I'm almost finished reading "The Wheels of Life" - a great, comprehensive and easy to understand book about the Chakra System. If you're not sure what a chakra is don't worry- you're not alone. Even most of us who read about them, meditate on them and tattoo them on their bodies couldn't give you a precise definition. In shorthand, they are seven concentrated areas of intense energy within the human body that correspond to specific places in the human body. Yogis believe that the key to true physical, mental and emotional healing can only be achieved through the opening of the chakras. When all your chakras are open, prana (life force or energy) can flow throughly through you, allowing all aspects of your being to thrive and reach your fullest potential. I've always believed I had infinite potential and still do. I'm just working through some "knots" as they call them in my energetic centers.
The first time I truly encountered a good explanation of the chakra system was in reading Eastern Body, Western Mind. Before you dismiss the whole idea as woo-woo New Age bullshit, think of it this way: When the chakra system was first conceptualized, there were no Medical text books or microscopes. Ancient yogis just knew that there was energy in specific regions of the body but they didn't know why. Now, modern science has proven that there are bundles of "energy' in the very real form of arteries, nerve endings and glands in the EXACT locations that the chakras have been placed. The third chakra is located in your solar plexus and corresponds to both your "gut instinct" but also your digestive system. A few years ago I was quite sure that I had issues with my third chakra and got it tattooed on my neck as an impetus to remember to trust my gut and not let self-doubt or worry hold me back. Shortly thereafter I found out I had a hiatus hernia which was causing digestive issues.
Now that I'm having heart issues, understandably my attention has been drawn to my heart chakra. I have always been an extremely loving person and have an amazing husband and family with whom I share love on a near-constant basis. I'm inclined to believe that the combination of third/fourth chakra issues have something to do with not following my heart or loving and trusting myself enough. I've been focusing my meditation practice on the Anahata or "Heart Chakra" and here's a really fun one that you'll want to try, even if your heart is just fine or you think I'm a complete freak for seeing life through this lens.
"The Wheels of Life" 4th/Heart Chakra chapter ends with a Loving Kindness Meditation that works quite well on the streets of NYC. Basically, you look at each person you cross paths with directly in their heart just for one second and then move onto the next. Anodea Judith, the author says to see them as they truly are and give them one brief second of love without getting caught up in their struggle then moving onto the next. The angry honking cab driver: Love him, and know he's just anxious because he wants to get home to his wife and kids for a few brief hours before beginning his double shift. The client BEREFT that their child's $5k Bat Mitzvah invites didn't come out just perfect: Love them, because they need validation from peers via their material wealth because they don't have enough love for themselves. See their heart briefly and love it without analysis or judgement then move on. Makes you feel good and makes it nearly impossible to be annoyed or angry.
Ok, so in my version you do the same thing except for you imagine yourself LITERALLY chest-bumping every single person you walk by! You still think or feel the same emotion but the mental picture of an ecstatic chest bump just makes it that much more effective. Hey Trashman- BOOM- you get a chest bump. Coffee cart vendor BOOM- a chest bump for you. Happy Golden Retriever?? YEP!!! Dogs get chest bumps AND kisses. I did this on the way to Yoga this morning and it was awesome! I had a really strong, smooth, judgement-free practice and I really think this moving meditation had something to do with it.
So TRY IT! Seriously, it's fun. If you see me on the street you better believe yo ass is getting a chest bump.