Anahata – the heart chakra
Here we are – chakra number four! Anahata, more commonly known as the heart chakra, is situated in the centre of your chest. Radiating out from both the front body and the back body, Anahata marks the movement from a more physical element to a more spiritual one as we travel up through the chakra system.
We feel a lot of vulnerability in the heart chakra, and so we often close it off and guard it carefully. But this prevents the free-flowing energy of love both from coming out of us and also coming in to us. Anahata governs love, compassion, and joy, so keeping it open and in balance is key for a happy life.
How do we know if it’s blocked?
Maybe you’ve been avoiding your meditation or journaling practice because you don’t want to listen to what your heart has to say. Maybe you struggle with telling people that you love them. Maybe you can’t accept love from other people. We might get jealous, and begin to compare ourselves to others, and we tend to get a tad too judgemental. Other signs that your heart chakra could be out of whack include feelings of shyness, loneliness, and a lack of empathy. We might feel too dependent on our friends and romantic partners, and experience feelings of perfectionism with the goal of achieving outward acceptance or praise.
Physically, Anahata governs the respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, and immune systems, and as a result suppressing emotions felt in the heart chakra can lead to trouble breathing, tension in the upper back and shoulders, high blood pressure, and – you guessed it – heart disease.
How to bring it back into balance
The term Anahata literally translates to unhurt, unstuck or unbeaten, which is exactly how an open and balanced heart chakra will feel. So here are some simple ways that you can work on bringing this chakra back into balance, and start attracting that free-flowing, loving energy into your life.
First – Listen to your heart
I know, I know, it’s a cliché. But it’s a cliché for a reason. A lot of us can pretty easily hear what our heart is telling us, but actually listening to it is a whole other story. Bridge that gap from passive hearing to active listening and actually act in alignment with what your heart tells you. Meditate with your hands over your heart centre, perhaps bringing to mind a question that you need to ask, and just pay attention and see what comes up.
Mantra and Affirmation
The mantra associated with the heart chakra is Yam. While you’re meditating, maybe you could try bringing this mantra in to invoke the element of air, which is the element associated with this chakra. If you’re not completely comfortable using Sanskrit, then you could try an affirmation along the lines of: ‘I choose to be open to giving and receiving all of the love in my life.’
Choose love over fear
Always. Every time. Look at your motivations for doing what you’re doing. Are you exercising because you’re scared of gaining weight or to celebrate your wonderful functioning body? Are you eating that salad because you’re scared of eating what you really crave, or because that salad is what you really crave and what serves your body best? Are you staying at that job because you’re used to it, and are afraid you might not find something better, or because it lights you up and makes you excited to get out of bed every day? You get the idea. Every time we make a decision out of fear instead of love, we place another blockage on our heart chakra. Start to really look at what’s motivating your decisions and feel your heart chakra breathe again.
Get outside and BREATHE
Like I said above, the element associated with the heart chakra is air. So what better way to bring it into balance than to get out into nature and get a little windswept? And pay some extra attention to your breath. Do you ever just kind of…forget to breathe? I do, that’s for sure. Sometimes I’ll be working on a difficult project, or just be totally distracted from the present moment, and I’ll suddenly realise that I’ve been holding my breath. That’s okay, it happens, we’re human. But just become aware of it, and try to be more conscious in your breath. You could even set a reminder on your phone, and when it goes off simply take a few deep, mindful breaths.
Nothing blocks up your heart chakra faster than holding onto anger, bitterness, and resentment. I love the quote: ‘Holding onto anger is like picking up a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at the other person – it is you who gets burned.’ Is there someone you need to forgive in your life? If you feel that this could be holding you back, this is absolutely something to work on, whether or not that person has even asked for your forgiveness. You don’t have to reach out to them, this is for you. Perhaps the person you need to forgive is yourself, and that is equally valid.
Little known fact – Anahata is the patron chakra of Ireland. Okay, don’t quote me on that. But the colour associated with the heart chakra is a deep, radiant green. So surround yourself with this colour. We knew all that rain had to be good for something, right? Get out in nature and breathe it all in to your heart centre. Drink green tea. Eat green veggies. Bring some plants into your home. Even if this doesn’t wind up helping with balancing your heart chakra, more green things in our lives can’t hurt.
Open your heart – physically.
Of course, there are yoga asanas that are particularly suited to removing blockages from the heart chakra, primarily any that open the chest. Backbends like bridge, wheel, camel and dancer will help you to open and energise your heart, and connect with what it’s really telling you. Our hearts don’t lie when we’re really listening.
What’s your favourite way to focus on your heart chakra? Let us know!