If you want to awaken the Chakras…| Mark Whitwell
Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga
In Yoga, all chakras are equally valued. It is the whole body and its natural participation and relational integration with the all aspects of the cosmos (including other human beings) that reveals ‘God,’ Consciousness itself, Reality itself, to the mind. Yoga is intimacy with all ordinary conditions. It is not the progressive attainment toward anything at all. When we abandon the spiritual ideals of culture that seduce us into thinking that there is somewhere to get to then we are free to relax into the sublimity of the Given Reality. This intimacy reveals the source of all conditions.
Yet, Yoga is generally taught as a method of ascent through the chakras to the crown, which is thought of as ‘higher,’ and so creates the idea that the body and the base is ‘lower.’ In religious cultures, practitioners are encouraged to sublimate the lower chakras, to deny and go beyond bodily life altogether — especially Sex. The subtle ascending energies of life are so glamourized that the attainment of subtle experiences in the crown have come to be thought of as what spiritual practice is for.
Social Connection is Spiritual Practice
The subtle energies of the upper chakras exist and they have their natural function. It is not to deny the subtle but to place them within the context of the primary spiritual practice of social connectedness and intimacy. In our Yoga practice, it is one thing to ascend and to go into all the areas of subtlety; to feel the surge or prana moving from base to the crown.
But when that discreet period of time in your practice is completed the next thing you know you are sitting with your friend having a cup of tea and that intimacy with your tangible perception of another is the primary meditation. The whole point of Yoga and meditation is to enter into tangible conditions. Yoga is intimacy with body, breath, and relationship, in that order.
We go from a particular meditation where you are ascending and abiding in the subtle chakras of the crown, where you might be residing as the source of perception itself, and then you enter right back into ordinary relatedness. We are not choosing subtlety over perception, the source over the seen, or spirit over form. We are not doing the usual religious/spiritual dynamic of going entering into an internal state and then no longer wanting to relate with others.
We cannot underestimate just how seductive and glamorous the subtle experiences are that have been represented to us by male religious cultures. The assumption of there being a hierarchy between the subtle and the gross is deeply embedded across all spiritual traditions. It is why the Christians have haloes around the crown and not around the whole body. In truth, however, the whole body is effulgent with light; the whole body is the power of the cosmos arising as a pure intelligence and unspeakable beauty, not just the head.
In God and Sex, we describe how,
“In some pockets of ancient India and other indigenous cultures, the whole body of the sage was effulgent. All directions were felt to be full of light. High did not imply anything negative about low. Subtle did not imply anything negative about gross. (God did not imply anything negative about Sex!) When you turn out into all conditions everywhere and participate in what is already happening in Mother Nature and in the body, there is a full radiance, a whole- body halo, not just a concentration in or above the head. All conditions are embraced in that radiance. We are not here only to try and get out of here. But there are so many examples of sages who are, in fact, life denying
A certain lightness of being may make them attractive to their devotees. This as an attainment has been branded into the human psyche as what life’s all about. It wreaks havoc on the lives of all who try to follow it, as they attempt to discard all their tangible life conditions, relationships, and the prior responsibility they have to engage their sexual intimacies with utter positivity. Without sexuality being worked out, then no matter what the conditions of ascent, it comes out as an illness later” (18–19).
Horizontal Empowers Vertical, and vice versa
The paradox of Yoga it is your strength and participation in the horizontal relatedness of life, including the successful handling of money and right sexuality, that empowers your ability to ascend safely. It makes your ascent useful because you will ascend without denying the horizontal conditions.
Strength in the body base awakens the crown. This is why a strong exhale from below has implications to the crown. We awaken as the whole body and all the chakras become active.
Tirumalai Krishnamacharya would say, “If you want to awaken your chakras, don’t look at the chakras. Look at your wife.”
Your daily practice of asana and pranayama is your direct participation in the ascending and descending currents of life. The inhale engages the descending feminine force and the exhale engages the ascending masculine force. In every asana, the point is to merge the inhale with the exhale. In the traditions, this is why they say that a Yogi is simultaneously ascending and descending.
*Find the whole-body, above to below, home Yoga practice that is right for you in the by-donation, 8-week, online immersion into the heart of yoga. Begin a daily practice for yourself and then share it with everybody you love.
Finding Your Edge in Asana Practice | Mark Whitwell
Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga