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We have reached our final stop on this journey through the chakras: chakra 7, Sahasrara chakra. The image associated with this chakra is thousandfold lotus, with some petals reaching up towards the sky, and others reaching down, grounding into the lower chakras. This is symbolic in itself: the opening of this chakra depends on a solid foundation of each chakra below it… only when there is stability in the previous chakras will there be expansion in the upper chakras. We strive to connect the limited with the limitless, while still retaining both qualities.

The Right to Know and to Learn

As you may  have guessed, this chakra, situated on the crown of our heads, is linked closely to the mind, the brain, thinking, knowledge and wisdom. It touches on aspects as varied as education to belief systems, perceiving and analyzing information to spirituality. In essence, it is the connection to our own sense of a “higher power” — which goes beyond religion and individual beliefs.  It challenges us to see the divinity in everything: including ourselves. It challenges us to keep our spirituality integrated with our life, not as something separate. It is important to know that there is a deeper connection and meaning to life that underlies all existence, regardless of the details.

“It is the tremendous experience of becoming conscious, which nature has laid upon mankind, and which unites the most diverse cultures in a common task.” ~ C.G. Jung


What is consciousness? To some, these questions send the mind spinning, but it within our human nature to question, to seek answers, to delve deeper. Is consciousness your thoughts? No, that is what consciousness creates. Is it our perception? No, because there is so much more to it– it also remembers, discriminates, integrates these perceptions. What spurs our actions? What draws us to yoga, to meditation, to reading, to our careers? We might call this source the “Witness”, and it is this witness within that also can help bring perspective, peace, and understanding to our days. The Witness is non-judgmental, it is divine, it is a guide and a friend, and it is what makes us continue to search for unity. Expanding our awareness helps us embrace something larger and perceive the meaning in everything. We do this by private contemplation, study and education, meditation, spiritual practices, or by just simply paying attention.

“What we seek is the very essence of that which is seeking.” ~ Anodea Judith

Transcendence and Immanence

The crown chakra reaches two ways– both upwards and downwards; however, both are gates outwards, to the beyond. Transcendence and immanence are those two gateways by which we emanate. Transcendance is liberation: it is the upward movement into something larger, it is freedom and lightness of being. It is being the overseer and the Witness. Immanence is that same light directed downward into the world of visions, creation, and eventual manifestation. the expansion of consciousness is only of use if it is actually applied. That light shines outwards through our eyes, through our actions, through our words and through our creations. It is equally important to hold in this light than it is to be liberated by it. Immanence fuels the soul; transcendence moves the spirit. Yet, spirit depends on soul for embodiment, meaning, purpose. Soul depends on spirit for inspiration and enhancement.

“Transcendence is the path of liberation. Immanenc is the path of manifestation. To embrace them both is to see the divine within and without as an inseparable unity.” ~ Anodea Judith

Sahasrara chakra homework: Take 10 minutes of of everyday this week to be quiet. You can be walking, moving fluidly, or sitting in meditation- but alone. connect to That which observes within. If needed, imagine a situation that is currently troubling you and let the Witness see it objectively. Perhaps you can ask it for advice. Perhaps you will learn something important from yourself.

Wear Violet.


As we move up past our neck and further into our head chakras, the focus becomes less on grounding and more on liberation. The balance between both– our roots into the Self and the Earth and that which connects us to something greater, something above, and the universe– is the goal that we attempt to achieve through yoga practice.

As our focus shifts to liberation, we see that the upper body becomes more of the focus in these last weeks of our journey. We began class with some meditation: we warmed up our visualization muscles by packaging up all worries and thoughts and schedules in little bubbles, watching them float away to allow for a clear mind for our practice. As the sixth chakra governs our inner visions, we completed this visualization with bringing to view what we saw as a result of our class. We saw ourselves authentically, at peace, and open… and aspired to hold this image throughout class.

As we moved into sun salutations, we kept our eyes closed for a little while to reduce the amount of over-stimulation from our outside world and tune into the inner world of vision and insight. the sixth chakra challenges us to listen to our innate wisdom, our body cues, our intuition and our dreams to understand life. By filling our mind with the images we aspired to through the yoga practice, and by drawing inwards, we hoped to cultivate this trust and insight.

Closing our eyes during high lunge or Crescent Moon Pose (Anjaneyasana) brings some challenge to the pose, but also allows us to view inside what we feel in our bodies. We can view ourselves in the most beautiful posture ever, regardless of what we can physically see. If it feels beautiful and liberating, chances are the pose is perfect for you at the moment. Dropping our back knee to the earth only allows us to root even more securely and gain more freedom in the upper body (Anjaneyasana with knee down). Whether we progress into further opening by bending the back knee, or we stay where we are, it doesn’t matter. The spirit of the pose is always there, provided you are being true to yourself and that you are holding your vision.

The same visualization process applied for each standing pose we warmed up with. In Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle pose), we imagined the perfect line tracing from our fingertips down through the outer edge of our back foot. In Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), we evoke the spirit of that warrior/warrior-esse inside and bring to mind the strength and grace within. Finally, Trikonasana brings to our minds the strength of triangles and the stability that they bring to structures.

We went on to some balance after our initial warmup of standing poses. We embodied that Eagle within, the strong and free, in Garudasana. And then, after further heart opening in Wild Thing (Camatkarasana… yes there is a name! One poetic translation of this pose means “the ecstatic unfolding of the enraptured heart.”) we proceeded into Dancer’s pose, or Natarajasana (another nice article here), and embodied the Dancer within us. By bringing our attention away from the others in the class and facing outwards, we brought ourselves inwards and expressed the pose to our best ability. Again, whether we are holding the wall or a table for stability or whether our leg is perpendicular to the ground… our vision and the inner feeling of liberation and beauty that this pose brings is the important part.

Before savasana, we balanced our minds and bodies with alternate nostril breathing. Read about it here (this is a pdf that you can print out and use! It shows the hand mudra that was used in class this day.). We continued the theme of visualization through savasana, as we walked through a guided visualization. We stepped into a peaceful, relaxing, “favorite” place and out of our body for a while to see this peace, relaxation, and happiness embodied. We attended to the details of our surroundings to keep our minds full of beautiful images and cultivate detailed perception. And most importantly, as we came back to the room resolved to hold this image of peace and relaxation as we stepped back into the world. If we were all to visualize peace and happiness at all times, imagine what power that may bring.

Where the fifth chakra expressed symbols as sound, the sixth chakra takes this a step further and allows us to see patterns and symbols in our lives as visual images. As we’ve passed through the neck into the head, we travel even farther away from the realm of instincts and the unconscious mind, transcending personal consciousness (chakras three through five) and entering transpersonal, or universal consciousness. These last two chakras are the mental mirrors for the lower chakras: chakra six reflects the unconscious mind, and chakra seven reflects the conscious mind. Chakra six gives us images and symbols to understand the lower realms, where  chakra seven finds meaning in these images.

“We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.” ~ Anais Nin

The Right to See

Working on the sixth chakra (ajna chakra: “to perceive and command”) expands our vision: not only physically, but our own personal vision. Also known as the “Third Eye”, the sixth chakra lies in that spot between our eyebrows and embodies issues of perception, intuition, image, insight and dreams. The size of this personal vision that we may open through this chakra is irrelevant: the ability to see a new way of being and to hold this vision is key to using our third chakra to guide us and move us forward in our lives. This is how it differs from an illusion– the demon of the 6th chakra– illusions hold us back. Our visions progress us, liberate us from the past, and help us make necessary changes in our lives.

Not only does ajna chakra allow us to see the bigger picture of our lives, but it also governs our ability (and our right!) to perceive and understand subtle nuances in the people and things around us– even in ourselves. It helps us filter through all the images and pictures we are given daily, and understand a deeper meaning to that which we encounter. From something simple as being able to see when we have overstayed a visit, to those warning signs we feel when something doesn’t feel quite right about the alleyway down which we are planning to walk, our third eye gives us insight.

“Physical perception tells us that something exists, but only the inner sight can tell us what it is.” ~ Anodea Judith

Tuning into Intuition

Whether we know it or not, our intuition is always available. The problem is whether or not we listen to it. Developing the sixth chakra is to trust this voice and honor our hunches. Intuition itself and it’s manifestation is completely unconscious and cannot be pushed or forced, but if we learn to hear it and see it in the form of symbols or bodily feelings, we will see that it speaks more. The rational mind is great at picking up and storing many pieces of information– and given time, it will also come to logical conclusions about this data stored. However, our intuition is excellent at grasping the larger whole on a more immediate, experiential level. It gives us a “flash of light” that might illuminate an entire situation within our psyche: practicing awareness will help us to sustain those moments of illumination.

“Intuition is a leap toward wholeness from fragmentation.” ~ Anodea Judith

Ajna Chakra Homework: Now that we have learned about 6 of the 7 chakras, you have enough knowledge to bring them into an activity. This week, create a visual representation of each chakra– not something you are judging, nor something you will have others judge, just an exercise in visual art and colours. Paint, draw, make a collage- any or all of the above (or whatever else you can think of. Connect to your chakras on a visual level.

Wear indigo.

Just me…

2010 Journey

July 2010
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