With the Chakra System
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A Useful Model of Consciousness
I personally have found no model of consciousness more useful than that provided by the chakra system, extracted as a system of spiritual psychology from yogic tradition. In addition to my nearly 40 years as an astrologer, and my training in western psychology, I also studied extensively in my 20s with both Yogi Bhajan and Swami Muktananda, and my understanding of the chakra system comes primarily from these studies. When you combine astrology with an understanding of the chakras, you have a truly useful tool for tracking the soul that I refer to as the astro-chakra system.
From a yogic perspective, each chakra can be associated with a physiological system – eliminative, reproductive, digestive, etc., an endocrine gland, and a nerve plexus. Of greater interest to us here, we can also associate each chakra with a particular orientation toward life, encompassing various sets of psychological issues, life challenges, and opportunities for growth.
The Seven Chakras
In a nutshell, the chakras break down as follows:
1) In the first chakra, our focus is upon survival. Our challenge here is to secure a safe space in which to pursue the soul’s journey toward healing, growth and actualization of potential. Issues encountered in the first chakra may include abandonment; alienation, excommunication or banishment from the tribe; fear of death; extreme violations of personal space, such as rape, assault, robbery, or vandalism of one’s home; or anything that threatens or we experience as threatening to our physical survival.
2) In the second chakra, our focus is upon maximizing pleasure. Our challenge here is to create a life in harmony with our nature that reflects our personal preferences, desires, and predispositions, and to learn how to enjoy life to the fullest. While this might seem to be a strange thing to have to learn, many of us are born into family and cultural environments that do not support us in being who we are, and the issues of the second chakra can reflect our difficulties in overcoming this lack of support. Such issues can include internalized feelings of guilt or shame around sexuality; feelings of unworthiness; a sense of rejection; a sense of scarcity or inability to enjoy life; various inherited taboos limiting what we feel we can or cannot do; and so on.
3) In the third chakra, our focus is upon taking our place within the world. Our challenge here is to rise to a level of confidence, competence, and success in the field to which we have chosen to apply our creativity, and to make a contribution to the whole of which we are part. Issues in the third chakra can revolve around feelings of inadequacy or inferiority; difficulties in competing and/or cooperating with others; claiming and responsibly expressing personal power; protecting and defending our personal space; taking a stand for what we believe; and in general, establishing a personal base on which we can function effectively as an individual in relation to the collective.
4) In the fourth chakra, our focus is upon learning to love self and others. Loving self entails not only acquiring a high level of self-acceptance, but also finding and living a uniquely personal sense of purpose that arises from the very essence of who we are – a challenge encompassed by the Hindu word, dharma. The dharma of a candle flame is to burn; your dharma is to _______ fill in the blank. It is your answer to the question, “Why are you here, alive in this body in this place at this time?”
The fourth chakra also encompasses the huge challenge of relationship, especially the necessity for reclaiming everything we project onto another person, either as part of our shadow, our rejected self, or as part of the anima or animus, our ideal partner or mate.
These two challenges go hand in hand, for as long as we are projecting anything on another, we can’t truly accept or be ourselves; and to the extent that we are not loving ourselves unconditionally, we won’t be able to love or accept others as they are.
Issues in the fourth chakra include any lack of a sense of purpose or meaning; difficulties in relationship; any sense of we might have of not being loveable or worthy to be loved; and the inability to love or to share oneself with others.
5) In the fifth chakra, our focus is upon learning to speak our truth and walk our talk. The challenge here is to strive toward a high level of personal integrity, which often entails individuating ourselves against a strong undercurrent of cultural conditioning. In the fifth chakra, we begin to experience ourselves as true individuals, guided not by external rules, but by our own internal compass and by the cumulative wisdom of a lifetime of experience.
In the fifth chakra, we also gain the capacity to teach what we have learned to others, primarily by example, and through our words and deeds. Issues in the fifth chakra can include ethical dilemmas; a profound sense of social or cultural alienation; the need to make difficult choices that pit comfort, familiarity or convenience against emerging truths; and in general, the necessity for aligning actions with beliefs.
6) In the sixth chakra, our focus is upon gaining perspective. The challenge here is to understand the relative nature of our viewpoint, including our most cherished beliefs, and to find our place within the whole based upon a personal vision of how the whole fits together. In the fifth chakra, we separate from the collective in order to find ourselves as individuals; in the sixth, we return to the collective, bearing the gifts that only we can bear. Issues in the sixth chakra include a sense of disillusionment in the face of beliefs we outgrow; conflicts between belief systems in relation to others; dogmatism and megalomania; the absence of a sense of belonging to a larger whole; and so on.
7) In the seventh chakra, our focus is upon reuniting with Spirit. The challenge here is learning how to become an agent of divine will, playing our role within a divine plan unfolding, not from an ego-based perspective, but from a clarity of vision and a place of non-attachment. Unless we have done the work required of us in the other six chakras, the task of the seventh will remain unattainable. Issues here can include delusions of grandeur; escapist desires and addictions of all kinds; confusion born of incomprehensible inner experiences; possession by archetypes, demons, or sub-personalties; premature disintegration of the ego; and many other serious conditions too numerous and complicated to go into in any depth here.
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