Visha = impurity, poison Shuddhi = purification
The Vishuddhi Chakra is located in the vicinity of the Larynx – and is therefore also known as the Throat Chakra. It is a centre of physical and spiritual purification. A story from the Purānas clearly illustrates the immense purificatory power of the Vishuddhi Chakra:
The Devas (gods) and Āsuras (demons) wanted to raise the treasure Amrita (the nectar of immortality), which was hidden in the depths of the ocean, to the surface. They used Mount Mandara as the stirring stick and the world serpent, Vāsuki, as the rope. The gods held the tail of the snake and the demons held its head. In this way they were able to churn the ocean of the world with their combined power. Numerous treasures and precious objects emerged from the ocean and, finally, the longed-for Amrita rose to the surface in a golden vessel.
But the serpent they had used to churn the oceans spat out a deadly poison that was capable of destroying the whole earth. Quickly the Devas caught it in a bowl so it was not able to do any harm. But as they had absolutely no idea what to do with it or how they could permanently “dispose” of it, they turned to Lord Shiva for help.
Lord Shiva is the most gracious of all the gods, and will never refuse a request from anyone. He took the bowl of poison and drank it down to the very last drop. However, in the process he did not swallow the poison but held it in the Vishuddhi Chakra and purified it by means of Ujjāyī Prānāyāma and Jālandhara Bandha . In this way he rid the world of a deadly peril. Through the poison his throat was coloured dark blue, and since that day he has borne the nickname Nīlakantha (the blue-throated one).
There is a deep symbolism in this story. Our own negative thoughts and qualities are the demons; the Devas, however, are our good qualities – understanding, compassion, mercy, love, devotion and wisdom. Both qualities exist within us, just as the nectar of divine wisdom and immortality and the poison of ignorance and earthly mortality exist simultaneously in the world. The ocean of the world propels us in two directions – one towards the Devas, therefore towards goodness and light, and the other towards the destructive powers, the Āsuras. The serpent (Kundalinī) represents both the lifetime that is at our disposal and the power (Shakti) that brings the hidden treasure up from the depths of our inner being.
Nowadays numerous poisons are endangering the world. The destructive influence of humans on this planet increases daily through exhaust fumes, waste, radioactivity, poisonous chemicals and much more. We urgently need the help of Lord Shiva to neutralise these poisons. This means that we humans should become conscious of our divine origin and protect and purify the environment with our “Shiva consciousness”.
If we would like to live in a healthier way, nature must first recover – fields, meadows, forests, rivers, lakes and oceans. This is why Yogis value highly living a healthy lifestyle in harmony with nature and following a vegetarian diet. To live as a vegetarian is an ethical principle, a question of responsibility for all living beings. In the Bible it also says: “Thou shall not kill”; and this commandment does not exempt animals!
With the help of the Vishuddhi Chakra we can rid ourselves of the toxic substances that are absorbed from the environment, as well as mental impurities. An important and life-supporting function of the Chakra is the purification and detoxification of harmful substances that accumulate in the body and primarily come from the food we eat and the air we breathe. This detoxification is brought about by Udāna Prāna, which has its seat in the throat. Udāna Prāna enables us to swallow. The food that is broken down by saliva is purified of toxic substances by this Prāna and is then passed on to the digestive system. An active Vishuddhi Chakra united with a strong Udāna Prāna contributes substantially to the preservation of health.
It is not just the external world that is extremely polluted, but also the psyche and consciousness of many people. For as long as the pernicious, toxic qualities of discord, rivalry, envy and resentment eat away at our mind, the light of God consciousness cannot shine through.
Just as Lord Shiva neither spat the poison out, nor swallowed it, we should not swallow our problems as we harm ourselves through this; but we should also not spit them out as this can cause another type of damage. Like Lord Shiva, who purified the poison in his throat, we can also resolve our problems with the help of the Vishuddhi Chakra.
The Vishuddhi Chakra is a place of purification and balancing. The breath that flows through the throat, and therefore through this Chakra, plays a big role in this. The Yoga technique of Prānāyāma (conscious guidance and regulation of the breath) exerts a strong influence on the Vishuddhi Chakra, at both the physical and astral levels. Through the power of the breath (Prāna Shakti) in the Vishuddhi Chakra harmful residues are removed from the body on a physical level, and in the mental sphere the thoughts emotions, consciousness and subconscious are purified and harmonised.
We gain conscious access to the different levels of consciousness in Self-Inquiry meditation . In the process of self-investigation we come across numerous jewels and pearls within our consciousness, but also old residual issues and insidious poisons.
Remaining with the simile of poison, until we have mastered the Vishuddhi Chakra we have only two possibilities – to either spit out or to swallow the mental poison that penetrates from outside or rises from within.
We spit out hurtful words, mean thoughts and bad behaviour, and swallow bad treatment, insults, doubts and complexes. Both infect our consciousness and subconscious. Numerous psychic disturbances are a result of things we have swallowed. We undergo our first formative experiences in the womb. There are many things we must digest in the course of our life, many things “to swallow”. In childhood we are unable to express many emotions due to fear or helplessness. Much of that which still causes us difficulty today has been bottled up within us from this time. How are we able to cope with the disappointments and insults that we have experienced in the past, particularly in childhood?
Here are three things to think about which may help you with this:
- Trust that every experience in life has its sense and goodness.
- Visualise your situation in those days. You felt yourself dependent, unable to control situations and not free.
- Make yourself aware that you are now grown-up and free, and the situation of those days no longer has validity.
Through such intellectual analysis and realisations we are in a position to rid ourselves of many complexes and fears from the past.
People whose Vishuddhi Chakra is blocked are often blind to their own mistakes and try to lay the blame and responsibility for their unhappiness and misfortune with others.
To blame others for events that plague us is a fundamental mistake. Nothing can strike us that is not found in our Karma; and was therefore caused by us. A bad influence can never harm us unless an allied vibration is resonating within us at the same time. Exactly those qualities that we condemn in others we find also in ourselves. In fact, nothing “bad” in itself exists. It is always concerned with projections that arise from within us.
The sage and poet, Srī Kabīrdās, said:
“I set out to look for a bad person and could not find one anywhere. Then I looked into my own heart and saw no-one worse than myself.”
To recapitulate: Our unconscious is located in the Mūlādhāra Chakra; the subconscious lies in the Svādhishthāna Chakra: the consciousness begins to rise from the Manipūra Chakra; it unfolds in the Anāhata Chakra in order to express and manifest itself in the Vishuddhi Chakra.
In the Anāhata Chakra the consciousness can be compared with a Lotus blossom that has risen above the surface of the water. Just as waves appear on the surface of water when it begins to move, energy manifests as rising “waves of emotion” when it begins to flow. While the Lotus blossom is still beneath the surface of the water it is only slightly affected by the movement of the waves; this means that whilst our energy is oscillating between the Mūlādhāra Chakra and the Anāhata Chakra it is more subconscious than conscious and the waves of our emotions are still not all that violent. Emotions can only expand and grow when there is space, and they find this space in the Anāhata Chakra and the Vishuddhi Chakra.
When the Anāhata Chakra unfolds it is like the melting of a glacier – the consciousness is inundated with emotions. But when the Vishuddhi Chakra begins to loosen up, it is like a breach in a dyke and leads to an emotional flood of immense force. And through this the opportunity is given to finally lay bare the roots of our problems and remove them.
“Problems can only be resolved when one discovers the true cause.”
If one merely cuts a weed and doesn’t pull its roots out, it will immediately grow again. When we raise our problems into the Vishuddhi Chakra we then have the option to encapsulate them and either push them back into the subconscious again or free ourselves from them forever. The final inner healing is only possible through realisation and knowledge (Gyāna).
In the Vishuddhi Chakra we are challenged to reflect on our situation in life and to put the following questions to ourselves: “What do I want to realise? What obstacles need to be overcome to realise this? What problems are confronting me and how can I resolve them?” Through meditation we attain clarity about ourself and our innermost desires and motives. We often prevent the resolution of our problems through our own prejudice and our own fixed or one-sided thinking patterns. Through MANANA (reflection) and meditation we can find possibilities for the resolution of issues that we were unable to discover before.
However, before you dive into the Vishuddhi Chakra, examine yourself honestly as to whether you are really ready to look in the mirror of your own reality.
Many people meditate merely out of curiosity or because they would like to have certain experiences. But if these experiences do not meet their expectations they become uncertain and apprehensive, and sometimes even abandon the practice completely. That is why clarity and confidence in the Master, as well as discipline, are important pillars of support on the spiritual path. We need a “shoulder” that we can lean on in order to rest and gather fresh strength. The most reliable and safest refuge is the ISHTADEVATA, our personally revered divinity, who never abandons us, never disowns us and constantly supports us with never-ending love and patience.
Therefore, do not be afraid and risk the journey of discovery into your own self. Do not shy away from the sediment that appears with a little “stirring” of your psyche. You are that which you would like to experience – you are that which you would like to realise – you are that which you would like to know. You are everything – but you are constantly running away from yourself. Do not allow yourself to be put off by obstacles, or deceive yourself – raise everything from within to the light of consciousness; both nectar and poison. Purify the harmful substances in the Vishuddhi Chakra and realise your beautiful inner powers. Make your life in this world a light in the darkness.
AMRIT, the “nectar of immortality”, has a special relationship with the Vishuddhi Chakra, which in turn is closely connected to the Bindu Chakra . A hormone is produced in the Bindu Chakra that is known as “Amrit” because it supports the preservation of our health, vitality and youthfulness.
But this precious nectar generally drips unused into the Manipūra Chakra where it burns unused in the digestive fire. Through certain Yoga techniques it is possible to catch it in the Vishuddhi Chakra so that it can be distributed like a homeopathic medicine via the tongue and throat and be utilised by the whole body.
The element of the Vishuddhi Chakra is ĀKĀSHA (space). Space opens the possibility for expansion and distribution.
The Vishuddhi Chakra is the seat of the astral body that is able to leave the physical body from the Vishuddhi Chakra. Each of us has made astral journeys. Each night when we dream, a completely spontaneous separation of the astral body from the physical body occurs . But, there is always a fine band of consciousness existing between the astral and physical bodies. This consciousness sees both the dream and the sleeping body and draws the astral body back into the material world in the fraction of a second if there is any external disturbance. How does this happen so quickly? Through Yoga Shakti! It allows us to travel in other spheres of consciousness and brings us back again no matter how far away we are. Many Yogis can astral travel consciously in meditation. But this requires many years of practice, self-control and discipline.
During shocking experiences or psychic illness an occasional unconscious and uncontrolled short-term escape of the astral body can occur. This can trigger identity problems, feelings of anxiety and nervous over-excitement. In such cases it can be helpful to place the hand protectively over the throat, and feel how the physical and astral bodies again come closer to one another.
In India there is an ancient tradition that is still maintained. The dying are laid on the ground to establish the connection with mother earth, and in this way make the detachment of the astral body easier. This makes it possible for the passing away to be a peaceful parting without death throes .
The central symbol of the Vishuddhi Chakra is a peaceful white ELEPHANT. In India the white elephant is regarded as a symbol for luck, wealth, power, wisdom, purity and clarity. Ganesha , the God with the elephant head, is highly respected and worshipped. Ganesha brings happiness, wisdom and prosperity. He protects every new beginning and removes obstacles and difficulties. That is why Lord Ganesha is worshipped first at the start of any venture, be it a religious ceremony, construction of a house, wedding celebration or a stage production.
Words are developed in three stages:
The seat of sound is in the Manipūra Chakra; therefore the origin of speech is in the fire element. Through the energy of fire, sound manifests in the space of the Vishuddhi Chakra, and is articulated as words with the help of the lips (Vaikharī).
The larynx, however, controls words, not the lips or the tongue. This means that if the words are already lying on the tongue then it is too late for them to be controlled. As previously said, the origin of words is in the abdomen, and everything that we have “pushed down” lies there. Therefore we should welcome the emotions that surface, but should be capable of controlling the rising emotions in the throat, which means in the Vishuddhi Chakra, and there are various Yoga exercises and purification techniques for this.
Every thought, every emotion, should be filtered and purified by consciousness and clarity. In the lower Chakras we are led predominantly by our emotions; the real dawning of consciousness begins first in the Vishuddhi Chakra. In this Chakra we begin to articulate our emotions and desires and, at the same time, also learn how to control them.
A saint once said:
“Do not break the ribbon of love because of a triviality. For once torn it is never again one – a knot always remains.”
Such knots, divisions, scars and wounds are endemic within our modern society, in which traditional family and partner relationships are breading down at a growing rate. How can we avoid such wounding? When we forgive, understand and give. Understanding and giving are the two wings of a bird that allows it to fly high into the sky. Understand the feelings, the pain and the life of all living things. Give forgiveness, freedom, clarity, justice, love, devotion, warmth, protection, help and good thoughts.
When we have experienced something that we are inwardly unable to handle, the experience continues to ferment in the subconscious. Until our wisdom is fully developed we are unable to rid ourselves of it. Physical symptoms of a blocked Vishuddhi Chakra are an unnatural reddening of the face, an itchy rash, frequent colds (particularly sore throat and hoarseness), abdominal cramp and digestive problems. Or the Shakti (energy) of the suppressed emotions can express itself explosively at the first opportunity in an outburst of rage or tears.
However, we can learn to manage without “explosions” when we develop patience. The process of maturation in the Vishuddhi Chakra governs the aptitude for patience. Through Prānāyāma and Āsanas that have an effect on the Vishuddhi Chakra we can quieten the thoughts and emotions and bring them into harmony. In this way we protect ourselves from rash actions and prevent our words being like knives or arrows and injuring others.
“The truth should always be spoken with love and not with ‘knives’, because physical wounds that are caused by a knife heal again, whereas those caused by words are very difficult to heal and often remain lifelong (in the subconscious).”
Patanjali said that wise men formulate their words clearly and fully before speaking, and in this way are able to consider the effect of their words. The ability to be aware of words in their place of genesis – the Manipūra Chakra – is very valuable. Words possess a strong power regardless of whether the effect they create is intentional or not. We can seriously harm others and ourselves through words. Therefore, we should speak fewer rather than too many words, and weigh them up in the heart and the Vishuddhi Chakra before we speak. With friends it is easy to find pleasant, beautiful words, but to treat those we do not count as friends with love and friendship is a great virtue and an art. A very effective Sādhana for learning control over words is silence (MAUNA).
All exercises that have an effect on the Vishuddhi Chakra also have a beneficial influence on the voice and speech. Through them our words gain in wisdom and beauty. That is why work on this Chakra is particularly recommended for writers, poets, journalists, teachers, politicians, actors and singers.
VĀK SIDDHI, which bestows a remarkable influential power upon words, is hidden in the Vishuddhi Chakra. With the activation of the Vishuddhi Chakra and practising of the Hatha Yoga technique of TRĀTAKA (concentration on a point), one’s words and glances are given an effective and persuasive power. If someone has developed this special ability then people love to listen to them, and their words become reality.
The colour of the Vishuddhi Chakra is VIOLET, the colour of wisdom and spirituality.
The Lotus blossom in the Vishuddhi Chakra has 16 petals. These represent the sixteen Siddhis (supernatural powers) that a person can acquire through practising Yoga. Altogether there are 24 Siddhis , which include the ability to raise the dead to life. A Divine Incarnation is endowed with these powers from birth . However, these are never used arbitrarily, but always in harmony with the Divine Will. Siddhis can be a great obstacle on the spiritual path if ego and pride develop because of them. Yogis who make a show of their Siddhis very soon lose their yogic power.
The number 16 also refers to the sixteen days it takes for the half-moon to grow into the full moon as another symbol of the Vishuddhi Chakra is the HALF MOON. As already mentioned in earlier chapters the moon denotes emotions, change and the female principle. In the Bhagavad Gita (15/13) the moon is described as “the giver of nectar” as it gives nourishment to vegetation.
The Lotus in the Vishuddhi Chakra carries the Bīja Mantra HAM – I am. SO HAM means “That am I”. In the Anāhata Chakra we frequently indulge in beautiful emotions, whereas in the Vishuddhi Chakra we begin to become conscious of who we really are. It is here that the real journey towards Self-Realisation and Self-knowledge starts.
The Vishuddhi Chakra is the gate through which we are able to raise our consciousness to a higher level. It is the border between the physical and astral levels, between consciousness and superconsciousness. When we cross it the ascent to the realm of wisdom and clarity of consciousness opens up before us.