Anahata, the heart chakra, lies at the centre of the chakra system and unites the three base chakras with the three upper chakras. It is the first chakra to take us into interaction with the rest of the world, our energy moving out and impacting our environment rather than being directed into our identity.
The heart center is also the place where our ideals and higher mind (buddhi) begin to integrate into the manifest physical plane. In other words, it’s the place where we draw down our higher self and actually put it out there into the world. Obviously, this is not always easy to do! When our external environment is peaceful, it is easier for us to hear our higher mind and act accordingly. However, when our environment is threatening or challenging (and when we really need our yoga!), it is much more difficult to be authentic to our higher ideals.
We are frequently caught between a “body reaction” of fear, aggression, or pain and the intellectual thought that we’d like to find compassion and greater perspective. The instinctive defensive reaction in our body can make our higher instincts seem like pretty thoughts rather than an accessible course of action. And if we do impose these higher ideals into our behavior, it can feel false to ourselves. In other words, “taking the high road” can feel like a betrayal of ourselves. We sacrifice the integration of our whole self into a polite veneer of kindness. We may be listening to our higher values, but the cost chips away at our self-worth and we “swallow” our sense of worthiness and self-expression.
In this difficult space of internal conflict between the body and the higher mind, the heart center holds the doorway to transformation. Using the power of the breath (air and the lungs are the element and organs associated with the heart), we can soothe the frustration in the body and create space to integrate the higher mind. We literally create room in our bodies to authentically respond rather than react. We do not overcome our body’s reactions or shove them away; we integrate our bodily sensations with our higher instincts. Embracing our whole experience, we can then allow for transformation and integration to happen.
Just as we recognize the great value of our higher mind, we must also honor the body’s somatic experience. Both must be embraced for authentic transformation and compassion to occur. Through the breath and spaciousness of the heart, we create room for the integration of our higher self in the physical world.