Anahata chakra is the fourth of the seven main chakras discussed in the yoga philosophy books. In the Western world, it is known as the “heart center” due to its location that corresponds with the heart region of the spine. Anahata is my favorite chakra out of the seven… Why? Because it teaches us about love.
In Sanskrit, the word Anahata means “unstruck” or “unbeaten”, because Anahata chakra the centre of the unbeaten sound, the sound that has not been caused. It is believed that the cosmic sound (shabda brahman) can be heard at this center.
The heart chakra symbol
The Anahata chakra is symbolized by an open lotus with 12 petals. Each petal represents one of the qualities that live in the heart: joy, peace, kindness, patience, love, harmony, clarity, compassion, purity, understanding, forgiveness and bliss. At the centre of the lotus there are two intersecting triangles, one pointing upwards (representing Shiva, the higher consciousness) and one pointing downwards (representing Shakti, the individuality in each of us). The heart chakra marks the point where these two forces that govern human life, meet. It is here that the “let go” happens: the decision to have faith and trust in a higher power.
I have been trying to learn more about the heart in the last three years, and it turns out that the heart has more to teach us than we realize. We usually think of love in terms of its romantic representation, but love is much more than that, as poets, spiritual masters and mystics have been trying to show us for thousands of years.
So what are some of the teachings of the Anahata chakra?
1 Love yourself first
You can think of yourself as a beautiful well filled with clean, fresh water. Those who feel thirsty come to the well and drink from its water, instantly feeling refreshed. This is how self-love works. When you have love for yourself, you are filled with self-compassion and self-understanding. You forgive yourself for your faults and you accept yourself as you are.
As love fills your heart, you also start feeling more peaceful and everything around you becomes unclouded and gains clarity. When you live in peace and harmony with yourself, you become a beacon for the people around you. When your well is full of fresh water, you have plenty of freshness to share with people. Those who are filled with love are magnets for others because love is attractive and inviting. As people come near your water, they become reflected in it, as all the love you have in you is projected on them. That is why we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
You might think that taking care of yourself and loving yourself first is selfish… I have met people, especially parents, who think that their duty is to take care of their children and family first and then, if they still have time and power, they can think of themselves. That is not the right order of things though. A dry well cannot give good, healthy water. In the same time, one who does not love himself, cannot teach love and cannot share real love.
2 We are all embodiments of perfection
It is in the heart that you realize that each and every being on this planet has a specific purpose and quality meant to transform the world and make it just a little bit better. It is in the heart that you start experiencing true unconditional love as you start to accept everyone (starting with yourself) as they are, with their qualities and faults. When the heart is open, you love everybody, not just your friends and family members. As you become more open to the world and to others, you become more creative and inspired too.
3 Love connects you to your higher self
It is at the level of the Anahata that you start opening yourself to a higher consciousness. The heart centre is located halfway between the root chakra (Muladhara) which deals with the most mundane things like shelter and safety, and the crown chakra (Sahasrar) which is the energy center that unites us with the energy of the universe. While the previous three chakras (Muladhara, Swadhisthana and Manipura) deal with every day struggles people go through (like financial stability, feeling secure and accepted, feeling driven and self confident), at the level of the heart you start getting in touch with your higher self and you start to realize your godlike nature.
Also, while the first three chakras deal with all those qualities that make you human and define your individuality, starting from the heart chakra and continuing with the throat chakra (Visudha), the third eye (Ajna) and the crown (Sahasrar), you start to transcend your human nature and become more interested in spirituality and higher ideals.
The journey to the heart
Finding love means that we have to leave the outside world and go inside. It is here where our inner God resides… So where are you on your journey to the heart? Have you caught even a glimpse of what it means to live in the Anahata?
Three years ago, a Reiki master with whom I was studying Reiki energy healing in Rishikesh, India, told me that I needed to work on opening my heart center. He had done an assessment of my energetic body and he sensed some blockages at the level of the heart chakra (the Anahata). “Stop being afraid and open yourself to love!”, he told me. I have been trying to do that ever since. On some days, it is easier to be open to love than on other days, but that is ok. I don’t beat myself up, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up either. Because love is a practice… It is a daily choice, not a destination.