Undoubtedly you have heard of the third eye chakra. In large part, we might say the third eye is the favored center of consciousness for us westerners. Since the scientific revolution, humankind in the west began to reduce our concept of wonder, mystery, the divine, and imagination to the measurable and mathematical. For example, what once was mysterious magic of divine wonders became the arrangement of chemical structures. Chemistry, mathematics, and the clustering of ideas are products of a western psychology. Here, one can attribute these rationalistic virtues to the mind itself. While artistry flows through intuition, the sciences generally strive for calculation. What does this have to do with the third eye and mental health?
A Lens Over the Eye of the Mind
To be blunt: everything! Our mythological structures – and science is indeed a mythic realm – work like a lens over the eye of the mind. If, for example, we are primed with the narrative that all things can be solved, what then becomes of the journey? I say one of the great problems we all have today is the many predicted outcomes that dictate our experiences before the journeys themselves. When our motive is resolution rather than revelation, our aim is to no longer experience the surprise of life. Wonder dies as predictable systems darken our peripheral vision. The third eye chakra is all about these tensions.
The Soulful Folding of a Meaningful Life
If for example, one does not release the tension behind the eyebrows, strive for execution, and follow the unconscious mythologies of the sciences, the soulful unfolding of a meaningful life may fall under tremendous shadow. Longing, an innate and necessary messenger of the soul, may instead grow perverse. The adventuring and intimate seeker may consider longing to be a precursor to failure rather than an opening into meaning. The third eye is all about mystery as it draws in the images and intuitive fluctuations of the unconscious. When in talk therapy we ask a client open-ended questions, we are supporting them to look with the third eye at the material unresolved. One might ask are we seeking to reduce another’s experience down or to open their experiences up?
An Unbalanced Third Eye
Of course, there is room for both in the balanced third eye. In fact, without balance, one may experience, on the one hand, an overactive third eye. Here, images and intuitions are un-grounding and often disassociating from the presenting moment. At great extremes, we call this psychosis in psychology. Conversely, without an intuitive and receptive gaze through the mind’s eye, one may experience a rigid, obtuse, perfectionistic judgment. One might even have a tyrannical attitude toward one’s self-concept, ideas about the past, others, and more.
A Significant Center of Consciousness
In short, the third eye chakra is a significant center of consciousness. For our purposes, as we engage and develop healthy psychological and somatic relationships between the chakras, we want to generate some awareness around the condition of the third eye. Often, we require the turning of the third eye down and in as we have been to engage with the subtle body of a psycho-sensual world below. As the camera lens, one must work on the role of the cameraman. Where do we turn our attention and, as with any eye, are we taking in the light?
We cannot discuss the throat chakra without a comparison to the Greek god Hermes. His character personifies the traveling messenger between all deities, sending signals and expressions of harmony, disharmony, life, and death. Hermes is a trickster figure, often moving forwards and backwards with whimsical and snake charming personality. God of messages, Hermes has little to say for himself. Rather, he comes and goes with the transferences of soul between upper worlds and underworlds. Similarly, the throat irrigates the vital flow of oxygen, blood, and neurotransmission between the brain, head and body. We could say it is the mythological Hermes at work each time sensation, memory, compulsion, anger, and more come to consciousness. The Hermes mythos hosts all that is the exposed and vulnerable go-between just as the throat carries vital substance across the threshold between the mind and the body.
The Hermetic Traveler
Associated with the color deep blue, the throat chakra is the source of our deep truths. When this chakra is blocked, communication between what is truly taking place in the mind and in the body is repressed. This may lead to eruptions of mood, loss of identity, and a poor spiritual, emotional, and psychological disposition. As the vulnerability of the throat space begins to loosen, one may discover they have a tremendous amount to say without really knowing the source of the information. The “purge,” as I like to call it, is to access the Hermetic stream of consciousness. In other words, allowing the gods of the psyche to pour out in expression. It is the voice that bounces back which tells what we sound like. Furthermore, it is the voice of process – the Hermetic traveler – which carries the sacred messages of our deepest truths.
Balance and Vital Self-Expression
An open and balanced throat chakra frees up our channels of communication. When the throat is relaxed and energy flows freely, not only are we able to commune between mind and body in the inner world but also in the outer world with relationships and vital self-expression. A balanced throat chakra supports the communication of truths in ways that find harmony and understanding with others. Naturally, an overactive throat chakra may instead hurl information, or overcome oneself and others with maniacal intensities. When, for example, we do not transfer anger through the god Hermes, we risk the overtaking of Mars. Anger energy, as an example, can overtake the repressed or the overactive (and they are one and the same). Making one small creates the counterbalance, if only in the eyes of others.
The Great Bridge
This week I want us to be mindful of the formation of words and the purpose of the throat space. My encouragement is to breathe into this area. Allow energy to flow upwards and downwards, transferring the vital wisdom the psyche-soma connection affords. Since all aspects and relationships occur at the threshold between them, we can recognize the throat as the great bridge across which all vital truths and harmonies must cross. May we all be impeccable with our word this week as we observe and connect in the slippery and poetic flow of Hermes.
Song of a Man Who Has Come Through
Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!
A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.
If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!
If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge
Driven by invisible blows,
The rock will split, we will come at the wonder, we shall find the Hesperides.
What is the knocking?
What is the knocking at the door in the night?
It is somebody wants to do us harm
No, no, it is the three strange angels
Admit them, admit them.
The Center of the Psyche-Soma Connection
The heart chakra is arguably the great center of the psyche-soma connection. We strive to reconcile our abundant psyche to the restrictions and rightful size of the body. Here, at home in ourselves, our bodies reach upwards toward the wild spirit of the psyche. If we recognize the relationship between mind and body is an alchemical work – which is to say the primary material that makes up our soulful life – we open ourselves into a world of tending to the mysterious and deeply meaningful gratification that comes with true intimacy. How do we then find the harmony? Should love between these seemingly separate worlds serve as the active agent, our means and method, then the miraculous work begins!
The Great Mother
I love the water. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be in the swimming pool, the ocean, or the bathtub for a long as my mother would allow it. This hasn’t changed really. When I’m out sailing, the relationship with such a deep and mysterious world penetrates my heart space. I suppose it has always had something to do with the great mother – a womb so large and yet deserving of respect. To soak or sail the waters that nourish and soften the rough edges of life penetrates my psyche with perspective and reverent peace.
The Safe, Cleansing Womb
My first solo encounter with the psyche-soma connection through love happened during a hot shower. With warm water softening tension on my neck and upper back, in the safe womb that incubates the ritual of cleansing and self-care, I began to rub my own shoulders. In this moment I allowed myself to feel and receive the care that my conscious hands provided. My shoulders received and accepted the gift. I suddenly switched my attention to the hands themselves providing the love and care. A sense of duality overcame me as I recognized the duality of my nature. I could, in the same moment, give love and receive love. I was in that time the one I was meant to be with and the promises to take good care and invest my conscious effort in gratitude to myself seeded a profound truth.
The Heart Chakra
Known as the Anhata Chakra, the heart chakra resides at the space between the breasts at the center of the sternum. Associated with the energy of circulation, passion, and devotion, anhata holds the tension of opposites between mind and body, psyche and soma. Anhata is at the center of our auric body. The color of light to balance it is a bright grass-green. It is not traditionally associated with a sentimental kind of love, though heartbreak and deep wounding often distorts, darkens, and weighs down this part of the body. Instead, the heart chakra has to do with the flowing abundant love of creation. This is to say, both the love of one’s self as well as the love of the universe.
Finding a Greater Balance
Our poem above written by D. H. Lawrence reflects this kind of revelation. He speaks of a wind that moves through the heart. A mysterious knock at the door that, although fear may prevent us from receiving, is the visiting divine energy. Opening up the heart is a lot like opening up a fist. When we practice a sensory awareness of this center of consciousness, we may begin to unfold, one finger at a time. The opening heart may feel painful and, yes, scary. This is why I encourage this week that we practice some self-love. If we take the time to open the heart even but a finger’s worth, we may begin to receive and soften. Furthermore, we may discover that we are the best-suited lovers for ourselves. Finally, we may find a greater balance between the struggles of the mind and the urges of the body.
In our work with the psyche and soma connection, we introduced the concept that the interrelationship between the body and mind is a primary factor in the individuation of one’s personality. Consider that we were to approach a client as an individual rather than a series of symptoms in need of management. We would come into therapeutic work with a very different range of curiosity – respect, compassion, and trust in the workings of the soul. A client may be facing the world and themselves with undiscovered layers of meaning and creative potential. Finally, one may become more connected with feeling. One may release old perspectives when confronting painful or simply unhelpful beliefs about themselves and others. However, the work with mind-body integration supports a willingness to let go of direction in certain respects and open up to experiential. Specifically, the interactive play between the perceiving and sensing functions.
A Storehouse of Memories and Activator of the Unconcious
Studies show that the body is a thinking body, with sensational phenomena. It is a storehouse of memories and an activator of the unconscious. We need a treatment model that supports this interrelationship. One where the role of consciousness spends time participating in the sensory here-and-now. One aspect of the person must receive and give attendance to the other. Otherwise, the relationship is contrived, compartmentalized, and often ignored. We move the body in an attempt to communicate something fluid, spontaneous and honest. If the mind is occupied with execution rather than relational participation, we discover a very rigid and out of touch individual. We have a very real problem on our hands – the divided self. Typically, this manifests as an oscillating self. On the one hand, it fights for power, control, to conquer problems, and win out. On the other, it succumbs to chaotic wild forces of the instincts.
The Solar Plexus Chakra
Becoming animal is of particular importance here for us as we look to the chakra system. This week, we are discussing the solar plexus chakra. Found above the navel just below the rib cage, the solar plexus chakra shines with the color yellow. Through imagery, breathing, and simple sensory awareness of this place in the body, one begins to feel the creative and yet stable presence of a an individual personality. The solar plexus belongs to the space between the feeling and creative center of the sacral chakra and the heart which brings balance and harmony to the mind and body relationship. So we might say that the solar plexus is more instinctual than a warm balanced heart. However, it closer to empowerment than the sacral instinctual power.
The Yellow Sphere of Light
One engaging the solar plexus chakra in balance experiences the moment from a place of self-worth and acceptance. The seat of rightful existence dwells in this yellow sphere of light. The sacral chakra is concerned with guilt and pleasure. Meanwhile, the solar plexus chakra addresses shame and power. Healthy empowerment comes from a sensational presence in this area of the body. Let’s relate and connect with this space. We may begin to feel our deep and sacred birthright to be present in all that we are. Through this chakra, we strive to overcome the wounds that make us smaller than we ought to be as well as the distractions that prevent us from showing up in our true callings and personal power.
“Ultimately, to acknowledge the life of the body, and to affirm our solidarity with this physical form, is to acknowledge our existence as one of the earths animals” – David Abram
Aristotle once wrote that the human soul is a rational soul. He observed how plants possess a vegetal soul focused on growth and nourishment. Meanwhile, animals possess the soul of instincts. For humankind, argues Aristotle, both the vegetal and animal souls are present. However, it is the rational soul that sets us apart. Here we turn our attention to the psyche and soma connection once more. In fact, the soulful experience can be encountered in each of these three dimensions. Indeed, we must come to terms with our poor connection to the sensuous and wise experiences of nature and animal life. Moreover, often enough it is not the rational mind that needs the mending. Rather, it’s the liberation of the animal and the natural relationships to life and presence. Should we become convinced that our thinking defines our being, we gravely miss the simple pleasure of existence.
Orange Swirling Hues
This week we turn our awareness both sensationally and psychologically to the sacral chakra. Seated above the root chakra between the frenum and the navel, the sacral chakra gushes with orange swirling hues. This chakra is the energy center of all creativity, relationships, sexuality, and feeling. When out of balance, the sacral chakra is a dangerous place. Should we live unconscious to the underactive or overactive energy in this center, we would find ourselves deprived of vital enjoyment and personal power on the one hand or, on the other extreme co-dependencies, cravings, compulsions. The sacral chakra is the seat of our addictions and ultimately gluttonous behaviors. If we work to balance this energy center, we discover a world of joy rather than sensory overload.
The Soul of Experience and the True Personhood
The sacral chakra is a double-sided coin. On one side, when this energy center is blocked or overactive, one can feel either cramped in the lower body or loose. For example, the kidneys, bladder and adrenals can become infected, inflamed, or hypertensive. One’s lower back may be tight or in spasm or the belly may hang out pronouncing evidence of an indulgent lifestyle of fat and sugar. Not surprisingly, these areas are associated with the feeling of guilt. Guilt claims the right to pleasure and joy, argues that pleasure has lead to terrible things and therefore must be repressed. This is a common mistake we make when working at psycho-spiritual healing. If guilt overwhelms the sacral chakra, one may go on living as the rational do-gooder but it suffocates the soul of experience and true personhood. Creativity chokes behind the strong grip of guilt.
A Calming and Soothing Realm
The problem is not the desire for pleasure, but the relationship one has with pleasure. For example, if we seek our pleasure at the expense of our souls, there is, as most of us have seen, great destruction that may accompany our ‘natural’ inclinations. On the other side of the coin, pleasure of the sacral chakra promises great relief from the mind and a realm of expression and sensation that can detox the negativity within us, become blissful and filled with wonderful hormones. A balanced sacral chakra is one that allows the salivating self to taste and enjoy the process. For example, watery energy is a flowing, sometimes completely calming and soothing realm. Other times, it is rapid and powerful. With riptides and undercurrents of emotion sweeping us off our feet and thirst-quenching nectars of heavenly sweetness, the moisture of feeling deserves our deepest attendance, respect, and indulgence.
The Constellating Themes of the Sacral Reality
We seek to balance the sacral chakra. This week, let’s pay special attention to their sense of things. As we spend time opening up to the realm of guilt, pleasure and joy, let us all keep in the mind the animal and vegetal soul. Indeed, there is a natural and worthwhile place for the sacral in life. The instincts may be wilder than we want and this is why the root chakra need be open first. Dealing with fear, the root chakra grounds our experiences in a place of balance and security. Below is a simple series of affirmations we associate with the sacral chakra. For those of you willing to give it a try, I encourage reading through these. Say them out loud, speaking them from the space of the sacral and meditating on the color orange. Noticing how one feels exposes the constellating themes of the sacral reality.
- I am the co-creator with the divine
- I am creative
- Creativity flows through me
- I feel my emotions and I feel my pain
- I love to feel pleasure in my body
- Sexuality is sacred and is meant to be enjoyed
- I release all blame and guilt
- I easlity accept pleasure
- What others do is none of my business
- I am a sensual being
- I am a creative being
- My emotions are balanced
- I can and will receive and give pleasure
- I am exactly where I need to be in my life
- I release the need to control others
- Goodness beauty and joy resonates with my soul
- I attract what I need and I am blessed
- I accept my uniqueness
- I am grateful for the joy of being me
- I embrace my sensuality and sexuality
- I am connected to my body
- I am fully present in all the little pleasures of my day
- I love myself unconditionally and exactly as I am
- I receive pleasure and abundance with every breath I take
- I belong
How will you hold the rare and perilous given you? Dawn begins in the bones
– Risa Kaparo
We are not just physical bodies, nor are we the untouchable substance of our thoughts and feelings. Somewhere in the interrelationship between our physical bodies (soma) and our psychological landscapes (psyche), we confront the spectrum that is the human experience. Whether we are talking chakras, dreams, philosophy, or spirituality, the real brilliance is that all these systems have interconnectivity. We will see how the chakras align and open the psychic and physical intimacy we crave. This spectrum between body and mind helps us to identify what networks are thriving and which may be split off or disconnected. In the simplest terms, if the body and mind are not in attendance to one another we suffer. We hear this truth when we hear things like, “my gut instinct” or, “my head and my heart.”
A Subtle Flow of Energy
But what flows through the body that holds it together? The electromagnetic fields that comprise and contain our essence are a subtle flow of energy. It is a scientifically founded and experientially substantiated fact. The space between our cells is as voluminous as the cells themselves. How is it that we can experience energy, and even consciously enter or exit the sensory world through intention? We want to take some time these next weeks to reconnect and engage with the energy centers in the body. Through breath, meditation, yoga, and mindful awareness of the chakra system, we will take the time to notice and activate our mind-body connection through our subtle energy fields.
Addressing the Unconscious
One of the great gifts in this approach to our work at Barn Life is the opportunity to come out of old patterns, habits, trauma, and compulsions without having to speak directly to them. While talk therapy is an important part of our work, in the end, the honest experience of our sensory-selves is where the ultimate changes take place. For example, we share may a difficult pattern or a painful memory in therapy. However, if we do not take the time to feel it in the body, experience movement, or adequately express the energy that the topic brings, we may not move through the energy. The information remains simply that. Information. Until you do something with the unconscious, no amount conversation around a subject does anyone any good.
The Organs of the Energy Field
So what are the chakras? Imagine your spinal column as a carrier of all nerve signals that connect to the entire body. From the base of the spine to the top vertebra, we have an organized network that leads to the brain. We discover the chakras through sensory awareness. They are clusters or centers of high sensitivity or connectivity between the neural and the mental realities. Just as the body has organs, the chakras are the organs of the energy field. When activated, one is conscious in the body and the energy field. In each particular chakra, there are observable traits and characteristics that correspond. For example, if someone were to activate their root chakra (as we will discuss this week more in-depth), one would experience a closeness to the body, a more grounded and calmer overall temperament, and a sense of safety and present awareness.
We find the root chakra, or muladhara in Sanskrit, at the base of the spinal column. This energy center, when closed or inactive, can cause one to feel out of touch with the present moment. Without an open and active root, one is ‘unrooted,’ without grounding and often out of touch or disconnected from the here-and-now. When we work to activate and experience the root chakra, we can begin to bring better balance to the spectrum.
In terms of energetics, this chakra channels earth energy upward through the feet and legs to process and stabilize it. It then moves the energy on up the spine. It has transmuted into a form that the body recognizes as signals to balance the endocrine system through the release of hormones. If the flow is cut off, symptoms occur that are also psychological. If, for example, the root chakra is inactive, we do not, then, feel our feet or sense our existence in the body to be a strong component of reality. Instead, the mind wanders. The moment is overtaken and the experience unbalanced.
Opening the Root Chakra
How, then, do we open the root chakra? Through conscious breathing deep into the energy center, reiki, yoga postures, even the turning of awareness to the lower body can help. We will practice during our groups this week and learn to remain open and grounded. For now, you may try simply unclenching the lower body. Simply notice the sensation in your feet. For those of you who are overachievers, you might try a root chakra meditation on youtube. The bones are the nearest and most dense part of our existence. This is earth. This is underneath all else. If our nervous system and our musculature store the stuff we, well, stuff, then starting with the bones, feeling the present moment as it is in the physical and concrete, or in our case, calcium, we may begin to move upward through the spine bridging the divide between body and mind.