A Purple Bath, Lavender Oil, and Grapes – Is That All My Chakras Really Need?
By Kristine Kaoverii Weber | August 7, 2021
Once, for my birthday, my husband gave me a chakra color therapy treatment at a spa. I had a 2-year-old at the time and I was as fried as any toddler’s mother, so I was really grateful – I was going to spend a completely frivolous fun day getting my chakras “tuned up.”
After donning a big fluffy white terry cloth robe and drinking some hibiscus tea with mint leaves in an atrium filled with soft, ambient music, I was escorted into the therapy room. The therapist (who told me she didn’t get many chakra request and usually did regular massages) came in and set up her camera.
Then she used Kirlian photography to take my “before” picture. It showed many beautiful pink and blue colors swirling around my head, neck and shoulders. Based on the photo, she determined I needed a purple lavender bath for my crown chakra – which took place in a huge jacuzzi tub.
It smelled lovely and lavish. I got in and soaked my tired bones in the jets – Calgon, take me away!
After about 15 minutes she asked me to dry off and when I was ready, to go and lie down on the massage table. She turned off the overhead light and turned on a lamp – and then fiddled with it for a moment until she found the purple setting. Then she gave me a Swedish massage for about an hour, during which I dozed off (and probably snorted) a few times.
Afterwards, she took my picture again. She said it was a bit odd that I looked worse in the “after” shot – less vibrant, fewer pinks and blues, more browns – but, she said, it was basically kind of random and who knows if it actually had any real effect on my chakras anyway (That came out of her mouth, not mine – Ha!)
At the end of the session, she brought me a small bowl of purple grapes and said to eat them as it was part of the color therapy for my chakras.
It was fun and relaxing. I mean, how can I complain about a day of pampering at a spa?
But, did it balance my crown chakra?
I had been working with and studying chakras for several years by then, and I knew that these kinds of therapies had multiplied into a rainbow of variations in the west. There are tons of courses and books about chakra healing with foods, lights, sound therapies – you can even take chakra cruises and go to chakra nightclubs! And while there is certainly value in some of them, there’s also an array of misleading, useless hubris. It can be difficult to tease out the effective from the unicorns.
To drill down into why so many western approaches to chakras seem a bit on the inadequate side, and why the western chakra system has diverged so dramatically from the original eastern systems, we really have to analyze the fundamental worldview chasm that splits traditional eastern and western ways of knowing and thinking.
Traditional (pre-colonial) Indian thought and philosophy valued the inner human experience. The vast majority of Indian philosophical and spiritual literature is about the mind, spirit and meaning of life. Technological advances are primarily inner ones and utilize techniques to manipulate the inner world.
Western philosophy (particularly starting with Descartes) focuses on outer technologies. The body belongs to the outer world and therapies derive from this basic distinction. Technological advances are primarily outer ones and techniques are used to manipulate the outer world.
This is why an entirely different chakra system has emerged in the west, and with it, entirely different approaches to accessing and working with the chakras.
In a Goop article, a chakra expert claimed that red foods will balance and nourish your root chakra because it’s also red. This is a perfect example (in addition to my color bath story) of the western approach to chakras. The approach starts with the idea that to influence the dysfunction, you have to manipulate something in the external world.
Purple is a nice color. I liked my purple bath. I like lavender oil and purple grapes. But they probably won’t solve my problems, or significantly influence my chakras.
Unfortunately, this kind of thinking, and the multitude of therapies that have arisen from it, have given the chakra system a bad rap. You can’t appropriate something from a different culture, squish it into your own culture’s way of thinking, and expect it to work – real results will demand a deeper approach.
If you’d like to learn more, please check out my free ebook, Chakras: Is Everything You’ve Been Taught Wrong? 4 Differences between Traditional and New Interpretations
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Amen. I”m not surprised at all about the massage therapist’s lack of training in chakra work and it sounds she may have been a bit skeptical about it. I’d be a lot more likely to see a Healing Touch (TM) practitioner for energy work or even more likely to see my acupuncturist. Like you said, you really can’t go wrong with an hour of massage though!
Similarly, I’m a big fan of acupuncture. As a mainstream RN, I have a lot of friends and colleagues who try to apply western medicine principles to an eastern medicine practice. It just doesn’t translate literally, for starters, because western medical philosophy just doesn’t address energy. It’s a bit like the proverbial fitting of a round peg into a square hole.
I also think there just might be endless healing power in lying still on a comfortable table in good anatomical posture doing nothing other than just being with another human being channeling positive energy into you.
As usual I love reading your thoughts!
OMG Karen, this! “I also think there just might be endless healing power in lying still on a comfortable table in good anatomical posture doing nothing other than just being with another human being channeling positive energy into you.”
Karen, I so agree:)
No toddler but do have 16 yr old dog and a 68 year old husband! I want a spa day with lavender bath, purple grapes, and massage! Looking forward to this class!
Your stories are a “hoot”. I just got your recommended book Rainbow Body by Kurt Leland. I hope to dive in to the reading and your e-book and the next time I see you I hope we both appear somehow balanced and glowing! Smiles here.
My deep and joyful experience with the very adaptable Buddhism is that many of the nods to modern western culture are valid in that practice. I think so of yogic practice too. I enjoy meditating/being with the chakras as a way to scan the various aspects of myself and feel where I may be a bit overboard in some places. From the earth and ancestors within up to light and trust/intuition. A good way to start my day. You seem to focus on the extremes of that pesky “Western” culture — dualistic. Perhaps people who speak of “balancing the chakras” don’t mean getting all of them equally in gear but rather each one in a mellow place. Maybe.
I love how you can weave a story into a study. I have been intrigued by the chakras since beginning my yogic journey over 20 years ago. I feel that the therapist you had was trying to be truthful about her lack of experience, knowing that 10-15 years ago there was little known about the Chakras let alone any meditation in the Western World. I need to find a way to carefully debunk the rainbow myth and give my students a better way of understanding them. I have taught the Eastern theology of the Chakras only to hear students have a hard time comprehending. The colors were a way for them to visualize “something” although the area of the body can also be used more factually. You know how to bring forth context so that students can digest the theory. I can’t wait for your course.
Thank you for sharing this ‘new to me’ perspective.. I had no idea the chakras were westernized. Your photos are great as well, but the”Calgon take me away” photo, got me, haven’t heard that in years and the kitty makes it. Danalee
Thanks Danalee – I don’t think you’re alone! I think many people assume that there is only one system and it’s ancient. Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you liked the kitty spa LOL!
Look forward to your new Chakra course.
I find this fascinating. As a yogi I have always shied away from the Westernised view of colourised chakras and never studied anything at all to do with the colours associated with them – it was always a bit too New Agey for me. Then about 10 years ago I was invited to a Jin Shin Jyutsu workshop (a gentle Japanese acupressure modality), and while exploring this I began to see colours associated with different areas of the body. I still see these colours when I meditate, and sometimes through touch. I don’t understand it and I can’t explain it, but I do find it very interesting.
I think it’s beautiful to see colors and they may be helpful for doing healing work.
That’s so ironic; just this morning my acupuncturist recommended I eat red foods close the time of my period to get my blood flowing in a healthy manner! I hear what you’re saying about how information like that about the chakras gets westernized and misinterpreted, but I have also come to find that different eastern philosophies, even different kinds of yoga practices, have different beliefs about these things. I am currently doing yoga teacher training with an Indian monk who is teaching us classical hatha yoga, and in his lineage they wear orange because of its association with the manipura chakra. And we discuss the different colors we see when we do our yoga practices and how they can represent different chakras. So I think we have to be careful about how harshly we draw lines between what we say is or isn’t yoga, or any other practice for that matter. I think it’s important to recognize that even within the realm of what is considered to be yoga there can be many different practices and philosophies.
Thanks Abi. I would love to hear more from him about the orange manipura, I’ve never heard that before from any Indian teachings. It’s usually red, but there may be some texts that describe orange petals. The point of this post is to discuss the differences between eastern and western worldviews and how they affect the way we perceive and work with the subtle body. And yes, there are many different versions of the subtle body in the Indian system.
In my learnings Manipuri ( solar plexus) is yellow! Muladhara (root or base) is red. Sacral svadhistana is orange.
And yes, ditto to others comments- I enjoy reading your writings. Touch of humor with deep learnings. Love your style Kristina. I too look forward to your course on chakras. I teach chakra balancing sequences, using the asanas to strengthen (or reduce) the energy in each chakra. Gets great feedback, feels powerful and is popular.
Always a great story and insights from you Kristine:) I enjoy reading your posts!
Thank you, Kristine. Fantastic story. Tully enjoyed it. I am looking forward to your chakra course. 😉