Welcome to your chakras, illuminating discs of swirling energy in your subtle body. In this series, the chakras become symbols, gateways to a deeper understanding of the self. Let their archetypes speak to you, teach you, whisper their secrets into you so that you may discover more ease, healing, and insight on this path.
Today, we arrive at the center—or the heart—of the chakra system, your Anahata Chakra.
We began with the stability of earth (Muladhara Chakra) and moved into the emotional ebbs and flows of water (Svadhisthana Chakra) and then up into the seat of your power and transformation (Manipura Chakra). Today, we enter the heart.
This chakra is unstruck, unhurt, pure, fresh, and clean. This is where we perceive the world in its unity, not its separation. Beneath all of our little and big hurts, we are something infinite and always. At this level, we are asked to feel this: We are love, unconditional.
Note: Find another human being, anyone, for this exercise.
Sit back to back with your partner in a cross-legged position. Let your backs press lightly and evenly into one another. Make sure that one person isn’t supporting the other more, but that you hold each other upright with equal and minimal effort. Interlace your fingers together, and place your palms over your own sternum. Close your eyes. Connect to the rise and fall of your breath.
See if you can feel and sense your own heartbeat, a constant rhythm that you live by, and can live from. Imagine your heart beating in your mind’s eye. As the two of you sit here connected to the beating of your hearts, this is your contemplation:
If you were to dissect your heart, to divide it into cells, each of those individual cells would beat independently. Now, imagine combining one of your heart cells and one of your partner’s in a dish.
Now, imagine adding a cell from each of the hearts of those you love most in this world. Imagine that we also add a cell from those that you once loved but no longer do, or were once close to but no longer are.
Now, imagine adding a cell from each person who has crossed your path and shared a little bit of themselves with you, from the yogis you take class with to the check-out person at your grocery store to the man you sat next to on the plane to your neighbors, both the ones you like and the ones you dislike. From those living and those dead.
Now, imagine there is one cell from every person you ever encountered in this dish and each is beating on its own. You slide the dish under a microscope to observe the cells, and after some time, you witness something… the cells begin to shift until they all beat as one. And all of a sudden, you have one breathing, living organism pulsing with the beat of your life. Hearts have a pull on one another to beat in sync, in unity.
If this is true, you can consider that because your heart is in such close proximity to the person you are sitting back to back with, that your hearts have a gentle pull on one another. That your hearts are now connected.
And, if your heart is connected to your partner’s, then you are also connected to all of the souls your partner is connected to, and in some small way, their loved ones are now yours. And then, this sense of connection may ripple out, until you feel connected to anyone you’ve encountered, anyone your partner has ever encountered, and then all of those who have encountered those people, and it continues. And now, you are connected to everyone.
And because we share this earth with one another, all of our hearts are connected. They all yearn to beat as one.
When you and your partner are ready, reach your arms out wide so that the backs of your arms or hands touch in some way. Then, hook elbows, one person on top and the other on the bottom. Place your feet on the ground in front of you, as close as you can. Now, press into your feet and press your backs into one another, and try to stand up. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. Have a little laugh, and give each other a hug.
Smile at anyone with whom you cross paths, volunteer, attend a kirtan, read love poems, give or receive a massage, hug people and animals, drink teas of lavender and jasmine, cook with marjoram, carry a rose quartz with you… close to your heart.
Anahata teaches us that we are ultimately and supremely one. That everyone who has ever lived and ever will is inside of us. You need not grieve, for you are everything. And everything is love.
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Andrea Manitsas—affectionately called “Anj”—is a yoga teacher based in San Francisco and Berkeley, where her Oms resonate down the block and around the corner. She is known for a bhakti-filled class with a whole lotta soul and a fierce flow. Andrea also writes and edits. And travels—a lot. She takes her teaching on the road with yoga retreats around the warm world.