I feel like I could write a novel on the heart chakra, but I’ll try to keep it to a blog!
Anahata lives in the middle of the chest and encompasses the lungs, heart, the thymus gland and the arms. The color of this chakra is green and it is connected to the earth element of air. The heart center is the bridge between the lower triangle of the first three chakras (our connection to the earth) and the upper triangle of the 5th, 6th, and 7th chakras (our connection to infinity). This center reminds us the WE are the connection between heaven and earth! It is from the power of our collective hearts that we make our lives heaven on earth or a living hell. The beauty of it is that we get to choose the reality that we create for ourselves. But we have to do it together, as the collective human race. Will we choose to live out of love and acceptance of one another or will we choose fear, isolation, greed, hatred? It’s up to us.
This energy center is one of the most powerful in the body. It is the seat of kindness, goodwill, and universal love. It is associated with the human talent of compassion. When you break it down linguistically, compassion literally means “to suffer with.” When we are compassionate, we live from the heart; sensitive to the experience and the needs of others. We feel WITH them, even if our own experience is different form theirs.
Through this center we move from the small perspective of “me” to the bigger picture of “we.” We recognize that we are all connected, not only to each other, but to all living things, and we recognize that what we do, think, and say has a ripple effect on those around us. We are not islands and we don’t live in a vacuum. WE are in THIS together, for better or worse.
I am certified in a system of yoga known as Ashaya, which translates to “abode of the heart.” In this system we are taught to lead with our heart, to keep the mind in service of the heart rather than the opposite and to align our hearts with the universal energy and our higher purpose. By doing this, we cultivate deep gratitude for all that we have and all that we are. When you vibrate from the heart, people recognize it and respond. They can feel that your concern is for them on a subconscious level and your words and actions resonate loudly. There is no more powerful way to influence another person than to show that you are with them.
In order to be fully in this center, we first have to learn to love and accept ourselves with all of our faults and imperfections. If you cannot love and accept yourself, you will never be able to love and accept others. If you cannot forgive yourself for your own faults and failures, trying to forgive another is futile. If you can’t be gracious and compassionate to yourself, you will never extend grace and compassion to anyone else. Ultimately, this is self-hatred; it is isolating and separates us from the flow of grace that is extended freely through our connection to each other and to life itself. Looking out for number one benefits NONE. Maybe there is a short-term gain, but ultimately we end up cut off from the nourishment of the network.
What holds us back from this place of equanimity is fear and attachment, the shadow side of the Anahata. When we are fearful, we go into protective mode and we cannot hear the other. When we are attached to something, whether a person, a belief, an identity, or an idea, we shut down all other possibilities. Our view becomes very narrow and no dialog can occur. No understanding can occur. No empathy can occur.
Diseases of the heart center are rampant in our society. Think of the incidence of heart disease, asthma, COPD and breast cancer. Even COVID-19 attacks the lungs and heart. These disease are evidence of the fear that we live under and the degree to which it has shut down our openness to each other. I know a lot about fear as I’m afraid of everything. It usually surprises people to learn this about me because I’ve learned to hide my insecurity behind expertise, intellect, false confidence; sometimes, dare I say, arrogance. It’s not pretty, but it is the truth.
The antidote to fear and attachment is gratitude. When we are grateful for what we have and what we are, it is impossible to fear. Doing the mind, body and spirit work to move from fear into a place of gratitude is challenging, but well worth the effort. It is transformative and will forever change the way you live and how you experience life. It’s simple, but not easy.
This week, let’s focus on cultivating “an attitude of gratitude;” especially gratitude for ourselves, just as we are. You are a beautiful manifestation of a greater energy. Perfectly imperfect, like a diamond formed in the depths of the earth. So am I, even with my shortcomings. If we can accept the flaws in ourselves, maybe when we feel frustrated or annoyed with another person, we can take a second look and recognize that:
The other is you! ~ Yogi Bhajan