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An Introduction to the Wisdom of the Chakras: Tools for Navigating the Complexity of Life

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The following post is adapted from THE WISDOM OF THE CHAKRAS: TOOLS FOR NAVIGATING THE COMPLEXITY OF LIFE (Lantern Books) by Ellen Tadd.

Some people are extremely bright yet emotionally crippled; others are very loving yet their daily lives are chaotic. Many have great faith but very little clarity, while others are creative but stymied by a lack of confidence. Why are people so lopsided in their development? Why do some of us feel love but find ourselves unable to express it? Why do some of us commit ourselves to an endeavor "from the heart" but again and again wind up disenchanted? Why do some of us feel confident and powerful within ourselves but become frightened when we try to realize our potential? What is the reason for such contradictions?

I had the feeling that the answers might lie in the chakra system. I was by no means an expert in this system, but I knew that the seven ethereal centers of the chakra system represented the different qualities of our nature and that the crown chakra in particular was the main source of happiness or, conversely, depression. So, some twenty years ago I turned to an examination of the chakra system to see if it could explain the imbalances that seemed to me so prevalent. I found that it did even more. It offered remedies to right out imbalances, which are the obstacles that prevent us from becoming the people we want to be and the beings that all of us have the capacity to become--which is to say, the spiritual beings that all of us in fact are.

This book is the result of my explorations and my counseling work with many people. I hope it will help those who find themselves and sometimes their lives out of balance, and I hope that the practical results that occur will encourage people to look more deeply into our common nature and perhaps begin to see that our nature is also the nature of the cosmos.

The word chakra means "wheel" in Sanskrit. There are seven major chakras aligned from the top of the head to the base of the spine. Each chakra center represents a different part of our nature, and it is through the chakra system that we receive, emanate, and process our life experiences. This network of energy interconnects the body, mind, emotions, soul, and spirit. When the chakra system is operating in a healthy manner--when all the chakras are open and in alignment--we actualize spiritual qualities such as trust, clarity, love, confidence, and well-being. When the chakra system is not operating in a healthy manner--when a chakra is closed and the system is out of alignment--we actualize such qualities as impulsiveness, lack of confidence, fear, and depression.

The study of the chakra system is similar to the study of anatomy; each chakra needs to be discussed independently, but it is always understood that each functions as part of an interdependent cooperative system. I found through experience that the chakra system both offers a framework to understand numerous common combinations of imbalances and provides tools to integrate our different characteristics, thus creating more harmony and balance in our daily lives.

With an understanding of the chakras, weaknesses can be identified and strengthened. Too often we have been conditioned to emphasize our strengths and to avoid our weaknesses. Yet our weaknesses can be our greatest teachers if we embrace them and work with them. In this way, the chakra system offers a mechanism for healing and deeper self-knowledge, as well as a more comprehensive and compassionate understanding of others.