(This article is 4th in Shelley’s series on the chakras)
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched-they must be felt with the heart. ∼Helen Keller
The heart chakra, or Anahata chakra, is considered the center of our chakras. It connects the upper and lower chakras. Just as the physical heart gives us life, one beat at a time, the energetic heart is key to our well-being, joy, and experience of connection. One meaning for Anahata is “unstruck”–the place that sings without being played. The location is in the center of the chest, just behind the physical heart. This energetic center deals with love of self and others, compassion, empathy, kindness, relationship, intimacy, devotion, reaching out and taking in, forgiveness, hope, trust, balance, quest for peace.
The heart is also where we experience and carry grief, where we carry our concern for others; for those things that touch us deeply. We know how it feels to be “heart-sick” or “heart-broken.” When we allow ourselves to feel these emotions, to allow them to touch our lives and to live from this authentic place, where we experience both deep joy and tremendous pain, we can truly connect with each other. While most of us would like to avoid pain and tragedy, these experiences often make us reach out to give and receive care for and from each other.
The physical organs that the heart chakra most affects are the thymus, heart, cardiac nerve plexus, lungs, circulatory system, immune system, shoulders, arms, ribs, breasts, and diaphragm. There are many studies that show the link between yoga breathing, yoga practice, meditation, energy work and benefits to the cardiac and respiratory systems.
Instead of focusing on the research, today I’d like to focus on one aspect of the heart that is profoundly effective in shifting our focus in order to live from a more heart-centered place. A gratitude practice (such as I’m suggesting below) can be life-changing. This is not an, “I know I have a lot to be thankful for, but…” way of thinking. Instead, it’s a turning our attention and awareness to the present moment, and focusing on the gifts and blessings. This can be done even during our darkest times, and can shed a ray of light on our situation. With regular practice, it can become a way of experiencing life.
Let this experience settle into your bones, until it becomes a new way of being:
Begin by centering. Focus on and slow down the breath. After a few minutes of breath meditation, bring to mind one thing you are grateful for. Continue to breathe slowly and smoothly, allowing yourself to experience the feeling of gratitude for this specific gift in your life. (It may be something small, like the beauty of a flower-whatever comes to you-let it be real for you).
Very gradually let this feeling of gratitude grow until it expands to fill your heart space. Take your time and let it grow further until it fills your entire body. Next, let it overflow, spilling out beyond your body in all directions.
Eventually bring your awareness back to your heart center, allowing the feeling of gratitude to reside there.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. ∼Melody Beattie
Blessings, love, and light. I am grateful for you.
Shelley Carpenter, Physical Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher is a practitioner at Ommani who offers group and individual therapeutic yoga sessions, individual physical therapy, and Reiki care. Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.