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The Spiritual Anatomy of Yoga - Vishuddha

“Wherever you go, you carry your light with you”

~ Yogi Ashokananda, my Beloved Teacher

Let us take a moment here, Friends, to reflect upon the extraordinary journey we are undertaking as we explore, examine and question not just the principles of what ‘spiritual anatomy’ is, but what it means to be human with an expanded understanding of how we are composed.

We are all remarkable and marvellous in our own individuality and uniqueness; we must never forget this or allow the expectations or interpretations of others to dim our radiant light or sense of self.

We are here; we are on our own unique path and we cultivate daily the experience of peace within the experience of being our truest selves.

Vishuddha - The Throat Chakra

Over the last century or so, the concept of chakras has captured the imagination of Western spiritual seekers and inquirers like nothing else.

But, as with much of the ancient lore and understanding that originates from the East, so much is lost in translation; so much, in fact, that what we think we understand about concepts such as chakras or yoga couldn’t be further removed from the original teaching.

As we have discussed in previous blogs, the concept of chakras in ancient times was just that - a concept. Chakras were seen as meditative tools or aids, visualised by the yogi as flowers, vortexes of energy, animals or symbols.

Recognised as primarily spiritual/abstract concepts, they became associated with particular parts or locations of the human body as these locations are broadly coterminous with where we feel certain kinds of spiritual or emotional energy within the body.

However, chakras were never considered to have a physical location within the human body, merely a corresponding location according to the meditative techniques and practices applied.

In the West, our understanding of chakras is, tragically, not the original concept of chakras as understood in the ancient traditional yogic philosophy. Our understanding in the West has its roots in Western occultism, stemming from the late 1800s and the Theosophical Movement, a spiritual philosophy and practice that continues its influence to this day and is, perhaps single-handedly, responsible for establishing what we would call the ‘New Age’ movement.

We have acknowledged in previous blogs the multiplicity of chakra systems within Eastern thought; some having just four while others offer a system of 16 chakras. Our ‘modern, Western’ tradition of a seven chakra system originates from just two mediaeval texts; one from the 14th century and one from the 16th century. The number seven has long been held in the West as a highly important and spiritual number, with this importance evident in the esoteric Judeo-Christian traditions of seven Archangels, Seven Seals and Seven Sons, etc; perhaps we can easily see why this particular system was grasped upon when the knowledge of yogic practices and philosophy was brought to the West.

The historical facts that I share within these blogs are offered as an inspiration to the yogi in this modern age to seek out their own truth within the truly enormous range of information that we have available to us in this time; I do not make any pronouncements of what is right or what is wrong, but I do encourage those who wish to begin a sincere journey of self-inquiry to understand where information comes from.

On my own journey as a yogi and teacher, historical fact is very important to me so that I can distinguish between what is truthful in my own practice of yoga and what is perhaps a distortion or amalgamation of different, often conflicting traditions.

The science of yoga is a precious and beautiful ancient practice in and of itself and, in my view, needs no tinkering or tweaking to make it any more precious or perfect; but this does not mean that we cannot enjoy the evolving of tradition and truth as it unfolds through the centuries - as always, the practice of discriminative understanding is our guide.

The fourth of the chakras is called ‘Vishuddha’ or the Throat Chakra.

Energetically found in the centre of the throat, the characteristics of this chakra are are follows:

Associated Colour: Blue

Governs: Communication, Expression and the Senses of Hearing and Taste

Associated Element: Ether

Mantra: Ham

The ‘Vishuddha’ chakra is considered to be one of the great centres of purification within the spiritual body, transforming our purest intentions into altruistic actions.

As the energetic centre of expression, it is associated with creativity and self-expression. It is said that when the ‘Vishuddha’ chakra is unbalanced, the individual undergoes an inner decay and death; when it is balanced, all negative experiences are transmuted or ‘purified’ into wisdom and deep learning.

The ‘Vishuddha’ chakra is also the vessel that catches the nectar of immortality known as ‘Amrita’ and holds the potential to bestow the power of freedom from disease and old age and the ability to see clearly into the past, present and future.

Next week, we will continue to explore the historical and modern interpretations of the chakras, examining the sixth and most well known of the chakras: Ajna aka the Third Eye Chakra.

Matt ~ The Bearded Naked Yogi

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