Live the Experience

I recently read the following words by Sara Morgan, which immediately caught my attention:

“The only thing that can ruin your life is death; everything else is just an experience.”

And that is what life is after all: a whole series of experiences that string our days together like beads in a necklace. How we view these experiences, interact with them and ultimately allow them to influence our beliefs and values create our never-ending cycle of existence, until death brings an end to it. In a way life boils down to a simple choice: to either flow with the experiences or fight them. Although I say it is a simple choice, it actually isn’t, because sometimes we will fight and at other times we will surrender. And like everything else in life it is never as simple as black or white. We live for the most part in a chaotic mixture of the two.

Life is both complicated and simple at the same time. There isn’t just one answer to life’s big questions, even though religions and philosophies often claim that they, alone, are the keepers of these truths. Yoga as a philosophy resonates with me on many different levels, but I do not simply subscribe to all that is written in the extensive literature that can be found on the topic. I believe that it is our duty in life to question, study, contemplate and listen to what the great thinkers have said, but instead of blindly following the paths others have treaded, we should sift through this bounty of knowledge and apply those nuggets of truth that resonate deep within our being to live a life of authenticity.

By living a life of authenticity we will encounter criticism and praise, as well as rejection and acceptance. How we deal with it and how we allow the experience to shape us, depends a lot on how brave we are to simply live the experiences we are offered by life. No matter which belief system, religion or philosophy we subscribe to, life will ultimately call us to take responsibility for what we think, do and say. And every day is a new opportunity to hone the way we live our life by daily adding another unique bead to the necklace that is our life.

And that is perhaps the ultimate challenge of life: to live our daily experiences with gratitude and grace.


Chakras: Energy Centres

Our prana or vital life force is affected by our choices and experiences. Each chakra not only processes, but also remembers these choices and experiences. It is within our chakras that we receive, absorb and distribute life’s energies. It is through our thoughts, habits, and behaviour resulting from our external circumstances that these energy centres can become imbalanced. When we work with our chakras, we can expose both conscious and unconscious blocks that prevent us from being healthy or living our best lives possible. When we focus on a specific chakra we stimulate the energy that is associated with it and awaken dormant areas in the brain that allow us to experience a higher state of consciousness. I will just give a very brief outline of each chakra, as it is a vast topic on which much has been written by a variety of experts.

The first or root chakra (Muladhara) embodies our rootedness and connection to the earth. It deals with our basic needs for survival and include our biological family and early social environment and influences the way we interact with authority figures for instance. It is from here that we can eliminate whatever no longer serves us on our journey through life. This is also the place where the Kundalini Shakti (the dormant vital life force within us) can be found. Kundalini yoga focuses on the awakening of this energy so that it can flow upwards in the sushumna nadi. It is always helpful to reconnect with your body through asana practice when you want to balance this chakra. When we bring the muladhara chakra back into balance we will exhibit self-control, physical strength, patience and the ability to deal with heavy workloads, while being able to live a disciplined life.

The second or sacred chakra (Svadisthana) hold the energy of our creativity, sexuality and relationships. How we maintain power and control within our relationships depend on the energetic health of this chakra, and although our relationships are karmic, how we behave within them is our choice. This chakra is very much influenced by the moon, so if you get severely affected by the moon it may be a good idea to explore the energy of your sacred chakra. It is also the chakra in which addictions manifest, and through which one should heal them. Exploring boundaries can bring immense healing and balance to this chakra’s energy.

The third or solar plexus chakra (Manipura) relates to the way we assert ourself, our self-esteem, as well as our will and ambition. It is from here that we deal with power issues, as well as honour our ‘gut’ instinct. True power comes from leaving the ‘known’ and venturing into the ‘unknown’, and by doing that we allow our lives to be transformed. It is from this energy centre that we define who we truly are. It is important to have a balanced third chakra when making important decisions in life. The best way to balance the manipura chakra is through selfless service by not expecting any kind of reward or recognition, as well as through deep relaxation.

The fourth or heart chakra (Anahata) is the balance point between the physical and spiritual world. The first three chakras relate to how we function within the physical world, while the upper three chakras relate to the spiritual. It is in the heart chakra that these energies meet and are balanced. It is associated with our emotions in general, but especially involves love for oneself and life in general. It is here that we connect with the Divine within us and realises that “We are Divine Love”. Within the anahata chakra we mainly work on balance, love and relationships. Balance needs to be achieved not only internally between body, mind and spirit, but also externally between ourself and the world we inhabit.  It is in this chakra that we have to learn to love ourself by acting respectfully towards ourself, to make time for solitude, to acknowledge and honour our limits and to speak our truth. Pranayama (breathing) exercises are great for cleansing out the heart chakra and can help bring the energy back into balance.

The fifth or throat chakra (Vishuddha) is where the energy of personal expression resides and include our thoughts and opinions. It is here that we come to terms with how our thoughts, words and actions create our reality, and where spiritual rebirth takes place. It is through communication that we shape our future, and learning to communicate in a way that honours our highest self and values can at times be a daunting ideal, especially when it comes into conflict with that of our culture and closest relationships. The throat chakra is the gateway through which we allow others to see who we truly are by means of our self-expression. Freeing up your voice through chanting or singing is a fantastic way to rebalance the throat chakra.

The sixth or third eye chakra (Ajna) is the doorway through which we allow our higher wisdom and intuition to enter our consciousness. It is through the energy of this chakra that we encounter the meaning and purpose of our lives. It is here that we can transcend our victim consciousness and enter a space of spiritual growth. It is through this chakra that we come to understand that we are immortal spirits in temporary bodies. Through the different chakras we receive a lot of information, but it is within the sixth chakra that we assemble this information into patterns that are truly meaningful, and in doing so we can intuitively grasp the results our choices will bring, and through this understanding we can guide our actions in such a way that we can achieve the results we want. This is the starting point of true wisdom. Meditation is a wonderful tool to help balance and cleanse the energy in the ajna chakra.

The seventh or crown chakra (Sahasrara) is about merging with Divine consciousness and it is here that we can realise our true nature. If we can manifest divinity in our bodies and actions through this chakra, we will be able to transform the world. It is in this chakra that we come to notice the divine residing in everyone and everything around us, and through this realisation we expand and grow our consciousness.

Although each chakra has a specific physical location in the body, we should not see them as separate entities, as there is a constant interplay and exchange of energy between them, as we are energetically affected by our external environment. Nothing is constant, and with every breath we are evolving and changing. Being aware of our chakras and what each chakra processes, give as a way to gain insight and awareness as to where we are in life. This awareness will lead us to the tools we need to create the change we yearn for.