Chakra Meditation
By:Nina Makofsky

Chakra meditation stems from the Eastern belief that our bodies hold seven energy centers. These focal points of energy, called chakras, affect our perception, our mental state and our physical energy. By using methods of visualization, relaxation, deep breathing and meditation, people can awaken their chakras and achieve clarity and balance.

A chakra meditation for beginners (see "Additional Resources," below) can be done while sitting or lying down. The person adjusts her clothing for maximum comfort and shuts her eyes. Gradually, she lengthens her breaths, without controlling the breath, slowly shifting into Ujjayi pranayama, a nostril-breathing technique popular in yoga. Then, she focuses on a specific place in her body such as the spine, and breathes along the length of it, visualizing the chakras located along the passage. She may state the chakra's name as the breath passes by it. Gradually, she returns to normal breathing, chants a mantra and concludes the meditation.

Regular practitioners of chakra meditation claim it has many benefits, beginning with the physical act of looking inward and focusing on energy and breathing. The process can release the ego and push a person beyond her perceived limits. Meditative practice provides a place for a person to reflect, analyze and learn from daily life. It frees the mind from trivial worries and improves focus. It can reduce the effects of stress and improve physical energy and mental acuity.

Chakra meditation serves to balance and energize the seven chakra points, aligning them so that energy may flow through them. A meditation functions to awaken one or all of these centers, among them the root chakra at the base of the spine, the sacral chakra in the abdomen, the power chakra at the naval, the heart chakra in the chest, the throat chakra at the base on the throat, the third-eye chakra (also called the brow chakra) between the eyebrows and the crown chakra at the apex of the head.

The primary techniques in chakra meditation are grounding, centering and relaxation. Grounding can be achieved through being mentally present and connecting with Earth. Centering occurs during deep-cleansing breaths, the tightening and releasing of individual muscles or visualizing centering an object, such as a ball of clay on a pottery wheel. Relaxation occurs later in the meditation, achieved through continued breathing, visualizing light, chanting a mantra or adopting a personalized technique for releasing tension.

There are chakra meditations geared for specific purposes. The purification meditation entails visualizing a white light traveling from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. The heart chakra meditation focuses on releasing fear and sadness by visualizing emerald light emanating from the core of the body. A meditation for clearing and charging the chakras entails centering upon each chakra energy center and setting them spinning and whirling.