We're all on a journey. A journey to heal ourselves, to figure out what life is all about, to discover the mysteries. It's a challenging journey with fits and starts, dead-ends, even getting totally lost at times, forgetting where we are and picking ourselves up, asking, "Now where was I before that happened?"
Wouldn't it be nice if someone gave you a guidebook? Or at least a map?
The chakra system is a map for the journey through life. It describes the sacred architecture of the soul, modeled upon the energetic processes in the subtle body, those whirling wheels of life that move your vehicle along its path and make the journey possible. Originating in the Tantric period of yoga philosophy (approximately 500 – 1000 AD), the chakras represent the true yoke of yoga (a word which means union). They are the structure through which we yoke with the divine, right here on this glorious earth, right here in this mortal body, and right now, even as you read these words. They describe the meeting points of mind and body—that energetic interface that is the juicy place where life really happens.
An ancient idea with a new purpose, the chakras are especially important at this time in our world—when our disconnection from the planet threatens our future, when spirituality needs to encompass more than just a disembodied mind, when we are discovering that we are multi-dimensional beings working toward wholeness. Our models then need to encompass that wholeness, by addressing the full spectrum of human possibility—much as the rainbow reflects the full spectrum of light visible to the human eye.
The chakra system, then, is a profound formula for wholeness. That means that if you address your life in each one of these essential areas, you have a good shot at becoming whole. Or at least discovering the recipe to get there.
But how do we get there? Countless traditions through the ages contain equally countless suggestions: meditation, yoga, controlling your breath, performing rituals, uttering prayers or mantras, fasting, going out in the wilderness, dancing, drumming, even sex can be a vehicle for breaking through the muck that normally occupies our consciousness and breaks through to the divine light shining within. But few systems actually diagram the inner temple, just as few systems address the realities of making a living, having relationships, communicating our needs, right along with finding our vision and piercing through to the infinite download of cosmic bliss.
That's why we need an integrated ordering system—just to keep it all in some semblance of order. And just as the spine needs to be properly aligned for maximum health, the chakras, too, need to be aligned, open, and functioning to do their important work properly.
We can look to the old Tantric texts that describe the chakras, and find descriptions from someone who has been there, but nothing in these esoteric writings takes us there directly. In my own work, I have sought to update the chakra system for the modern world of the West (see Wheels of Life for example), and teach essential tools in my workshops (www.SacredCenters.com). But ink on a page, or experiencing an exercise for the first time, only takes you to the appetizer of this great banquet. Often these exercises must be repeated religiously for many years to do the work of dissolving the ego and strengthening the body and mind for the full force of awakening, should you be lucky enough for it to occur.
The chakras are awakened, as the masters describe it, by a powerful force of evolution that moves through the body in a vibrating, serpentine fashion, shaking loose the moorings of our limitations and opening new vistas of realization. This force is described as a Goddess in the form of a serpent, whose name Kundalini-Shakti means the coiled nature of our infinite potential. As a goddess, Kundalini is ever in search of her counterpart, Shiva, the god of limitless consciousness who abides in pure awareness.
In the chakra system, Kundalini-Shakti rises up the spine bringing liberation, and Shiva descends down the spine, bringing grace. You can think of the chakras as those chambers in the temple where Shiva and Shakti like to hang out—whether it's the sixth chakra place of colorful visions, the fifth chakra place of beautiful music and inspiring conversation, the second chakra chamber of erotic bliss, or the heart itself, their place of balance and rest.
Opening the chakras involves allowing the energies to both rise from our roots and descend from the crown simultaneously, channeled through a central column of energy called the sushumna, or in other spiritual traditions, the Axis Mundi, the axis of the world. Through the Axis Mundi, we come into our center; we find balance between mind and body, heaven and earth, spirit and matter, becoming more integrated in all our essential parts. The chakras are also portals between the inner and outer world, balancing the energies that we take in from outside and monitoring the energies we release from our core.
I define a chakra as an "organizational center that receives, assimilates, and expresses life force energy." Just as the chambers in our home are designed for one purpose or another, each of the chakras is designed to handle the input of the physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual world for its assimilation within and its expression without.
The Illuminated Chakras DVD is my attempt to show, rather than just tell, what it may be like to experience the visionary voyage within your own chakra system. Having spent years watching students draw their own chakras in my workshops, having led countless guided meditations and trance journeys, having read the descriptions of the ancient masters, I wanted to give a graphic taste of the incredible splendor of the inner world. All this while still educating the masses about the basic architecture of the chakra system, with its elegant structure of seven energy centers; metaphysical planes; states of consciousness; and archetypal elements of earth, water, fire, air, sound, light, and thought. Sometimes we need to see where we are going in order to get there, and sometimes we just need a map. Seeing both the territory and the map helps us navigate difficult terrain and keeps us on course in our personal and spiritual development.
Experience for yourself the power of this ancient voyage of discovery with this 28-minute open-eyed meditation. Think of it as a visual prayer to the divine within you and the key to a master system that connects us all within one integrated web of life, integrated through seven wheels of life carrying you to your destiny.
Anodea Judith, PhD is the founder and director of Sacred Centers, and a groundbreaking thinker, writer, and spiritual teacher. Her passion for the realization of untapped human potential matches her concern for humanity's ...