So the chakra debate continues. Though I didn’t discover much empirical evidence in my search, and didn’t find any labs with chakra-detecting technology, there are a couple of reasons why this may not matter so much. A doctor and a yogi help close the chakra conversation we started a few weeks ago:
One way of thinking about chakras, continues Dr. Jeff Migdow, who teaches Prana Yoga teacher training at the Open Center in NYC and also trains at Kripalu, is to remember that we all know what energy is intuitively. We can all recall the sensation when energy travels through our bodies, and conjuring up that feeling might help make chakras become more tangible.
“Each one of us,” he says, “has had experiences we’ve felt really good in. It’s that tingling, champagne feeling in the body when we’re excited or engaged in something. This is energy flowing into the nervous system. We’ve all felt it at one time or another, even though we may not know exactly what it is. We may not be able measure it with medical equipment – it takes place on a subtler level.”
I like this explanation. I can get on board with this, I think. Most people, myself included, have felt the almost-indescribable swell of energy during happy times, and the low contraction of heartbreak. These types of energy shifts, and other varieties, can be felt at different physical points in the body. Maybe thinking of these points as related to the chakras isn’t a bad way to look at it.
Equally helpful was another person’s take. I asked my teacher, and YogaGlo’s own, Elena Brower, to help with my chakra confusion. In fact, I asked her to explain chakras to me like I was a five-year old. To this, she said, “chakras are specific places where we can put our attention in order to unwind any blocks in our bodies.” She added, “my experience is just that the chakras are locations in my subtle, energetic body toward which I can point my attention to experience consciousness more profoundly and with purpose.”
The shift in attention that Elena talks about is so fundamental, and seems to be the key to a lot of things – like mindfulness, and its many accompanying physiological changes. To figure chakras as points in the body to which to attention can be shifted makes a lot of sense to me. It finally makes the concept relevant and valuable.
In the end, it may not be about “proving” whether or not chakras exist. It may be more about how we sit in our own bodies, and connect to the energy that we already know is moving around within it. And if focusing attention on specific points in the body helps our minds let go of the roadblocks and quiet the chatter, then maybe that’s all the proof we need. Maybe we had it all along.
Alice G. Walton, PhD is a health and science writer, and began practicing (and falling in love with) yoga last year. She is the Associate Editor at TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com and a Contributor at Forbes.com. Alice will be exploring yoga’s different styles, history, and philosophy, and sharing what she learns here on the YogaGlo blog. You can follow Alice on Twitter @AliceWalton and Facebook at Facebook.com/alicegwalton.
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