Module 5: ANAHATA Chakra
You have the right to love and be loved.
To give and receive unconditional love.
You have the right to this love from others, yourself and the Divine.
Our fourth chakra lives at heart center governing the cardiorespiratory system, chest, upper back, shoulders, arms and hands. Anahata translates to “unstruck or unhurt.” Igniting the fire of our will and working through ego in chakra three allows us to enter into the realm of the heart, the midpoint of our energy system and the greatest healing place on earth. The element of the fourth charka is air representing the breath, life and the phenomena of love. Love is the foundation of all life for it creates, gives and sustains life. The Divine is love, you are love. Chakra four relates to the following aspects. Pay attention to anahata chakra when experiencing challenges in these areas and when you are feeling no love for your upper body:
relationships (with self, others, body, food)
compassion & forgiveness
A favorite yogi friend of mine always says in her classes, “Come to the altar of your heart.” I just love that phrase! To me, it symbolizes that in this chakra our divine feminine and masculine energies merge to empower healing and create balance. Having worked individually with Shakti and Shiva in chakras two and three, they marry in chakra four. This is yoga: union.
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
You, yourself, as much as anyone in the entire Universe, deserve your love and affection.
Life force or “prana” both ascends and descends through the physical self and also joins at heart center. Accepting our bodies, emotions, and desires in the lower chakras enhances our connection to Source above, to Divine inspiration which enables us to bring it down into the reality of our lives. Here at heart center, the emotions and desires we’ve kept stuffed in our legs and bellies comes into the light of love. Once allowed into this sacred midpoint we can receive support from Source for healing our pain and the layers of ego we took on to survive it. Skipping this step keeps us stuck. Working with this second emotional center is essential for knowing deep peace, joy and true health. The question begs to be asked here, what is love? In a word: presence. Love is simply being with what is completely, it’s Feeling All Truth. Drop trying to understand, figure it out, get rid of it. Just feel it. You don’t have to like it, but it’s necessary to fully be with your current experience in order to transform it.
Nothing ever goes away until it’s taught us what we need to know.
This is what compassion means, “to suffer with” or “to be with.” Remember this is the essence of “asana,” the sanskrit word for yoga pose as well; simply “to sit” with what is. Your life is your best teacher and what you feel is a guide home to your True Self. The learning is hard work but well worth it. Most people find sitting still crazy difficult, even impossible. Practicing presence during The FAT Experience is particularly hard. I’ve found for myself and my clients that doing this really hard thing of connecting compassionately to our Fear, Anxiety and Tension inevitably reveals grief (remember the iceberg picture from module 3). This is the most repressed emotion because it’s the last step in healing the original wound that birthed the ego layer that’s emerging in the moment. This makes grief the emotion we’re conditioned to be most afraid. Expressing grief shows vulnerability, it reveals our humanness which most of us learned is unsafe. To feel our heartbreak and heal it takes surrendering into it completely, it takes vulnerability, beautiful feminine traits we’ve been trained to fear and control. Just on the other side of fear and grief however, lies joy.
What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.
At some point in our lives we all experience heartbreak, perhaps many of them. These can be as mundane as being teased or having inadequate parental connection when young, to physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse. These are the points at which we disconnect to survive subconsciously (or very consciously) deciding we’ll never let that happen again. We shut down “ashaya,” the abode of the heart, for protection. We erroneously take charge of our pain by hurting ourselves through disordered eating and other behaviors which create misery within a mirage of control and safety. It may even give us the illusion of love from others as we are praised for essentially abusing our bodies through diets, food obsessions, perfectionism and harsh exercise. Heart hungers get easily confused with body needs in this dynamic. Let’s do some work now nourish our heart honestly.
Take a moment to pause here and do at least 15 minutes of The PHAT Practice to check in with your body and soul. Then come back and grab your sketch book. Draw a BIG heart and place the words “Heart Menu” over it like in the picture here. My daughter did this after hearing me talk about an experience with a client. We’ll be doing ours a little differently. In the heart draw, write, paint or collage in what you’re heart needs fed based off of what you’ve been journaling in your PEACE Pages under Soul Appetites. You know, things like adventure, self-expression, energy, connection, acceptance, relaxation, etc. Also consider what you want from your Empowered Intentions worksheet. You are listing here examples of experiences that would satisfy those appetites. For example, connection could be fed with a monthly girls night out, joining a book club or putting yourself out there to date. It could also be met through asking your significant other for hugs when you want them or to have conversations eye to eye with no phone or TV going. List the self-care stuff you all ready do or think about doing new things such as hot lavender baths, art, walking in the woods, etc. Hang this up on the fridge as a reminder that food is just food and that the heart needs nourished too. Commit to dining on one of these items everyday. Feel free to share your image with me via e-mail or on the BKH FB Page.
Walling off our heart makes perfect sense at the time the hurt happens, but this armoring against pain (namely grief), simultaneously shuts down our capacity for joy. To abandon ourselves, our own experience, is to not love ourselves. This sets up the dysfunctional dynamic of searching for the big L elsewhere. People pine for the love and approval of others (the very thing we really want from being thin) because we’ve lost the love of self by defensively disconnecting from our own hearts.
A guarded heart cripples the healing process and disempowers us. Not only are emotions in chakra two unable to move through to be expressed causing painful body image, battling to keep pain at bay dulls discernment skills at chakra three, inhibiting our ability to distinguish physical from emotional hungers. Energy imbalances here cause us to eat out of alignment seeking pleasure in dieting and/or overeating behaviors. We may be physically hungry but emotionally full so we restrict, or our physical needs are met but we struggle with an insatiable appetite to keep feeding our souls.
This chakra represents our social identity and is oriented to self-acceptance. The main reason we contain ourselves is to preserve our place in the world. At our core we are tribal beings. We’re wired to believe we need the approval of others to survive and at one time that was true. When we were hunter- gatherers to be “voted of the island,” so to speak, meant certain death. That’s not the situation now. This day and age, especially in this country, we can be true to ourselves. In fact, contrary to what our egos chatter in our mind about the dangers of authenticity and how it will ruin everything, most of the time being yourself improves relationships. It takes courage to live the path of the heart but with each fear we face we lose REAL weight; the emotional/ energetic weight that’s really holding us back. This leaves us free to know Peaceful body image, to Eat and move in Alignment and Creatively Express ourselves in the world making it better breath by self-loving breath.
Now’s a good time to explore a very important yogic concept; The Sacred Mirror. In yogic philosophy what ever we see in others is reflecting an aspect of ourselves. This is the essential meaning of namaste which means, “the light in me, sees the light in you” pointing to the True Nature of Atman (the Divine) in all of us. This concept also holds true of pain and darkness. I discuss this in one of my favorite blog posts. Paying attention to who triggers you and working with the emotions is important heart chakra work. Take some time now to work with this concept in your own life.
Settle into your sacred space with your Creation Journal and art supplies. Read the blog “Dark Guides” by clicking HERE, then watch this video blog.
How was that experience for you? What people came to mind as dark guides for you. Who do you have unresolved emotion with? Who might you need to forgive? Work with your insights and emotions through journaling and art for a while, even take a few days with this is things get really stirred up. Especially if you find yourself angry or wanted to stop this work. Write a “Love Letter” to anyone who you believe has hurt you significantly in the past or is hurting you now. Include the following points:
What they did or did not do that has caused you pain.
How you feel as a result of the experience and how those emotions are affecting your life, especially the relationship with yourself and others.
What you would like them to do to heal the situation.
Express that you are working on or have forgiven them.
Now for the most important part of this work. Answer this question: How do you treat yourself the same way? Journal your reaction to this and list 3 action oriented things you can do to change that. For example, if someone abandoned you, acknowledge how you abandon yourself by not listening to your body’s cues or setting and holding healthy boundaries. Or maybe someone lied to you. Do you like to yourself about how you feel or what you really want? This is hard work but super self-empowering and healing for the whole world. Give yourself the gift of forgiveness and watch the peaceful body image and a better life blossom.
Once the hurt is in our heart, it’s our responsibility to heal it.
For more heart help here’s my video blog on two more yogic principles. Watch and journal about these too.
Here’s the rest of our heart chakra resources and practices. Remember, you are worth the work of healing and freeing your sacred heart.
Exploring & Healing Anahata
Let’s continue working on heart healing. Take some time and space to write your responses to the following prompts in your Creation Journal and do the suggested activities that come along with them. Share thoughts, feelings and body sensations related to the experiences and any beliefs about you, your body or your life that you took on as a result of these.
NOTE: If you’ve made it this far, rock on! Often we get stuck back down in the 1st three energy centers because just surviving feels safe. Again, this is not a linear thing. We do need to cycle through all the chakras again and again to keep healing and evolving. You are a brave warrior woman. To continue on the path will pay off BIG time for you and help to heal the sacred heart of the whole world. Keep breathing it through beautiful!
When was the first time you experienced grief, your first BIG heartbreak? Tell your story about this hurt. Create an image through art or craft that symbolizes that pain. Even if you think you’re “over it,” do this and share your story with a trusted soul and/or in your journey circle.
What is your relationship to the above experience? What was going on with body image at that time? How about weight and food?
What did you learn from it? Do you have regrets? Do you still experience emotional when reflecting on it? Have you had other experiences like it? Do you think it’s healed and if so how did you do that? If not, what’s left to work on?
Describe your current and past relationship with your chest/breasts, shoulders, arms and upper back? What do you think about them? How do they feel to you? What thoughts come up when you become more aware of this area of your body? What were you told about how this area should look or what they mean? How do you want them to be different and why?
What/who do you love in your life? Do you let that love in all the way? Are you afraid of losing it? Take some time now to sit in stillness visualizing this/them and notice how you feel in your body. Write about that, deepen your connection to this experience, the experience of love.
What do balance mean to you? What areas of your life feel in balance? What ones feel imbalanced? What would you need to do or let go of to create balance in the off areas? What fears come up when you consider making changes to better care for yourself and have a more balanced life?
Reflect again on the feminine and masculine archetypes. Which one feels dominate for you? How does that show up in your life, especially your significant relationships? How can marry these more harmoniously?
Are you comfortable receiving? What happens when someone gives you a compliment or tells you they love you? Is that uncomfortable? Do you minimize it, push it away? Where do you feel the discomfort in your body?
Do you consider yourself an emotional eater? What foods are comforting to you and why? List them and write out any thoughts, feeling and associations you have to them. What’s your relationship with these foods?
Do you allow yourself to feel sad? Do you fear it? How do you repress or express it? Now how about joy? Write about your thoughts/beliefs of both.
Energy Body Mapping
We are at perhaps the most powerful point on your map! What does your fully healed, open, courageous heart look like? Let’s see it. Tap into heart center through your practices here and express the true beauty of you that is this essence on your body mapping.