The Fourth Chakra – Anahata (the unstruck sound)
Chest / heart
The Fourth Chakra sits in the middle of the body, balancing the world of matter (the lower three chakras) with the world of spirit (the upper three chakras). With the fourth chakra we start to move beyond focus on the separate self (the lower three chakras) and towards focus on relationship and connection with others.
This chakra develops between the ages 4-7 when we start to interact more with people and society. We attend nursery or primary school, and we feel the need to normalise our social behaviour. We learn which sort of behaviours makes us liked and loved, and which behaviours have the opposite effect. This can colour our relationships for the rest of our lives. It is also key in the formation of persona and our shadow self.
Societal norms also generally involve sacrifice and there is pressure to conform, to normalise. If we have a strong desire to fit in we may need to set aside parts of our self that are non-conformist. Furthermore we are shaped by social constructs such as gender roles, class, race, and religion.
The fourth chakra sits at the centre of the body and is very much the balance point between ourselves as individuals and our place in relationship with others. Too much giving of our uniqueness to fit in and we lose ourselves. Too little give, and we may find our self ostracised.
A clear, balanced heart chakra is essential to ongoing spiritual growth – while it supports healthy relationships on an earthly level, on a spiritual level it dissolves the myth of separateness and brings unity. Keeping the fourth chakra in balance requires a deep and ongoing commitment. It can be difficult not to let your heart harden when a loved one passes away, when a partner or friend hurts or betrays you or when you unleash negativity on yourself. It is often also easier to blame others rather than face the truth of a situation. How many times have we seen groups and governments foster division among people to engender hatred and to manipulate behaviour.
The gift of the fourth chakra is that deep beneath our personal stories of suffering and pain lies boundless love, connection and compassion. Remember a time when something touched you deeply and you felt a deep connection and bliss – chances are this was the energy of the fourth chakra.
Keeping the heart centre connected to the upper chakras is vital as this opens the channels of understanding that enable you to look at your thoughts, words and actions within the context of unconditional love. For this reason the fourth chakra is strongly associated with the neutral meditative mind. To deal with people healthily from the heart centre we need to be able to see their similarities to us not their differences (upper triangle of chakras), to manage our own stuff (first three chakras) that triggers us in relationships, and to foster the elevated emotions found at this chakra – compassion, forgiveness, love, gratitude, humility and generosity.
In Yogic texts the journey from the lower three chakras to the fourth is considered the core of all yoga practices.
Heart, lungs, thymus gland, hands, arms, breasts
Social, self-acceptance, tolerance and compassion, love, gratitude
Grief, love, balance, self-love, relationships, intimacy, devotion, reaching out and taking in, compassion, bitterness and trust.
Asthma. Immune system deficiency. Tension between the shoulders. Pain in the chest. Circulation problems, blood pressure issues, shortness of breath, sunken chest. Disorders of the heart, lungs, thymus, breasts and arms.
Compassionate, loving, empathetic, self-loving, altruistic, peaceful, and balanced. A good immune system. Feeling harmony with nature. Feeling that everything is as it should be. Unconditional love for all.
Antisocial and withdrawn. Critical, judgemental, intolerant of self and others. Loneliness, depression, fear of intimacy and relationships. Lack of empathy, and narcissism.
Co-dependency. Otherisation (living for others). Poor boundaries. Demanding, clinging, jealousy. Overly sacrificing. Passive-aggressive.
Smoking, sugar, love, marijuana
Rose, neroli, frankincense, black pepper, clary sage, sandalwood, benzoin
Rose Quartz, Aventurine, Jade, Emerald, Labradorite, Moonstone, Peridot
Breathing exercises (pranayama), working with the arms. Keeping a journal. Self-discovery and self-acceptance. Working on forgiveness, and allowing emotional release of grief. Inner child work. Relationship counseling. Cardio exercises. Surrounding yourself with the colour green, and eating green foods (especially green vegetables). Conscious breathing in the freshest air available. Community or charity work. Meditation, and practising gratitude.
All pranayama, child’s pose, twists, camel pose, arm exercises (particularly arms held at 60 degrees above the shoulders), Cobra Pose (or Sphinx Pose), Cat Pose, Forward Bend (standing), Melting Heart or Quarter Dog, restorative heart openers, such as lying on a bolster under the chest.
Seed (bij) Mantra:
Yam (pronounced Yum)
Meditation to Mend a Broken Heart:
Bring the palms of the hands together at the centre of your chest. Raise your elbows until the arms are parallel to the floor. Raise your hands until the tips of your middle fingers are about level with your eyebrows. Close you eyes and let you breath settle. Focus on your breath, notice how if softens and slows. Continue for up to 11 minutes. Be sure to keep the elbows lifted – you want to keep a little pressure on the wrists.