What are Chakras?
Chakra is a Sanskrit word used to denote energy and focal centers used in mystical spiritual and religious traditions from ancient Tantric Hindu and Buddhist meditative practices to modern new age paths. Depending on the tradition, there are practices that offer visualizations for three, four, five, six, seven, and even hundreds and thousands of wheels, cycles, or circles that symbolize the rotation and flow of energy in and around the central and two parallel channels of the body. Different texts and teachings will provide different instructions for chakra work that are replete with mantras, visualizations, and teach methods for manipulating the flow of energy through breath exercises, hand positions or mudras, bandhas or physical positions that lock the energy in place, and working with the elements of space, air, fire, water, and earth. Many of these practices are handed down from teacher to student and will not make sense unless taken in the context of the individual’s path of transformation. In other words, there is no one chakra system, nor is there one way of working with or experiencing the chakras.
Several cultures and healing traditions, including Islamic Sufis, tantric lineages within Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism, medicine paths of South America and Native North America, utilize systems of chakra mapping. Chakras, or cakkas, in Tibetan Buddhist systems, can mean cycles of rebirth, the spinning wheel of the eight-fold Buddhist path, or as a completion stage practice where subtle winds, or energy, are brought into the central channel in order to realize the luminous nature or clear light of emptiness.
This luminous nature is inherent in each of us but is clouded or obscured by patterns of conditioning that arise in response to early meanings, beliefs and behaviors. These early meanings and beliefs and behaviors become the cause of great suffering in life. They are responsible for your individual perceptions of discontent and pain; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. These early patterns are expressed as self-beliefs that you are, “not good enough”, “not smart enough”, “not successful enough”, “not beautiful enough”, “not deserving or worthy”, etc. They lead to cravings and attachments to what you think will make you happy, but find out that the happiness bought through material purchases, people, experiences, and education are fleeting at best.
Chakra Mapping for Healing Trauma
The chakra system that is most familiar to westerners is Hindu in origin and was brought to the West by English author Sir John George Woodroffe, (who wrote under the pseudonym Arthur Avalon), via his book, Serpent Power, which was first published in 1919. Because it is the system most recognized by western practitioners of yoga, meditation and healing traditions in the west, this is the one I will use as the framework for mapping the impact of trauma on the body, mind, heart, and spirit and for providing a pathway to healing and self-mastery. We will use the seven-chakra system, with the colors of the rainbow (these were added after Woodroffe’s work) and locations along the spine that correspond with various organ systems and the nervous systems in your body. The goal of this article, the Autoimmune Brain Summit, and the Healing Trauma Through the Chakra System program is to return you to your luminous nature, to free you from the early patterns that were created that now obscure your clear light and cause you suffering and pain; be that physical disease such as autoimmunity, obesity, or cancer, mental anguish such as depression and anxiety, emotional reactivity such as anger, sadness, or fear, or the spiritual despair that appears when the impermanence of life reveals itself as loss, change, aging and death.
Ultimately, as you are moving through the layers of healing your trauma, I will encourage you to finally relinquish the construct of this chakra system as “the right one”, and to feel into your own energy field, body systems, and mental and emotional states and know the chakras as doorways to your own inner experience of growth and evolution. They are a way of focusing your attention and portals of self-discovery and mastery only.
We can use the chakra system for “tracking” the impact of early patterns that are the result of trauma, neglect, and abandonment by using functional medicine laboratory testing to check the health of the corresponding organ and hormonal systems, bringing awareness to your mental beliefs, checking in on the developmental milestones that are associated with each energy center of the body, and using what I call the seven wheels of wellness to organize your healing. I suggest functional medical testing as we go because we want to continually bring the emotional and mental layers into coherence with the physical body, which is done through communication of the energy body between emotions and body. When I train integrative medicine health coaches and work with my patients, I tell them that we are doing medical detective work when we are engaged in solving their puzzle of suffering. The laboratory testing I recommend is one more data point that helps to complete the puzzle in your physical layer. What do I mean by the term “physical layer?”
The Five Layers of You
Traditional (also called indigenous or folk) systems of medicine developed within cultures over generations as practices for the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual disease, and included the skills and knowledge needed for maintenance of health on all of these levels too. There was no separation of body from mind and spirit. Each being is recognized in the entirety of their wholeness. Examples of these systems of healing are Ayurvedic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture, Qi Gong, homeopathy, African folk medicine, Bush medicine, herbology, Curandero Faith healing, Iranian Jamu Kambo, Japanese energy healing (Reiki), Mien Shiang, Mongolian Prophetic medicine, Shamanism, Shiatsu, Sri Lankan Hela Wedakama, Thai massage, Tibetan, Yunani, and many more. I’d like to focus on the Ayurvedic system of “layers” and how they interact with the chakra system as a way of creating a clear map for you to follow as you track your own imbalances in order to create healing in the entirety of your being.
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of healing from India that is the sister science of yoga, jyotish (Vedic astrology) and vastu (how to heal through your environment). This book is not about Ayurveda. However, Ayurvedic medicine provides an elegant and easy-to-use framework for understanding your body and its feedback and how trauma gets lodged into the physical body as disease, impacts genetic expression, creates nervous system reactivity patterns, and causes despair on emotional, mental and spiritual levels. For this reason, I use Ayurveda in my practice. The whole of you is illustrated in the framework of the pancha koshas.
The Pancha Koshas
According to Ayurveda, you are made up of 5 layers, or sheaths. In other words, you are more than just your physical body. These layers are called the pancha koshas, or five sheaths (see figure).
A simplified version of the five layers is:
- The physical body (including organs, cells, genetics, and body systems), or the one we feed, water, and take for walks.
- The energy body, also referred to as chi in Chinese medicine, prana in yoga practice, and the electromagnetic energy field in Western science.
- The emotional and mental body, or the layer of you that perceives, feels, and remembers.
- The wisdom or knowledge body, or the layer of you that discriminates, holds to values, has integrity, and intuits. This and your spiritual layer are known as your “True Self.”
- The bliss body, or your access portal to God, the Divine Spark within and without, universal consciousness.
A simplified version of the five layers is:
Notice in the figure that the physical body is linked to the emotional and mental body by the energy body. In other words, your emotions will trigger your nervous system, which then connects to your physical layers, affecting your genetic expression, digestion, and organ and body systems. It is said in Ayurvedic medicine that you have 72,000 channels that connect your emotional and mental layers to your physical layers via, you guessed it, your chakra system. The chakra system is located along your central channel, which is loosely correlated with your spinal column, and is part of the two channels that run alongside your central channel, creating knots above and below certain chakras along the way. According to Buddhist teachings, the process of physical death (or intense spiritual practices) unties these knots and allows the subtle “winds” or energy that circulate and hold the layers of your consciousness together, to enter the central channel before finally leaving when the process of physical death is complete.
Because the chakra system connects all of the five layers or koshas of you together, it provides a useful mapping tool for tracking the impact of early trauma on your physical body.
The chakra system is the energy body that allows us to take a closer look at how early childhood events can create long-term physical disease, mental, emotional and spiritual despair, and imbalances in the chakra system and in your pancha koshas.
To learn more about healing with chakras, please go here: https://www.drkeesha.com/chakra
To learn more about the Autoimmune Brain Summit, please go here: https://reverseautoimmunesummit.com/