By Jade Jacobs
“You are not a drop in the ocean, you are an entire ocean in a drop.” ~Rumi
At the core of every major religion and spiritual belief system lies the practice of meditation. When we look deeper, we see that meditation is defined as “the disclosure of considered thoughts on a subject” or “spending time in quiet thought,” and we can see how meditation truly is the center of religious practices. In this case prayer, philosophical questioning, and 2 a.m. discussions about our purpose in the world are all considered variations of meditation. Today, meditation, along with other ancient practices, is most commonly associated with the Eastern Hemisphere. However, centering exercises, such as meditation, are more than their typical portrayal of a way to connect spiritually to a deity; they allow us to focus our energy inward on our own personal well-being. In modern society, we tend to become so fixated on work, classes, and other obligations that we forget to allocate time to work on ourselves.
A notion that I personally believe in is that each of us are connected. Whether you follow a more faith- or strictly science-based outlook on the world, both tell us that the energy in our universe has been here from the beginning. None is added, and none truly leaves. Energy flows through the system in a cyclical fashion. Our bodies and belongings return their energy to the earth and are reborn in new forms of life. Our life energy flows on as well, whether to an afterlife, reincarnated, or with our bodies back into nature. This energy connects each of us to one another similarly like how the roots of a rain forest intertwine to connect each tree, each branch, and each leaf. The energy flows through the forest providing life, and it connects each of us as well.
Just as the energy connects us to one another, it flows within each person individually. An ancient belief is that the human body harbors seven chakras, or pools of life energy called chi. Each chakra is connected to a different element, and is governed and blocked by a different trait. To help restore peace to the body, mind, and soul, the chakras must be unblocked in order from bottom to top, similar to how river dams are opened and water is allowed to flow.
The first chakra is the root chakra located at the base of the spine, and is connected to the element of earth. It’s governed by survival, and is blocked by fear. Meditating on this chakra teaches us to realize our fears, and accept them so they no longer control or burden us. The chi flows into this chakra from the sacral chakra located in the lower abdomen. This chakra is connected to water, governed by pleasure, and blocked by guilt. Meditating on the sacral chakra opens the mind to the guilt that weighs us down to teach us that negative things happen, but dwelling on negativity only clouds our judgement of the present. The chi flows to this chakra from the third chakra in the solar plexus, located just below the ribcage. This chakra is connected to fire, is governed by will power, and is blocked by shame. Meditating on the fire chakra allows us to continue from the previous chakra and let go of the negativity that plagues us. The shame blocking the fire chakra is often tied to the guilt of the previous; both must be left in the past to cleanse these chakras.
Unblocking the lower chakras allows for us to move into the upper chakras, starting in the heart. This chakra is connected to air, is governed by love, and blocked by grief. Harboring grief locks the chakra and mind from expressing emotions clearly, and can lead to internal strife. In Chinese medicine, common psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety, can occasionally be attributed to a blocked air chakra. Disorders are said to be due to the tension and pressure of the chi pooling within the air chakra which renders the body unable to properly handle the complex emotions. Furthermore, if cleared, the throat chakra, connected to sound, allows us to open the pathway of truth that is blocked by lies. The lies blocking this chakra are often the ones we tell ourselves, ones that keep us from fully realizing and accepting who we are. Our throat chakras are commonly blocked, and are especially difficult to cleanse. In a society that instills constant pressure of who you should be, it is difficult to accept who you truly are. However, acceptance and elevated self-identity leads to cleansing the following chakra: the third eye. Located between the brows, the third eye chakra is connected to light, governed by insight, and blocked by illusions. Throughout time, one of society’s greatest illusions is that of division. As stated previously, everything is connected through the chi it possesses. To unblock the third eye chakra, we must let go of divisiveness, and realize that there is no “us” or “them.” We are all only parts of one whole energy force. The seventh and final chakra is the crown chakra, located just above the head. It is governed by pure cosmic energy and blocked by attachment. Few people are able to see past the material world to connect directly to the chi that comprises life as a whole. We become so attached to the objects, emotions, and people around us that how completely connected we all are becomes difficult to see, and to accept.
We are all connected to each other, and to life as a whole, through a web of chi that flows incessantly through time and space. Like leaves in a great rain forest, we breathe as one. Meditation and centering practices aren’t attached to a specific religion or culture, they’re exercises that allow us to tap into this chi to let it flow freely through us. It is a way for us to connect to ourselves and others through the chi we borrow during our lifetime.