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The heart chakra

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The fourth chakra unites the earthly lower chakras to the internal, spiritual higher ones. It is here that love finally becomes independent of others. First chakra love of the family is unconditional but does require a certain amount of agreement with the rest of the group. This type of love is shared only by those of the same kind. Second chakra love of friends is again dependent upon the interests we share with them. With the third chakra comes love of the things we surround ourselves with and activities we select. Fourth chakra love, independent of external influences, represents not only true love of others, but also of self. And since we can only be loved by others as much as we love ourselves, investing the time in ourselves is worth the price.

Perhaps there were days when “self-love” was not terribly necessary for people; one needed only the love of the tribe, the spouse, a home and good standing in the village. Similarly, even today there are parts of the world where people do not have the luxury of considering how they feel about things. But for those of us here and today, the world is big and life is complicated and emotional well being is tremendously important. Increasingly, we are born to parents who unwittingly or willingly wound us as children, or we involve ourselves in relationships that leave us scarred. Wounds grow big with us and are often passed on to those around us. Scars leave us unfeeling. For those willing to look at and deal with them, the heart chakra provides the cleansing water: love and forgiveness.

Unlike third chakra love of shopping sprees and trips out of town, all of which serve a purpose, heart chakra love cannot be bought. It can only be earned by honestly acknowledging all that resides there: the good, the bad, and the tragic. Cherishing the good increases the self-love that is already there. Taking responsibility for the bad leads to improvement and a decrease of self-dislike. Through forgiveness we let go of the victim. As resentments and fears take up less space, the true self can grow. The good seeds planted by the parent/teacher/mate can grow, the lies rooted out.

According to Caroline Miss in Anatomy of the Spirit, there are six steps to healing the heart.
1. Be fully committed to the healing. Facing the bad and the ugly is necessary no matter how hard.
2. Identify the wounds correctly then find someone you trust and discuss how they affect personal growth.
3. Note how you use the wounds to manipulate those around you.
4. Find the positive that stemmed from your wounds. Look for it, there is one. Even if it is simply that you can be understanding to others of similar circumstances.
5. Forgive! It does not mean you condone the behavior of the ones who harmed you; only that you put it down. Easy to say, long to achieve, and hard to do. But, possible for those who want it enough to keep trying.
6. Allow the new place to be filled with good things. Think love, whatever that capacity may be at the time.

The fourth chakra is “located” in the center of the chest. In the physical body is connected to the heart and the circulatory system, thymus gland, lungs, shoulders and arms, and the surrounding area. Emotional pain stemming from the emotions associated with this chakra will manifest in the organs associated with it (i.e. heartbreak). Internally it is tied to emotions and perceptions. Fears of loneliness, betrayal and commitment, inability to forgive self or others, are indicative of a low energy fourth chakra. Physically, a deficient fourth chakra will manifest as forward rolling shoulders and forward head posture, collapsed chest and rounded upper backs, breathing and lung problems. Gentle back bends such as Camel Pose and Crescent Moon, and shoulder stretches such as Eagle Arms and Cow Face Arms, are a wonderful way to open and energize this chakra. Excessive fourth chakra energy will manifest as over possessiveness, jealousy, co-dependency, high blood pressure and heart disease. Practice forward bends to relax this area.

Pick up any book on self healing and the word “forgiveness” will show up over and over. Holocaust survivors, war veterans that have been tortured, rape and violence victims, all say that they have reclaimed their lives only after they have forgiven the trespassers. We all know that the painful feelings that start in the heart hurt only those harboring them, so anyone truly committed to finding happiness and peace must learn to forgive. As forgiveness of self or others empties our heart of toxic emotions, love may fill that space so we can truly heal and truly love. The road is unique to the individual but for those who have paved and traveled their roads, The Way was always the same: “Love Is Divine Power“.

Thank you to Carolyne Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit, Three Rivers Press, NY, 1996

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