What are chakras?

The word chakra (or as it is spelled in Sanskrit - çakra - with the c pronounced as ch) means wheel, and originally referred to a chariot wheel. Later it became associated with the term "wheel of light" which is the modern usage of the word. The seven chakras were first described nearly 2600 years ago, in the ancient sacred texts known as the Upanishads. Most of the current Western knowledge of the chakras comes from an English translation of Sanskrit texts from the 10th and 16th centuries.  It is interesting to note that the seven energy centers described so long ago actually have a basis in anatomy, they correspond to five main nerve ganglia of the spinal column and two areas of the brain (upper and lower). So in effect, they truly are "energy centers"!


Why are chakras important?

Since chakras are indeed at the "center" of our physical bodies and involved with all of it's physical, mental, and emotional processes, it is easy to see why they are so important to our well-being.

If we have one or more chakras which are out of balance or "tune", then this can over time lead to physical, emotional or mental dis-ease. Keeping our chakras aligned and "singing" with the harmony that they are meant to have can lead to a sense of health and balance which can improve our lives on many different levels. For instance, if our heart chakra is unbalanced, then we may have difficulty forming good relationships with our loved ones, or it may leave us feeling little empathy for our fellow humans. Or on the other hand, we may be *too* emotional, and take things too much to "heart" which can lead to unnecessary suffering and worry. There is also some medical evidence that people who live happy lives have a decreased incidence of coronary heart disease, thus showing that a happy heart is a healthier heart! Understanding the relationships between our subtle bodies and our physical bodies can help us to lead happier and healthier lives.