Shared Transformation Issue 6
by El Collie
I awoke in the middle of the night to see beautiful, radiantly colored mandalas spinning over my chakra sites. Months later, talking to a friend who was in the throes of a five year Kundalini awakening, she remarked that she was seeing "colored pinwheels" over her body. A woman whose heart chakra was opening felt something rotating in her chest. Irina Tweedie reported this same sensation of feeling her heart chakra spin during her own spiritual transformation. (Daughter of Fire) Chakra (which means, literally, "wheel") is the Sanskrit word for an energy center in the subtle body. According to yogic lore, there are seven major and 43 minor chakras in the human system. All the chakras are said to revolve, but the rate at which they spin is proportionate to the amount of energy in the system (i.e., the degree to which they are awakened.) Many other ancient cultures were aware of these energy vortexes in the body, although they differ in the number which they believed were of most importance. The Hopi Indian tradition designates five energy centers in the body; the Huichol Indians of Mexico speak of energy fields which radiate from various areas of the body; and the Cuna Indians believe that eight "spirits" inhabit the body in the chakra locations. The renowned "siddhis," or spiritual powers of the yogis, are the result of awakened chakras. The chakras and Kundalini are really inseparable; when the Kundalini rises, the chakras begin to open up. If the Kundalini has not been activated, it is impossible to awaken all the chakras. As with the Kundalini, the awakening or piercing of the chakras is a long developmental process. At different stages of our transformation, we may feel particular chakras being worked upon or spontaneously opening. Sometimes more than one chakra is being cleared during the same period. (Often, the 6th and 3rd, and the 7th and 4th, open together as pairs.) The chakras may awaken in any order. My chakras began to undergo dramatic changes during the intense early phase of my process, when I was in an altered state for several months. Sometimes my hand would automatically touch my 4th chakra (at the center of the chest), then transfer energy to my 3rd and 6th chakras. I would feel a powerful zap of energy in my forehead (6th) or solar plexus (3rd) when this happened. In partial awakenings, only the lower chakras may be effected; the Kundalini may then subside. In complete awakenings, the upper four chakras are also involved. Each chakra governs a particular level of consciousness. The 1st through 3rd chakras regulate awareness that is essential to ordinary functioning in the mundane world. Above the 3rd, the chakras open us to increasingly rarified states of being and levels of perception. The many teachings about the chakras differentiate between active and awakened chakras. Active chakras are those in which energy regularly or habitually congregates. Everyone has activity in their chakras, and each individual characteristically "carries" more energy in certain chakras than others. A very sensually oriented, hedonistic type would have a strongly active 2nd chakra, while a highly ambitious, competitive personality would be very active in the 3rd chakra. Intellectuals have strongly activated 6th chakras. Fundamentally, the consciousness levels of the active seven chakras are as follows:
NEEDS 1st chakra: (root chakra, located at the base of the spine) Physical survival -- concerned with finding food, shelter, safety, etc. This is the level of bodily consciousness. When this chakra is in the process of awakening, there may be strange sensations at the base of the spine. Itching, tinging, or much stronger vibrations, including thumping and cracking, may be felt in the tailbone. When the 1st chakra opens, shakti may shoot up the spine in a spectacular fashion. This may cause convulsions and a great deal of pain in the spine. Intense heat may be felt in any of the chakra sites when they are beginning to be pierced.
DESIRES 2nd chakra: (located in the lower abdomen) Seeking pleasure and avoidance of pain (Sexuality in its instinctual sense is located at this level.) This is the level of emotions. The 2nd chakra awakening may produce powerful sexual feelings. Great surges of negative emotion, such as jealousy or hatred, may be triggered at this level. Sudden, bizarre identification with various animals, such as wolves, bears or feral cats, may occur. When my 2nd chakra was pierced, I had spontaneous orgasms, which was a pleasant surprise. I also had a brief episode in which I felt that I was taking on the instincts and physical bearing of a huge tiger. This was an overwhelming and frightening experience.
POWER 3rd chakra: (located at the solar plexus) Personal power -- morality, judgment, self vs. other. This is the level of the will. When the 3rd chakra opens, there can be tremendous emotional upheaval. Lots of painful unconscious material can erupt. Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and other digestive troubles can accompany this opening. Telepathy, clairvoyance, clairsentience and awareness of astral entities may emerge with an awakened 3rd chakra. The newly unfolding 3rd chakra can make one emotionally and psychically hypersensitive.
UNION 4th chakra: (heart chakra, located at the center of the chest) Relationships; shared experience; cherishing that beyond the self. This is the level of compassion. When the 4th chakra is being awakened, crushing pressures are often felt in the chest. I felt as if an elephant was sitting on my chest, and had the typical breathing problems associated with this opening. Vibrations may be felt in the heart and chest; there may be periods when the heartbeat is erratic or races wildly. All sorts of discomfort may be felt in the chest, including acute pain resembling a heart attack. In seeming paradox, feelings of detachment from loved ones may signal the early stages of the heart chakra opening. The power to do psychic or spiritual healing arises from an awakened heart chakra, as does psychokinesis (the ability to move or otherwise affect objects from a distance). Wish fulfillment and manifesting ability is also increased when this chakra is opened.
EXPRESSION 5th chakra: (throat chakra, located at the base of the throat) Inspiration, self-expression through communication. This is the level of creativity. This chakra often takes a long time to fully open. Sensations of strangulation, constriction or tightness around the neck and throat may occur, as well as inexplicable gagging. There may be internal pressure which feels as if a tumorous growth is developing in the throat. When my 5th chakra was awakening, I could not swallow anything but liquids for months, and I lost 35 pounds. An awakened 5th chakra produces spontaneous vocalizations. These may be unusual sounds, singing (sometimes in unrecognized languages), or words which do not seem to be coming from oneself. One may also become clairaudient, hearing inner voices or other people's thoughts. There may be a sensation of a hole in the throat (or in the forehead or crown of the head) when the upper chakras open; air or wind may be felt passing through the hole.
REALIZATION 6th chakra: (Third Eye chakra, located in the center of the forehead) Abstract thought -- intellectual focus. This is the level of knowledge. When the 6th chakra is awakening, enormous pressures are felt in the head, particularly around the eyes and in the forehead area. These may cause excruciating headaches. There may be twitching and vibrating felt between the brows. The eyes may roll cross-eyed or up into the head. There may be dazzling visions seen with the eyes open or closed; sometimes a huge single eye is seen staring out. When the 6th chakra is pierced, one gains contact with spiritual guides, deities and one's guardian angel or guru. Astral travel and other out-of-body experiences may occur with this opening.
ASCENSION 7th chakra: (crown chakra, located at the top of the skull) Reverence -- spiritual focus. This is the consciousness of the divine. When the crown chakra opens, there are tingling sensations, vibrations or coursing energies felt at the top of the head. For some, the skull may feel sore. In my own experience and that of others I have spoken with, the cranial bones actually start to separate and "float" beneath the skin. When the 7th chakra is awakened, there is often a transcendent experience. One may experience a spellbinding, superconscious light flooding into the top of the head. Frequently, samadhi (a deep trance state) occurs when the 7th chakra is pierced.
The first three levels of consciousness are ego bound and focused on personal survival and self-gratification. At the 4th, heart chakra level, genuine consideration of others is possible. Artists, musicians, orators and inventors are often very active at the 5th chakra level. Genius is associated with a powerfully active 6th chakra. Religious devotees and spiritual seekers usually have an active 7th chakra. The awakened chakras are more complex. An awakened 3rd chakra produces clairsentience -- the ability to feel within oneself the physical and emotional state of others. This is a "no-boundary" condition in which one becomes like a psychic sponge, taking on every sensation and emotion in the vicinity. If the heart or upper chakras are not also awakened, this can present great difficulties. One has no awareness that these physical and emotional feelings are not one's own, which can cause great confusion and conflict. An awakened 3rd chakra also makes one hypersensitive to any manipulative, dishonest or malevolent intent from others. The awakened individual will feel queasiness, stomach pains, nausea or may even vomit in the presence of such people. These stomach disturbances -- which can also include tightness or pressure in the solar plexus region, or a sensation of being punched in the stomach -- are an instant barometer which allows the awakened 3rd chakra person to know when she is being deceived or imposed upon. Sometimes these 3rd chakra disturbances are a reaction to collective atmospheric energy rather than to a specific individual. I have felt nausea and tension in my solar plexus during periods of strong public controversy, i.e., the week preceding the California execution of Robert Anton Harris and the weeks leading up to the U.S. presidential election. A person with an awakened 3rd chakra simply cannot afford to tolerate abuses of power. The instant and often severe visceral reaction mandates avoidance of conflict. Likewise, when one's own 3rd chakra is fully open, ruthless competition is no longer a viable means for establishing one's own uniqueness. It becomes too painful to lie, cheat or dominate others. A person with an active 3rd chakra can be the worst kind of power-tripper, but a person with an awakened 3rd chakra is forced to learn to use his will only in the healthiest and most life-affirming ways. (Failure to recognize this lesson brings much suffering to the individual in terms of chronic, intense physical and psychological disturbance.) While the awakened 3rd chakra teaches us to do no harm for the sake of self-preservation, at the level of the awakened heart, we become fully altruistic. This isn't a desire to do good, or to save the world or other messianic ideas, which are actually 3rd chakra concepts. Rather, we are opened to the reality of other-as-self. We directly feel that what hurts one, hurts all and what helps one, helps all. At the heart level, we experience a great humility coupled with a profound awareness of the preciousness of all sentient beings. It is here, and at the 5th through 7th levels of awakening, that we open to the more glorious and awesome realms of being. The awakened 5th chakra allows us to blossom into spontaneous and genuine creative expression; the awakened 6th opens us to wisdom; the awakened 7th enables full union with the divine (enlightenment). (There are chakras and levels of consciousness beyond the 7th, but these openings occur independently of the awakened Kundalini.) Psychic gifts arise from these levels. Yet these abilities are incidental to the treasures found at these higher levels. These awakened chakras are portholes to the infinite, leading us to realms and realizations beyond the physical and beyond the mind itself. While the first three chakras are primarily concerned with personal issues, the 4th through 7th are transpersonal. Chakras do not always awaken consecutively: the 3rd may awaken before the 2nd, the 6th before the 4th, and so on. Nor does the quality of life or degree of awareness correlate solely to the "height" of the uppermost awakened chakra. In other words, a fully opened 7th chakra does not necessarily designate spiritual wholeness. According to many teachers -- and I am convinced they are right -- the most crucial chakra is not the 7th, but the 4th. If the 4th chakra remains closed, everything else in the system will be askew. The 4th (heart) chakra is strategically in the center of the chakra column. It is the balance point. Our linear idea that higher is better has no relevance here. The 4th chakra is the axis -- equidistant from all other points -- that is the most powerful and influential in the cosmos. True to its nature, this center does not promote itself to the highest station. Literally and symbolically, it hides its greatness by its unassuming position. The 4th chakra is the connecting point for the ethereal energies above and the grounding energies below: it is the place where heaven and earth meet. This vital nucleus is known universally as Love.
-- El Collie
Further Reading on Chakras
Theories of the Chakras, by Hiroshi Motoyama (Theosophical Publishing House, 1981)
Dreambody, by Arnold Mindell (Sigo Press, 1982)
The Energies of Transformation, by Bonnie Greenwell (Shakti River Press, 1990)
Joy's Way, by W. Brugh Joy (J.P. Tarcher, Inc., 1979)
Wheels of Life, by Anodea Judith (Llewellyn Publications, 1987)
See also our Kundalini Book List
© El Collie 1995