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The 7 Chakras You've Heard Of.. And 4 You Haven't

When I began studying yoga, I learned that there were seven chakras -- those energy centers that run from the base of your spine to the top of your head. So imagine my surprise to learn that there are actually 11.
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When I began studying yoga more than 20 years ago, I learned that there were seven chakras -- those energy centers that run from the base of your spine to the top of your head. They are important because properly spinning chakras (the Sanskrit word for "wheel") balance the body's energy flow.

Having seven chakras always made sense to me, especially since experts talk about toning each with one of the seven notes of the major scale or the seven colors of the rainbow. And, as chakra maven Margaret Ann Lembo, author of "Chakra Awakening," explains, descriptions of the seven are found in such cherished ancient Indian texts as the "Vedas" and the "Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali."

So imagine my surprise to recently learn from an esteemed energy healer that there are actually 11.

Master Stephen Co, founder of the U.S. Pranic Healing Center outside L.A., is an energy healer sought out by such spiritual luminaries as Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson and Iyanla Vanzant. He's the author of "Your Hands Can Heal You" and, more recently, "The Power of Prana" -- where I first saw his mention of those extra "wheels." Naturally, I had to call him up to learn more.

Co says his teacher, Grandmaster Choa Kok Sui, discovered the elusive four when he asked advanced clairvoyants to go step-by-step through the body and describe what they "saw," and that he himself has been using them in his healing practice for years. He notes that the idea of 11 is not as far-fetched as it might seem: The mystical Jewish Kabbalistic system posits 11 "attributes of God" inside the body, and the Hindu "Upanishads" sometimes refers to the body as a "city with 11 gates."

According to ancient Indian healing wisdom, any blocked chakra can lead to emotional imbalance or disease. Each center is said to energetically connect to an organ system, and is therefore linked to specific disease; goiter may be caused by sluggishness in the throat chakra, for example, lung ailments may mean something is amiss in the heart center.

Therefore, Co says, the widely known seven chakras are fine for people focused primarily on their spiritual development. But if you're using the chakras for physical healing, as I sometimes do for myself, it might be worth taking these hidden four into account. (Please comment below on your thoughts about this.)

Here, Co explains what you may be overlooking:

Forehead chakra. Located in the center of the forehead at the hairline, this chakra is the true seat of the mystical third eye, not the lower "ajna" chakra between the eyebrows, Co says. Intuition, nervous-system regulation, memory issues, physical paralysis and epilepsy can all be treated here. Although trained healers can carefully stimulate this chakra, such an opening can be extremely powerful; instead, Co advises most people should let it blossom on its own, such as by going inward in meditation.

Solar Plexus chakra. This chakra, with both a front and back entrance, may be the cause of your high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis and ulcers. The front opening is in the hollow area just below the sternum; the back on the spine behind it. It's especially important to keep this chakra clear, as it plays an important role in balancing emotions. One clearing technique is to make gentle, sweeping motions down from the heart through the solar plexus, "as if you're removing gray smoke or mud," Co says. It's also crucial to express your emotions; new repressed ones will just clog it up again.

Meng Mein. Located on the back, between the kidneys (on a direct line with your belly button), this chakra is the source of many back problems, kidney problems and high blood pressure. Clearing it is important, since (as with Chinese healing systems), fear is stored here. Be careful about adding energy to this chakra, which can cause blood pressure to soar. Rather, Co advises, clear the area with a daily "lavender/salt shower." During your morning shower, rub a handful of salt mixed with up to 10 drops of lavender oil in a counterclockwise circular motion (picture the clock painted on your body, facing out). Leave it on for a few minutes, then wash away.

Sex chakra. Different from the "sacral chakra," which some say also covers the sex organs, this chakra sits lower, behind the pubic bone. In addition to its effect on the sex organs (and such problems as menstrual cramps or impotence), this chakra also feeds creativity and is the site of writer's block and autism. Meditating on the color white is a way to gently clear those obstructions. I will say that I tried this the other day, and when afterwards I sat at my computer, the words easily flowed.

Meryl Davids Landau is the author of the new spiritual women's novel, "Downward Dog, Upward Fog," which was recommended by Yoga Journal Buzz Blog and the "Science of Mind" national newsletter. ForeWord Reviews calls the novel "an inspirational gem that will appeal to introspective, evolving women." Read excerpts at Meryl also writes for "O: the Oprah Magazine," "Whole Living," "Reader's Digest" and other national magazines.

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