Inside of the spine is a channel running from the tail bone to the top of the head.
Within this channel are 7 energy centers which are like 7 brains — each being its own center of complex information.
In this podcast we will explore how these energy centers are related to various organs, glands, emotions and much more.
Hope you enjoy this inspiring episode!
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[The following is the full transcript of this episode of “The BE ULTIMATE Podcast.” Please note that this is direct from Travis speaking unscripted and unedited.]
Welcome to episode number 71 of the Be Ultimate Podcast, “The 7 Energy Centers”
So this week, we’re going to be talking about something that I’ve been studying for quite some time. And that is the energy centers.
Now, in yoga these are known as chakra. Chakra is a wheel. I’ve always been interested and fascinated about these chakras, but I got to admit that for a long time I felt like it was fluff. I felt like it was some kind of new-age thing. So I’ve been back and forth between feeling very intrigued about the energy centers and at the same time cautious about how far I go into it.
But this really changed several years ago when I took a group of students on a yoga retreat to Bali. Somehow through these course of events, we found a local Balinese shaman and his translator. We invited the shaman to come and visit our group one afternoon. We were staying at this beautiful resort in Ubud. If you’ve never been to Ubud, it’s like the place to be in Bali. It’s gotten so popular now.
A lot of the properties, they don’t look like a lot from the road from the main street. But as you go into the property it just goes on and on forever and you’re going deeper and deeper into the forest passing waterfalls and streams and jungle. It’s pretty amazing!
We met the Balinese shaman all the way at the back of our property where there was a pool and a meeting space where we would often do our yoga sessions and retreats. He shows up and goes to the second floor of this building where we were practicing yoga. We all remained on the ground floor by the pool. We were instructed to go up to the second floor one at a time.
We started sending our students one at a time and something very strange happened. About 5, 10 minutes into the session we would often hear one of our students begin to cry. In many situations, they started sobbing and you could hear they were having a breakdown. As the retreat leader along with another instructor that I was working with at the time, we started to get very concerned. We were like, “What did we get our students into?” But inevitably, at the end of the session, the student, about 20, 30 minutes later, would come down the stairs and the person they were when they went up and then the person they were when they came down was a completely different person. They were like an angel floating down the stairs — glowing and an air of lightness and levity.
We were all like what happened up there?! But they weren’t allowed to say anything to anybody else in the group and they weren’t allowed to say anything to us as the instructors. This process repeated itself over and over for many hours as we went through our entire group.
Eventually, it was my turn to go up. I believe I was the last person. So I go up the stairs and I’m instructed to go all the way to the other end of this outdoor pavilion. As I’m walking towards the shaman and his translator, I’m starting to get pretty nervous. I could feel my palms clamming up. I could feel I’m sweating. It’s also Bali. It’s summertime. It’s pretty hot. But just feeling the butterflies in the stomach, my heart’s fluttering — and just coming back to the breath, sitting down, and the translator begins to explain what’s about to happen.
The shaman had these two L-shaped metal rods. He was going to point them at each one of the seven energy centers. And as he pointed the metal rods at each one of the energy centers, the metal rods could do one of three things. They could either swing open which means the energy center is open and balanced — a good sign. Or, they could remain neutral which means the energy center’s neutral. It’s not bad. It’s not good. Or the third option is that the two metal rods could collapse inward and cross each other like an X which means the energy center is imbalanced, stuck, or blocked.
So he would point the rods and he would start at the lower energy center — all the way down to muladhara and the tailbone – and one by one slowly work up.
The reason why people were having breakdowns and crying and sobbing is that when the rods collapsed in and it showed that the energy center was collapsed, and the shaman – almost like a psychic – was able to figure out why. And he would bring it up. He would say something like, “Did you have a trauma when you were 10 years old?” And sure enough, he would trigger this past memory within that student and that would cause them to have an emotional release which was actually the beginning of removing the blockage of that particular energy center. If an energy center was stuck and was blocked, he would offer a type of prescription. He might offer a mantra or an affirmation or a type of ritual for that particular person to do to remove whatever it is that was blocking that energy center.
So after that experience, I was like, “Wow. These chakras – these energy centers – they’re real. They’re legit.”
Soon after that, I started studying ayurvedic medicine. I became an ayurvedic practitioner. One of the components of being an ayurvedic practitioner is that we would check the pulse of our patients to determine what was happening within that particular client’s constitution: the doshas, the dhatus, the tissues, and the organs.
There’s seven different levels of the pulse. The seventh level which is the deepest level of the pulse is actually a chakra pulse. I could go and I could read the chakra pulse of my particular students and I could figure out which one of their energy centers was indeed imbalanced or blocked.
When you’re checking the pulse in ayurveda it’s not something that’s a psychic thing that you’re downloading from some mysterious universe; you’re actually looking for a legitimate spike on a particular part of your finger that’s resting on the radial artery of that client. Wherever that spike shows up on the finger where you get the strongest hit, the strongest pulse, then that’s a sign that that particular energy center is blocked.
I started working with students similar to what the shaman was doing where I would also give students– in addition to herbs and food recommendations, yoga poses, meditations, breathing techniques. Sometimes, physical body treatments that I would also give them a prescription to unblock that particular energy center. And sure enough, it worked.
So that’s been my experience with the chakras over the years where at first I’d heard about it, I questioned whether it was actually real. And through these experiences, I’m now a believer that they are indeed real.
“The chakras are organizational centers for the reception, assimilation, and transmission of life force energy. They are like the stepping stones between heaven and earth.”
– Anodea Judith
I love that metaphor of the energy centers being like stepping stones or a staircase because the idea is that a lot of us are stuck in the lower energy centers.
A lot of spiritual practice involves the strategy of moving the energy from the lower energy centers all the way up the staircase of the chakras so that we’re moving it up towards the heart, the throat, the center of the forehead, and all the way through the crown of the head so that, ultimately, we’re moving from the small self to the big self to the universal self.
Now, you can look at these seven energy centers as little mini-brains. These mini-brains are centers of information. It’s like a hub. From that hub there is a connection to a location in the body, but also to various organs and glands and hormones and chemicals.
Then we start to get a little bit more mystical. We can start to get a little more spiritual. There’s also a connection of the mini-brain to a particular color or a frequency, an element. In yoga, what we call the mahabhutas: earth, water, fire, air, space. They also have a connection to emotions and certain life themes within our daily living practice. And they’re each connected to a particular mantra or sound, what’s known as a bija mantra. Bija means seed.
So let’s dive into these seven energy centers.
Mula means ‘base’ and adhara means ‘support.’ The location for muladhara is all the way down in that tailbone. Muladhara is connected to the organs of elimination. It’s connected to the color red. It’s connected to the element of Earth. It’s associated with stability. It’s the foundation that supports all the other remaining energy centers. Now, on an emotional or daily-living level, this is really associated with our basic necessities. What do we need for survival? We need food. We need shelter. We need clothing. When we don’t have these things, we can’t progress along the spiritual path. If you’re in survival mode then you’re not going to have energy and resources to really pursue your spiritual path, to pursue the path of awakening. When the muladhara is imbalanced, very often this shows up that we are in survival mode which means we’re stressed out. It means we’re hyper-vigilant. We’re always looking for a stressor. We’re looking for a danger and a threat in our environment. We’re also always looking outside of ourselves. We’re in a constant state of panic, of worry, of fear. So if we’re feeling those things, very often that can mean that there is an imbalance in the muladhara. This particular energy center is connected to the bija sound or mantra lam, L-A-M.
Now, we’ll move to the second energy center which is known as the svadhisthana. Svadhisthana is a little bit above the muladhara. It’s down in the lower abdominal area. So a good three to four inches beneath the navel. From that you go into the spine or you could enter it through the back where your sacrum is. Same thing, go right into the spine and boom that’s where the svadhisthana is located. Swa means ‘self,’ adhishthana means ‘the dwelling place’ or ‘established and secure.’ It’s located in the lower stomach, the lower abdominal area, and it’s connected to the sexual organs and the sexual glands. The color is orange. The element is water, what’s known as jala. This is where our creative energy is. This is where we create things, where we can create life or we can create art, we can create music. Creative energy really arises from svadhisthana. When it’s imbalanced, very often we feel overly lustful. We’re always lusting after other people. We’re ruminating on this all the time. We’re always thinking about sex. We’re also preoccupied with wanting other people to see us as being sexually desirable. So it has a big connection to sexuality because this, again, is creative expression in the most fundamental of ways within the human being. The mantra is vam, V-A-M.
We’ll move up to the third energy center which is located in the solar plexus — so more in the middle and upper abdominal area. Mani means ‘gems.’ Pura means ‘city.’ This is ‘the city of gems.’ The solar plexus region, manipura is connected to the organs of the stomach, small intestine, the liver. It’s correlated to the color yellow and the element of fire because of our digestive fire, the fire that breaks down the foods that we put into our body, turning that into a food soup that’s full of vitamins and minerals that can feed the tissues and the cells of the body. On an emotional level, this is where our self-confidence exists. It’s where our willpower resides. It’s where — when this is balanced — when it’s open – we have healthy self-esteem. But if it’s imbalanced, we often feel chronic anger. We get upset easily. We’re also aggressive, frustrated. We have control issues. We want to control everything. We’re very judgmental. We’re very critical. We feel self-important. So there’s a lot of ego. You can have healthy ego or what’s known as wholesome ego or you can have unhealthy ego. The mantra, the bija sound for manipura is ram, R-A-M.
The three energy centers we’ve discussed so far – the muladhara — the tailbone, svadhisthana — lower abdominals, and manipura — the solar plexus region – are where most people are stuck. Their energy is stuck, it’s stagnant, and it’s frozen in those bottom three energy centers. Through the practices of yoga and spiritual practice the idea is that we’re moving that energy, we’re freeing, we’re liberating that energy. We’re getting it unstuck and unfrozen and we’re moving it all the way up now to the heart. This is the natural progression of the spiritual path.
The fourth energy center is anahata. And anahata means the ‘unstruck sound.’ This is connected to the organs of the heart, also connected to the lungs, to our breathing. There is a connection to the thymus gland which is known as the immunity gland. The color for anahata is green. The element is air because of the lungs and the air that flows into the lungs. When this energy center is balanced and we move the energy from the lower energy centers up to the heart, we feel gratitude, compassion, love, kindness. All those benevolent emotions originate in the area of the heart. When this is blocked or stuck we feel resentful. We feel contracted. We feel disconnected from those emotions of compassion or gratitude. So when you do a meditation like gratitude or loving kindness, very often when the heart is blocked you don’t feel anything. And sometimes you feel the opposite of what you’re supposed to feel which totally freaks you out. You’re like, “I’m supposed to be happy and feeling grateful. And I feel pissed off. I feel angry. I feel resentful.” And that’s okay. That’s actually you beginning to liberate those negative toxic emotions. That’s the beginning of moving down the path where you now begin to spin that from a malevolent emotion into a benevolent emotion. The bija sound mantra for anahata is yam, Y-A-M.
Now, let me just interject before we move to the next energy center. When I was doing the ayurveda pulses, frequently, the most common area where people were stuck and blocked was actually the heart which makes sense. Right? We’ve all moved through experiences in our life where somebody hurt us, somebody betrayed us, somebody stole from us, somebody cheated on us. If we don’t do the work, if we don’t process this trauma when we’re ready, when the time is right, what happens is, it blocks the heart. We begin to become disconnected from all those feel-good emotions. It’s very, very important that along our path and along our journey we do the work. That we courageously do what we need to do to forgive. This is what Jesus spoke so eloquently about. He spoke about non-judgment, forgiveness and love. When we do this we start to really blossom into being a spiritual giant in a human body. We don’t have to forget but when the time is right we do need to move on and we do need to forgive. Otherwise, we’re giving our power up to whoever that is that we feel animosity and hatred towards.
So now we move from the heart and we move all the way up to the area of the throat, to the fifth energy center known as vishuddha. Shuddhi means ‘purification’ and vi means ‘intensifier.’ Vishuddha exists in the region of the throat and is connected to our voice, to the thyroid. It’s correlated with the color blue, the element of air, same as the anahata chakra. When this is balanced, we’re able to speak our truth, we’re able to speak what we know and what we feel in our hearts and also within our guts, from manipura, the third energy center. Then we’re able to use our speech to guide, to uplift, to inspire, to awaken. When it’s imbalanced we basically do the opposite. We tell lies. We’re dishonest. We’re not clear. We use speech that’s violent. We use speech that’s toxic. We gossip a lot. We’re talking smack about people. This is all going to shut down that vishuddha chakra. The bija mantra is hum, H-U-M. Hum.
Now we move up to the sixth energy center known as ajna. Ajna means ‘command.’ It’s the inner teacher. It’s the inner guru. So this is sometimes known as the third-eye. The eye right there at the center of the forehead connected to the prefrontal cortex of the brain, also connected to the pineal gland. If you heard last week’s podcast about mysticism, you’ll know the pineal gland is like the radio tower that is able to download information from the universal field of energy and transduce this information into visions, into colors, into sounds, into sights. Sights that you see with the eyes closed. So the pineal gland has often been connected to the mystical experience. Ajna chakra is connected to the color purple, the element of space, what’s known as akasha. When this is balanced we’re connected to our inner teacher, to our inner guru. We feel wisdom. We’re aligned with our intuition.
You see, your intuition is always there guiding you and it has a voice that’s speaking to you within your life. And when you feel in these moments a little battle, a little war going on inside of yourself where one voice is saying, “Don’t do that. Don’t do that. Don’t do that.” And another voice is saying, “Do it. Do it. Who cares? It’s not going to harm you. It’s not going to hurt you. It’s not going to bother anybody else.” But deep down inside you know that it’s going to violate some sort of moral-ethical code. Well, the moral-ethical code is coming from that deeper place of intuition which means to instruct from within.
We all have this inner teacher. Any good external teacher is going to guide you to connect to your own inner teacher to be dependent on that and not dependent on the external guru or the external teacher. But of course, external teachers that are ego-dominated and their intention is off, the compass of the heart as off, they want you to be dependent on them. They want you to need them because that feeds their ego. It’s fuel and it’s ammunition for them to sustain that ego. But the real teachers are the ones that are egoless, they’re humble, they’re generous, they’re giving, and they don’t want you to be dependent on them. They want you to be independent. And when you become independent of them that’s a moment of celebration, a moment of victory.
Doesn’t mean that you can’t go to a teacher or a mentor to get guidance but in the end, the real guidance comes from within.
So when this ajna chakra is imbalanced, we’re disconnected from our inner power. We need a lot of external validation. We need people to validate how we should feel and if we’re doing a good job. And again, I’m not saying that you can’t ask a good friend or a teacher, “How am I doing?” But there is a shadow side to that where you’re always looking outside of yourself for approval and that’s going to lead to suffering. The bija sound is the popular or commonly known mantra in yoga, om sometimes referred to as aum, A-U-M.
Finally, that brings us to the goal of the practice which is to move the energy all the way up to the crown of the head, to the sahasrara chakra which means the ‘great sound’ because it’s the sound of the universe. It’s the sound the divinity. It’s the sound of purity. It’s the sound of all things that are good and powerful and eternal. The crown is connected to the pituitary gland which is known as the master gland because it has an effect on all the other glands. It is transcendent of all colors. So it’s often associated with light, with crystal light. It’s beyond color. It’s also beyond the elements. It’s beyond all things of the world or for all things that are finite, that have a label on it. Again, when we come to the sahasrara, it’s like the bridge between the small self and the big self. Now, we’re moving from the individual that’s limited and we’re moving into the unlimited source of who we are, big self, universe, God. God is infinite, eternal, divine. But when this is imbalanced or blocked then we stay stuck in the cage of our limited small self. We’re stuck in this world of form. There’s no mantra for this because it’s beyond all sound. It’s the great sound. The great sound. The maha sound beyond all sounds. Just silence.
When you drop into deep silence and source nothing is lacking. You don’t need a new car. You don’t need to change your relationship. You don’t need a new house. You don’t need more money in your bank account. You don’t even need any answers because you don’t have any questions because you’re in source, you’re in silence. You’re full of the vastness and the richness and the depth of all that is infinite and all that is eternal. All that is just pure, unconditional love which is what we all desire.
We all desire unconditional love to feel joy to feel bliss to feel ecstasy to feel happy. But what do we do? We look for it in all the wrong places, in all the wrong faces. We’re going to all these external things outside of us to feel that love, to feel that fullness, to feel that happiness, to feel that joy, and the whole entire time it’s already within you. You have the nervous system. You have the tools. You have the chemicals. You have the pharmacy within you to access this through the great practices of yoga and spirituality.
So then the question becomes, “All right. Travis, how do we do that? I’m sold. Let’s do this. How do we balance those energy centers?” Well, we do it through meditation. We do it through chanting. We can visualize colors in each one of the energy centers. We can bring our focus to each one of the energy centers starting at the lower – the muladhara – and slowly working our way up, having an intention that the energy center becomes unblocked. You can also set the intention that it is balanced.
Each energy center also has affirmation. For example, if we work with the anahata, we work with the heart energy center, we may use the affirmation, “I am compassionate. I am grateful. I am full of love.” And we repeat that. As we start to repeat it we start to feel it. When you have the thought and you have the emotion that creates this loop which, again, is a wheel which is a chakra which is the energy center, and now the wheel is spinning in a balanced way. It’s not stuck or frozen or blocked.
You can also work with the bija mantras I shared with you, where you chant the mantra just like you would chant om. So you’re visualizing each energy center, the location, the color, and the affirmation and then chanting the mantra. You could do it three times or you could do it as many times as you want. These practices will begin to liberate the unmanifested energy, primal life force, kundalini from the deepest layers of who you are.
That’s it for this podcast. Hope you enjoyed it.
All right. Let’s finish now with the Be Ultimate prayer.
“May we bring strength where there’s weakness,
May we bring courage where there was fear,
May we bring compassion where there is suffering.
May we bring light where there is darkness,
May we be Ultimate.”