The sixth center is the chakra of Light, Ajna. This is the storied third eye and the center of Light. As we grow in our hearts we grow in our third eye, which allows us to take in more Light, expanding reality with the realization there is more than meets the physical eyes. This is the center that opens us to things unseen (until we see them) and the higher intuition of which the human being is capable. When we realize that we are both made of light and perceive via light, suddenly an entire new reality is open to our perception. This chakra is associated with the color indigo blue and the pineal gland, which regulates not only our sleep, and melatonin creation, but also our processing of elemental Light. The associated nerve plexus is the entire autonomic nervous system, which operates our fundamental reactions to the wider world. “Fight or flight” and “feed or breed” are evoked based on the input of the autonomic nervous system. When we exist in a constant state of stress we activate the fight/flight/ freeze sympathetic nervous system, which causes vasoconstriction, the narrowing of blood vessels, drawing energy to our limbs and away from our central digestive system, and emits neurochemicals that keep us ready to run, fight, or play dead at any given moment. Because so many people live in a state of constant stress they exist in an almost permanent sympathetic state. This stress colors our understanding of the world and has dramatic physiological results such as constant inflammation and chronic illness. The body is not meant to live in a cortisol flooded state. Contrast that with the parasympathetic nervous system, which stimulates a relaxed state. In this state the body is flooded with endorphins (natural opiates), blood flow and energy is directed to the organs, healing factors are emitted, and we experience states of bliss and connection. The pineal gland, which regulates our intake of Light, is intricately connected to how we perceive the world. When we regard the world as frightening with monsters around every corner we stay in a state of stress, which reinforces itself with more stress. When we perceive it as a safe, loving place we are rewarded with a healthier body and mind.
Today I ask for protection from shadows of my mind and the clarity of Sight…
The fifth heart is the throat chakra, Vishuddhi, or in our language, the Mist. This center is associated with the Soul’s true song, its voice, and higher knowing. In the throat center we learn how to express what we learned of ourselves in the solar plexus and refined in the connections of the heart. We enter a state of true power in which we must share the very essence of ourselves with the world in the way only we are able. This center is our true song. It is our numerological soul’s urge and our astrological ascendant. It is how we synthesize all of our experiences in a way that will assist others within the labyrinth. It is the true beginnings of bold and active service. The throat is typically thought of as the color turquoise. It is the voice of the prophet, cantor, and visionary. It is associated physically with the thyroid gland who in dysfunction becomes a visible goiter on the throat. The nerve plexus that innervates the throat is the cervical ganglia medulla plexus, which operates the vocal apparatus, arms, and hands, which open themselves to give and to sing as only we can.
The fourth center is the heart or Anahata. This vortex is associated with connection to the heart of the Earth and the group Heart-mind itself. It is through the heart that we connect deeply in a compassionate way with ourselves and others as Souls rather than simple physical, biological beings acting out patterned behaviors. This is, in my experience, the heart of the Greening, in which the tendrils of our individual hearts reach out to those we love and honor and link to in an intricately intimate way. We learn how to love in all ways in this place. There is no sense of power over in this space but rather a sacredness of interconnection and a dream of true intimacy. Like our Green siblings, the trees and plants of our Earth, we link together to share resources and communicate through the subtle turnings of our leaves in the wind. The heart of the Greening is associated with the color green and with the nerve plexus of the physical heart itself, which regulates the entire circulatory system. The heart of the Greening is also associated with the endocrine system, and the thymus gland. The thymus gland is typically associated with the mysterious im- mune system that protects us from disease. The thymus, although allopathically considered vestigial, boosts our ability to heal from and prevent disease by connecting with the larger group Heart-mind. It activates our ability to connect with universal Light to heal more quickly and efficiently than we ever could on our own.
Today I connect my heartbeat to the rhythms of Earth herself and clear the spaces between…
The third center is the solar plexus or Manipura. This is the bright yellow inner sun located at the tummy. This is our fiery heart, our sun. It fuels us, distributes energy, and warms our inner fires. It is the seat of the ego and personal will. It connects with the Earth’s sun, who is the central star of our existence. Like Leo the Lion, our sun is the ego exalted who gives warmth, healing, and energy with his benevolent rays. When we grow in this heart we swallow the sun and elevate our ego to higher service. The navel is the connecting point of our egoic self in its multiplicity. It is at the umbilical cord that we disconnect from our bodily mother and take form as individual beings at birth. It is through the umbilicus that we connect with all the many parallel existences of personal experience. In Ayurveda the navel is the home seat of all 72,000 nadis (energy centers). In Traditional Chinese Medicine the solar plexus is home of the lower Tan Tien (dandien), which sits approximately three cun, or finger widths, below the belly button. The Tan Tien (hara in Japanese) is the seat of Chi in the human body. It is the focal point of personal power and is a major point for meditation in Chi Gong, martial arts, TCM. The physical region is the center of digestion and it is associated with the pancreas, which secretes insulin and balances the intake of sugars to regulate energy levels. The related nerve plexus is also called the solar plexus and it innervates the digestive system. When this system is malfunctioning we cannot properly utilize the energy, physical or subtle, we take in.
Today I swallow the sun that my lower ego may elevate to Service & Love…
The second of the seven hearts is commonly called the sacral. In Sanskrit it is Svadisthana. This is the orange watery heart. The sacral governs our sexual fluids, which are the source of our personal light, vitality, creativity, and empathy. It also governs our blood, lymph, and cerebrospinal fluid. This space links us with the people of Water and the emotional realms of empathic cleansing and connection. This is where we begin to differentiate from the ancestral group-mind and make links with others through energetic bonds. We learn the arts of connection, empathy, and cleansing. This heart pulses with all our inner waters (and recall we are 80% water). Water is the messenger molecule of the body and it carries emotional imprints through the entire system.3 The sacral connects with the endocrine system at the gonads, which regulates sex hormones, and with the sacral nerve plexus, which innervates the repro- ductive system and the genitourinary system, which literally cleanses our watery waste out of the body through urination.
Today I bless my inner waters and dip myself in the cleansing seas of our Mother…
There are seven primary energetic vortices in every human system. The yogic traditions call these chakras, which translates loosely to “wheels of Light.” Shamanic Touch (TM) teaches the seven “tunnels of Light.” My preferred translation is the seven Hearts since each has its own pulsing beat that connects elementally (macrocosm) and then again at the human heart (microcosm). Each of these centers is a microcosmic energetic converter and a macrocosmic translation unit. Our chakra connects with the correspondent element in the Earth herself. Each of these subtle energy centers connects at a major endocrine gland, which informs its basic function and sphere of influence. It also connects to a nerve plexus that innervates particular realms of the microcosmic body and speaks the language of the macrocosmically connected elemental realm.
The first and deepest of the seven centers is the root located at the base of the spine. In Sanskrit this is Muladhara. This is the red heart that connects us to our tribe. It is associated with survival, instinct, and the ancient wisdom that connects us with all those who have gone before. This space links us with the people of Stone and the ancestral voices. It is the deepest, densest area. Yet the core issues of life are held here and if we wish to unlock our energy in a safe way with firm foundations we must address the root first. The root holds issues of ancestral healing, financial security, early familial relationships, and issues of safety and abandonment. The rooting heart is associated with our bones and the skeletal structure of our physical bodies and it connects to the macrocosmic stone skeletal body of our Mother. The rooting heart links with the adrenal gland, which governs fight or flight and the regulation of stress hormones. It also corresponds with the sacral-coccygeal nerve plexus, which innervates the lower body allowing us to physically transport our- selves in local space. The rooting heart keeps us linked to our tribe and ancestors, which frees us to move and explore on our own. It is the tether that keeps us safe as we fly.
Today I make offerings to my ancestors that we may heal together. As their wisdom fills my bones, my voice joins them in Song.
External cleansing is only part of the equation. We must also occasionally cleanse our inner physical workings. A fast is an appropriate traditional way of detoxification in which we allow our physical body to slow down, reserve its energy to heal rather than digest, and purify ourselves of toxins regularly consumed. How often and how long you choose to fast is wholly individual however there are traditional times that lend themselves to sacred fasts. Fasts do not have to be long and I’ve found brief 24 hour fasts to be the most effective. When we exceed our body’s reserves we take the risk of damaging our personal light.
For women the time around the moon cycle, the menses, is particularly powerful. The body sheds the endometrial lining of the past month, the mind and emotions are highly sensitive, and for many women not on artificial birth control the moon is either new or full. The word menses is connected to the word moon and the word month, which linguistically leads us to a natural understanding of our inner cyclic workings. The giving of blood is traditionally associated with connecting to the other realms and women do this naturally. Bloodletting, although I do not recommend it, was used for centuries to purify the “bad blood” of patients and to draw up the healing vital essence of the patient. This practice hearkens back
to the idea of purification by bleeding and calling the gods and ancestors by making an offering of blood. When we bleed we are connected to the spirit realms and our own vital essence. Men may not have the obvious physiological reminders but they are also on a moon cycle. They must pay attention to when personal energy is most broad and when it is quieter. In those quieter times of the monthly cycle it is appropriate to consider a gentle fast. And whenever we “accidentally” cut ourselves it is appropriate to stop and take the time to connect with those primal forces that call us to purification through the sacrifice of our own blood.
At the dark of the moon just before the new moon shows herself in the sky we have an opportunity to go into the dark and clear out the old. This is a good time to stay close to home, fast by drinking herbal teas and pure water, eat little and only non-stimulating fresh foods. Remove caf- feine, alcohol, meat, rich foods, and heavy spices during the fast. Spend extra time meditating, reading, resting, and dreaming. This is an extremely powerful time.
Another traditional time for fasting is at the turning of each season. Just as we spring clean our homes we spring cleanse our bodies with a fast and seasonal dietary adjustment. Green things feed us in the spring, fruit fuels the summer, squashes and grains in the fall, and denser roots in the winter align us physically with the season cycles easing our transi- tions. Eating foods that are available locally helps us to stay attuned with the Earth’s cycles.
Finally it is appropriate to fast or undertake a physical cleanse whenever we feel toxic. Toxicity causes physical illness, fatigue, depression, pain, and emotional turbulence. When we are suddenly loaded with symptoms it is time to learn curative healing methods. Most naturopathic healers, myself included, start each guest with a detoxification cleanse customized to their specific symptoms and constitutional portrait. Sometimes this is all that is needed to stimulate the personal light of the guest and stimulate authentic healing. Please consult an herbalist, health coach, or naturopathic practitioner for specifics. There is no one size fits all for cleansing fasts.
Cleansing and detoxification should be undertaken with the natural cycles (moon and seasonal) and when personally needed. Be gentle with yourself during a fasting time. Do not overexert your body with vigorous exercise. Take plenty of time to rest and meditate. You may find yourself going into a slightly altered state in which the body slows down and the senses open. Make certain your body can sustain a small fast but do not make it excessive. We need food to sustain our light and depriving the body of that nourishment is against life, although small breaks in which we realign are appropriate for those who are physically and energetically able.
Yet another way to cleanse is a ceremonial fire. This is the way of fire and earth. Naturally fallen tree limbs fuel the flames and we meld our light for purification by fire. As we sit by the fire, fanning it with our breath and warming our skin with its touch, the dark places inside are burned away and the resentments and attachments disappear with the smoke. Sitting with fire is a form of communion in which the flames teach his secrets to those willing to listen. You can add aromatic incense to the fire, keep time with a steady drum, and connect deeply to the heartbeat of Earth.
Aromatic Fire incense
Another traditional and very powerful way to cleanse is a salt bath. This is cleansing by earth and water. Salt is the sacred cleansing agent of the Earth who scrubs our wounds clean and when mingled with the waters of the bath pours itself into all the spaces that will welcome it. Sacred baths are ancient and powerful. When we literally wash off the residue of the day with a salt bath we are exfoliating the dead skin of the day to make ourselves fresh and new. Adding fragrant oils, flower petals, candles, and soft music makes the bath more evocative and purifying. Particular oils and herbs are chosen based on the needs of the moment. Lavender carries his precision of healing and balancing. Rose offers her noble purity and Rosemary her brilliant strength and intelligence. Cedar and the trees give their steadfast, unwavering protection. Sage steps in with his gift for stripping away and cleansing. Jasmine holds court with her sensual wisdom while Neroli brings her joy and laughter. The possibilities are endless and present themselves based on need. When we ask for help from an honest space of heartfelt desire Nature conspires to offer it.
A recipe for a salt bath
1 cup sea salt
1/2 cup epsom salt
1/2 cup baking powder
3 drops rose oil
2 drops lavender oil
1 drop sweet orange oil
a handful of rose petals and dried lavender
Floral waters are cleansing agents directly gifted to us from the flowers of the Earth herself. The official term for these aromatic waters is hydrosols and they are byproducts of the distillation process that gives us the powerful essential oils used in herbalism and aromatherapy. Floral waters are one of my favorite ways to cleanse as they offer a cleansing by water and air. The flowers imprint their fragrant light onto the waters, gently blessing them with soft petal kisses. The main trinity of floral waters are rose, jasmine, and neroli (orange blossom).
Rose (Rosaceae) is the royalty of flowers. With her subtle, deep notes she evokes the magic of movement and the light of the sacred in all she touches. Rose offers transcendent peace and comfort and has been used throughout the centuries for everything from calming to offering to cosmetics. Rose evokes beauty and sacred purity. Many who experience apparitions of the Holy Mother smell roses in Her wake.
Jasmine (Jasminium) is the night blooming flower of mystery, moon- light, and wisdom. She is the full moon in the darkest night who reaches her vining fingers to those who adore her. Jasmine has been engaged for her aphrodisiac qualities and as an element in love tinctures of all kinds. She ever so subtly stimulates those who wish to stay up through the magi- cal night with her to learn her many secrets.
Neroli (Citrus aurantium subsp. amara or Bigaradia) or orange blossom has a musky sweetness evocative of earth and air. The optimism of citrus blends with the magic of florals in Neroli’s soft, sweet breath. Neroli is uplifting; she heals moodiness, and challenges us to brighten our lives. Neroli is kindness in a flower.
You can work with each flower individually or combine these floral waters into a spritzer to spray your space and clear yourself. I’ve found these flowers shift space quickly and with very little fanfare. Gently powerful, these evocative florals purify and bless our inner waters while clearing the clouds from darkened skies.