It’s been a while since I’ve added to my Breathe and Chakra Release Series. I by no means forgot about the last of what I wanted to share with you, and am excited as ever to share what I have for you today. I did, however, make a little fib. I initially said this would be a five part series, but I cannot simply end it with today’s post. I will be adding on a little conclusion (thereby making this a six part series) to sum up the hi lights of the exercises, breathing techniques, and Chakras I have shared with you over the previous four segments. If you are needing a reminder or catch up, go on over to part 1, 2, 3 or 4.
Today I share with you the last of the Chakras I will be hi lighting. Today we are discussing the fourth energy system – the Heart Chakra. The Heart Chakra, which in Sanskrit is known as the Anahata Chakra, is located right in the middle of the body at the centre of the chest. It connects and balances the world of “matter” or the lower, more physical energy systems (including the root and solar plexus which I have shared with you) and the world of the “spirit,” (the upper three chakras). I believe this is the perfect way to end my series because the heart chakra acts as the transition away from physical grounding and connection with the body in which I have been focusing. The physical and emotional, as I have pressed before, are deeply connected and rely on each to remain in balance. The act of balancing these lower chakras and performing the physical exercises will automatically work to help balance the spirit and emotional centers as well.
The literal Sanskrit translation of “anahata” is “unhurt, unstuck, or unbeaten.” How beautiful is that? It implies that even below our personal stories of pain or suffering – no matter how extensive – lives a boundless, endless supply of love and compassion. This is what this energy system brings you. It can be an extremely powerful energy centre, as it works to bring you back to a sense of child like compassion, softness, need, and can help you return to the parts of your self that have been repressed for many years. To be able to tap into self love, compassion and empathy – rather than anger, resentment or anxiety – I think, is the goal of life. Working with this chakra can get us just a little closer to this goal.
Signs your heart chakra may be blocked include feelings of shyness and loneliness. Maybe you feel like you are undeserving of love or attention or feel an internal need to be taken care of yet feel undeserving to ask for it. Figuring out how to rebalance a blocked chakra, I believe, really comes down to repressed emotions (though I believe all imbalances really boil down to repressed emotions). Whether it is a traumatic event stemming from childhood that you can’t even remember, or a grudge you are holding on to from last week. When you repress your feelings, your entire energy system becomes clogged.
On the opposite side, though closely related, an overpowering heart chakra may include feelings of codependency and outward longing for acceptance or validation. You may also find it hard to forgive, have a tendency to lack empathy and may feel intense jealousy or harsh judgement towards others. This is a sign you are leading with your head rather than your heart.
There are three main intentions we can set in our lives to help extinguish repressed emotions and find a more balanced sense of self compassion.
1. Be open with your emotions.
This one is very difficult, especially in the norms and expectations of todays’ society. In general, we believe expressing emotion is somehow bad, or a sign of weakness. But this only hinders us and creates toxic blocks throughout our bodies – case in point – a blocked heart chakra. By expressing your emotions as they come to you – whether this be through speaking to someone, writing, singing or dancing – we release these blocks and stay open.
2. Let go.
Holding on to feelings of the past only takes us out of the present moment. Stressing about the future only means we are not fully living in the here and now. Yoga and mindfulness practice are excellent ways to consciously work on living in the present and to let go of past emotions or worries of the future.
Let go of what you cannot control. It has happened or is happening, regardless of what you now do. Choose to accept what has happened and turn your focus to what you can control – how you feel or handle the situation or how to move on from it.Express your emotions, let go, accept. Three intentions to live a more present and compassionate life. #chakra #mindfulness #intention Click To Tweet
These three “rules” are plenty to help you live with a more balanced heart chakra. However, the following are some physical exercises, focusing on the breathe, that can help you connect to this energy system even deeper. When connecting with this centre, you may find yourself feeling small – like you may have when you were a child. You may begin to feel a sense of grief, but in a way that also feels light and releasing. This, my friends, is compassion.
Note on meditation posture: In Pema Chodrons, “Living Beautifully,” she speaks of Chogyam Trungpa’s six points for good posture. The third point he teaches is the torso. Trungpa’s instruction is “open front, strong back.” Pema explains that “a strong back doesn’t mean a rigid back, but rather an erect spine and shoulders that aren’t hunched. This leaves the chest area wide open and allows you to feel your heart. If you begin to slump, the heart area becomes constricted, as if you were closing your heart”. What happens to your body when you begin to feel self confident or ashamed? If you are anything like me, the first place that caves in is your shoulders and chest.
Begin sitting with legs crossed or soles of feet together, ontop of your sitting bones with spine straight but not over extended. Extend your arms to each side, bending your elbows upward at 90 degree angles. Feel the gentle stretch in your chest and pectoral muscles. Close your eyes. As you learned in part 1, gently release your jaw to slightly open your mouth. With your arms extended, inhale through your mouth (inhaling on a silent “K” if this helps you to open your throat and soft palate). As you exhale, do not think of exhaling but rather of releasing all the air out of your body and dropping your chest and sternum down toward the floor. Make sure your chest is completely deflated before beginning the next inhale.
Once you feel grounded in your breath and body, close your lips around your teeth and begin to make an audible hum on each exhale. Let the hum ring and vibrate through your body until your exhale is complete. Find a pitch that is comfortable to you and to which you can feel the resonance and vibrations through your chest and back. Play around with different pitches. You may want to “chant“ or “sing“ on this hum to feel more resonance. Once your hum is complete, inhale once again through your mouth.
For this variation you may either sit or lie down on your back. Place both your hands onto your chest, one ontop of the other. On each exhale, feel your heart and your chest soften under this slight pressure of your hands. Inhale as before through your mouth and on the exhale, once again close your lips to create a hum. This time, focus on the “M” consonant. Feel its vibration. Begin releasing each hum on an audible, but soft “MAH.“ You may release on a long, extended “mah” (resembling a sigh) or you may repeat the word, sounding more like “Mahmahmah” until your exhale is complete. Again, play around with different pitches and try to gently chant or sing this “mah.” Don’t forget about you upper register. This may be where you find that sense of child like innocence.
If you are already practicing yoga, you can implement your practice by adding more heart opening poses such as camel pose, standing bow pose/dancer, cow (as in ‘cat and cow’ spine stretches on your hands and knees) and back bending. Any pose that opens the area of the chest will help to balance the heart chakra. Have you ever had a yoga teacher raise caution before entering a long back bend pose? This is because these positions can bring up many repressed emotions. They can be very powerful.
In Pema’s “Living Beautifully,” she has a chapter entitled, “Be Fully Present, Feel Your Heart, and Leap.” She states, “The on-the-spot practice of being fully present, feeling your heart, and greeting the next moment with an open mind can be done at any time. It is a way to claim your courage, your kindnesss, your strength. Whenever it occurs to you, you can pause briefly, touch in with how you’re feeling both physically and mentally and then connect with your heart – by placing your hands onto your chest. This is a way of extending warmth and acceptance to whatever is going on for you right now.”
I think this sums it up beautifully.
A simple touch to the chest can be extremely powerful. The act of turning your attention to releasing this area of your body, through the exhale, can open up those doors you’ve been keeping locked and allow you to release what may be ailing you. Working with the heart chakra has the ability to bring you back to the present moment, and bring you back to your self. With this state of being, we can choose to let go of past hurt feelings and instead open ourselves up to new experiences with compassion and acceptance.How to use the Heart Chakra to find inner compassion and live in the present moment. #compassion #breathe #chakra Click To Tweet
Do you have trouble letting go of past hurt, anger or resentment? Do you find yourself worrying about the future?
What is your preferred way of expressing emotion? Talking to someone? Writing? Creativity?
Are you able to feel compassion for yourself? What does it feel like? What helped you get there?