The chakra system is the great balancer within us. It’s there, waiting for you.
Think of it as a connection flowing between mind, body and soul. When all channels are open and clear the energy flows, bringing us to a state of harmony within. When we interact with the world from this place, we sow seeds of harmony, love and light instead of anger and fear.
Not very long ago, I had no idea what a chakra was, or that serious imbalances and energetic blockages within me were at the root of my behavioral, emotional and physical disorders/dis-eases. Since diving deep into the ancient Sanskrit teachings on balancing and healing these energetic centers, I have become a different person, free from many of the limitations that I lived under for many years.
Here, we will explore and discuss the fourth major chakra—the Anahata or the Heart Chakra. This is the center love, compassion and forgiveness.
In Sanskrit, Anahata means “unhurt, unstuck or unbeaten.”
“In the heart there is a brilliant lotus, endowed with divine glory.” ~ Siva Samhita, 3.1
When to work with Anahata: you struggle with self-love or insecurity; you struggle with compassion for yourself and others; you fear commitment even though you desire a loving partnership; you feel alone and judgmental of everyone, including yourself; you are in grief or have recently lost someone; your behavior is cold and emotionless, or overly-emotional; you would like to be softer and more loving; or you suffer from chronic respiratory problems.
There is a difference between divine love and dependency, one we have forgotten in modern society. We are taught to believe our shallow, immature dependency on another is love, when in fact it is not.
How can we recognize whether our feelings express dependency or genuine love?
- Love brings joy, not sadness.
- Love shows understanding and provokes no arguments.
- Love provides security and makes no demands.
- Love grants freedom and knows no jealousy.
If you find yourself in more dependency than love, work with Anahata.
This chakra is located at heart center, in the middle of the chest, and it encompasses the area of the heart and lungs. Its color is green. It is our link to love and our Higher Self. It serves as the bridge between all that makes us human and all that makes us spiritual and divine. It is so important to work with this energy in order to find a balance between the bodies that make us whole.
Vulnerability is an inherently beautiful aspect of the human experience, yet we often try to suppress this. Here is where we tap into the realization that true strength comes from vulnerability.
This is your center for self-love and love for others—divine, unconditional love and compassion. This is the place which allows you to care. The ability to approach life with divinity and grace, no matter what arises, flows from this chakra. It governs patience, joy, purity and clarity. If you suffer from unresolved or suppressed emotions this can lead to imbalances here. Traumas such as painful separations or losses, emotional suppression, or being raised in a family that didn’t approve of emotional displays, often manifest in distorted heart chakra energy.
Are you controlled by your emotions?
Positive aspects of Anahata manifest in your ability to experience love and compassion in life, as well as your ability and willingness to be vulnerable, forgive, empathize, cut others a break, accept flaws as human and beautiful, and truly connect with others. The need to judge others and self may indicate deficient or blocked Anahata energy.
Negative aspects include resentment, clinginess, jealousy, passiveness, depression or attachment issues. If you struggle to feel divinely connected to yourself and the world, this may indicate deficiencies or blockages here. Do you find yourself in codependent relationships? Do you find yourself being insecure, clingy, needy and possessive in relationships? Or the opposite, cold-hearted and indifferent? Do you hold on to grudges and hurts? Do you find yourself discontent and blaming others for everything? Do you constantly judge yourself harshly? Do you constantly feel lonely and isolated?
Anahata strongly relates to emotional balance. This chakra is a powerful link between our intellect and emotions. It governs the ability to observe and process an experience without getting emotionally caught up and reacting; the ability to observe without drama. When this chakra is unbalanced, it manifests in bitterness, sorrow, callous or cold demeanor, and sadness. It governs our ability to express mature, healthy, unselfish love. It maintains the flow of energy upward and downward—it transmutes our higher vibrations from the higher chakras into grosser form so they can manifest in our behaviors. It also regulates the upward flow, helping us to raise the vibration of grosser, dense emotions, such as anger, sadness and fear, so they can be expressed and released in a healthy and balanced manner.
This chakra’s element is Air, its color green, its sense touch, its organ the heart and lungs, and its planet Venus.
It directs all things Air, and because of this it also governs the skin, hands and fingers. Imbalances may manifest as heartburn, cardiac problems, breathing problems, lack of energy, stinginess, chronic bronchitis, asthma, or pneumonia. It governs the thymus, as well as physical contact feelings and hand related activities. It is in charge of the minor chakras in the hands.
The mudra (I use chin mudra) calls for thumb and index finger connected in an “O,” with the other three fingers folded into a fist in the palm and the backs the hands resting on your knees. Chin mudra invites calmness.
To begin a chakra meditation practice, start simple:
- Sit down cross-legged, or lie down.
- Start your breath work to become still and present. If you use stones, green aventurine, chrysoprase, rose quartz or rhodochrosite are great for opening and healing Anahata. Any green or pink stones will resonate here.
- Begin to focus and visualize your breath traveling to your chest as you picture the color green.
- Take at least five deep, cleaning breaths that you send to your chakra. Breathe in slowly to 10, hold for 10, breathe out slowly for 10. (Start with five seconds if needed.)
- As you breathe, picture the breath cleansing your chakra. Picture the spinning disc of green energy, glowing cleaner and brighter with each breath you take. See it. Let it show its shape to you. Feel the old hurts and traumas floating away with each breath.
- Visualize your heart as a great big green rosebud and then see it unfolding—opening up to love. Let the feelings that flow from it radiate throughout your body. You are safe and you are okay.
- Use a mantra as you breathe in and out. “I am divine and I am a perfect embodiment of love.” “I can forgive all who have wronged me.” “I love myself and I forgive myself, I am as I am meant to be.” ” I can love myself and others, as I am them and they are me.”
- Practice maitri or loving-kindness meditation, mentally saying, “May I be happy, may I be healthy and free of dis-ease. May I live life with ease.” Start here with self-healing, then move on to others you care for. Replace I with their name. Now bring to mind someone you know whom may be struggling and say it for them. Last bring to mind someone whom you are angry with and needs forgiving. Repeat it for them as well. Practice this.
- Picture a beautiful loving space. Whatever that looks like for you. See it. Feel how it envelopes and holds you close, in love and in forgiveness. Feel it wiping away all the wounds and harsh judgements.
- Flow through yoga asanas geared toward this chakra—heart openers. Urdhva-mukhaswanasana (Up Dog), Ustrasana (Camel Pose) Dhanruasana (Bow Pose), Gomukhasana (Cow’s Head Pose).
- Don’t rush through, but rather practice the asanas, to build your feelings of stability and strength in them. It’s all about finding the best version of the pose for you, at any given moment. Holding and breathing into the asanas is where the magic happens.
So much of our inability to let go and move on in life stems from Heart Chakra imbalances. We get stuck living in the past because we cannot move on. This is often because the flow of energy is disrupted here, and we cling to everything long gone. I felt rejected and abandoned as a child, so I suffered well into my 30s before I reopened my heart and was able to unselfishly love again. Now I dwell in this beautiful place of love, compassion and forgiveness. And it starts with me! Once upon a time I could not forgive anyone or anything. I was hateful and angry. Now I have freedom. True freedom.
The goal of working with Anahata is to establish a healthy balance of emotions and spiritual living. To be able to love divinely and unselfishly, and to forgive others as well as ourselves. In a sense it’s to live divinely. Not to mention working with Ananhata will vastly improve sexual intimacy!
Keep in mind, this is meant to be a beginner practice. Chakra work is something that goes deep within, tapping into an infinite source of ancient connectivity. If you quiet yourself, your chakra will tell you what it needs. Believe it or not, they will work to heal themselves once you start giving them the energy and attention to do so.
Many of our problems occur because, like a wheel, one spoke out of alignment results in a flat tire. When all chakras are open and running in a balanced state we find harmony within our mind, body and soul. Remember—have fun!
I would love to answer any questions or comments below! I look forward to hearing about your chakra work.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Editor: Emily Bartran