The chakras have a history garnered from Eastern philosophy and observation. The knowledge of these entities within our nervous system has been ‘known’ eclectically for thousands of years and incorporated into Hinduism, Chinese Taoist, Islamic philosophical systems, and most near and far Eastern traditions. They were knowledge based on subtle anatomy before our understanding of gross anatomy and neurology. They have been integrated into our Western eclectic religiosity to broaden our understanding of subtle influences upon our soma. There are many contemporary books written on the subject.
Using hand modes [mudras] to ‘read’ the action of the chakras in a clinical setting for over forty years has led me to understand them in a particular way. It would appear that the chakras are indeed a subtle mechanism that manifests via our neurology (ANS) and our hormonal systems but also manifest a force in the realm of the vegetal or functional systems. This vegetal life force provides well-being or unease in the body’s matrix. The chakras operate as energetic centres, like a capacitor, storing energy. The stored energy alters the vegetal life force; the force emanates from within the sympathetic plexi and associated neuronal structures. It is this life force that people see or feel, and which has movement associated with it. The movement is circular, not unlike the archetypal symbol of the ouroboros (the snake eating/catching its tail), which in its many archetypal representations may mean eternity or also the symbol of never getting off the wheel of life.
Wherever there is movement (whether electrons or chemical) an electromagnetic field is present. This field, albeit small, can be ‘read’ by many intuitive and those who have developed what, in Hindu terminology, are called the siddhis. Hence the use of the word chakra which means wheel, as the vegetal force moves locally, in a circular fashion. Siddhis, in Western terms, would be analogous to clairvoyant gifts. These are not spiritual gifts but merely the manifestation of our latent talent that allows us to be aware of and attentive to things both within and around us. These talents enable us to “tap in” to subtle phenomena. In some Spiritual models, the siddhis are seen as an obstacle to spiritual growth, and it is said that these initial gifts or perception in this subtle arena, simply vanish as real inner expansion and growth takes place. Whatever the reality of such statements it is undeniable that the ability for some to perceive these subtle energy patterns or areas can be developed through kinesthetic awareness, visual perception, and transference where the practitioner or adept becomes aware of a signal within their own body, which is a reflection of what is happening in the other person.
The Hindus indicate that there are 7 major and 49 minor chakras. They basically conform to anatomical structures related to our neurology and our cranial endocrine system. In another spiritual treatise, they enumerate a further seven that acts deep within the core of the person and emerge from the top of the head, just above the crown chakra to about 44” above the crown. The base chakra is known as one of the inner chakras and as the 14th – the inner content of the 1st or coccygeal. These inner chakras are portrayed in the various ‘hats’ that clergy, bishops, and lamas have worn over the millennia. These hats were often about forty or so inches (c 44”) tall. Some were conical, others open at the top, and some inverted cones. They represented the inner chakras rather than the more commonly known outer chakras that dealt with the house cleaning of the body. My observation of both is that they are definitely NOT spiritual organs, but nevertheless, structures that prepare, clean, and do the house cleaning within our body, clearing out excess, old, unneeded sensation that clogs the dynamic of the ordinary self. In this way cleaning, clearing, and mobilizing the chakras can be seen as aids to help individuals grow and develop in their lives and ultimately in their spiritual development.
PLEXUS or STRUCTURE
1] Coccygeal – Vesicle and prostatic/uterovaginal plexi – Inferior hypogastric (pelvic) and middle rectal 2] Sacral 3] Superior hypogastric plexus (presacral nerve)– Solar plexus – Cœliac plexus – phrenic, hepatic, left gastric, splenic, suprarenal, renal. Superior mesenteric, abdominal aortic (intermesenteric), and inferior mesenteric plexi 4] Heart – Coronary plexuses 5] Throat –Superior, middle, and cervicothoracic (stellate) ganglia 6] Brow –Interaction of both pituitary and pineal axis 7] Crown –Corpus callosum
PLEXUS or STRUCTURE
Coccygeal –Holding the feelings from the past
Sacral–Holding the feelings of potential and possibilities
Solar plexus–Holding the feelings that prevent me from change
Heart–Holding the feelings that get in the way of love / emotional love
Throat–Holding the feelings that get in the way of expression
Brow– Holding the feelings that get in the way of strategy and forward planning
Crown–Holding the feelings that alter a clarity of thought
The posterior ‘chakras’ are recognized as functional elements relating to both the cervicothoracic and lumbosacral sympathetic trunk and related ganglia.
NB It is moot to point out that neither the brow nor crown chakras appear to be induced by sympathetic neural traffic, but perhaps are induced by locally produced fields through cranial organ movement (visceral dynamic) and possibly local sympathetic ganglia, to both pineal and pituitary gland, both of which move, as the brain, as an organ, moves within the cranial rhythmic dynamic. However, the exact mechanism is unknown. The Crown Chakra may be induced via the bridge of tissue known as the corpus callosum, which handles bilateral hemispheric neuronal traffic, the intrinsic winding and unwinding of the ventricular spaces within both hemispheres and which the corpus callosum roofs.
AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
Despite little understanding of the mechanism that creates the field known as the chakras, it is undeniably present. These Chakras are merely the expression of the housekeeper or provider aspect of our resource mechanism. This sympathetic resource is part of our autonomic nervous system that is vigilant with respect to our internal environment. Both the parasympathetic and sympathetic aspects of the ANS respond to internal and external signals.
This system provides a constant balancing act within our flight, fight, and sexual reactivity as our bodies assess our survival, territorial rights, and our proximity to a suitable gene pool. It is a primitive vegetal response designed to maintain survival and to sexually reproduce our own genetic blueprint. Its constant juggling between preparation and action is largely unconscious. We are rarely aware of the process unless we notice our perspiration, change of breath or heart rate, piloerection or shivering, bladder or bowel action.
Classical osteopathy regards the ANS as the bogeyman in the whole system. Their philosophy includes the idea that the SNS is ubiquitous, in that its pre and postganglionic fibers are present throughout the body and that they innervate all tissue. It serves not only as the messenger but also as the reporter of events. There is constant feedback through the returning or afferent fibers to the sympathetic trunk and hence to the higher cortical centers via the midbrain. In particular, the vagus nerve–a parasympathetic fiber (PNS)–feeds back constantly; hence our present understanding of how our ‘gut’ rules our thoughts and consciousness. This low-grade constant traffic creates what is termed the “facilitated segment”. In short, this infers that some structure, whether bone, tissue, muscle, ligament, capsule, or organ, exhibits some lesion. A “lesion” is defined in the osteopathic lexicon as a structure with altered positioning. This altered posture, shape, or placement sends afferent signals via proprioceptive nerves, sensory feedback, and through the afferent sympathetic nervous system back to the cord. Other tissues, slightly altered in their postural relationships, also send “noise” back, albeit minimal. This gradual increase of “noise” at related spinal segments of the sympathetic trunk begins to ‘add’ up. This summation of noise is then relayed up to our midbrain and back down through motor and vegetative pathways to cause altered muscular and vascular tone. This combination of altered shape and tissue causes the functional ability of the tissue to change. This is the process described in the osteopathic maxim “structure governs function”. The bogeyman is the noise in the circuitry of the SNS.
As we have previously suggested, the model presented in Cranial Fluid Dynamics™ has expanded on the osteopathic tenet to suggest that it is not only our internal milieu that may add to our dysfunctional state, but also the awareness of our interactions with the external forces and how those forces impinge on our behavior. In short, we may be adversely affected by external forces, however subtle, and these alter our sensory awareness through our skin as a sensory organ. The epidermis and dermal layers as well as differing hair follicles have many nerve end organs that are sensitive to many field states. The external field encroaches upon the boundary of our Self, which either creates an effective barrier or allows input to enter that is registered by our coarse mechanoreceptors, nociceptors, and many other end organs sensitive to very fine stimuli. All of these receptors, when stimulated, create “noise” which is fed back into the spinal cord to return as a local reflex arc and which may affect local muscular and fluid flow changes, or are registered by summation all the way up to the higher centers subservient to the prefrontal cortex. This information may be processed quite automatically without consciousness, and yet enact systemic blood, lymphatic and hormonal changes in the body. These are the forces that we need to become attentive to and understand their influence on our internal milieu and state. In essence, the body not only takes in but also manufactures, creates, and constructs sensations. Sensation from our tissue matrix and disorganized structures, from poor health, and food intake as well as the indeterminate sensation that grows, develops, and is held in our various mini-brains or plexi – the chakras. When we place these sensations into another fairly unconscious part of our animal brain – the limbic system – we approximate this feeling or juxtapose it with our past memories of things (amygdala) – this is how we ‘name’ how we feel. This naming is primitive as it is still based on survival and knee-jerk reaction. Better to jump out of the fire than be burnt.
When the field (that which fills and occupies a space) is cleared from the holding mechanism that we know as the chakras, the internal noise is reduced, which in effect changes the internal milieu of the body. This is the realm of the vegetal life force, and thus it then provides nourishment to the animal self devoid of errant sensation/feeling/emotion that would metaphorically make us sick, dysfunctional, or ill. The feeling self is able to nourish the animal self and provide the appropriate life force that can maintain a congruent state in our instinctual self, which then is able to serve human nature as an obedient servant.
Notes on the 14th chakra: The 14th could be likened to the cave that Alla’din [Ala’ – excellence, Din – Religion – the story of how to be excellent in one’s religious life] allows us entry into one’s own ancestral vessel, whereby we enter the darkness of the self, traves back down the path of the ancestors, without light, to find and retrieve the vessel (or lamp) of the Self. As we learn (in desperation) to polish his lamp we in fact instruct ourselves to worship (polish ourselves), and through worship the Great Life allows the djinn – the forces that activate our genetic code – from which arises the root Arabic word – Jannu (madness,) gene, genus, genome, genie, jinn, to arise.
Notes on the lumbosacral sympathetic trunk: Often known as the thoracolumbar trunk, it also includes cervical ganglia from the base of the skull to the cervicothoracic junction and includes those ganglia associated with the lower four lumbar vertebrae running parallel and anterior to them.