharmaceutical solution and perhaps you will be relieved and imbued with hope.  The drug you are about to take will target your adrenals and, God willing and the Creek don't rise, alleviate your symptoms.  However, you've completely missed the point of your symptoms now.  This is a root chakra situation, and this part of your energy body is activated because you need to correct something.  You need to transform some energy.  So you've taken your medicine and you feel better, but you've also ingested some toxins that your body will not process out of you, but instead store in your fatty tissues forever, and you're not noticing that the energy is going to shift to something else, possibly your kidneys or, very likely, your spinal column. Balancing and opening your root chakra will help prevent you from making poor decisions for yourself.  Once balanced, you will find the will and the discipline to change your diet, or your sleep habits, or some other habit that's creating disease in you, and from there, you can truly begin to heal.

Here's a root chakra fun fact - down there in the root, right at the base of your spine, the Kundalini lies coiled and, in most of us, sleeping.  The Kundalini (Shakti), represented by a serpent, longs to move, to undulate gracefully up the spine toward her ultimate goal, reunification with her greatest love, Shiva, who's up there in the crown chakra, waiting.  Shakti is power at rest, the essence of life, the prana and when she and Shiva get together, they create nada (pure cosmic sound) and the supreme truth that underlies all manifestation.  This unifying force sets the soul free.  Our medical caduceus is inspired by the Kundalini.  All of us know, somewhere deep down, not only that Root Down was first a Jimmy Smith composition, but mostly that we really do need to kick it Root Down. 

May your Shakti and Shiva find one another! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Chakra Con? (Don't Worry, I Feel For You)

If you've never even heard of chakras, well, color me surprised.  I grew up familiar with the term and a passing knowledge that they had something to do with new age weirdos and were usually illustrated on pictures of naked people.  Now that I am a New Age Weirdo, I know a lot more about what chakras really are, and how the relate to our lives. 

Have you ever heard an electrical transformer blow?  If you have, you're no doubt familiar with the feeling of a mild wash of panic and, if it was close enough to you, a subsequent bit of darkness, at least until the electric company comes out and fixes it.  Our major chakras are our bodies' transformers.  Each one services a neighborhood of your insides (and some of your outsides, but we'll get to that later).  Each chakra is aligned with a gland or organ and, interestingly, queues up well with our geometry, too.  There are several chakra traditions; they vary around the world and have different names.  Here in the wild, wild west, we tend to favor the seven Hindu Chakras.  Other traditions suggest there are as many as twelve, and most agree that those are just the big ones - the transformers.  The body is teeming with little ones, too (all the little houses that need their lights on).  Here's a pretty good rundown of the chakras for you, which I stole from the innerwebs -

While it's typical to hear the chakras described as 'wheels of light', they are in fact more band-like.  See the drawing on the right of this photo that I snagged from my own Reiki teacher, Brad's, site?

That's more the shape, these things are bands of energy that send information out of and into our bodies.  Now that we've established that we're really just very astonishingly organized and compressed energy, it's not such a leap to understand that up and down our forms, are the major power sources.  I used to wonder how anyone could know these things even exist, much less what color each one is, but it turns out, they're easy to see.

You have to relax a little, and commit yourself to paying attention.  Take any feeling you like and focus on it.  Feeling love for a someone?  Pride in an accomplishment?  Fear of some unknown?  Go ahead and let that flow for a moment, and close your eyes.  Let your mind find where that feeling makes an impression in your body.  Don't even try to tell me it doesn't, because you know it does.  This is why we say things like "I have butterflies in my stomach!" and "Oh, that breaks my heart".  So, where is your feeling?  Got it?  Now home in on it.  Put your hand over that spot.  What color is it (the spot, not your hand)?  It might take a minute, and don't try to make it a color, it'll show up.  When I do this, I nearly always find that the color matches the chakra that's in play (which you determined when you put your hand over the spot that's feeling the feeling). 

The chakras seem unknowable and fantastical, but when we pay attention, we can see them.  When all is well in our bodies, these transformers hum along at a perfectly tuned frequency, and we are healthy and content.  When all is not well, one of our transformers can blow, and leave us in a bit of darkness.  Left unattended, that blown transformer can lead to other blown transformers, as the system begins to shut down on us.  With just a bit of care, though, we can keep our chakras working the way they're meant to, and in turn, we'll find our physical bodies have a natural wellness about them, too.  In future posts, I'll describe more about the histories and traditions surrounding this energetic system, each chakra's job and some ways we can keep them balanced and functioning.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Frolicking in the Human Energy Field

Einstein was kind enough to prove for us that everything is energy.  When you look closer and closer and closer at the stuff that makes up the universe (atoms) you discover that you end up with what appears to be empty space.  Empty space that is vibrating.  Energy is information that vibrates.  As They Might Be Giants taught my children, there's only one everything.  That means we're part of everything.  That means we're energy.  That means we vibrate.  Each thing not only vibrates, but vibrates at its own particular frequency.  Groups of similar things vibrate at similar frequencies.  The vibration of a thing determines how it's organized into form.  The more complex organisms, like us humans, vibrate at a much higher frequency than, say, a table.  As we vibrate at higher and higher frequencies, we organize ourselves as purer forms of energy.

Too much?  I know, I get excited and I start talking really fast.  So, you ask, if we're all just energy why is there even form at all?  I thought Dr. Sue Morter explained this very well when she said that physical form is compressed energy.  Further, she said "there is no basic element to life, there is only form.  We participate in that with our beliefs and our thoughts".  Oh, snap, it's all going to boil down to that "think positive!" crap that at best is ambiguous and at worst leads to entire company that produces posters of photographs captioned with hollow aphorisms.  No, it's not, mostly because every thought we have is actually perceived by the energy around us as positive, but that's a whole other post. 

What I'm getting at here is this - when our thoughts and emotions (or beliefs, which tend to be emotional at their roots) take a downturn toward things like anger and shame, we begin to vibrate less like the grand expression of form our potential belies, and a lot more like a table.  Or worse - our form takes on elements like anxiety, exhaustion, aches, pains, and eventually disease.  Yes, every ailment has an energetic cause and every treatment  for every ailment, has an energetic response.  As Cyndi Dale states in her book The Subtle Body, "even prescription drugs work energetically, altering vibrations through chemical information that instructs cellular behavior".

Reiki is one of those energetic responses.  It engages our human energy field and attempts to raise the vibrations of its recipients to a level that will express a healthier form.  A healthy human being.  What I see Reiki doing for most people, is compelling a sense of calm.  As a Reiki recipient receives this energy, the physical body can begin to loose its grip, turn off the fight or flight response that is all too frequently aroused in us all.  When that happens, even for brief periods, our internal focus is freed up from high alert for intruders, to deal with the disorganization that is within it.  This is how we are able to heal.  The great thing about Reiki here, is that nothing invasive is required for it to work.  Neither practitioner or recipient are required to know the cause of a problem for the energy to assist in the healing process, which is also nice.  Even before you rush out to get some Reiki, be mindful of how you're feeling emotionally.  When you find yourself stressed, irritable, angry or sad, note it.  See if you can trace the emotion back to its cause or at the very least, observe it in yourself and know that you always have the ability to change that emotion by redirecting your thoughts toward anything that makes you feel any bit better.  Start there, in your quest for your best health.