The chakras are psycho-spiritual centers located throughout our body. They are similar to old CD-ROMs because they are said to be spinning disks that record our life experiences. This post is the fifth in our Chakra 101 series. To learn more about the chakras, please visit this post.
The fifth chakra is known as the “throat chakra” because it is located in the throat area. In addition to the throat, it is associated with the neck, ears, and thyroid glands. Imbalances in the throat chakra may present as neck and throat difficulties, thyroid issues, hearing problems, etc. When working with our chakra system, it is critical that we address the psycho-spiritual underlying causes as we work with our medical treatment team for maximal healing.
The fifth chakra’s name is Vishuddha, which means “exceptionally pure”. This has significant implications for the work that we do with our fifth chakra. Vishuddha chakra governs communication. Our voice, speech, listening, and the ability to participate in the sharing of Truth fall under its domain. As its name implies, we are called to communicate in such a way that we uplift, inspire, or, at the very least, do no harm.
Sharing Truth is a communal experience.
One of Vishuddha chakra’s primary concerns is sharing Truth. Truth is not a stagnant concept but a reality we are all living into. We each have individual truths to tell. We cultivate a greater understanding of universal Truth when we engage in the free-flowing of ideas and information. This requires we be good stewards of communication by both sharing our truth and deeply listening to other people’s truths.
There is an old story that illustrates how understanding Truth is a communal endeavor. Once there was a wise teacher who had three students. She gave each of her students a blindfold and asked that they cover their eyes. The teacher took her students to an elephant and asked each of them to describe the animal.
The first student placed her hands on the elephant’s trunk. “Well,” she said. “It is long and dangly… This animal must be shaped like a rope. A snake perhaps?”
The second student vigorously shook his head. “No!” he cried. “It isn’t like a rope at all!” His arms were wrapped around the elephant’s leg. “It is sturdy like a tree trunk!”
The third student was confused. His hands were placed at the elephant’s side. He tried to wrap his arms around the elephant, but the creature was much too large. “It isn’t like a snake or a tree trunk at all! It is solid and very broad. It is more like a wall!”
The teacher removed the blindfold from her students’ eyes. They saw the rope-like trunk, tree-like legs, and wall-like side of the elephant. Each of them expressed their own understanding of the entirety of the elephant. However, it was only in the sharing of their individual experiences that the Truth was known.
Effectively communicating Truth.
We each have a truth to know and share, and it is critical that we do so. At times feelings of unworthiness prevent us from speaking our truth. When this happens, not only are we at a loss, but so are others who would benefit from hearing what is ours to share. Learning to trust ourselves is an important task of Vishuddha chakra.
Truth is a collaborative process. When it comes to communication, the ability to listen to others speak their truth is just as important as it is for us to share ours. This requires that we be fully present when listening to another human being. So often when another person is speaking, we are subconsciously reacting to what they are saying. We’re distracted, defensive, or even orchestrating how we will respond when they are done talking. We may hear them, but we aren’t truly listening.
We can be better listeners by noticing our resistance and redirecting our attention from whatever is distracting us to the person we are communicating with. If that is not possible, it is okay. We can inform the speaker that what they have to say is very important to us. We are feeling distracted. Then we can ask if we could continue the conversation at another time when we can be fully present with them.
We are all at different places when it comes to the working with Vishuddha chakra. Each of us must take a look and determine the health of this chakra and how it relates to our personal lives and our collective experience. Many people have been silenced, personally, systematically, or both. Others’ voices have been elevated for the same reasons. Those of us who are privileged to have our voices heard have the power to amplify the voices of those who have been silenced due to race, class, gender, or any other oppression. It is critical that we do so. When even one person is barred from participating in conversations around Truth, the collective understanding is diminished. From a yogic perspective, honoring my truth means honoring yours. Loving Truth means loving one another.
Nourishing Vishuddha Chakra
- Effectively communicating takes practice. One way we build confidence in sharing our truth is by speaking it. Many people fear speaking in public. Fortunately, there are many organizations that teach public speaking. Believe it or not, Eternal Health Yoga’s teacher training program is a wonderful way to work with fears around public speaking. Yoga teachers-in-training cultivate their voice, learn best practices for non-violent communication, and are able to practice speaking in a supportive, non-judgmental atmosphere.
- Chanting mantra is deeply healing for the throat chakra. The word mantra means “mind-training”. When we chant mantra, we chant the names of the deities. By simply focusing on the syllables we are chanting we bypass the resistance of our thinking-brain. This alleviates our self-consciousness so we can more freely participate in the moment at hand.
- Viparita Karani, or legs-up-the-wall pose, is a fifth chakra balancing yoga pose that is accessible to most bodies. To get into this pose, find some clear wall space. Sit with your hip directly against the wall. Lie down on your side so that your seat is at the wall. Roll to your back extending both of your legs up the wall as you do. Relax your arms by your sides, overhead, or place your hands on your torso and feel your breath moving through your body. Stay here as long as it feels good to you. Enjoy!
- Practice being in silence. Make time to be alone in the quiet. Turn off all devices: phone, radio, television, etc. When our minds are overloaded with information coming at us from the outside, it is difficult to connect to our truth as expressed by the proverbial still, small voice within.
- Mantras for Vishuddha Chakra:
- I speak my truth with clarity and confidence.
- As I listen to others share their truth, I am closer to knowing universal Truth.
- Truth is a process in which I am a vital participant.
- Truth means we are all learning and growing together.