I may be making all this up. The concept of a so-called subtle body that co-exists with our physical form requires a leap of faith and a back story typically told by ascetics wearing robes and sandals. Accepting the existence of something nobody can see is a pretty good description of psychosis or priesthood.
But slowly, as quiet contemplation has become an increasingly important part of my life, I’ve experienced the existence of something outside my normal perception of space and time. I’ve literally felt the presence of a force, an awareness of something "other than me" that operates unseen.
How to describe it? When I’m alone, trance-like, there are tears of inestimable joy; an absence of thought; surfing a wave of soaring feelings… different when in the sharing circle, feeling the hands-on love, Amazing Grace swallowing me in glory.
What else can I call this heavenly energy other than my life source. All of you who have ever been in the room with a dying family member or friend will have no doubt about that definition. I have seen it depart the body of my sister, leaving behind a waxen image, life force gone like a turned off light switch, the room plunged dark.
Aside from what I have experienced personally, there are libraries of volumes providing an explanation of this unseen force that resides within us. They describe a non-material energetic counterpart to our physical body often described as a system of seven energy centers called chakras that run the length of the spine, each representing a different aspect of the dynamism that makes us alive.
You don’t need me to teach you about the chakras. Two clicks on Google will flood you with information. Frankly, I don’t know if they exist as anything more than the vagary of the daily Astrology column in the Tribune, but for me, these seven so-called energy centers have become a collective source of wisdom to call upon as I muddle my way through life. Accepting their existence provides a connection to my inner wisdom.
The first, or root chakra, located at the base of the spine, is our connection with Earth and helps us feel grounded and connected to family and our intuition. Its energy concerns survival, self-preservation and elements of the physical world.
The second chakra, located just below the navel, promotes the well-being of our sexuality, sensuality, self-expression, feminine vitality and our emotional interactions and connections.
The third chakra is around the solar plexus and deals with personal power and self-worth.
The fourth, or heart chakra, is at the center of your chest and spine and expresses unconditional love, compassion and transformation.
The fifth chakra is located at the base of the throat, chiefly responsible for the power of communication, attentiveness, logic and reason. It signifies our spiritual awakening and represents creativity and truthful personal expression.
The sixth chakra, or third eye, is located at the space between your eyebrows and signifies the distinction between worldly and divine consciousness. Our intuition, or inner vision, is found here.
The seventh or crown chakra, is at the top of the head. It symbolizes our connection to the universe, self-actualization, spirituality and cosmic oneness.
This is a lot to swallow!
I don’t expect you to add ‘Swami’ to your business card and greet your girlfriend with “Namaste, sweetie.” But it is an interesting body of thought that has been around for a long time and yields considerable insight into who we are at the core.
With a little study and some familiarity with the chakra system you give yourself a kind of home grown therapeutic and physical health plan, a surprisingly accurate roadmap to psychological and spiritual health.
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