Within the course of one year, around age 18, I was sexually assaulted, I moved 400 miles away from home and back again, one of my dearest friends was murdered, I had a miscarriage, I dumped a boyfriend who became addicted to drugs… and last but not least, I was introduced to my first true love (modern dance).
Needless to say, I was going through some shit.
Somewhere between losing my friend and dumping my ex, I was introduced to the chakras. From a philosophical perspective, I was going through a very existential stage of life — trying to comprehend life and death, morality, karma, and why I was even here to begin with… From a clinical perspective, I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder— dissociative, depressed, labile emotions, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, etc.
From an entirely different perspective, I was undergoing a (moderate) kundalini awakening — a spontaneous and rapid downpour of energy into my system causing my consciousness to raise, which forced me to rewrite my entire concept of reality… with various psychosomatic symptoms to boot.
I can’t remember exactly who introduced the chakras to me, but I remember being intrigued and wanting to figure out more. Like I do with most esoteric information, I consulted my dad about it and he handed me a book called Kundalini & The Chakras: Evolution In This Lifetime by Genevieve Lewis Paulson.
I was immediately entranced by what I was learning…
There is a comprehensive, yet practical framework for understanding the breadth of human experience. This framework is intricate and unveils a mystical energetic system that unifies every aspect of life experience from human physiology and psychology, to the cosmic, universal divine source. By understanding this system, a miraculous and divine mystical experience could become accessible to you, bringing you closer to enlightenment…
For me, seeking enlightenment seemed to be the only relevant pursuit while being on this planet in human form. Most enticing though was the prospect that with the use of this system, you can unlock psychic gifts, which was a childhood fantasy that all of the sudden seemed possible to attain.
Over the last 12 or so years, I’ve studied the chakra system from various points of view. My favorite teachers on this system have been Caroline Myss, Anodea Judith, and Deepak Chopra. What has been most impactful in my research was actually taking what I’ve studied and applying it to my life.
The chakra system has not only provided me a language and model for understanding my personal experiences and making changes in my life that support a path towards enlightenment. It’s also given me solace when attempting to make sense of our often deranged and disturbing collective experience. It has been a tremendous resource for me to heal, grow, and yes… awaken my own psychic abilities. Furthermore, the chakra system is a huge tool in my work with therapy and coaching clients. It’s an assessment tool that hasn’t failed me yet!
The chakra system is an evolutionary program and can be used to reprogram our lives. If we can learn this on an individual level, perhaps we can apply the same methods to our culture and environment . — Anodea Judith
I feel really passionate about sharing the chakra system with more people because it has been such a tremendous resource in transforming my own life.
What the fuck is a chakra?
Simply put, chakras are energy centers. The word chakra translates to “spinning disk” — the chakras are vortexes of energy that govern specific physiological and psychological functions. Judith describes the chakra system as “a seven layered philosophical model of the universe”. She also talks about how the chakras are spinning disks of bio-energetic activity and can be imagined as old school floppy disks (or for the youngins — sd cards) that run particular physiological and psychological “software”. This software can be updated as one’s consciousness evolves. This is a great analogy because just like a computer program that has system updates, the human system can also be reprogrammed and updated with more sophisticated processing.
I sometimes like to imagine a chakra as a record player. It has the ability to play a record — a program with various patterns of energy and information. The record player can spin fast (excess), just right (in the groove), too slow (deficiency), or maybe not at all (blocked), and the tempo effects the way the record will be heard. In other words, the rhythm of each chakra effects the way in which the physical and psychological program is expressed. Furthermore, records can skip, get scratched, get played out, become outdated, and most importantly they be changed out for new recordings.
Even though record players themselves have been around for over 100 years, new artists release vinyl all the time. There is something timeless about a record player, just as the chakra system is timeless and inherent to the human experience. Yet we can update what we listen to with fresh vinyl, just as each human being is on a unique evolutionary journey of expanding consciousness with fresh ideas and new information.
The 7 Major Chakras
There are many philosophies regarding the chakras. Some philosophies focus on four or five chakras, while others identify a much larger number of chakras connected to points both inside and outside of the physical body. Most popularly referenced is the system of seven chakras. I created this infographic to help you orient yourself to each of the seven major chakras and the psychological aspects of the human experience that they each govern.
The chakras, or energy centers, can also be understood through the physical metaphor of the areas of the body to which they are connected. For example, the throat chakra literally and figuratively governs out ability to communicate and express ourselves. Though they have not been proven to exist in the physical body, modern research is beginning to catch up with and subsequently validate the wisdom of this ancient science with research on the gut-brain connection.
“Basic Principles of the 7 Major Chakras” by Inertia DeWitt on Medium
The general flow of energy from the top of the crown downward indicates the channel of information and energy transforming into manifestations.Energy becomes more dense as you slow down, as reflected by the nature of the lower chakras. The lower three chakras relate to the earthly, personal aspects of life. As energy flows from the top down, energy is transformed into physical form in the finite world.
Meanwhile the channel of energy traveling up the spine is a process of illumination, or enlightenment. The dense, personal experiences go through a process of emotional digestion and reflection in order to spark insight and awareness. Energy flowing from the bottom up turns experience into wisdom.
Each of the stops in between the root and the crown chakra have a specific set of issues it governs, however they all work together and the quality of energy at each chakra reflects and impacts our overall health.
Understanding the Chakras and Health
Renowned researcher and psychiatrist, Daniel Siegel, defines a healthy system as one that has differentiated parts that are linked together and work in harmony. He defines the mind as “an embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy within and between”. Meaning that the mind does not exist in your brain. Rather, the mind is something we experience internally within our own system, and relationally between people and things outside of us. When he says within, he means within a given system, and between meaning that the mind exists between differentiated systems as well. In other words, we all exist within “the mind” and the mind can be understood as a field of consciousness. Furthermore, each individuated person, each unique system, is interconnected.
Ok that was a lot of jargon so let me put it this way…
Optimal health is maintained when individual parts of a system have a unique job, have a viable connection with the other parts of the system, and are all working together to create harmony.
Let’s imagine the DJ analogy a bit further to make sense of how the chakras and a healthy system can be understood. Imagine an overzealous DJ is spinning 7 unique records simultaneously to create a symphony of music live! One record plays bass samples, another drums, guitar, piano, vocals, horns and strings. The DJ has to keep everything movin and groovin in harmony; if even just one record is out of time it creates dissonance. Dissonance reveals an imbalance in the system, i.e. negative behavior, stress, pain, illness, etc.
You are the DJ, each record is a different chakra programmed to express specific information, and each record requires monitoring and regulating in order to keep things flowing simultaneously — just as all of the components of the human experience require monitoring and regulating in order to stay balanced and aligned.
So … Now What?
If you are going through some major shit, and you believe you are going through your kundalini awakening, you can spend years reading all of the books out there on chakras (I’d be happy to share my reading list). You could also watch a ton of YouTube videos. Or you could look for a mentor to personally guide you through your journey. I also created a real basic guide to understanding the chakra system if you want to get the cliffs notes version 🙂
I primarily refer to the works of author Genevieve Lewis Paulson, medical intuitive and author Caroline Myss, and therapist and author, Anodea Judith. Judith’s book Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self is paramount for anyone wanting a comprehensive and digestible understanding of the system in a modern context. Furthermore, I draw parallels between my understanding of the chakra system with my studies in psychology, particularly research done by self-psychologist Ernest Wolf and renowned psychiatrist, Daniel Siegel.
Inertia DeWitt holds an MFA in Dance, MA in Counseling Psychology with an Emphasis in Depth Psychology, and a certificate in Somatic Psychology. Among many things, she provides holistic, integrative coaching services to clients in the U.S.