I once had a dream in which I wrote “Love” on a piece of paper and threw the paper into a great fire. In my dream, I was soon attacked. When I tapped into the feeling of love, invoking that greatest power, fire came to my palms and I was able to heal the hatred in those attacking me. Through love, we connect to our powers of support, healing, creativity, and understanding. Love is the essence of the fourth chakra—anahata chakra.
Shiva leaves the world
There is a story in which Shiva’s beloved, Sati, dies and his heart breaks. To avoid pain, he goes into deep meditation. Escaping into his meditation, Shiva stops performing his duties as the god of destruction. There is a continuous cycle always occurring with a beginning, middle, and end—but without Shiva destroying, there can be no beginning. The world stood still. Nothing died, nothing grew. The sun neither rose nor set, and the moon didn’t cycle. The demons began to take over the world. The gods went to the great mother, Shakti, for help. Shakti listens to their pleas to awaken Shiva from his meditation. She agrees to be born as a human with the sole purpose to arouse Shiva and set the cycle of life back into motion.
The bliss of the heart
To bring Shiva back into the world, Shakti is reborn as Parvati—the maiden of the mountain. Parvati is born with a deep love and longing to be united with Shiva. She spends her days dreaming about him.
Through heartfelt devotion, and by performing extreme meditations, Parvati rouses Shiva from his grief and brings him back into the world where they marry, make love for thousands of years, and bring the world back to balance.
Shakti, the great feminine energy of the universe, governs anahata chakra. Shakti is the heart. She is what moves us all into our power. She is the ultimate mother who nurses us to health, supports us when we are weak, celebrates our victories, and knocks us off our feet when we are going down the wrong path. When we open our hearts, we become vulnerable. Yet in vulnerability resides the bliss of being able to love without pretense.
Anatomy of anahata
The fourth chakra is ruled by the air element and regulates our heart, lungs, and thymus gland. Our heart is said to house the Atman, our highest self. Our lungs are where we take in breath. When we feed and nourish these vital organs, we open ourselves up and are able to live in a fully-functioning state.
Yet through fear, phobias, and –isms (racism, ageism, sexism, etc.), we slowly suffocate. If the lungs do not work to their full capacity, the chest will cave in—sometimes causing people to physically form a hunchback.
The thymus gland, located behind the breast bone, produces T cells which are vital for immunity, as well as fighting off infections and disease. A healthy anahata chakra keeps our blood flowing, our lungs working, and our body healthy. As the heart, lungs, and thymus gland keep the body healthy and alive, Shakti is the dynamic force behind existence.
Blood, breath, and feels
In the story above, the heartbroken Shiva escaped into his meditation and cut off the connection to his heart. As a result, he became ineffectual and literally stuck. Shakti is the energy to lubricate and saturate our bones, joints, and emotions. When Shakti, in the form of Parvati, awoke Shiva from his meditative state, she connected his mind to his heart; and he returned to his place in the cosmos as the great destroyer, bringing dissolution, change, and transformation back to the world.
Shakti is the life force of the universe enabling creation and destruction. She dynamically pervades all forms of cosmic existence and saturates them with bliss. She keeps the world moving, oscillating, and changing. Like the air element, Shakti permeates into all areas of our being—from the small cracks to the vast open spaces. She is the blood our heart pumps, the air our lungs breathe, and the love we feel.
How to open your heart chakra
To activate your heart chakra, there are several mudras such as Anjali (Prayer) and Abhaya Hridaya (Courageous Heart). But my favorite mudra to activate anahata chakra is Auspicious mudra. This is a simple gesture where you place your right hand on your heart center and place your left hand over your right hand. People are said to unconsciously make this gesture when speaking from their heart or when conveying to another person that what they say has deep meaning and truth.
Meditation to activate anahata:
- Come into Auspicious mudra. Close your eyes, and take three deep breaths.
- Inhale into your heart center and feel your chest press into your palms. Exhale and feel your palms press into your heart. Do this for several minutes.
- Imagine a gorgeous diamond in your chest. As you inhale, imagine breathing into the diamond in your heart, seeing and feeling it get larger and brighter. Exhale and breathe the light into your arms, neck, and back. Inhale into your heart diamond again. Then exhale and let its light move into your arms, face, belly, and legs. Now inhale into your heart diamond once more, and exhale more of the light through your shoulders, fingers, knees, and head, to the room and around you. Continue this and, with each exhale, expand the light of your heart out into the world. Let the light of your heart diamond surround your neighbors, loved ones, strangers, and those you have disagreements with.
- When you are done, bring your awareness to the hands on your heart. Inhale your chest into your palms, and exhale your palms into your chest. Do several rounds of this. Then give yourself a word of gratitude. Release your hands to your lap, and slowly open your eyes.
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