Updated: Mar 2
With Valentine’s Day falling in the month of February, the word LOVE comes to mind. Likewise is that image of a heart, usually bright red; the cut-outs we made in school as children even come to mind. This also makes me think of the term ‘open-hearted’. I would like to dive more into what it actually means to have an open heart and how we even know whether ours is open our closed.
Yoga practitioners may have heard their instructors speak of the 7 chakras. For those readers who aren’t familiar with this term, chakras are the main energy centers within the body. Not only are they associated with certain body parts and bodily systems, but also each main energy center has associated physical ailments that can occur when these systems are out of balance.
From the 1st chakra comprising of the feet, legs, and lower spine all the way up the body to the 7th chakra at the very crown of the head, all of our body parts and systems fall into one of these 7 main energy systems. The 4th chakra, which is called the Anahata chakra in Sanskrit, the ancient language of yoga, is located in the center of the chest, where the ‘yogic heart’ lies. The heart chakra comprises of the heart, lungs, and circulatory system. It is an important energy center of the body as it is the center point between the upper and the lower chakras in our body.
When we place are hands together in prayer position at the end of a yoga class and utter our ‘Namastes’, we are finding the perfect balance between our physical bodies- our lower 3 chakras-and our more ethereal or spiritual bodies – our upper 3 chakras.
Yoga and meditation teachers focus on ‘opening the heart’ in their teachings to their students. But what does this actually mean? For many people this area of the body may be blocked. Perhaps we have been hurt in a relationship and are protecting ourselves from diving into yet another. When our heart chakra is blocked, we have difficulty with empathy, compassion, self-love or loving others. On the converse, when we are open in this energy center of our body, we freely and openly can give and receive unconditional love and express loving compassion and empathy.
From an energetic perspective, our health can be adversely affected when our heart chakra is not open. Some of the ailments associated when our heart chakra is not in balance are asthma, lung disease, heart disease, and also diseases of the breasts. It can be difficult to let go of past hurts and to put ourselves in a vulnerable position when we fear potentially repeating this pattern, but holding back and feeling the negative emotions that correspond to this energy center of our body can be detrimental to our bodies and our spirits. Here are some suggestions to keep this energy center healthy and in balance.
Take care of the most important person in your life- YOU! When you look in the mirror don’t focus on your imperfections but see the beauty in the reflection staring back at you. Look into some meditations that focus on self- love and practice them in a quiet place.
Appreciate and honor the gifts in your life with a daily practice of expressing and being grateful for these gifts.
In my work with cancer patients throughout the years, I have witnessed many breakthroughs of my clients letting go of anger and forgiving- both themselves and others. Remember- Forgiveness isn’t about letting others off the hook, but about letting yourself off the hook.
-Visualizing the Color Green
Each chakra also has a corresponding color within it. Green is the color of our heart chakra. Imagine a beautiful shade of jade green filling the center of your entire chest and within your heart and lungs as well. Holding a green stone – jade, aventurine, green calcite are great choices, when focusing on opening up this area of the body also magnify this intention. Although it is not green, rose quartz is also a wonderful 4th chakra stone said to open and heal this area of our body.
This brief explanation into the chakra system and the importance of opening up our chakras is only the tip of the iceberg to what is called ‘energy medicine.’ If you would like to learn more, I highly recommend 2 books on this topic. Anatomy of the Spirit by Carolyn Myss is one of my all time favorites. Listening to her audio book is a great way to learn. Also, The Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith is an equally comprehensive exploration into the 7 chakras of our bodies.
This ancient (about 2500 yr. old) meditation practice brings about positive attitude changes as it develops the quality of loving-acceptance. It acts as a form of self-healing as it frees the mind from pain, confusion, anger, resentment or other negative emotions.
The practice always begins with developing a loving acceptance of your own self. To begin with the self is critical, for one must be in a good frame of mind to be able to offer support, love, and kindness towards others.
After this feels natural and comfortable, you will be ready to offer loving-kindness towards others. Some suggest not sending it out to others until you have spent some time sending these positive thoughts to yourself.
The 4 types of people to send this meditation out to:
Beloved person in your life
Person that you may be currently having a challenge or difficulty with
Neutral person that you barely know. (ex. salesperson in a store, mail carrier)
Starting with the self and then systematically sending loving-kindness from each person in the above order will have the effect of breaking down the barriers between yourself and others.
Say the words silently or out loud if you choose. For each person, recite the full meditation 3 times. Picture each person, including your own self right in front of you as you send them loving kindness.
The words of the meditation:
(For the self, say ‘I’ and for the others, change to ‘You’)
May I/You be filled with loving kindness.
May I/You be well.
May I/You be peaceful and at ease.
May I/You be happy.
So turn on your heart light… and shine with love this month and always!
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