There’s a Troll in My Chakras
By Kristine Kaoverii Weber | October 22, 2021
I have a chakra troll.
When I post anything about chakras on Facebook, she makes a point to correct me and my wayward thinking.
Typically she writes, “Chakras don’t exist” or “Chakras aren’t real.”
But I also realize that her thinking represents a segment of the world (even the yoga world) that looks at chakras like they are a fantasy, a throwback to medieval magical thinking, a way to sell essential oils and gemstones, and/or a New Age trope.
This way of thinking arises from a worldview colored by scientific materialism, which is the way that most of us in the west have been trained to look at things. If you can’t boil something down to the material – it isn’t worth investigating, it doesn’t exist.
But science can’t explain lots of things about health and life.
Science doesn’t understand the mechanisms that underlie acupuncture and homeopathy. And yet they work. There is plenty of research to evidence their benefits.
(Photo Credit: Pixabay)
Homeopaths actually developed the randomized control trial.
Science doesn’t explain the mechanisms underlying most energy medicine (although there’s some very cool research from folks like Helene Langevin at the NCCIH). It’s not about placebo. If placebo was the mechanism, then acupuncture and homeopathy wouldn’t work on dogs, horses, and babies…but they do.
So what about chakras?
(Art Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Cutting ourselves off from the possibility of their existence and their benefits limits the potential to heal.
Some scientists have done interesting research on the chakras, including Valerie Hunt at UCLA and psychoneuroimmunologist Candace Pert who said this in an interview with Dean Ornish in 2000:
“It really got me excited when I realized that there is a very close correspondence between the highest, most concentrated areas of enrichment of a certain neuropeptide and where the chakras are classically supposed to be – there’s a striking concordance. The seven centers actually correspond in places of enriched neuropeptide VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide), which is an incredibly important neuropeptide, critical in regulating the neural immune switches between the brain and the immune system.”
In 2001, Charles Shang proposed that chakras are associated with embryological organizing centers in the central nervous system. It’s an interesting theory. Most scientific theory about the chakras has focused on the autonomic nervous system rather than the CNS.
(Art Credit: Pixabay)
Shang’s work dovetails with theory about the Biofield, defined by biophysicist Beverly Rubik and others in 1992. The biofield is “a massless field, not necessarily electromagnetic, that surrounds and permeates living bodies and affects the body.”
The biofield first gained the interest of embryologists. Probably because the most fundamental research questions in that field tend to be things like: How do two cells become a baby nine months later? What is the organizing mechanism? Where is the blueprint? What makes fetal development occur?
Perhaps the chakras, as the organizing structures of the biofield, can help to explain that mechanism.
Chakras may be associated with sites of developmental control over the five classically defined regions of the spine: coccyx, sacrum, lumbar, thoracic, cervical, which correspond to the five lower chakras. And the upper two chakras are located in areas where brain regions differentiate developmentally – between the hindbrain and the midbrain, and between the midbrain and the cerebrum (forebrain).
(Photo Credit: Pixabay)
I don’t mean to be reductive here, but if chakras have nothing to do with the physical body, why are they located in these developmentally critical areas?
I’ve heard at least one yoga scholar and several well-known yoga teachers claim that the chakras are simply a “symbol system” and that they change depending on the system and the practitioners.
However the system of seven chakras has been fairly well-known since around 900 CE in the Kubijikāmata Tantra and probably earlier, we just don’t have any ancient texts about them. And many other ancient cultures acknowledged and utilized the chakras. While the science is still nascent, it’s not necessarily accurate (or helpful) to write the chakras off as merely symbols.
So why does it matter if chakras are real?
The reason the existence of chakras is relevant and important is that we are in the middle of a massive health care crisis – which has been building for many years and has intensified with COVID. Pre-COVID, 90 percent of the $3.8 T U.S. healthcare bill was spent on chronic diseases.
Whatever you think causes a problem will determine how you treat it. Our ideas about what causes human disease and how the human being functions are insufficient. We need new paradigms.
Our ways of understanding what it means to be human and to be healthy are woefully insufficient and that’s largely because we’re trapped by scientific materialism. We tend to think our problems as emanating from the physical. They must be related to neurotransmitters gone awry, glucose intolerance, too many carbs, lack of vitamins, not enough serotonin, toxicity in the environment, etc.
And while all those things may be true, they are not the whole picture of human health and well being.
The mind is intimately involved in health – physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual. According to the yoga tradition, the energy field emerges from the mind. And yet, we tend to overlook that there may be healing available at this intersection of the body and mind, which, I would argue, is where the chakras exist.
(Art Credit: Alex Grey)
Chakras, the subtle body, and the biofield are all various ways to describe related phenomena that are begging for deeper research and understanding.
Chakras are the cutting edge of human health and well-being. If we want to have better health outcomes – individually and as a society – we should stop writing them off as New Age nonsense and start investigating them with increasing subtlety.
Please check out my course, Chakras Beyond the Rainbow: Rethinking New Interpretations, Reclaiming Traditional Wisdom.
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