It is well known to many of us by now that the “human energy field” is comprised of seven major energy centers or chakras that are located along the cerebral-spinal axis. Each of these centers acts as a substation or transformer of the universal energy or prana that flows through the medulla at the base of the skull. As the prana descends through the five lower chakras it is transformed or modified from it’s pure state. If the lower chakras are clear and free of negative impressions (trauma, suppression, etc.) then the prana is free to ascend back to the upper chakras leading to higher states of consciousness.
If the lower chakras are blocked, however, then the prana is blocked from ascending and these energetic blockages begin to manifest as “dis-ease” on mental, emotional and physical levels. In other words, if we have blockages in any of the chakras it means we have broken our “attune”-ment with universal life force energy on a subtle, or not so subtle, level. Since the chakras are energy centers that respond to vibration, one of the ways that we can come back into alignment or attunement is through the conscious use of vibration, music and movement.
One of the tools that can help us in this journey is an understanding, through the use of astrology, of the relationship between the chakras and the planets. In the astrological world each of the chakras is associated with or is governed by a different planet. On an energetic level the astrological chart is a map of not only the inter-relationship of the planets but a map of the inter-relationship and condition of the chakras. In essence, we have our own inner solar system that guides the evolution of our consciousness through the various chakra centers. By understanding the planetary quality of each chakra we can use specific forms of music, vibration and movement to awaken and open each chakra and energize ourselves.
Astrology of the Chakras
The first chakra, located at the base of the spine, is associated with the planet Saturn. Astrologically, Saturn represents our ability to ground ourselves so that we can materialize our dreams. Not enough Saturn in our lives leaves us ungrounded and unable to support ourselves. For some, too little Saturn makes it hard to create a sense of strong boundaries and center. Too much Saturn, however, and we can hold onto the material plane too much and resist change because of insecurity and fear. One of the ways to heal the first chakra is through connecting with the energies of the earth . Walking barefoot, doing yoga and drumming are all ways of tuning into the lower frequencies of the first chakra. Drumming, in particular, is an effective way of opening and awakening the first chakra. When we drum we often hold the drum between our legs which directly connects with the first chakra at the base of the spine. By tuning into the lower frequencies of the drum we not only energize ourselves but also become more present and in our bodies.
The second chakra, governed by Jupiter, is located in the pelvic or genital region of the body. The second chakra has to do with issues of creativity and sexuality and how we channel our fundamental life force energy and emotions. Astrologically, Jupiter is the planet that represents how we expand our consciousness. If we grew up in a family that suppressed emotions or sexuality then this would directly impact the second chakra and our sense of expansiveness. If we suppress one area of the second chakra, say sexuality, then all of the other areas;: our passion, creativity, expression of deep emotion, are affected as well. When the second chakra is open we are in touch with our primal life force, or kundalini energy. This is the fundamental electromagnetic force that animates our bodies and when freely expressed creates magnetism, passion, and true creativity in our lives.
The key to awakening the energy of the second chakra, then, is to get our instinctual energy moving and open and expand the range of pelvic movement. One of the best ways I’ve found to accomplish this is through free form dancing or African dance forms. Several years ago I had a guest African dancer in my Astrology of the Chakras class and she explained that many of the movements of African dance are actually meant to facilitate the opening of the various chakras. Any movements that contract and then expand the area of the second chakra, or pelvis region, will help to loosen up the energy in that center. Also, using ethnic or world music that activates the instinctual or moving center, such as didgeridoo, belly dance or Turkish dervish music, are excellent.
The third chakra, located at the solar plexus or “hara” is the seat of our personal power. Mars, the planet associated with personal will and Pluto, the planet associated with collective will, are the co-rulers of the third chakra. The issues of the third chakra have to do with power, control, trusting our gut level instincts, and our sense of personal empowerment. A blocked third chakra may manifest as a lack of being able to make decisions, not being to trust our own instincts, and feelings of being manipulated or victimized. An overactive third chakra may manifest as control issues, intimidation, rage, or violence. The key to healing the third chakra is to learn how to take power without harming others. It is also important to learn how to let go of the fear of being out of control.
Music can be a particularly powerful medium for opening the third chakra as it is a non-verbal form of communication that by-passes the cognitive mind and directly impacts our deepest emotions. Many people who feel they have to control their emotions find themselves being moved to tears by evocative music. Finding music that moves you, whether emotionally or physically is a way of accessing the deeper emotions of anger, grief and rage that are often trapped in the third chakra. As these emotions are uncovered and allowed expression, the third chakra can then blossom and the energy that has been channeled into control can now be re-routed into more fulfilling forms of self expression and creativity.
Music of the Heart
The fourth chakra, located around the heart and lungs, is governed by the planet Venus. Venus represents what we value, what we are passionate about and our capacity to share our love unconditionally. I also assign “higher” rulership of the fourth chakra to the planet Neptune, as it is Neptune that represents the process of transcending our own individuality and merging with spirit or divine love.
The fourth chakra is the bridge between the lower and higher chakras. It has been said that our western culture primarily relates to the issues of the first three chakras; money, sex and power. As we clear the emotional attachments of the first three chakras then we can begin to open to the expansive qualities of the higher chakras. If the fourth chakra is blocked we might have fears of not being loved, fears of giving and receiving affection or relationships that are unfullfilling.
The key to healing the heart chakra is through the development of compassion, devotion, and a sense of connection with others. Music, in the form of devotional singing, can open the heart and decrease feelings of separation. The Dances of Universal Peace from the Sufi tradition of Samuel Lewis are an excellent way of combining sound and movement to facilitate a sense of mystical connection or oneness with others. Combining sacred mantras from different spiritual traditions with simple circle dances, the Dances of Universal Peace help us to let go of the artificial walls that keep us separate. They are also a very safe way of practicing how to give and receive love unconditionally.
Opening the Throat, Third Eye & Crown Chakras
The fifth chakra, located in the throat region, is governed by Mercury, the planet representing all forms of communication and Chiron, the planet representing the mentor/teacher archetype. It is through the fifth chakra that we develop personal expression and the ability to create our own reality. If the fifth chakra is blocked then we might have fears of asserting or speaking up for ourselves. It may also be difficult to express our needs or the feelings that we experience emanating from the heart chakra. Another common manifestation of a blocked fifth chakra is disbelief in our ability to create our lives the way we want them to be. If we grew up having no voice in the choices that were being made for us or having our choices ridiculed then eventually we stop believing in the power of our free will or voice.
Healing the fifth chakra is imperative if we want to open to the intuitive awareness that comes from the sixth and seventh chakras. If the fifth chakra is blocked we may be overly mental and not open to the subtle intuitive information that is constantly being channeled through the higher centers. In terms of healing modalities, singing is one of the best methods for opening the fifth chakra. Since many people with fifth chakra blockages have literally “lost their voice”, the greatest way to reclaim our voice is to vibrate it with sound! Chanting sacred mantras such as OM is also beneficial as OM is seen as the fundamental, or primordial sound of the universe. As we chant OM we align ourselves with the creative sound that is thought to bring all material form into existence.
The sixth chakra, located in the middle of the forehead between the eyes, is co- ruled by the Sun and the Moon. The sixth chakra is associated with our higher mental abilities of introspection, self-examination, perception and intuition. Traditionally, the sixth chakra is seen as having two poles. The moon pole, located at the medulla, is where receive the “breath of god” or universal energy. The sun or active pole, located at the third eye, is where we express this universal energy through the vehicle of our own individuality. A blocked sixth chakra may manifest as fear of looking inside ourselves, fear of using our intuitive abilities, refusal to learn from life’s experiences, or the inability to access inner guidance. Physical symptoms could include migraines, anxiety, depression and learning disabilities. One of the best ways to open the sixth chakra is through meditation, visualization and accessing the imaginal realm through dreamwork. This opening can be facilitated by music that evokes the imagination and opens us to the realm of non-ordinary insights. Specifically, there are many CD’s available that help the brain to access deeper states of alpha, delta and theta consciousness that are otherwise only produced through meditation practices.
Lastly, we reach the seventh chakra, located at the top or crown of the head. The crown chakra is viewed as another point of entry of life force energy and represents our connection with universal consciousness. I associate the seventh chakra with the planet Uranus, as it is Uranus that represents the universal current of energy that nourishes mind, body and spirit. From the Vedic perspective of India, Uranus represents the kundalini energy that resides at the base of the spine in the first chakra. As we awaken and open each of the chakras the kundalini energies rise up the spine and activate the seventh chakra leading to enlightenment or illumination. Many of us experience this in orgasm as the kundalini moves through the lower chakras and activates the crown chakra. The reason we go to sleep after orgasm is that we are not used to channeling that much energy in the higher centers so we end up shutting down, or going unconscious.
If we have blockages in the seventh chakra this may manifest as low life force energy, disbelief that we can be supported by the universe, or feeling disconnected from a sense of meaning or direction in our lives. The interesting thing about the seventh chakra is that it is the polar opposite of the first chakra so we can open it from “above” or “below”. Pranayama or breathing practices help to open the seventh by expanding our capacity to channel energy through the top of the head. As we expand our capacity to channel energy we can withstand more aliveness moving through our bodies without resistance.
As we open the lower chakras through movement and sound we decrease the resistance we have to being more alive and release the kundalini energy that is dormant at the base of the spine. In other words, opening the higher chakras does not mean that we need to ignore or “transcend” the lower chakras as some traditions would have us believe. Rather, it requires that we work on opening up the entire chakric field so that we have the capacity to experience higher states of consciousness in a grounded or embodied way.