Chakras are energy centers within the human body that help to regulate the body’s processes, such as organ function, the immune system and our emotions. According to Indian philosophy, we have seven chakras that run from the base of our spines to the crown of our heads, with each chakra responsible for specific bodily functions.
(Tip: Pronounce the ‘ch’ in ‘chakra’ the same way you would the ‘ch’ in ‘chocolate’.)
The heart chakra, or anahata as it’s called in Sanskrit, sits at the center of the chest. Physically it is associated with the lungs and the element of air. Emotionally it is associated with trust, forgiveness, love, patience, wisdom, and compassion. The heart chakra is the place for the vast amount of our human emotional experiences. It is the center of our deep bonds with others. It is where our sense of caring and compassion, generosity, kindness, and respect stem from. Anahata, put simply, moves love through our lives.
The heart chakra is the fourth chakra counting from the bottom of the spine, and is the very middle chakra. It is the bridge between the three lower and the three upper chakras and is said to be the seat of the soul. It is here where the body and the spirit meet. When the heart chakra is open, you may feel deeply connected and in harmony with all that is around you. However, when heart chakra is blocked, you may experience difficulties in relating with others, such as excessive jealousy, codependency, or feeling withdrawn.
Anahata translates to unhurt, unstuck or unbroken. At times in my life, these are hardly words that I would use to describe my own heart. A heart is vulnerable. When we experience sadness or disappointment, we have actual pain in our chest. Those who have lost love will say that they are heart broken. But, behind the hurt, pain, sadness and disappointment, lies a heart that wants to be happy. There lies a heart that is open and is full of love, kindness and compassion-a heart that has certainly not been broken.
We need only to tap into that place of pure love, where we can release the pain and instead choose love. If you would like to meditate on the heart chakra and practice a simple breathing technique (pranayama), you may want to give this a try:
Heart Chakra Pranayama
Close your eyes and begin to lengthen your inhales and your exhales. Bring awareness to the place between your shoulder blades. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Inhale slowly and draw the breath up from the back of your heart to the top of your head. Exhale slowly, release your tongue and draw the breath down from the top of your head to front of your chest. Continue this loop for several minutes.