The Wisdom of the Chakras: Tools for Navigating the Complexity of Life
The crown chakra, located at the top of the head, as its name suggests, is the center of trust, faith, devotion, inspiration, and spontaneity. This chakra is the bridge from the material to the spiritual realms, and is sometimes recognized in our culture as the golden halo depicted in religious art.
I call this chakra “the key to happiness,” for when it is open, one experiences great expansion and joy. When the crown chakra is open, the feeling that life is good naturally occurs and depression and other painful emotions can be alleviated. There exists a sense of trust that all experiences have value and purpose—even difficult ones—and that one’s life is a part of a larger evolutionary plan. The trust that expands the crown chakra is really confidence in life, God, or Spirit, whichever word you are comfortable with. The particular word is not important; it is the sensation that accompanies an open crown that matters.
When the crown chakra is open, it feels as if the top of your head is taken off. The feeling is open and airy, and the sense of separation between the air and the top of your head is no longer distinct. Emily Dickinson said as much when she wrote to a friend about poetry: “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” Pay attention to the top of your head as you read through this information.
An open crown chakra is necessary to connect with the universal principles and qualities that reside within our individual spirits and with the external spiritual force that exists in all aspects of life. The crown chakra is the bridge to experiencing spiritual connection.
When the crown chakra is closed, we feel isolated. The feeling of being cut off from the experience of oneness or interconnectedness creates unhappiness and depression. It can actually be perceived in the auric field of the crown chakra as a shrinking of vital energy. In general, our culture does not validate or celebrate interconnectedness and unity; but rather competition and separateness. As a result, depression—which generates the experience of dullness in living—is common. This separation from spiritual unity is felt as isolation and can be extremely painful.
Christine, a client of mine for many years, had suffered with extreme depression. She had often relied on medication to help her cope with debilitating anxiety. I explained to her that depression is a symptom of a closed crown chakra and can be alleviated with trust, inspiration, and devotion. Although Christine believed in the chakra system, believed that energy emanated from her body, my solution seemed too simple for her.
However, when she discovered kayaking, her depression began to dissipate. The experience of being out on a river, immersed in nature, surrounded by flowing water, trees, and sky consistently inspired her and opened her crown chakra. Christine has replaced medication for depression with frequent kayaking and a regular meditation practice. She has since confided in me that she no longer needs to take anti-depressants whenever she travels, usually an especially stressful time for her.
Christine’s example shows the force of inspiration and how it can move us toward well-being and renewed openness to life through opening the crown chakra.
An open crown chakra is the essential beginning of an aligned life and sustained happiness.
Why Crown Chakras Become Blocked
When I walk down the street, I rarely observe open crown chakras, except in small children. My belief is that the radiant glow over their heads is the result of spiritual rejuvenation experienced between incarnations. In the spiritual realm, the ability to see life from an expanded view reveals the perfection in life events and recaptures and stimulates trust in the evolutionary process.
For adults, however, the exposure to prevalent cultural attitudes and environmental conditioning has gone on longer and often perpetuate fear, anxiety, suspicion, worry, and self-doubt, which all can close the crown chakra and block access to happiness, spiritual experiences, and inspirational ideas.
Two prime sources of a closed crown chakra are the fear of being inadequate and the fear of being unsafe in the world. From a spiritual perspective the fear of being inadequate is generated by identifying oneself with one’s behavior rather than one’s spiritual identity, and the fear of being unsafe in the world occurs when people do not recognize that their physical bodies are temporal and their true essence is eternal.
As Christine’s story shows, the open crown chakra that comes with one’s recognition of spiritual reality need not be a conscious process. It can come through inspiration or, more broadly, self-enriching activities and experiences.
Conditioning from parents, educational institutions, and society at large often contribute to the closing of many crown chakras by inculcating a purely materialistic view of life and denying that each of us is intrinsically worthwhile with an important life purpose. In general, western culture has validated materialistic values rather than spiritual principles and has maintained that the worth of a person comes from social measures and not from actualizing one’s nature.
Another source of a closed crown chakra is anger at ignorance—anger because of one’s ignorance or in reaction to the ignorance of others. Anger at ignorance arises from an inability to fully recognize that we are always in a state of growth. My guides state, “Ignorance is in perfection also.” In the learning process, not knowing must come before knowing, therefore, ignorance isn’t bad, but a necessary part of the learning process.
Western culture’s propensity to favor intellectual pursuits over intrinsic knowledge also leads to closed crown chakras. I do not denigrate intellectual accomplishment. Rather, I am talking about the over valuation of intellectual knowledge and the under valuation of knowledge that comes from within. The synthesis of intrinsic and intellectual knowledge is the ideal.
When intellectual knowledge is regarded as superior to feelings and intuition, then we begin to lose the ability to look within ourselves, for the inner understanding and awareness that most often is accessible through stillness. In our data-ridden world most people do not train their minds to be still, thus losing the opportunity to tap into knowledge that goes deeper than their everyday life experiences. Such habits serve to close the crown chakra.
The favoring of analytical thought over intrinsic knowledge can be seen in the aura as a cap on top of the head. This barrier inhibits the feeling of trust, openness, and the expansive quality that comes with an open crown chakra. Ultimately, this analytical approach to life is the result of fear and a desire to maintain complete control. Much of our cultural conditioning supports the idea of directing one’s life through intellectual or rational thought, and does not recognize either the importance of each individual’s spiritual identity or the value of respecting the interconnectedness of all aspects of life.
Another source of closed crown chakras is past life influences. Traumas that originated in other incarnations and are often not consciously remembered can impact the ability to stay open to life. These traumas reside within our souls and need to be healed. It is not surprising, then, that each of us incarnates into situations that reestablish or bring to the surface troubling patterns and lessons from other lives so that we can resolve them.
For example, in this life my daughter has experienced a learning disability. She has been frustrated and discouraged by the disparity between her naturally strong intelligence and her difficulty in learning basic reading and writing skills. When she was younger she was the focus of teasing and childhood cruelty which caused her to feel that life was unjust, closing her crown chakra.
With clairvoyance I was able to see into her previous incarnation as a French magistrate assigned to preside over poor and illiterate peasants. In my vision, I could see the dramatic contrast between the magistrate’s wealth—represented by his beautiful ruffled blouse and brocade jacket—and the poverty of the peasants, who wore disheveled, ragged clothes. The magistrate bolstered his feelings of superiority with flamboyant and public demonstrations of his literacy.
Viewed from this spiritual perspective, the drama of my daughter’s learning disability was arranged so that she, an evolving entity, could have the opportunity to learn what the magistrate lacked, compassion for others who are struggling, and thus heal the past imbalance within her own soul.
The more general point is that when we understand why present life circumstances occur, we are more able to trust and keep our crown chakras open. Individual tendencies toward attitudes and habits that block the crown are linked to past experiences, whether in our present incarnation or from past life circumstances.
Ultimately, all beliefs rooted in fear can be transformed through drawing on spiritual principles such as love, compassion and balance, and working to manifest them in everyday life.
Unblocking the Crown Chakra—Inspiration, Devotion, and Spontaneity
Inspiration and devotion are major ways to unblock or open the crown chakra. Both connect a person to Spirit but neither depends on a belief in spiritual reality. They are the gifts from life that open our crown chakras and that enable us to expand outward beyond ourselves into a universe of connectedness.
Inspiration is a key to our own happiness, as we can see from Christine’s story, but it is also a tool to affect others. I once was a member of a studio audience during a filming of an educational video. As the main lecturer began his talk, I noticed that the audience was restless and that the information seemed dull. Then the speaker began to tell an inspirational story about overcoming adversity. The crowd became visibly moved—everyone’s crown chakras opened and the room filled with golden light. Some people began to cry. The force of inspiration united the group in positivity and upliftment. After the filming was complete, I heard enormous praise for the speaker. When we use inspiration as a tool to encourage others, we are likely to receive appreciation and openness to our ideas.
It is impossible to feel frightened when we are inspired. Inspiration from many sources—music, art, other people—can be used as a tool to alleviate anxieties that inhibit the openness of the crown chakra. When we are inspired by a positive influence or a sacred communication, the crown chakra opens. Focusing on an inspirational person or spiritual entity can also be an effective tool to renew hope that an uplifting life is possible. When we are inspired, we open our crown chakras and experience the joy and faith that allows us to persevere during challenging times.
What inspires one person does not necessarily inspire another. What will open the top of your head and bring upliftment to you? It may be a view, a poem, a hot bath, or the midnight sky.
My father, a physicist and bio-physicist, used music as a source of inspiration when he began a research project. He would lie down, close his eyes, and listen to classical music. During these sessions he received inspirational ideas without thinking. Then he would do the research to prove the insights that had come to him in a flash. In chakra language, my father’s crown chakra opened through using music as a tool for inspiration. Once his crown was opened, he could access a spiritual source of knowledge that went beyond his own personal awareness.
It is important to remember that we can choose to be inspired at any time. For example, while we may purchase food out of necessity, simply by adding a non-essential item like fresh-cut flowers, we can feed the soul and open the crown chakra. I can remember returning home feeling tired and discouraged at the end of the day without the energy to make dinner or relate to my family. Recalling the power of inspiration, I would light a fire in the fireplace, or put on some favorite music, and before long my crown chakra would open and rejuvenation and happiness would return. Inspiration in its infinite forms can keep us connected to the Spirit in life all around us.
Devotion offers a second way to open the crown chakra. It is a profound, enthusiastic dedication or worship that can be focused on spiritual matters, a child, a friend, work, or even a pet. Devotion creates a feeling of unity and in turn opens the crown chakra since the crown governs interconnection and oneness. The power of devotion can be seen in the rapture of a spiritual student or follower, the pleasure of a person’s relationship with a dog, or enthusiastic feelings about a work project.
Both inspiration and devotion facilitate trust, dissipate fear, and open the crown chakra, allowing us to be fully present in the moment. Spontaneity and care-free feelings are by-products of the consciousness of trust and fearlessness. It is even common for people to say that an idea that is spontaneous is “off the top of my head."
Meditation and the Crown Chakra
An open crown chakra is the key to an expansive and deep meditation, which is the tool we use to contact and listen to spirit. The expansion that is created and felt when the crown chakra is open aids in dissipating brain chatter, a critical step in contacting the Spirit and its qualities.
I use an X to symbolize the process of learning to meditate. The bottom part of the X is everyday thought or brain chatter. The point in the center is stillness. The upper part of the X is revelation, connection to the Spirit and its qualities within and without. Stillness is the path to revelation. With sustained stillness, a state of deep listening can be attained, after which revelation and knowledge from the Spirit within and without can be received.
It is in the upper level of the X symbol that dialogue with Spirit begins. This dialogue is a simple asking-and-listening process, and topics can range from the mundane to the profound. You can ask about the wisdom of purchasing a car or the meaning of compassion: both are appropriate meditations.
People who attempt to meditate with closed crown chakras can achieve a form of relaxation, but they are unable to experience expansion and direct contact with Spirit. Meditation is listening to Spirit; therefore the door to Spirit—the crown chakra—must be open. With an open crown chakra, insight and connection to the spiritual life force are available to everyone.
There are three steps to achieving a sustained meditation. The first is to produce the open, airy feeling at the top of the head. Inspiration is an obvious tool to bring this about. Singing a song, reading a poem, or envisioning an uplifting image or event are all possibilities. Devotion and trust can also be used to open the crown chakra and create the bridge to spiritual dimensions. Whatever works to produce the open, airy feeling at the top of the head should be focused upon before meditating.
The next step in the process to achieve and sustain meditation is affirmation, or the verbal affirming of a universal truth. When teaching, I suggest using the affirmation “I am Spirit, infinite Spirit” to focus and recondition the mind to feel one’s infinite identity as a spiritual being. The affirmation should be repeated until an expansive feeling grows.
The third step is to discontinue the use of the affirmation and work to hold the mind still. If brain chatter returns, one then goes back to the affirmation.
Gradually, you will be able to maintain stillness for longer and longer periods of time. The length of time it takes to attain stillness varies from person to person. The process can be compared to the effort of digging a well. At first only dirt and rocks are excavated, but if digging continues, water will be reached. Some people require less effort in their practice, and shoveling is sufficient; others need more intense focus and repetition, and a drill is required. Once water has been located, all that is needed for refreshment is to re-tap the source. It is the repetition of digging that brings contact with the water, and it is the repeated practice of stilling the mind that brings contact with Spirit.
I use this analogy to underscore the importance of perseverance in developing the skill of meditation. Some people will achieve contact with stillness quickly and easily, while others will have to work more diligently. However, once the ability to still the mind has been achieved with consistency, it is simple to dip back into stillness to be rejuvenated by spiritual connection.
What we gain from this connection can be immeasurable.
For example, our culture emphasizes that getting what we want will bring happiness, whether our desire is a new car, a certain job, a special place to live, or a specific relationship. This conditioning encourages people to bounce from one desire to the next, making happiness contingent on the achievement of our shifting personal wishes.
While actualizing such desires may create feelings of inspiration and happiness by temporarily opening the crown chakra, the inspiration and happiness are fleeting. In contrast, when we focus on the gift of being Spirit in human form, sources of inspiration become abundant. We appreciate the possibilities of learning and creativity in life. Happiness becomes a state of being, not a state of acquiring.
Connecting with the Spirit within and without through meditation is one way to facilitate clear knowing. It becomes easier to determine which of our desires are a result of limited conditioning and which impulses are in accord with our spiritual essence. Manifesting desires or impulses that harmonize with the Spirit supports the evolution of life, sustains individual happiness, and keeps the crown open.
While an open crown chakra is fundamental to happiness, it is not possible to sustain happiness without the alignment and synthesis of all the chakras. When the crown chakra is open but other centers are blocked, happiness can be felt and experienced but it cannot be maintained. Imbalances that exist in other chakras—such as lack of confidence, poor discipline, improper nutrition, the inability to manifest in the world, or the lack of love—can disconnect people from life and ultimately closes the crown chakra.
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A key quality that enables us to sustain well-being is the discernment of the third eye chakra, which we examine next.
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