Aryuvedic tradition describes seven major energy centers that run along the spine and spiral out the front and back of the body in clockwise vortices. The Sanskrit word for these centers is chakra, meaning “wheel of light”.
Modern research in physics and biophysics suggests that these energy centers are also the sites of consciousness, which means consciousness is located throughout our bodies, not just in our brains. It also means that though most of us cannot see chakras, their health is vital to our humanity and our optimal growth.
Each of the seven major chakras corresponds to an electromagnetic field or “body” sometimes called the aura. Disruptions to the healthy functioning of the chakras can be detected in one or more layers of the auric field by trained energy workers and special machines that measure or photograph the electromagnetic charge and the photons emitted. They are probably picked up unconsciously by everyone. That is why some people calm us while others give off “bad vibes”.
Each of the seven major chakras seems to exert influence over specific physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual functions. For example, a disruption of the throat chakra might show up as thyroid problems, timidity, inability to express oneself clearly, and conflict between actions and religious convictions. (See forthcoming articles on each chakra for more information.)
Besides the seven major chakras, there are numerous secondary chakras throughout the body, most commonly located at the joints and nerve plexuses including the palms of the hands. Biophysicists across the world have shown that these secondary chakras may be responsible for a kind of cellular communication within our own bodies and between ourselves and others on an unconscious level. For example, mothers and children may literally communicate through light and other frequencies emitted from the secondary chakras so that a mother knows when her child is hurt or the child knows when the mother is gone. Dysfunction of the secondary chakras can cause delays in the healing process and/or a breakdown in the immune response.
One of the most respected teachers of chakra theory in the western world is Rosalyn L. Bruyere. She has been studied by such scientists as Dr. Valerie V. Hunt at UCLA in the famous Rolfing Study (Rolfing is a kind of massage), Dr. Fritz Albert Popp in a biophoton research study, Dr. Elmer Green in studies at the Menninger Clinic, and in a study on brain-damaged children at the Kennedy Krieger Institute of Johns Hopkins University, to name a few. Her web-site has links to many f these studies.
Bruyere is also the teacher of other respected energy healers. One of the most well-known of these is Barbara Brennan, who is renowned world-wide for her work with chakras as well.
According to Bruyere, aligning any one chakra helps to align the others, and while it is usual for energy workers to discuss chakras as being open or closed, it is more accurate to say that they are blocked or that the energy flow of a particular chakra is inhibited. Similarly, chakras can be over-excited, which also causes disease.
Bruyere also says that each chakra has a viewpoint or “prime directive”. When one of our chakras is over- or under-functioning, we have too much or too little of that chakra’s viewpoint in our lives. This will be discussed in more detail when we explore the function of each chakra.
“It has taken thousands of years, but within this century both scientists and spiritual seekers alike have once again begun to view the laws of nature and the laws of God as reflections of the same truth.” ~Rosalyn L. Bruyere
The auric field is has been measured by scientists as electromagnetic current that extends through and from the body for at least six feet, more or less, in the average healthy person. As each chakra spins, it creates its own electromagnetic field, which in turn combines with the other chakra fields to produce the aura. Each chakra ans the corresponding field have a particular frequency or vibration. With practice, you can feel the frequency of the field and of the chakra.
Bruyere’s book, Wheels of Light, includes a chapter in the appendix that gives the scientific research into verification of the aura. Barbara Brennan’s book, Hands of Light, gives one of the best descriptions of the correspondence between chakra and auric field. I am using Brennan’s descriptions of the aura here. She describes them as being in layers, with the etheric layer closest to the physical body.
However, it should be noted that other authors may disagree with Brennan because sensing the aura and the chakras is somewhat subjective to the energy worker him/herself despite the plethora of scientific research. That is one reason energy medicine is still having trouble achieving respectability among scientists who follow Newtonian rather than quantum physics. Likewise, the descriptions of the chakras and the aura are at least as old as the Hindu Upanishads. As with all ancient wisdom, understanding of the chakra system varies in interpretation from generation to generation as personal experience and now scientific verification adds to the body of knowledge.
The first chakra, called in Sanskrit the Muladhara, meaning wheel of the root/support. It is considered to be the seat of the physical body and is located the the base of the spine. It creates what Brennan calls the etheric body in the aura. It is equivalent to a blueprint for the physical body and is the densest and most easily sensed of the auric layers. Those who can see auras may describe it as looking like blue or gray vertical grid lines. It can be sensed in other living things as well though the color may vary according to the organism.
The second chakra in Sanskrit is called the Swadisthana or Svadisthana, meaning the abode of self. It is situated just behind and below the navel near the sacrum, and in Taoism and Traditional Chinese Medicine it is called the hara or tan tien. It creates what Brennan calls the emotional body. She describes it as being more fluid than the etheric body and varying in colors somewhat like many colored clouds. The colors change from brilliant to dull according to the emotional condition of the person. For example, clear feelings whether they be love or anger are brighter whereas confused feelings are darker and duller.
Manipura is the Sanskrit name for the third chakra. It means wheel of the jeweled city. Located on the spine near the solar plexus, it creates the mental body in Brennan’s description. Like the etheric layer, it is more structured and is mostly yellow in color. It, too, has a grid-like quality but not so pronounced as the etheric body. Brennan says it expands and becomes brighter when we concentrate or think deeply. It may also change color if we are engaged in habitual thought processes almost as if we are giving our thoughts literal form.
The fourth chakra is located near the heart and is called in Sanskrit Anahata, meaning wheel of the unstuck. It creates the astral body of the aura. Like the emotional body, it is composed of clouds of color, but Brennan says they are more beautiful and have a rose tint that indicates the influence of the chakra’s connection with love on the auric layer. Indeed, she says the layer becomes more rosy when we fall in love. Apparently, we connect with people through the energy of this auric layer, and the connection can be pleasant or not depending on the intentions that pass between us. Research done at the Heartmath Institute seems to confirm this assumption.
The fourth chakra marks a connecting point. While it is a common mistake to assume the lower chakras are somehow “less-than” the upper ones, the lower chakras are more concerned with incarnational, physical existence in the manifest world. The upper three chakras are typically described as influencing our spiritual nature. The heart chakra is the bridge that connects the mundane and the spiritual. However, one aspect is no less important than another. All parts of us make the whole, and blocks in any one chakra affect all of our being.
The fifth or throat chakra is on the cervical spine and is called in Sanskrit Vishuddha, meaning pure wheel. Brennan calls the firth layer the etheric template because it “contains all the form that exist on the physical plane in a blueprint or template form” (Brennan 52). She describes it as looking somewhat like a photographic negative though it does have cobalt blue grid lines just like the etheric layer that it supports and creates.
“The etheric template level of the aura creates an empty or negative space in which the first or etheric level of the aura can exist. The etheric template is the template for the etheric body, which then forms the grid structure … upon which the physical body grows.” ~Barbara Brennan
The sixth chakra is sometimes called the third eye or brow chakra because of its location at the top of the spine and in the midbrain. In Sanskrit it is called Ajna, which means command wheel. Brennan calls the body that corresponds to Ajna the celestial body. It is the emotional layer of the spiritual plane. It has pastel colors and an opalescent shine. It is associated with spiritual connection to God, the universe and all creation and is characterized by unconditional love. Just as the fifth layer helps support and create the first auric layer, the sixth layer supports and creates the second or emotional layer.
The seventh chakra is the Sahasrara in Sanskrit and means thousand-petaled wheel. It is located at the crown of the head. The crown chakra creates the ketheric template or the causal body. It is the mental level of the spiritual body and forms the outer, golden-silver egg-shape of the auric field. It is the strongest and most resilient level of the auric field. It is at this level that we know we are one with the creator.
Science has shown that disease often shows up in the aura before it shows up in the physical body. However, energy healing is not some esoteric or psychic ability that only a few gifted people are blessed to have. Naturally, there are some who more natural ability and others who have developed their abilities more than the rest of us, just like there are some athletes that can run faster than the rest of us. However, we all have the ability to use energy to heal, and we do so whether we realize it or not. We don’t have to see or sense auras to do it, either.
Every time a mother kisses a “boo-boo” to make it well or a friend holds the hand of sick loved-one, we share healing energy. Sometimes it sounds pretty woo-woo, but it is truly one of the most basic ways in which we relate and support one another. It is likely the way that Jesus healed, and he told us that what he could do, we could also.
Learning about the energy field can make us more sensitive to it, but we should all remember that any loving-kindness we show to each other and all loving thoughts have healing potential.
- Brennan, Barbara. Hands of Light: a Guide to Healing through the Human Energy Field. New York: Bantam Books, 1988.
- Bruyere, Rosalyn L. Wheels of Light: Chakras, Auras, and the Healing Energy of the Body. New York: Fireside Books, 1994.
- Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution: The Institute of HeartMath’s Revolutionary Program for Engaging the Power of the Heart’s Intelligence. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1999.
- Dale, Cyndi. The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy .Boulder, CO: Sounds True, Inc., 2009.
- Ellis, Richard. Reiki and the Seven Chakras: Your Essential Guide. London: Vermillion, 2000.
- Hunt, Valerie V. Infinite Mind: Science of the Human Vibrations of Consciousness. Malibu: Malibu Publishing, 1996.
- Joy, W. Brugh. Joy’s Way.New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1979.
- McLaren, Karla. Your Aura and Your Chakras: The Owner’s Manual. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1998.
- McTaggart, Lynne. The Intention Experiment. New York: Free Press, 2007.
- Myss, Caroline. Anatomy of Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing. New York: Harmony Books, 1997.
- Schwartz, Gary E. The Energy Healing Experiments: Science Reveals Our Natural Power to Heal. New York: Atria Press, 2007.
- Voigt, Anna. The Chakra Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Realigning Your Body’s Vital Energies. San Diego: Thunder Bay Press, 2003.