If you have gone to a yoga class more than once, chances are, the word “chakra” has crossed your path. Chakras are psychic energy centers that govern the human body. Chakra in Sanskrit means “wheels”. Chakras are supposedly located in seven different parts of human brain anatomy beginning from the medulla going up to the right and left cerebral hemispheres.
Doctors will tell you that there is no scientific basis for the chakras. There are no actual wheels of light rotating inside human body. Sages might have been talking about circulations than actual wheels. That said, it is safe to interpret the chakras as seven circulations of vital activities within human brain.
Dr. Alfred Penfield identified the functions of specific parts of the brain that run our bodies. He called this body map. Neuroscience knows which part of the brain thinks of certain things. We now can see which part of the brain lights up (MRI flares) when we think of food, sex, or religion. There are the parts of the brain consistent with the thought processes of the chakra groupings and the exact anatomical equivalents of the human body.
The seventh chakra is the connection to the divine. The location is in the pre-frontal cortex, a feature of the human brain more developed than our ape cousins is the command center. The higher states of concentration, free will, feelings of “oneness” and altruism are found in this region. The pre-frontal cortex is the crown of the brain and is located on the forehead, but not on the crown. As a chakra, the crown is where we connect with the Divine. If you are connected to a higher power, you feel “one” with the universe resulting in altruism and harmony.
The sixth chakra which is the center that governs foresight is in between the eyebrows. Next to the pre-frontal cortex is the rest of the frontal brain that is divided into two hemispheres, namely, the left and the right hemispheres, each governing visual and verbal inputs. Information from the eyes and ears, namely, sound and sight perception of the outside world is integrated and interpreted within a thin membrane between the right and left cerebral hemispheres known as the corpus callosum. The pineal gland that lies right below the corpus callosum has been linked to third eye experiences. The sixth chakra also known as the third eye governs sight and perception. It is the chakra that is responsible for seeing within the mind’s eye. It is further described as the channel where Ida, the female nadi and Pingala, the male nadi meet. Descriptions of nadis in various yoga texts depict it as a kind of vessel of consciousness. A “female” and “male” in esoteric terms pertain to negative and positive energies. To be more scientific, the force that gathers is associated with the female and the force that gives or focuses is considered male. These are traits that could aptly describe the hemispheres, with the right brain governing the left side of the body and the left brain governing the right side of the body.
The fifth chakra is the domain of self-expression located in the region of the throat. Broca’s area is a small portion in the frontal brain, right below the frontal eye field. It is the region of the brain that helps us produce speech. It works with Wernicke’s area situated at the bottom of the parietal lobe to produce speech and decode language. The throat Chakra is associated with communication and expression.
The fourth chakra governs love and harmony and is located in the heart. Beyond Broca’s area, deep in the medial brain is the thalamus region where the hypothalamus is situated. The hypothalamus is the heart of the brain. It is the conductor of the orchestra of the brain. The hypothalamus is responsible for the circulation of hormones, the way heart circulates the blood all around the body. This area connects with all parts of the brain; the front with the bottom and the left with the right together. The hypothalamus is enabler of all deliberate movements and the thermostat or body temperature regulator of the brain. The hypothalamus is responsible for the generation of emotions. Below the throat chakra is the heart chakra that rules commitment and relationships.
The third chakra is the seat of courage that is located in the solar plexus. Below the medial brain are the three lobes called the parietal, occipital and temporal lobes. This area governs and orchestras the limbic system that part of the brain which mediates emotions and memory. The parietal, occipital and temporal lobes perceive sensation of time and space. With the help of memory, spatial and emotional associations influence action. We know where we are and who we are in relation to the world. The body has a mind of its own. The parietal, occipital and temporal lobes’ capability to interpret reality or what we call facts, gives these lobes power to influence our perception. We literally become what we think we are, not what we are in actuality. The third chakra found below the heart and the stomach is associated with self identity. It is also the seat of courage. In the human brain, the amygdala is found within the temporal lobe and the amygdala is where flight or fight responses are decided.
The second chakra is the center of human creativity and power that is situated in the reproductive area. Below the parietal, occipital and temporal lobes and separated from the cerebrum is the cerebellum, also called the reptilian brain. The reptilian brain is responsible for the desire for social dominance, lust and other unpleasant human traits. The pons is the part that connects the two halves of the cerebellum just as in the way the thalamus region connects the right and the cerebral hemispheres. Pons is responsible for self-protection and the meeting of bodily needs. The second chakra is where primal energy is derived from. In fact, the kundalini, a powerful primal force in yoga, is found here. Usually portrayed as a coiled serpent, it is believed that when the kundalini rises to the crown, mastery and awareness is achieved. Neurologically speaking, the reptilian brain is in charge of body memory. Driving a car, riding a bike, playing the piano becomes an automatic thing in this part of the brain. Perhaps, when altruism and forward thinking becomes an automatic process in your brain that is when you have achieved the awakening of the kundalini.
The first chakra is body’s connection to the earth and is the energy center for survival that is located at the base of the spine and the feet. The last part of the brain is the part that connects the brain to the spinal column. It is called brain stem. The brain stem regulates involuntary functions of the brain that keep brain and the body going. It also controls sleep-wake cycles, respiration, heart rate, and excretions. The first or the root chakra is also the chakra of survival. When your basic needs are met, root chakra will be healthy. Food and shelter problems weaken the first chakra and cause bodily pains and diseases.
Exercise and brain are directly connected. To be mentally fit one has to be physically fit. Healthy mind cannot live in a disease-ridden body. The actions of the body change the wiring of the brain, clinically substantiated in patients overcoming mental disability. Through persistent exercise, the brain can heal itself. This has been said before by mystics from the Upanishad period, thousands of years ago. This gave rise to the practice of yoga and the knowledge of the energy centers called the chakras. Science and ancient wisdom are converging. How was it possible for the ancient mystics to arrive at the same conclusions we are only beginning to observe today!? Perhaps the answer is; consciousness knows its own nature. If you bother to ask your consciousness the question, it will give you the answer in the language that you can understand.
Meditation is a mystery to many in the Western world. Sure, they have all heard of it, but most say they "don’t have time" to slow down for it and others say they simply don’t know how or they’ve tried it and couldn’t do it "right." Some even misunderstand it as being against their religion or think something crazy might happen, like they’ll start levitating during a session. While I actually think that levitating would be pretty cool — no, that’s not going to happen! What will happen is a slew of positive health benefits. Regular meditation produces a sense of calm, peace, balance, and reduced stress, anxiety and depression. Meditation also enables you to stay more focused with longer attention span and better thought control than one would without meditation. Other side effects include increased happiness, more creativity, and deeper self-awareness and acceptance. If the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.
Despite all of the fantastic benefits, statistically, less than 10 percent of Americans have a meditation practice. The reason why is quite simple. As a whole, they don’t know any better. They live in a very fast-paced society and have it ingrained in their brains that if they slow down, they are going to get passed up and plowed over. Further, as a society, they are over-medicated and taught that the cure for pretty much everything lies within a pill. Therefore, they have lost faith in their own bodies and its amazing abilities to heal. If doctors wrote out prescriptions to start a meditation practice and fuel bodies with healthy nutrition, then miracles could happen. Since science and technology is advanced in US that they overlook the basics that are right in front of them and easy for all to achieve. There is no money to be made in telling people to meditate, and Americanism is a very profit-driven society.
Americans can all become spiritually rich if they turn to tools like meditation, which help them to raise their mental vibrations and those of the world around them. A meditation practice helps one to get to the core of our being. By stilling mind and silencing the overwhelming abundance of thoughts wildly dancing through at any given time, one is able to hear the voice of our loving inner guide over that of one’s fear-based ego. Once one is able to loosen the tight grasp that the ego mind has on you, you can swap out unpleasant insecurities, anxieties and fears for peace, happiness, and fulfilling our destinies.
You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day — unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour. At first, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to Americans. But, anybody that has had a meditation practice will say, "I totally get it!" When we’re super busy, we usually feel tense and high-strung, which is our body’s normal reaction to stress. Meditation helps us to feel calm and thus allow stress to melt away. Meditating is not going to make our schedules any less hectic. However, it will make us more clear-headed and able to deal with whatever life tosses our way so that we actually begin dancing joyfully amidst the chaos. We’re essentially training our brain how to relax and deal with things in a much more level-headed and peaceful manner.
If this all sounds good to you, but you still have no idea where to begin, here is simple starter pack. Try to set up a little sacred spot in your home to go to every time you meditate. Put a few articles out that inspire you or that you have a spiritual connection too. If not, don’t let that stop you. That point is to just get it in when you can. If you have something specific that you want to meditate on, think or pray about it before you begin your session. You don’t want to try to force or control your thoughts while meditating, so if you have something that you’re seeking guidance on, it’s best bring it up beforehand. Find a quiet spot and sit comfortably. If you have kids, you might need to sneak out of bed before the rest of the house wakes up or do it after they go to bed. You might try headphones with some relaxing music to drown out the noise. Just find a way to make it work with your schedule and lifestyle. Decide how long you will meditate for. Beginners might want to start with just a few minutes a day and gradually increase. Five minutes is better than zero! Just like working out, the benefits will compound over time. Generally, the more frequently and longer, the better, but don’t discount the short sessions. Thirty minutes a day is an excellent goal to strive for. Set a timer. There are many apps you can download for phone or table that have timers, keep logs, and play chimes at the beginning and end of your session. Close your eyes and focus on your breathe. Inhale deeply into your diaphragm and slowly exhale. Don’t force the breathe, but just let it flow naturally as your allow your attention to draw there. Don’t worry if thoughts come while you are meditating. That is going to happen, especially if you’re new to it. Just try to observe the thoughts without judgment. Continue this until your timer lets you know the session is up. Don’t quit early!! Completing your full session time is going to help you build the discipline needed for an ongoing meditation practice. If you stick with it daily and increase your session length over time, you’ll soon notice some positive changes in your life. Try journaling afterwards to log any major insights or an especially great feeling. You will feel so wonderfully grounded, peaceful, and ready to conquer the world!
It is not only adults who experience stress. Children can also experience stress. We all know stress is not good for us physically or mentally. Stress can lower one’s resistance to infections and can put one at risk for developing gastric ulcers.
For children, stress can be experienced in school or from peers. Difficult tasks, fear and anxiety from class and inability to relate with school peers are some of the stressors for children. If they are exposed to such situations for a extended period of time, it can interfere with learning and goal accomplishment.
You can incorporate relaxation strategies in your daily routine. You can start with yoga and Tai Chi. Although these relaxation techniques are mostly used for adult stress management, we can tailor the exercise regimen for children. Consult with an expert on age appropriate exercises. While doing the regimen, incorporate play as well to entice and encourage the child. Example, you can instruct a child to do a relaxation pose similar to that of a wriggling snake. Let the child imagine and do snake like movements. We can teach proper breathing techniques by incorporating storytelling.
Exercise is essential in all age groups. Sadly, statistics show that as children become older they become less active. Prevent this one by incorporating exercise in day-to-day activities. Simple play activities such as classroom exploration, scavenger hunts, dancing to music, brisk walking and playing with siblings and other family members right in the comforts of one’s own backyard, are activities that can involve exercise.
A key to living healthy is eating healthy. Start this habit while the child is still young. Instead of chocolate bars and candies, opt for healthier choices such as fruit smoothies. There are numerous ways to prepare a child’s snack into something healthy. Start introducing your child with healthy versions of snacks, such as fruit salads and kebobs, vegetables in yogurt dips. You can even grow your own small garden where you and your child can identify fruits and veggies and pick them for a meal or a snack. Instill a sense of health in children by taking them to farmer’s markets where they can learn about different vegetables and their health benefits.
Please, do not forget to support the child mentally and emotionally. This can only be done through effective communication. Communication can be done in almost any activity possible, you can simply invite the child to prepare food, and take this time to talk about the day’s activities and plans. Let the child help with household chores, limit the time spent on watching TV and playing video games, go outdoors together and celebrate birthdays as a family. These open communication lines and are great venues for developing self-confidence and emotional stability.
I won’t think about Monday
I hate to think about Mondays too…in the meantime, I shall practice this yoga position, maybe it actually helps.