By Suma Varughese and Jamuna Rangachari May 2010 Located within our astral body are seven vortices of energy called chakras that hold the secret of our emotional, mental, and spiritual maturity. Through balancing the chakras and the energy needs they represent, we grow until we attain enlightenment CHECK YOUR GROWTH GRAPHMooladhara: How secure are you?How often have you felt distraught at an imagined future event? a) Often b) Sometimes c) Rarely d) Never Do you worry about the way your body looks? a) Often b) Sometimes c) Rarely d) Never Do current negative happenings like the recession, terrorism and calamities upset your sense of equilibrium? a) Often b) Sometimes c) Rarely d) Never Swadisthana – How comfortable are you with your emotions?Does worrying about calories stop you from eating wholesome food comfortably ? a) Often b) Sometimes c) Rarely d) Never Do you struggle with feelings of guilt regarding your sexuality? a) Often b) Sometimes c) Rarely d) Never Does media coverage of excessive indulgence irritate you? a) Often b) Sometimes c) Rarely d) Never Manipura: Are you confident about your abilities?Do you worry about your job whenever a new entrant arrives in the office and is seen to be handling many things you used to? a) Oftenb) Sometimesc) Rarelyd) Never Does change unnerve you? a) Oftenb) Sometimesc) Rarelyd) Never Do you worry about your ability to handle a situation? a) Oftenb) Sometimes c) Rarelyd) Never Anahata: Do you reach out in love to others?Do you often feel irritated and not very compassionate towards people with faults? a) Oftenb) Sometimes c) Rarelyd) Never Do past hurts often haunt you and leave you feeling bitter? a) Oftenb) Sometimes c) Rarelyd) Never Do small misunderstandings come in the way of your long-term relationships? a) Oftenb) Sometimes c) Rarelyd) Never Visudha: Are you a good communicator?Do you often miss the point in a conversation? a) Oftenb) Sometimes c) Rarelyd) Never Do you sometimes fail to communicate what you really want to say?a) Oftenb) Sometimes c) Rarelyd) Never Do you feel sad that you did not speak when you wanted to?a) Oftenb) Sometimes c) Rarelyd) Never Ajna: Is your intuition well-defined?Have you regretted not listening to a gut feeling about a situation? a) Oftenb) Sometimes c) Rarelyd) Never Are you receptive to your intuition? a) Oftenb) Sometimes c) Rarelyd) Never Do problems without predefined solutions leave you feeling helpless? a) Oftenb) Sometimes c) Rarelyd) Never Sahashara: Are you moving towards wisdom?Do other ways of thinking or being make you feel uncomfortable? a) Oftenb) Sometimes c) Rarelyd) Never Do other societies make you feel uncomfortable? a) Oftenb) Sometimesc) Rarelyd) Never Do you feel directionless? a) Oftenb) Sometimes c) Rarelyd) Never Answers: ‘a’ = not balanced in this chakra; ‘b’ = moderately balanced in this chakra; ‘c’ = well balanced in this chakra; d’ = excellent development of this chakra. I have all these wonderful insights about unconditional love and focusing on the happiness of others, but I am unable to put them into practice because I feel very hurt by what others say and do. I cannot go beyond my own feelings,” says an ardent seeker. “I would love to have a lasting relationship with a woman but I cannot seem to stop having casual flings with whoever comes my way,” rues a 30-something man. “I am deeply unhappy at work because I cannot assert my authority over my subordinates, who take advantage of me and do not follow my orders,” says a meek looking Arati Shedde (name changed), a manager in a bank. All of us are hobbled by emotional and psychological issues that come in the way of our furthur growth. That is common knowledge. What is not is that we have an inbuilt system that tabulates our progress and also enables us to overcome them. We are talking about the ancient Indian body of knowledge called the chakra system. For those unfamiliar with the concept, chakras (meaning wheel or disc in Sanskrit) are energy centres that run from the base of the spine to the top, or crown, of the head. Although they are part of a subtle energy system networking the body with nearly 72,000 junctions, there are seven major chakras, each a circular wheel of light spinning in the energetic system, associated with certain body parts, a colour, element, and function. Chakras are located in our auric body and are therefore invisible at the physical realm. Thousands of sages, however, have testified to their existence when in a higher level of consciousness. The common understanding of the chakra system is that it is the path of ascension of the kundalini energy, and that invoking this energy will enable us to attain enlightenment. This is one approach. The other more profound approach is to work on our psychological and emotional issues in such a way that the chakra naturally opens and the kundalini ascends. This is the path advocated by most teachers and the chakra system is well-equipped to play this role because each chakra is the centre of one of our fundamental emotional and psychological needs. Starting from the bottom up, these needs form a hierarchy somewhat like the Maslowian Hierarchy of Needs which says that man needs to fulfil fundamental needs like food and clothing before he can go on to higher needs such as for self-esteem and ultimately for self-actualisation. The chakra system too starts with a basic need and each successive chakra represents a progressively higher or rarefied need. The first is the mooladhara or root chakra which centres around the need for security. The second is the swadisthana which focuses on the need for pleasure. The third is the manipura or the solar plexus chakra which focuses on the need for power. The fourth is the anahata or the heart chakra, which deals with the need for love and connection. The fifth is the vishudha or throat chakra which stands for the need to communicate. It is alternatively recognised as standing for the need for acceptance. The sixth is the ajna which is oriented around intuition. And the seventh is the big one, sahashara chakra, standing for oneness or self-transcendence. Our spiritual progress can be tabulated by our capacity to meet each of these needs successfully and in the process balance the chakras. Security “I am so scared now, Amma. I don’t want to go there,” said Jamuna’s daughter, Samyukta, after the family moved back to Colaba again recently. She had been there earlier and Jamuna had thought she would be thrilled at the move. Alas, we often don’t know when and where insecurity can strike. Her appetite became erratic, she was not able to concentrate or even watch a movie in peace. Fortunately, after a couple of weeks, she re-established bonds with her old friends and voila, her confidence, appetite and joie-de-vivre returned. “When I left a stable and very prestigious job to join a start-up magazine of my liking, I experienced major bouts of insecurity,” says Uma Ganesh, a Mumbai-based writer. “I didn’t miss the power or the prestige or the fame associated with my job. But I did miss the security of getting a monthly salary on time.” “My son doesn’t need me anymore. I have no motivation to continue here,” my friend Vyjayanthi said, a few months after her son got married to a lovely girl she had, in fact, liked very much prior to the marriage. Fortunately, her aunt counselled her to understand how important it was for her to continue cherishing her new role and play it without acrimony, giving her own example of being the matriarch in a big family. Fortunately, within a few weeks, Vyjayanthi’s whole perspective changed, and a wonderful new bond was established between her and her daughter-in-law. The need for security and stability is a core need, the foundation upon which to build a happy, successful and useful life. The sight of a child lost in a marketplace or fair and piteously wailing for its mother is a graphic picture of the vital need for security in each of our lives. Only a deep and strong sense of stability can enable us to explore our facets, take risks and uncover our potential. The mooladhara chakra also known as the root chakra, which is the conduit for our experience of security is located at the perineum, between the anus and the genitals. Security and stability stem from strong and secure family relationships, finance, health, and a relationship with God. Strong and clear-cut value systems that guide decision-making are also a source of stability and so too is self-esteem. “Security issues can be about any aspect of life – money, career, relationships. It can be amazing that people can be very secure in one area and extremely insecure about another area. For example a person could feel very secure about money and very insecure about relationships or vice versa,” says Ameeta Shah, a psychotherapist from Mumbai. She shares a case she dealt with where a client grew up feeling he could not measure up to his family’s standards for academic results, career choice and money making capacity as he chose graphic designing while his entire family was in the medical profession. His sense of inadequacy crippled his confidence and impacted not just his career but his relationships with his family and himself. The virtue of stability can anchor us through all the vicissitudes of life, enabling us to spring back each time life sends us a googly. “When I separated from my husband because of his alcoholism and went back to my parental home, I moped around for a couple of months,” says Meenakshi, a nurse. “But then I thought to myself that life is fleeting and it was pointless being unhappy about something I was not to blame for, so I decided to enjoy living,” she s
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