Tag Archives: hindu

The trouble with Chakras

I’m going to come right out and say it: I do not have any chakras. I was first introduced to them as a concept when I was sixteen, and nothing at all happened. Since then (twenty years!) I’ve been meditating, visualising, working with my body’s energy, and every so often being talked into having another go. I am entirely certain that nothing resembling chakras is happening down the front of my person. No one is going to persuade me otherwise.

The trouble with chakras is that they are treated as a universal truth. What was originally a feature of Hindu belief, has been embraced wholesale and turns up everywhere. It doesn’t seem to matter what path you claim to follow, someone will be waving it at you. The New Age Movement treats chakras as fact, as indisputably how your body works and I cannot begin to tell you how sick I am of finding it thrown casually into all kinds of books where really it has no place or point.

Other ways of thinking about bodily energy are available. I was exposed to Tai Chi fairly early on (I was about 20). There are no chakras in Taoism. Instead I was introduced to ideas of energy flow, of the circular nature of energy as it moves through the body. That makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve listened to Theo Wildcroft (http://www.wildyoga.co.uk/) talking about physical structures in the body, creating flows and connections in ways that, while I don’t grasp visually too well, make a lot of emotional sense to me. Acupuncture works on a theory of energy meridians in the body, and those aren’t lined up down your middle like the standard ruddy chakras.

But then, actual, Hindu chakras don’t have much to do with New Age chakras either. What the original idea of chakras offers is a complex and subtle system of body energy, and when you start looking at that it compares rather coherently to the meridians and flows that I’ve run into other places. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chakra for a quick sense of what’s really out there).

What has happened is that the western New Age movement has latched onto a complex ancient system, picked on the ‘important’ bit – those ‘main’ seven chakras, hauled them out of context and proceeded to deal with them with no reference to the systems, bodily and spiritual that they actually pertain to. We in the Pagan community are all too guilty of picking up the western seven chakra rubbish and passing it on as an absolute truth, without even knowing properly where it comes from or how it works. This is shoddy in every way.

If you’re going to do chakras, throw away the books that tell you how there are seven of them, and how to clean them, and flowers to associate with them, and precious little else. Go back to the original culture, and learn this stuff properly. If you want to do body energy, you have a body, and energy, and sitting down with what you’ve got, to contemplate it, ponder, study, experience and investigate it will serve you perfectly well. And if it turns out that you do not feel like you have chakras, and that you see and understand your body in some other way, you are not alone!