Cosmic energy is constantly flowing all around us, into us and through us. But with our normal everyday consciousness we do not notice this stream of energy. Therefore we are unable to either utilise it or store it.
As previously explained, the main Nādīs, Idā and Pingalā, run along the spinal column in a curved path and cross one another several times. At the points of intersection they come into contact with the divine energy of the Sushumnā Nādī forming strong energy centres known as Chakras.
CHAKRA means “wheel” or “turning”. A Chakra operates like a powerhouse in the way it generates and stores energy, with energy from the cosmos pulled in more strongly at these points. The drain of a bathtub can be used to illustrate how the Chakras work. When the plug is removed from a bathtub full of water the water is sucked into the drainpipe, and the rotating water forms a vortex. This is how a Chakra functions. In the same way as water being sucked into a drainpipe forms a whirlpool, cosmic energy is drawn into the Chakras in a circular motion and guided towards the next point of intersection. This cosmic radiation influences and guides our feelings, thoughts and qualities according to our spiritual and karmic susceptibility.
In the human body there are three types of energy centres. The lower (or animal) Chakras (PASHUCHAKRAS) are located in the region between the toes and the pelvic region indicating our evolutionary origins in the animal kingdom. The human Chakras (VĪRACHAKRAS) lie along the spinal column. Finally, the higher or “divine” Chakras (DAIVIKA CHAKRAS) are found between the top of the spine and the crown of the head. The goal of meditation and Kriyā practice is the awakening of these Chakras.
There are eight main Chakras:
- MŪLĀDHĀRA CHAKRA – Root Centre
- SVĀDHISHTĀNA CHAKRA – Sacral Centre
- MANIPŪRA CHAKRA – Solar Plexus
- ANĀHATA CHAKRA – Heart Centre
- VISHUDDHI CHAKRA – Throat Centre
- ĀGYĀ CHAKRA – Eyebrow Centre
- BINDU CHAKRA – Moon Centre
- SAHASRĀRA CHAKRA – Door of Liberation or Crown Centre
Each of these Chakras is connected to certain qualities. Everyone experiences different feelings in the Chakras and has completely individual impressions and images in meditation. For example, one person has most of their experiences in the Manipūra Chakra, while another person meditates best on the Anāhata Chakra, and another feels the Āgyā Chakra more strongly.
The Chakras work on several levels and aspects of our existence. Important glands and nerve nodes are located within the area of the main Chakras and as we open and harmonise the Chakras with breathing exercises, meditation, āsanas and the repetition of Mantra we also influence and balance the physical functions associated with them.
The first five Chakras are connected with the five elements from which the body is assembled: Earth (Mūlādhāra Chakra), Water (Svādhishthana Chakra), Fire (Manipūra Chakra), Air (Anāhata Chakra) and Space (Vishuddhi Chakra). The earth element forms the bones, the water element bodily fluids such as blood and lymph, the air element regulates the respiratory system, the fire element the digestion and body warmth, and the space element creates the cavities within the body.
The second level of influence of the Chakras is the mental sphere. Chakras are astral energy centres through which energy can be received, but can also be lost. With unhealthy nourishment, incorrect practices, bad company and negative thinking the direction of the rotation of the Chakras can change; and in this way we lose energy, which can result in illness and psychic disturbances.
With some practice you can learn to feel with your hand whether the Chakras are turning in the right direction, namely to the right. If you are unable to feel this you can practise the following exercise once a month. Place the right hand about one centimetre above the point where a Chakra is located and make a clockwise circling movement with the hand for about three to four minutes. This exercise does not have to be carried out on all Chakras at the same time; one Chakra per day can be treated in this way. Through this practice you can be sure that the Chakras will always turn in the right direction.
The third area of influence of the Chakras is spiritual. At the spiritual level we attain wisdom and self-knowledge. The Mūlādhāra Chakra, Manipūra Chakra and Vishuddhi Chakra are the key stations in which spiritual awakening begins. But this can occur in any Chakra. The divine Self can manifest in any Chakra that is opened and purified.
Purification of the Nādīs and Chakras means to develop their sensitivity and ability to absorb. That is why we gradually become more sensitive through the regular practice of Yoga. At the beginning certain emotions can also become stronger depending upon our predisposition. But all of these phenomena are only temporary and disappear when the wisdom of the Kundalinī awakens. Because when the light shines the curtain of darkness immediately disappears.
Through Yoga practices such as Prānāyāma , Meditation and Kriyās, Idā and Pingalā – emotion and consciousness – are purified and brought into balance, and eventually the energy flows upwards along the Sushumnā Nādī to the Sahasrāra Chakra. As this happens we enter into union with the divine consciousness and “enlightenment” occurs.