A cynic's introduction to chakras

Acupuncture, an Ancient Chinese healing method based on the body's energy meridians, is so widely accepted today that many Health Insurance funds cover it. But mention the word chakra and, more often than not, people's eyes get that look... the one that says "Oh Gawd, here we go..."

But I contend the chakra system has been unfairly tarred with the hippy-dippy 'woo woo' brush and has a lot to offer the thinking person when it comes to improving wellbeing.

What's that now? Yes - and here's my explanation in a word:


If nothing else, the value of chakras is they represent a systematic approach to recognising and responding to the spectrum of human states of being.

Let me do a quick detour for anyone unfamiliar with chakras.

Originating in Ancient India, the Sanskrit word chakra means 'spinning wheel of light'. While there are thought to be as many as 114 chakras, there are 7 main ones which correspond to nerve bundles and major organs, primarily along the spine. These include from bottom to top, the Base or Root chakra; Navel; Solar Plexus; Heart; Throat, Third Eye and Crown chakras, as pictured:

Weirded out already? I'll just mention that the human eye can only perceive 0.0035 percent of the entire electomagnetic spectrum. This proves nothing, but means we should keep an open mind about how much we really know about our world.

When I was young I was all about energy work - I did my Reiki certificates, studied colour therapy, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and martial arts. At that stage in my life I lacked the 'left brain' comprehension of why these things worked and was relying on a magical mystical interpretation, which in the end left me disappointed and for a long time I had chakras in the Recycling Bin too.

In my office career I grew into strategic roles, and started developing policies, frameworks, and solving complex problems by applying different methodologies. I learned how these offer ways to methodically work through situations and develop practical evidence based responses. These responses won't be perfect because every situation is slightly different, but it gives you somewhere useful to start.

Then I met several really smart well educated people who are convinced crystals have power, to the extent they wear them religiously and put them in the full moon light to cleanse. This weirded me out! But it got me thinking about those old ideas in a new way, I started to wonder whether 'the power' these things offer is less about them and more about us and the way we respond to them.

That's how I now see the chakra system - a system for self healing.

Each energy centre corresponds with a series of human needs, healthy and unhealthy states, and aspirations, that spans our basic survival requirements through to self understanding, social intelligence, creative expression and spirituality. The framework operates on the concept of balance and offers a way to recognise where you might need to do a little more, or do a little less, to regain a healthy condition.

Each chakra is paired with a specific colour, physical location, symbol, tones, foods and even gemstones. This makes the system more engaging, memorable and with practical associations in everyday life.

Golden Rutile Quartz, with it's golden fibres, is linked with the Solar Plexus chakra and with increased physical and mental energy; increased willpower and positivity, and a clear sense of purpose. Each time I see this crystal, my mind now makes these connections without any effort on my part.

I'm open to the idea of chakras being wheels of light, visible to some, that can be influenced by energy sources like other humans' hands and potentially crystals. It sounds exciting! But I can't prove that or disprove it either way.

But it seems foolish to me to waste what is undoubtedly a beautiful approachable framework through which to work towards feeling great and being a better human, just because it hasn't been endorsed in laboratories. Yet. :)

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