Many yoga masters have said the heart chakra is where we start to experience our humanity.

The fourth chakra is called the Anahata, or “the unstruck.” This can be interpreted both as “that which cannot be destroyed” as well as “that which makes a sound although it has not been hit.” Some say the sound is the Pranava, or the sound Aum and that it arises from this chakra before manifesting in the throat center (where it is one of the petals). The color of the Anahata is a smokey green, the shape is hexagonal and the mantra is “Yam.” These are the vibrations of the aerial factor – we’ve moved up from the burning intensity of the fire into the expansive potential of air.

The other meaning” “that which cannot be destroyed” was seized upon by Carl Jung – he said that the heart chakra is like a citidel – a fortress. And that the job of that fortress is to protect the sacred flame. The fire of the belly becomes small and refined in the heart and it must be guarded cautiously. In other words, the heart is the place where we establish our boundaries. What and who am I going to let into my heart and what and who am I going to refuse entry to. (Think about that Sting song) The heart is not simply about compassion, it is also about shutting out harmful elements that can hurt us. One of the vrittis or tendencies in the heart is viveka which is often translated as “discrimination.” In other words developing the capacity to know emotionally what is good for me and what isn’t is a function of the heart chakra. Boundaries are so essential for establishing who we are, what is important to us and for actualizing our lives. Getting very clear and firm with your boundaries strengthens this center.

Twelve petals ring the chakra with the following vrittis: hope asha, worry cinta, effortfulness cesta, love mamata, vanity dambha, discriminative conscience viveka, anxiety vikalata, ego ahamkara, greed lolata, hypocrisy kapatata, argumentativeness vitarka and repentance anutapa. As you can see, some of these are expansive qualities and some are more refined tendencies which at times may be useful in establishing boundaries and tapering that expansion so that the ego can be firmly established.

The heart chakra is the first center from which we can experience true spiritual expansion although this expansion must also be curtailed here in order to maintain a strong sense of self. (Check back next week – you might be surprised next week to see what happens at the throat center). The anahata is the place where we begin to experience our human potential. The archetype here, Isha, is a compassionate, accepting Christ-like figure.  We’ve moved beyond the fierceness of the warrior and into love and acceptance. The air element tells us the heart is the place from which we begin to expand, beyond selfish desires and out into our connection with others. It is the place of service, relationship and connection. The hands move from the heart to serve others and assuage their suffering. Through that service we ourselves are healed.

Through intense service our karma burns and we are left purified by the experience. This is the coordination of the functions of the third and fourth chakras. Through that burning, the heart is opened and we come into the arms of the compassionate one. From there we can start to explore who we are and begin to understand our potential.


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