My first experience with the chakras was when I followed a discourse for Reiki when I was 17 years old. Reiki is a powerful tool to open the chakras and speed up the spiritual journey. All Reiki practitioners, no matter what their level is, have gone through a personal process to balance and open the chakras. Often the practice focuses on the crown chakra, the heart chakra and the chakras located within the palms. Once these chakras are opened with someone he/she can use Reiki on himself and on others following a spiritual path. With Reiki you use the universal Ki energy to flow from the universe through the practitioner to heal oneself or another person through a hand gesture or touch. This can be from nearby or even from a distance. When there is a blockage within a practitioner it is not advised that he/she tries to help others through Reiki because the negative energy or blockage is transferable. I practiced Reiki for a few years but it didn’t benefit me very much so my practice became less.
My second experience with chakras was while practicing meditation during Yoga classes. During a guided meditation we would travel along the chakras starting from the Root Chakra and passing through all seven chakras. During these practices we would focus on multiple aspects linked to these energy points. We used color, and visualization of different kinds of shapes or forms. Sometimes it worked, sometimes I was really distracted and I found it difficult to stay focused on a particular area.
When I decided to follow a teacher training at Arhanta to become a certified Yoga teacher, the chakras again came back. Every now and then I would dedicate my meditation practice to the chakras. During the practice at the Hatha Yoga teacher training it was the first time for me that a Bija Mantra (seed mantra) was added to the meditation practice. This verbally or mentally chanting of the mantra was quite a strong experience for me and it helped me to concentrate better on a specific area. It was a way to cleanse the energy points within the body located along the spinal column and to awaken the Kundalini spirit so it could flow freely through the chakra centres. However to me the most significant chakra focus was during the asana practice. Here I discovered how to focus on the chakras in a specific posture in order to stimulate the chakras to dissolve blockages and keep body and mind healthy.
As I started my Yin Yoga teacher training I noticed here also a specific focus on chakra meditation. What do the chakras do? Where are they located? How does it work? There is a complete practice with multiple options on which you can focus according to every stage of difficulty. Some practitioners like to focus on a sensation around the chakra. Others like to use the Bija mantra. Observing which emotions, feelings and thoughts come up. Learning that the three bodies are connected through the chakras and how you can influence them by cleansing. Experiencing and learning that by focussing on the chakras and stimulating them, not only positive but also negative feelings and experiences can come up. You should always be aware of this. Life is about dealing with ups and downs and chakra experiences are no different.
As I am focusing and reading about Yoga Nidra there again the chakras find their way back into my practice. It’s not necessary to use chakras within this practice but it’s an option to focus on. It can help you to unblock the energy stream and let the unconscious mind help to get a free flow again.
During each practice with the chakras I experienced that there is a great variety to how many chakras there are or where they are located. This all is not important because everyone has the freedom to interpret the information which we receive and to work with this in order to find his or her own liberation.
My personal experience with the first two chakras, Muladhara Chakra and Svadhisthana Chakra has been overwhelming and also scary sometimes. These first two chakras bring such a strong energy to my practice. Of all the chakras, I can locate these two the most easily, even without using the Bija Mantra. Somehow they are very present and obviously felt within my physical body. There have been times that my emotions went all over the place just by focusing on Muladhara Chakra, which lead to thoughts that maybe practicing chakra meditation is not so good at all or might even be dangerous if you are very sensitive to spiritual energies. By practicing daily I learned to control these emotions. Or maybe I learned to cope with the energy that came up by releasing a blockage within these areas and by allowing whatever energy or emotion comes up be what it wants to be, observing where energy comes from and where it wants to go.
My personal opinion and experience is that you should never only focus on just 1 or 2 chakras but also give even the smallest attention to the other chakras during each practice. I found that the energy that wants to come up to the surface, be it called prana, chi, kundalini, or whatever you believe will be released by practicing chakra meditation, can shoot up from Muladhara chakra to Svadhistana Chakra. However if you don’t include the other chakras in your practice, the energy is blocked within the 3 bodies stopping at Manipura Chakra. It can’t go further upwards and free flow isn’t possible. You always want to keep an open channel and mind towards Sahasrara Chakra so the energy can flow freely throughout the body and no part of the body will be neglected. Try to practice whatever feels comfortable for you as there is so much wisdom to be gained from the chakras and the energy that connects with it. For me it has become a daily routine to spend even a little time bringing the attention inwards and feel what is necessary.
Rodger Shawn Christopher has graduated from the Arhanta Yoga 200 hour yoga teacher training in India in March 2016. He teaches Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga and Hatha Flow. For more information about Rodger Shawn Christopher and his classes, visit his website www.bhaskarayayoga.com.