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Insights and Practices on the Seven Chakras
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Insights and Practices on the Seven Chakras (31 min.) MP3
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
July 21, 2013 - Dallas, Texas

Thank you, dear friends, for your practice. So, this month of July—and August as well—we will be giving the dharma teachings somehow related to one or all or some of the seven chakras or energy centers. I think this is a very useful way of looking at different states of consciousness. Even if you do not believe in chakras literally, the issues that each one relates to are real issues. So even if you do not believe that chakras are literal, it is okay because the issues they point to are literal, you know?

So I am going to be giving teachings on the seven chakras more from a Buddhist point of view. The chakras are not necessarily a part of Buddhist teachings, although there are some forms of Buddhism that may be aware of them and may describe them in different ways and have a different number, but I would like to give teachings from my own practice and insight as a Buddhist on the seven chakras.

So, how many are not familiar with the seven chakras? Just raise your hand. It is okay if you are not. Our chakra teacher raised her hand. If you're not familiar, last week we gave out the calendar that has a little chart. So raise your hand if you need the chart. So, could someone help me pass them out? And this is just a very, very brief little chart, and there are many more things that could be said about each chakra. But I just thought that might be helpful to people who are not familiar at all.

So, when I went to the practice's retreat center, which is near the border of Oklahoma near the Red River, it is about an hour and a half away, and it is in between two small towns, Ivanhoe and Telephone, Texas. It is really beautiful to go out there, and I highly recommend that all of you check out sometime. Call ahead of course and see if there are openings where you could just stay there overnight for one or more nights. And they have very reasonable rates, so it is very, very reasonable.

So, I was not feeling well physically and emotionally. There were so many things going on at the same time, and I had the Cyclospora parasite I got from strawberries. At first I thought it was food poisoning, but then someone told me about the Cyclospora thing, so I read about all the symptoms and said, "Oh my gosh. I have every single one of those symptoms." And so I went to the doctor and eventually got some antibiotics. But before I did that I went to the retreat center just to help me at least feel better emotionally and mentally and spiritually because it really was very draining for me to go through this experience, and I am still not fully at my usual strength. I'm still very tired, but I went there, and I felt so much better after just 24 hours. I was planning on staying for 48 hours, but it ended up that my pain and the aches were just so terrible, I cut it short. But even that one 24-hour period was so healing for me.

So I highly recommend that you do things that you know are good for you. I mean, because I was telling myself, okay, well, what am I supposed to do? I said, "Well, what do I tell other people?" Sometimes that is a very useful thing, you know, when you are like trying to figure out what to do. Just ask yourself, what would I tell someone else to do in this situation? And usually it is good advice. But the thing is we don't always tell ourselves that same advice, you know? As if we are any different than everyone else.

So I said, "Well, I need to practice my meditation. I need to be out in nature, and I need to journal and write in my journal, and I need to just be silent and be away from people for a little while and maybe listen to positive music and also no touching"—for 24 hours I did not touch a computer or cell phone or anything like that. And that was really nice. It was actually quite amazing. I actually proved to myself, oh, wow, the advice you give to others actually works. So it really, really was helpful. I think since then, the last few days have been much better emotionally for me, even though my body is still going up and down a little bit.

So, when I was away, I reflected some more on the seven chakras, and because I gave myself space and silence in nature, it was just very interesting the kinds of thoughts that came to me during that 24-hour period. I began to get some insights and remember insights from the past concerning the seven chakras. So, one of the insights was how this qi gong movement that I was taught by one of my Zen teachers in Minnesota has eight movements in it, and I reflected on it, and I realized that each movement actually could correspond very easily to one of the seven chakras, and then the eighth movement is what you would do to begin and end the whole series. And I was very happy when I realized this, because it reminded me of other times when I have had insights.

So, everyone just join me in this movement, just while you are sitting, raising your arms, opening and embracing the heavens, and then palms up, coming down like the wings of a bird, embracing the energy of the earth. Left-hand is over the right, and then when you come up to the heart, now the hands are downward, and then you bring it back up. So you have breathing with this. So there is breathing in the energy of heaven, breathing out the energy of earth, breathing in, transforming heaven and earth at the heart, sharing that light with all the beings. So you can then bring your hands down to your abdomen and just breathe for a few seconds.

As I was doing this a few years ago, I was supposed to give a teaching to some Christians on meditation and mindfulness practice because I am usually asked by people in any sort of faith to teach meditation. And sometimes Jewish people, Christian people, Muslim people, and others have asked me to come and share the practice with them. And when I do, I try to share it in the general sense, but also try to say things that are helpful to them in their particular faith or tradition.

So what was interesting was I received this insight about this qi gong movement that I had learned many, many years ago—I think 15 years ago—and it is called the swan dance. I learned that in Oakland, California, and I have loved it ever since. It is just a really nice one. But as I was doing it, I realized that the Lord's Prayer could easily correspond to the movement, and so it could become a nice embodied prayer, especially for those were coming from Christian backgrounds.

So it is, our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

So it's very nice, you know. Now obviously, Jesus probably did not have the qi gong movement in mind. I'm not saying that, but what I am saying is that sometimes your inner wisdom, your inner guidance can share things with you that can help others. So it was very interesting that as I was preparing to teach Christians, this came to me, and I was able to share that with them, and they loved it.

So also this week, as I was in retreat by myself for a day, this insight also came to me about these other qi gong movements I have learned more recently, a few years ago. And so I would like to share it with you, these seven movements, qi gong movements, and I don't know. Do you want to try them out, or do you just want to watch me?

Audience: Yes. Let's try them out.

ChiSing: Okay. So let's stand up, if you would like to try it out. And you are welcome to just sit and watch if that's what you prefer. Just stand on your cushion and just stagger if you don't have any arm room. Make sure you don't bump someone next to you. So, just to do this motion and see that you don't hit anybody.

So, let's begin with our feet about a foot apart, just comfortably, and let us begin the opening and closing movement, which is just simply balancing yin and yang, balancing heaven and earth, being present here and now. So take your hands up to the heart and then down to the earth, breathing in as you come up, breathing out as you go down. And so just do it your own breathing pace, make sure your breath is nice and deep and gently slow, but don't force it too much. Okay. So that is the opening and closing.

And now we're going to work with the first chakra, the root chakra, which connects us to the earth. And this is the tree. It is like being a tree. So imagine yourself like a tree, rooted in the earth, and you just swing in the weather. Your tree branches are just gently hitting you from side to side, just giving you a nice little massage. Let your hands hit your body when you swing. Just be careful not to get dizzy, not to let your eyes go too far in each swing, and just modify. And I came up with an affirmation for each chakra, too. So the affirmation here in the first chakra, I am safe. Spoken silently or out loud, say to yourself, "I am safe." Okay.

So then the second chakra is associated a lot with vitality, energy, creativity, movement, and sexual energy as well. And so we are going to just move our energy and so basically we are going to balance our yin and yang energy like this. So we lift off of this hand and leg, so it should be the opposite hand from the leg, and it should be almost like you are balancing a ball or something or doing yoga, so now, let's try this with our breathing, so you can slow it down. And you're going to do like this, breathing in, breathing out. Breathing in, breathing out. So do it at your own breathing pace. And the affirmation I created for the second chakra is, I am vibrant. Okay.

And then the third chakra is the energy center of individuation, being your own adult, making your own decisions, your own choices, becoming more mature as a human being, and also power and strength and light. So the movement here is to put your right foot forward, left foot a little bit back. Start here at the heart with the hands like this, and we are going to push as if we are like pushing waves or pushing some energy. Push, come back to the heart, and there is also breathing with this. So, you are breathing out, breathing in, and out. In toward yourself, out away. And the affirmation I created for the third chakra here is, I am strong. Okay. Now switch feet, the left in front, right in back. We will just do it 3 times. I am strong. Okay.

So now, we come to the fourth chakra, and that is the love chakra, the heart chakra, openness, forgiveness, compassion, and just opening the heart. So the movement that corresponds here is the eagle movement, so we're going to be just like the wings of an eagle flying. Breathing in, up. Breathing out, down. And the affirmation for the fourth heart chakra here is, I am love. Wonderful. Okay.

And now the fifth chakra, the throat chakra, is associated with giving voice to your truth, speaking your truth courageously, creating the life you want by speaking it forth and creating it. So sometimes it is associated with expression, manifestation, living out your truth, and integrity. Also, creativity as well. So the movement I associate with this one is the rainbow movement, so we're kind of creating a rainbow of all kinds of wonderful things in our lives. So we're going to trace the rainbow with our hands, breathing in, breathing out. Breathing in, breathing out. And the affirmation I created for this is, I am creative. Wonderful. Okay.

Now we come to the sixth chakra, which is the third eye chakra between the two eyebrows on the forehead, in the center of the head as well, and this is associated with clear vision, clear knowing, intuition, wisdom, insight, and enlightened thinking. And the movement I associate with that is really seeing clearly—so this movement is associated with the moon movements because we are going to look at the moon—so see the moon with your third eye. So you are breathing out as you're moving and then breathing in holding the moon and then breathing out and breathing in holding the moon and breathing out. And the affirmation I created for the sixth chakra is, I am wise.

So now, the last one, the seventh chakra, is associated with our connection to the infinite, to the divine, to our true self, Buddha nature, and the movement here I associate is this movement that is called the fountain, and so it is perfect because you're taking all the energy of the universe and going through each chakra and letting it fountain out and cleanse your whole body, because actually many times you can visualize the energies of the chakras, and then they all create this nice shower of light and energy all around. It is like making a cocoon of light around you. So it goes like this. You scoop in all that beautiful energy and light, go up through every chakra, and then it comes right out. So breathing in, breathing out. In and out. And the affirmation I created here is, I am free. Okay. Wonderful.

And now let's close with the movement to balance everything out once again. Breathing in, breathing out. Balancing heaven and earth here and now, masculine and feminine, solar and lunar, yin and yang, left and right, above and below, all in balance. And now let's just end by putting our hands on our abdomen and just breathing for a few seconds. And repeat after me with your palms together at the heart, I am safe.

Audience: I am safe.

ChiSing: I am vibrant.

Audience: I am vibrant.

ChiSing: I am strong.

Audience: I am strong.

ChiSing: I am loved.

Audience: I am loved.

ChiSing: I am creative.

Audience: I am creative.

ChiSing: I am wise.

Audience: I am wise.

ChiSing: I am free.

Audience: I am free.

ChiSing: Amitabha.

Audience: Amitabha.

ChiSing: So, that is my little insight I had about the movements, and it came to me to also create those little affirmations for each chakra as well. So I'm not sharing this because it is supposed to be absolute truth, but rather that it is an example to encourage you that you have your inner truth also. You just have to meditate and go to nature and make space for the truth to emerge because it is already in every single one of us, but unless we create the space for it, many times it hides, you know? So we have to make a safe space for our inner wisdom to come up and out. So one way of creating a safe space is to practice regular meditation, qi gong, yoga, etcetera, as well as go away for a few hours or days down the nature. That really helps make space for the inner wisdom to go through. And also journal writing.

You know, there are many good practices, and when you're depressed, many times we make the mistake when we are depressed, we just forget about all of our spiritual practices. We just abandon everything that we know is good for us and that would actually help, but that is why we need to practice these things regularly when we are not down or not suffering, so that when those times come we have the habit of keeping those practices going, right? Because when you are in depression, usually just everything goes out the door. So that will not actually help us, letting go at such crucial times of our spiritual practices.

So keep practicing now to prepare for those times when you might just forget about those, because then you create the habit energy to do it anyway. Also, you create what is called merit. It is sort of like a reservoir of collective positive energy, so when you practice regularly and then in times of crisis or when you are down or are going through something negative, you have a reservoir that you can rely on. You know? Because in that moment, you might not be able to do any practice at that moment, that you have all of the energy from your previous practice that you can utilize to help you and energize you. So that is important, to create merit, create that positive energy as a backup. You need your backup battery, so to speak.

You know, as I contemplated the seven chakras, you can also think of going back to the Lord's Prayer—I don't know why. I guess I know why. Because I grew up Christian, so it is always going to be part of my consciousness, even though I am a Buddhist, and many people here might also have a Christian background. So it might be helpful for you. But it's interesting. As I thought about the Lord's Prayer, I thought of it as a template of the seven chakras also. The top, seventh chakra is, our Father, who art in heaven. In the sixth chakra, hallowed be Thy name. And then the fifth chakra, to create and manifest, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. So that is what we want to create. And then the heart chakra, give us this day our daily bread. Basically, we open our hearts to receive the good that is available to us, but to receive it, we have to have an open heart, right?

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass us. That would be down to the third chakra. Forgive us our trespasses, so basically since this third chakra is the seat of our individual willpower, and many times we make choices. This is associated with choice. Many times we make choices that are not so good, so we want to remake the choices. We want to make amends, right? So forgive us as we forgive others. And then down to the second chakra, the sexual energy center, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. In other words, we are always tempted to abuse our power, whether sexually, monetarily, emotionally, or whatever, because we have a lot of energy. So we want to not allow ourselves to give in, but to be strong and stable in our energy. Then, going to the first chakra, which connects us to this planet and to our existence here and now, for Thine is the kingdom, the kingdom here and now, and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen. God's kingdom here and now. We are always rooted in that kingdom here and now on the earth.

So interesting to be able to see through meditation how certain truths correspond to each other universally across traditions, because truth is truth. You know, a rose is a rose called by any other name, right? So I enjoy it when I have certain insights like that. And again, I'm not saying that Jesus necessarily had that in mind when he taught that, but I like the wonderful coincidence of how they correspond.

And you know, another teacher, Caroline Myss in her book, Energy Anatomy, also made me aware that you can also correspond the seven chakras with the seven sacraments. So in the Christian faith, especially in the Catholic and the Orthodox faith, they have the seven sacraments. And so the first chakra could correspond to baptism because we were baptized into God's realm, the church and all of that, so like we are children of this earth. The second chakra could correspond to the sacrament of marriage, you know, the sexual energy center there. The third chakra could correspond to confirmation, right? Because now you're becoming old enough to make your own choice of your faith.

And then the fourth chakra could correspond to the sacrament of communion, because our heart communes in love with the divine. And the fifth chakra, you could associate it with confession, the sacrament of confession. And then the sixth chakra could correspond to the sacrament of holy orders or priesthood and speaking the word of God and being wise and counseling others. And then the seventh chakra can correspond to what is called the sacrament of holy unction or the sacrament of healing or last rites. It basically just reminds us that we are always connected, and we always can receive light from above.

So, it is interesting to see that, too. And you know, when you examine sets of sevens throughout traditions, many times there will be a correspondence with the seven chakras. It is very interesting. I would like to see if there are any questions on anything, whether it's related to this topic or not, and then we will do our sharing. But before we do that, I just want to share with you that I came up with some nice alliteration words to remember the chakras. So with the letter I, you have the first chakra is Incarnation. Second chakra, Interbeing. Third chakra, Individuation. Yes. And then fourth chakra is Intimacy. Fifth chakra is Inspiration. I couldn't really find a good word for it, what I mean by inspiration is inspiring creativity and all of that and creating and manifesting. And then Insight for the sixth chakra, and seventh chakra, Infinity.

And then I also had a set of words for another letter. Let me see if I can find it. Yes. The letter E. All right. So the first chakra, Elemental. Second, Energetic. Third, Ethical. Fourth, Expansive or Empathic. I couldn't decide which one was better. Fifth, Expressive. Sixth, Enlightened. Seventh, Eternal. So anyway, just little things to help you remember what each chakra's issues relate to.

Okay. So let's do a short sharing tonight… [audio fades]

Transcribed by Jessica Hitch