“Gut Feelings”

Have you ever had a "gut feeling" about something that's later turned out to be true? Have you ever felt "open-hearted"? Ever encountered a situation that's made you "hot under the collar"? Or a person who is "a pain in the neck"?

Believe it or not these seemingly illogical expressions have become part of the English language because they are unconscious recognitions of a deeper knowledge within all of us. A knowledge of a subtle energy system of Chakras and Channels and the way that they work to produce many of the odd sensations and intuitions that all of us experience from time to time. In fact while many of us in the West find the concept of the chakras a foreign idea, in reality we deal with them almost every day.

Knowledge of the Chakras is most comprehensively found in the ancient Eastern science of yoga. This system was first formalised by the physician-sage Patanjali about 3,000 years ago. Patanjali described a subtle energetic system within each of us which is comprised of 7 vital energy centres and 3 interconnecting, parallel channels. These centres each govern specific aspects of our physical, psychological and spiritual being. Their state of balance is the key to the health of the various body systems that they govern. In other words, imbalance, damage or blockage of these centres will lead to problems in the physical, psychological or spiritual aspect of our being that the affected centre deals with.

So what has this got to do with "gut feelings"? Let's look at this and a number of other expressions to see if we can begin to decipher some of the language of the unconscious.

The third centre in our subtle system is called "nabhi" or "Manipur" chakra. Its physical location is at about the level of the navel. It looks after several important aspects of our being. Physically ,it deals with our organs of digestion ( such as the stomach and intestines), psychologically it deals with our sense of satisfaction and spiritually it deals both with our "prosperity", "generosity" as well as with our "dharma" or our innate sense of right and wrong.

Often that “Gut Feeling” is us being sensitive to the state of the Nabhi chakra. Remember the last time you had a good meal, leaned back in your chair and patted your stomach in satisfaction? Or saw something appetising in a delicatessen and put your hand to your stomach in anticipation. You're actually touching your Nabhi chakra because that is the centre that, amongst other things deals with satisfaction, particularly in relation to food.

Ever bought something that was a really good bargain? That good feeling is the Nabhi Chakra generating positive energy. On the other hand, have you ever bought something and realised it was a bad purchase? That sinking feeling in your stomach is your nabhi registering its dissatisfaction with your purchase.

Similarly, have you ever thought about doing something but deep down in your belly somewhere it didn't feel like the right thing to do? That again is our Nabhi telling us what's right and wrong.

The Anahatha deals with the heart, lungs and immune system. It also deals with our sense of love, security and courage. When this centre is imbalanced or damaged we become prone to fears and insecurity. This centre is located in the central chest, just behind the breast bone, so it should be no surprise that when we receive a shock or emotionally traumatic news we often instinctively clutch at or feel a pressure in the central chest. We are unconsciously acknowledging that this centre has momentarily become imbalanced or blocked.

On the other side of the coin heartfelt feelings (such as the love and joy that we might experience when we meet a loved one or feel inspired by a positive happening) are the product of a healthy Anahath centre. The positive quality is emitted when the centre, like a flower expanding its petals, is able to open and manifest its vital energy.

Recall the many times that we have seen someone speak with such sincerity that they place their hand on their breast, or pray with heartfelt fervour, recite love poetry or dance in the rain because they are in love- the hand instinctively moves to the heart to show that this most important expression is emitted directly from the depths of their being. This expression is actually demonstrating the essential quality of the heart chakra called Anahatha, the abode of the human spirit. That quality is called "love". The heart centre also deals with the cosmic element called “prana” or “air” ( the other elements are earth, fire, water, and ether).

When you are next feeling some tension between yourself and another person, perhaps over a disagreement or misunderstanding you may notice that it is difficult to feel entirely positive towards that person. This is because the heart chakra has closed so it is difficult to feel love at that moment. However, should you try and work through your misunderstanding you allow the heart chakra to relax so that it opens and the feeling of love can once again flow freely to the other person. By “clearing the air” we are actually working through the element of the heart! So when you next feel “open hearted” remember that this is what is literally occurring in your heart centre: It is opening so it can emit its vibrational energy which is then experienced as love.

Have you ever had to deal with someone who is a pain in the neck? A person who was so difficult to deal with that you had to really contain your reactions? The Vishuddhi chakra deals with a number of aspects such as speech, communication and facial expression. It also looks after the skin and muscles of the face and almost every aspect of the neck and shoulders. When the vishuddhi is balanced and healthy our speech is effective at delivering its message without ruffling people's feathers. When our speech carries overtones of aggression or is intended to be hurtful our Vishhuddhi can quickly become imbalanced. In fact any form of aggression or reaction causes imbalance in this centre. Now recall that time you had to deal with that difficult person and you were seething inside, that reaction, even though it's being contained, is registering on your subtle system and causing that pain and tension in the part of the body that the Vishuddhi looks after-the neck!

For the same reason when our chakras get blocked or imbalanced they generate heat. This is particularly true of the liver. As far as chakras are concerned, the liver is made up of two chakras; the Nabhi and the Swadisthan. Now, we already know that aggression is the result of an imbalanced Vishuddhi, but anger itself is the product of imbalances in the chakras that look after the liver. These imbalances create heat in the liver which, like hot air, rises up the subtle energy channels to be expressed at the Vishuddhi. Because the Vishuddhi looks after the skin of the face as well as the vocal cords and muscles of facial expression it is no wonder that this heat is expressed as " heated language" and "hot tempered" behaviour. This same heat causes the angry person’s face to go red and grimace!

Now the liver, on a subtle energy level, is the engine for our mental activity. Actions such as planning, analysing, problem solving and working under pressure all cause the liver to become very active. Too much activity however makes the liver overheat which increases the propensity to become angry, demanding and impatient. This is a condition that many of our grandmothers would describe as "liverish".

Just picture a stock broker selling on the stockmarket floor or a typical workaholic, type- A personality and you'll immediately see the consequences of a hot liver! So next time the boss gets "Hot under the collar" you'll know it's the heat in his liver rising up volcanically to his vishuddhi that makes him "blow his top".

Ever dealt with a problem or situation that gave you one of those classic frontal headaches? The chakra that this corresponds to this is the Agnya, commonly called the third eye, it is physically related to the eyes, optic nerve and visual pathways in the brain. The agnya gives us the capacity to let go of grudges and other situations that we are unhappy with. This quality is commonly called " forgiveness". On a spiritual level the Agnya is very important because it is crucial to the experience of meditation. When the Agnya opens, as a result of Kundalini awakening, one is able to experience true mental silence (which is genuine meditation). The Agnya is located behind the centre of the forehead. So when it becomes imbalanced, usually because we haven't forgiven a situation or person, we feel tension, pain or pressure on the forehead. Relaxing the agnya by massaging the forehead, rubbing tiger balm into it, using an ice pack or meditating is very effective for frontal headaches because these methods help to open and release tension from the energy centre itself.

All of us have done something "off the top of our heads" and, often to our own delight and surprise, found that it succeeded despite the odds. How did it work out despite our mind telling us to the contrary? At the region of the top of the head is the almighty crown chakra or Sahasrara. The Sahasrara is unique among all the centres because it serves to integrate the functions of all the other chakras. The way in which it achieves this is literally beyond thought for the Sahasrara works best when we are not thinking!

Often in those tight situations when there is "no time to think" or we simply do not know the answer we resort to "spontaneous improvisation". It is at these times that our mind has temporarily failed to help us. By resorting to spontaneous improvisation we become desperate enough to seek an answer from a place beyond thought and sometimes, somehow momentarily tap into the dimension of the Sahasrara. This dimension contains within it the wisdom of every sage, saint and mystic the world has ever known-so it's no wonder that somehow working from "the top of the head" can often give the best results or get us out of a sticky situation.

Although this "crown chakra" corresponds to the limbic system of the brain this centre can only work in the state of mental silence-"meditation". Most of us regard the brain as a complex thinking tool or computer. It is however more akin to a radio receiver which when properly tuned is able to tap into the vast repository of knowledge that exists beyond the limitations of our mind. This dimension was described by Carl Jung as the “Universal Unconscious”. Gandhi called it the “Divine Radio” and the great religions call it “God”.

In the meditative state of "thoughtless awareness" one is completely spontaneous, drawing knowledge and awareness directly from the Cosmic Principle via the Sahasrara without the interference of intellectual activity.

As Gandhi advised on the value of inner silence: ” What a great thing it would be if we in our busy lives ...prepare our minds to listen to the voice of the Great Silence. The Divine Radio is always singing if we could only make ourselves ready to listen to it, but it is impossible to listen without silence”.

When Albert Einstein said that we only use 10% of our brain he was unconsciously alluding to the existence of the Sahasrara. That is, that the highest potential of the human brain, in fact the human being, is not realised when we are in the throes of intense intellectual activity but, in fact, when we go beyond the intellect to access the Universal Unconscious within each of us.

Einstein himself gives a great example of how this aspect of the human brain works: Many of us would assume that he discovered the theory of relativity during an intense period of thought . In fact Einstein made this discovery while blowing bubbles with his grandson! He describes how was admiring the bubbles that he was blowing and then suddenly the solution to the problem of relativity spontaneously came into his attention!

What happened? He was not actually thinking about the problem at the time when the solution occurred to him! In fact he had, momentarily, taken his mind off the problem, became engrossed in the meditative exercise (non-thinking) of blowing bubbles and in this moment his Sahasrara was able to provide an answer that his intellect was not capable of giving.

As Einstein himself said “Ideas come from God”. This is in agreement with Eastern metaphysics which explains that all our ideas, inventions and original solutions are ultimately derived from the cosmic consciousness . When we are seeking an answer to a problem, this cosmic intelligence, in its compassion for us, supplies the answer in the form of insight. The true scientist, in his quest for truth, joins the true mystic as each ultimately strives to derive answers from the stuff of their gut feelings!

There many other examples of our unconscious knowledge of the subtle energies within us. When we navigate "by the seat of our pants" we are using the subtle quality of the mooladhara chakra. Creative block, experienced by artists who suddenly exhaust their creative powers, is due to an exhaustion of the Swadhisthana Chakra.

While this innate knowledge exists within all of us we clearly need to become more attuned to it if we are to use it to our benefit. How? An authentic meditation technique is the key to realising these subtle energy mechanisms. Sahaja yoga meditation is one of only a few techniques that enables the seeker to experience the state of thoughtless awareness and to become tangibly aware of the chakras within us.

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