Monday, October 21, 2013

What's Your Favorite Chakra?

Last night, I was at a potluck dinner hosted weekly by some yoga friends of mine.  Not long after my arrival, one of my friends pointed out my nail polish (mostly orange with two fingers done in black, partly for the proximity to Halloween and partly in support of the Detroit Tigers who had just lost in the American League Championship Series to the Boston Red Sox) and then to her boyfriend's nails which were also painted in a wide variety of colors.  I joked that when I selected nail color, especially for pedicures which I routinely get once a month during the summer months, I liked to pick the color that best represents which chakra I'm most focused on at the time.  Another yogi in the circle piped in, "The chakras have colors??" which launched the rest of us into a miniature tizzy.  Do the chakras have colors?  What yogi doesn't know about this?

Of course, it's perfectly reasonable for even the most dedicated yogi to know next to nothing about the chakra system.  It goes beyond the scope of the asana practice and is rooted more deeply in the meditative or philosophical considerations of a yogic lifestyle.  "Well, then, what does my favorite color say about me?" asked the man with the multicolored nails.  He found three yoginis staring back at him.  "Well, it could mean everything," I said with a wink.

Chakras are believed to be energetic centers in the body that correlate with different levels and states of being en route to enlightenment and work together to create your overall aura.  Traveling from the base of the spine up through the crown of the head, these seven stopping points work like a prism with the root lock being associated with the color red up through violet at the crown of your head.  Each chakra represents a different step along the road to self-realization, which is the ultimate goal of a strong, meditative practice.  If your chakras are in order, you can achieve your highest possible level of personal satisfaction -- when they're out of wack, that's when you feel "off" or unsettled.  Traditionally, it is thought that the journey is an upward one -- if your root chakra is balanced, then you can work on your spleen and so on and so forth.  And as one of the yoginis pointed out last night, if your throat chakra (your communication center) feels off, it may be best suited to work on your heart chakra which is directly beneath it as a way of fueling energy upward to balance what has gone awry.  

All of this is fancy talk, I know.  And it, like most everything, is to be taken with a grain of salt. I am tongue and cheek when I say I pick my nail color to help me work on or emphasize a specific chakra.  But I also do sometimes honestly make what would otherwise by an arbitrary selection that way.  Right now, my nails are black and orange for festive reasons, but this summer I specifically painted my nails green when I wanted to focus on my heart chakra and I own multiple shades of purple to use when I'm in need of some enlightenment.  Plus, I just like having my nails done and it can make for an interesting conversation topic if it ties into something potentially wack-a-doo like the chakra system.

For those of you who are less familiar with all of this, let me break down the basics: 

 Root (or Base) – Muladhara – Red

  • Base of the spine
  • Survival, the right to exist.  Vitality, grounding reality, stability, sexuality, courage, impulsiveness.  Deals with tasks related to the physical world.  Ability to stand up for one’s self and security issues
  • The Root chakra is your main power station and it is connected to your physical vitality and endurance, mental perseverance and it is the center that gives you your life’s passion. The root center is also your connection to your existence

Spleen – Svadisthana -- Orange

  • Below navel/lower navel
  • Feelings/the right to feel.  Connected to our sensing abilities and issues related to feelings.  Ability to be social.  Intimacy issues.  Procreation, sensuality, confidence, freedom.
  • The Spleen chakra is your sensing power station, connecting you to your feeling sensitivities. It is the center that allows you to live consciously, in the "now." The spleen center is also the link to your enthusiasm, happiness and joy—your inner-child.

Solar Plexus – Manipura – Yellow

  • Above navel/stomach area
  • Personal power/right to think.  Balance of intellect, self-confidence and ego power.  Ability to have self-control and a sense of humor. Mental clarity, optimism, curiosity.
  • The Yellow chakra is your mental awareness, which connects you to your mind power. It is the center that governs your ability to learn and comprehend. The solar plexus center is known to govern your ego and your will power. It is the sun center that emits optimism and confidence. 

Heart – Anahata – Green

  • Center of the chest
  • Relationships – the right to love.  Love, forgiveness, compassion.  Ability to have self-control.  Acceptance of one’s self.  Harmony, peace, renewal, and growth.
  • The Green chakra is your heart power station, connecting you to your emotions. It is the center that allows you to love and give unconditionally. The heart center governs your relationships. It is the energy center that integrates one's physical reality to one's spiritual connection.

Throat – Visuddha – Blue

  • Throat
  • Relationships.  The right to speak.  Learning to express one’s self and one’s beliefs ( truthful expression).  Ability to trust.  Loyalty.  Organization and planning.  Creativity, expression.
  • The Blue chakra is your communication power station. It is the center that handles incoming and outgoing messages. It is through this center that we voice our opinions and our truths.
 Brow or Third Eye – Anja – Indigo
  • Forehead/between the eyes
  • Intuition.  The right to “see.”  Trusting one’s intuitions and insights.  Developing one’s psychic abilities.  Self-realization.  Releasing hidden and repressed negative thoughts.
  • The Indigo chakra is your intuitive intelligence. It is the center that taps into the universal consciousness. Through the third-eye you can see things from a psychic potential.
 Crown – Sahasrara – Violet
  • Top of the head
  • Knowingness.  The right to aspire.  Charisma.  Dedication to the divine consciousness and trusting the universe.  Learning about one’s spirituality.  Our connection to “God” or a higher intelligence.  Integrating consciousness and unconsciousness into superconsciousness.
  • The Violet chakra is your spiritual connection. This chakra links you to the cosmos so you can reach your higher potential. It is the energy of knowingness and enlightenment.
Try this guided Chakra Meditation:

Dedication Yoga-to-Go

So, yes, maybe your favorite color does have something to say about you.  Look at what that color's energy represents and see if it doesn't tie into something you are exceptionally strong in or have a particular relationship with.  Let's use me as an example, shall we?  My favorite colors are Green, Yellow, Orange, and Blue in that order.

This is love.  This is belonging.  This is what is unconditional.  This is what gives us peace and strength of mind.  Green attracts me, it stands out.  I gravitate towards this color in pretty much every shade it comes in.  As a counterpoint, my eyes are hazel and mostly appear green, so it's a color I look good wearing as well.  I find it interesting that "geniuses pick green" as their favorite color more often than any other (this is true and not just a line from Meet the Parents) given that its strong tie is something so emotionally and intuitively based.  You can't measure or quantify love -- it's elusive and strange and so often out of our immediate control.  The heart wants what the heart wants, right?  It's no wonder it's the color of jealousy as well!  We use our other senses to add a measure of sanity or realism to some of the heart's odd or unattainable requests, but sometimes even that best outcome is to quiet the noise of our heartbeat.  Nothing is more important to me than love (sharing it, finding it, keeping it) and the community, commitment, family, and sense of belonging that is built with that.  This is also an area where, admittedly, I struggle.  But I try and I want and I give and I do my best to receive -- which, for me, is actually the most difficult part.  Green is my favorite color and its chakra tie is, no pun intended, near and dear to my heart.

This is what it means to have an opinion.  This is what it means to consider the consequences.  This is what it means to be an active thinker and a learner.  I am a lifelong student who misses the structure of a curriculum and a classroom but who still finds ways and means to further expand my knowledge base.  My best friends are people who are intelligent and interested in debates and discussions about everything from nuclear physics to the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez to classic rock to baseball to online dating and beyond.  I want my opinions to be challenged almost as much as I want my challenges to other's opinions to be heard and considered without outright dismissal.  Intelligence is hungry for this -- I am hungry for it, too.  Yellow is the color of the sun, of warmth, of a new day -- yellow is the color of an awake mind and its symbolism is one I incorporate into my daily life.

This is a chakra tied into awakenings.  It's the reproductive center -- it's your core desire.  It's where you come into your own.  It's more base than, say, the heart chakra because it's less intellectual and more gut-level, but achieving balance here only heightens the productivity of the green chakra once the orange one has been stabilized.  Like most of the chakras, it works in tandem with the others the same way that taking Algebra I will better inform you to be prepared for Algebra II then if you'd skipped the introduction.  This is another color I wear well, so people tell me, and it's an endearing favorite of mine because my younger brother loves it, though he pronounces it "oranch."  Finding security in the orange chakra is a necessary evil since we are here to reproduce but our ultimate knowledge of what that means can be stunting.  If I have been jilted in the past or taught not to trust because my emotions were disregarded or trivialized, then it makes forming partnerships anywhere from difficult to nearly impossible.  If I have been shown a great deal of respect and trust and empowerment by those trying to establish a meaningful connection with me, then that is, in the absence of a straight up betrayal, an unbreakable bond.  This is Freud's playground, right here.  If he were around to comment, I'm certain he'd say there was no other color but orange -- none that mattered, anyway.  

And finally -- BLUE = VOICE
Being heard.  Being understood.  Being recognized as a thinking person with a viewpoint.  This is the throat chakra.  As a writer, it is understandable (and likely goes without saying) how important this one is.  Interestingly, from an astrological standpoint, I am diagnosed as being someone who is frequently misunderstood because my mode of communication is, well, quirky.  I am prone to rambling.  Even worse, I am prone to rambling metaphors.  I know what I mean and am easily frustrated by people who don't and overly endeared by those who always understand right away.  There are a handful of people who get me and for them I am very grateful.  Maybe this is why I write, also -- it's easier to be editorial and succinct and articulate with an eraser in hand, less so when speaking out loud in a series of nonsequitors that totally fire and connect in my brain but are often confusing for people who are "new" -- and even some who've been around a long time.  I see complicated connections everywhere that enhance the meaning of a situation to me and sometimes that's lost in the translation when I try and communicate such information to others.  I actively work on thinking before I speak, or at the very least finishing one metaphor before I roll over into another one.  Hey, all I can do is try, right?

Of course, I could associate parts of myself with all of the points and their corresponding colors in the chakra system.  All of you, could, too.  So maybe it's not any more important then your astrological sign, but it's something to consider.  Why not?  Worst case scenario, you'll achieve nirvana.

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