Category Archives: Mind-body

mind-body

EFT, the emotional freedom techniques

EFT, the emotional freedom techniques, is a simple, evidence-based technique that can help us resolve our emotional issues quickly and easily. In EFT, we tap on a series of acupressure points while thinking about an issue. Following this simple procedure can reduce our distress and transform our underlying self-limiting beliefs.

When we start tapping on a problem, we might rate our emotional upset at near a 10 on a scale of 1-10. By the time we finish tapping, maybe repeating the series a couple of times, our emotional upset will disappear or nearly disappear, down to a 0 or 1. The whole process can take just a couple of minutes.

Most of the time, our big emotional blocks – things like low self-esteem, thinking we are undeserving or unlovable, or even being afraid to drive on a highway – are actually built up over time because of traumatic events in our past.

This does not mean that we have all had huge traumas. Sadly, many people have had “big-T” traumas – things that involve violence, accidents, shock. But for most of us, it’s the “little-t” traumas that cause our problems.

“Little-t”  traumas are things that are upsetting or incidents that we interpret in an unhelpful way. These can be things like “the time Dad yelled at me”, “the time my classmates all laughed at me”, “the time I failed the spelling test”, etc. Built up over time, these can become the pillars that underlie our larger issues.

In EFT, we use the metaphor of a tabletop and table legs. The over-arching problem, like low self-esteem, can be thought of as a tabletop; it is being held by the unresolved issues, or “table legs”. Best-practice for EFT is not to treat, or “tap on”, the tabletop, but rather to tap on the legs. We break its legs, and the table collapses.

Each of these “legs” can be conceptualized as a movie that lasts about two minutes, with a beginning, middle, and end. The movie can have a few crescendos. Each of those crescendos are appropriate for our EFT tapping intervention.

Our tables may be held up by ten different legs. Not all of the legs are equally strong. Some legs we rate at a 10 on a scale of 1-10; others may only rate as a 2 or 3. Interestingly, after we treat one or two of the legs, all the other legs seem to get a little smaller until the whole problem is resolved. If we have identified ten “legs” that underlie a problem, we may treat just six of them for the problem to get resolved.

There are lots of websites, YouTube videos, and books about EFT. While EFT can be used effectively on your own, it is even more powerful when used in a clinical setting. Having another person to hold the space, keep calm, and guide you through the process can be invaluable, especially since thinking about traumatic incidents from our past can make it hard for us to stay focused and follow the process clearly.

Want to give it a try? The picture below shows the EFT tapping points. The basic EFT “recipe” is this:

Tap, using all your fingers of one hand, on the outside of your other hand while repeating the setup statement and affirmation below. Do this two times:

Even though I have (this problem), I deeply  and completely accept myself.

Then tap on the points while repeating the problem:

But I have this problem…this problem…this problem that’s an 8 on a 10-scale…this time that ______…this ____ problem … this 8 …this time that _____ … this problem

EFT Tapping Points
TH: Top of Head
EB: Eyebrow
SE: Side of Eye
E: Under Eye
UN: Under Nose
Ch: Chin
CB: Collarbone
UA: Under Arm

If you would like to learn more about EFT, shoot me an email or give me a call. You can also check out the website of its founder, Gary Craig, at www.emofree.com.

Is tapping really necessary? Here’s the deal with EFT tapping.

I have used EFT and other meridian tapping therapies both for myself and with many clients. I have seen issues―even really tough ones―clear up quickly, almost magically. These results intrigued me, and prompted me to do some research about the field of Energy Psychology; you can read some of it here. People sometimes wonder if tapping meridian points is really a necessary ingredient to EFT’s success. One particularly bright and educated client of mine said that he believed it was exposure (the repeated statement of the problem) coupled with a self-soothing technique (tapping) that helped people get clear of their issues. He is a psychologist, so he thinks about these things. The topic has been widely debated, and he is not alone in his suspicions. And the research shows that―he’s wrong.

EFT researchers have begun conducting “dismantling studies” to separate tapping from the cognitive and exposure portions of the protocol. The first study that attempted to parse out the components of EFT’s success were (EFT skeptics) Waite and Holder. In 2003, they conducted a study comparing three tapping conditions (EFT, sham points, and a doll) to a non-tapping condition. However, they mistakenly used EFT points, because they asked participants to with their fingertips, which contain meridian points. Participants in all three tapping groups showed significant improvements; the non-tapping group did not. Waite and Holder concluded that EFT owed its success to distraction and desensitization. But they failed to take the fingertip meridian points into consideration when they reached this conclusion. Perhaps because of this, their study is an outlier when compared to other EFT studies.

In 2013, Louis Fox conducted a study to parse out the components of EFT’s success.  He compared EFT to a control group that used the cognitive and exposure portions of EFT with mindful breathing instead of tapping. The tapping group did significantly better than the control group. In 2014, Rachel Rogers and Sharon Sears conducted a similar study but in this case the control group used sham tapping points. Again, the group that had tapped on actual acupressure points had significantly better results. The most recent dismantling study was conducted in 2015 by Reynolds, who also compared EFT to a group using sham tapping. And again, the EFT group had better results than the control group. (This study is in press; to be published in the Energy Psychology Journal)

The research bears out again and again what EFT practitioners and enthusiasts have intuited for more than a decade. Tapping meridian points and focusing on the problem is the recipe for success. EFT has helped thousands of people overcome a variety of emotional issues. If you would like to learn more about it, I highly recommend EFT creator Gary Craig’s website, along with the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology‘s.

The role of emotions in cancer

Susie (name changed for privacy) came in to my office reeling. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and treatment was underway. But she wasn’t sleeping. She was trying to keep it all together, and ended up alternating between tears and anger. She was certainly having trouble engaging in life. And she knew that none of that was helping her condition.

The mind-body connection has major implications for our health and well-being. People all across the Western world are taking up practices like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, and they are doing it with good reason. They feel better, and there is a deep and growing body of empirical evidence showing that emotions play an important role in health. Resources as mainstream as WebMD and the Mayo Clinic address the role of stress in health. We know that stress and traumatic events impact the hormonal stress response system in ways that impair immune function and can lead to disease―even cancer. And we know that there are ways to combat that impact and improve overall health and wellbeing.

In one study of 94 women with metastatic or recurrent breast cancer, stress was correlated to disease: women who had not experienced significant stressors remained disease-free for longer periods of time than those who did experience significant stress. But there is good news even for people experiencing tough times. According to David Spiegel, M.D., one of the study authors, “people do better in the aftermath of traumatic stress if they deal with it directly. Facing, rather than fleeing it, is important… In other words, don’t suppress your emotions.”

Please, don’t suppress your emotions. Many people who have been diagnosed with cancer experienced a significant loss in the two years before diagnosis. I can’t tell you how many times when I’m doing energy healing on a person with cancer I hear the phrase “un-cried tears “. Tears are not shameful, and we should throw away the silly lyric “big girls don’t cry” and its implication that even little boys shouldn’t. Tears are cleansing and we do ourselves a great service when we cry them.

Not shedding those tears is an aspect of the “type C personality”, a term dubbed for the traits commonly seen among people who have been diagnosed with cancer. In the Cancer Report, Susan Silberstein, Ph.D., of the Center for Advancement in Cancer Education, outlines the traits. They are:

  • Repression of negative emotions (as mentioned above)
  • Feeling hopeless, that there are no options, or a lack of control
  • Not having deep emotional ties or being in toxic relationships
  • A tendency to keep the peace at any cost, to put others’ needs first, or even to be unaware of their own needs
  • A feeling (often unconscious) that they do not deserve happiness, success, or even life
  • A need to gain attention through the disease which they could not, or did not, receive otherwise

Now, this does not imply that getting cancer is anyone’s fault. None of us has everything all figured out. We all need to learn and grow, and some of us need to learn through the experience of disease. That’s just how it works, at least in my worldview. Thankfully, when we know what we are meant to be learning, it is a little easier to set ourselves to the task at hand, and that’s why this information about the mind-body connection and the “Type C personality” can be so empowering.

When I work with clients who have cancer, we spend a lot of time re-working their emotional patterns. We create a safe space to cry. We reframe the work ethic to create less stress and a more balanced life. We practice shifting emotional boundaries to create healthier relationships. We shine the light on those tendencies to “stuff it” and practice speaking up. All of these are skills that can be learned, and learning them leads to a happier, and healthier, life.

Susie and I worked together for several weeks. During that time she had a few “aha” moments. On her first visit, she cried. But after the tears were released, she started to feel lighter and clearer, and certainly more optimistic. We used some hypnotherapy and guided meditation techniques to help her find her voice. When she used it, she found that, far from driving people away, her relationships actually improved.  She evaluated her work schedule and found ways to be more efficient and less stressed. And she became confident that her treatments were working. Susie managed to learn some of the lessons her cancer had to teach and was able to get back to the joy of living.

And that, it seems to me, is pretty much the point. 🙂

The Benefits Of Hypnosis For Cancer Patients

Hypnosis is a relaxed state of mind. When we are hypnotized our brains are using alpha and theta brainwaves, just as we do in meditation and some stages of sleep. These relaxed brainwave patterns allow us to more open to suggestion, or “suggestible”: we are more likely to believe what we are told, and we are able to change how we think and feel about things. We can use this suggestibility to our great benefit in many areas of life, from emotional wellbeing to health. Indeed, there is a growing body of clinical data supporting the use of hypnosis for people with cancer across all phases of treatment, from detection/diagnosis, through various types of treatment, and into survivorship.  Here are some highlights from the literature:

Cancer Detection/Diagnosis:
Hypnosis has been shown to decrease anxiety, distress, and pain for people undergoing biopsy. The studies published have focused on breast cancer screening.

  • One study showed that women undergoing needle biopsies who had been hypnotized experienced significantly less anxiety and pain
  • Another study found that breast biopsy patients who had been hypnotized experienced less pre- and post-biopsy distress and less post-biopsy pain.
  • A third study found less pre-biopsy upset, depression, and anxiety, and more relaxation, among women who had been hypnotized.

Cancer treatment:
Hypnosis can support every mainstream form of cancer treatment. It has been helpful for surgical patients, has reduced side-effects of chemotherapy, and has helped with the effects of radiation.

Surgery
Surgical patients who received hypnosis pre-operatively had less anxiety, pain, pain medication, emotional upset, and fatigue, and had shorter treatment time.

  • One study found patients in hypnosis treatment groups had better outcomes than 89% of patients in control groups across a wide range of clinical outcomes including pain, pain medication, negative affect, blood pressure, nausea, fatigue, and treatment time.
  • Two other studies, here and here, found that just 15 minutes of hypnosis before surgery led to less pain and pain medication, less nausea, fatigue, discomfort, and emotional upset.

Chemotherapy
Anti-nausea medications have improved quality of life for patients receiving chemotherapy. However, some patients still experience chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting.  Hypnosis has been shown to help alleviate these treatment effects.

  • A meta-analysis found statistically significant reductions in nausea and vomiting for patients who received hypnosis.
  • A second review of the literature also found that hypnosis improved chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting.

Radiology
Patients undergoing radiation treatment are often affected by fatigue and emotional distress. Hypnosis helps:

  • A study of women receiving radiation for breast cancer found that the hypnotized women did not become fatigued during treatment whereas those who were not hypnotized did become fatigued as treatment progressed.
  • Another study showed that hypnosis significantly reduced negative affect and increased positive affect.

Survivorship:
According to the American Cancer Society, in January 2014 there were 14.5 million cancer survivors in the United States. Many experience impaired quality of life after treatment, including neuropathy and pain, cognitive problems, fatigue, fear of cancer recurrence, hot flashes and sexual dysfunction (American Cancer Society). Hypnosis may help with the after-effects of cancer treatment:

  • A study of hypnosis to treat hot flashes and other treatment after-effects showed that hypnosis significantly improved hot flashes, anxiety, sleep, and depression.

Advanced/Metastatic disease:
Metastatic and recurrent diagnoses can be very distressing for cancer patients. Metastatic patients often experience pain and suffering, as well as emotional distress. Hypnosis has had a measurable impact on quality and even quantity of life for these patients:

  • Two studies, one from 1983 here, and a more recent one from 2009 here, both showed that women with metastatic breast cancer who received hypnosis experienced significantly less pain and suffering and improved mood.

Two other studies have shown intriguing effects of hypnosis on length of life.

  • In the first study, published in the 1980’s, survival time was significantly longer in the women who received supportive group therapy with hypnosis (mean of 36.6 months) compared to no-treatment controls (mean of 18.9 months).
  • A replication in 2007 found that survival time for metastatic breast cancer patients with ER-positive cancers was not significantly affected by the hypnosis intervention BUT for ER negative patients, the hypnosis group had a significant longer survival time than the non-treatment controls.

Hypnosis delivery: live or recorded?
There is a plethora of guided meditations, guided imagery, and hypnosis on the market, for free or offered at a low cost, including the ones I’ve published on my podcast here. While these recordings can be helpful, live hypnosis is better: -)

  • Two meta-analyses, one here and one here, both showed that live hypnosis had a larger effect size than recorded hypnosis.

Conclusions:
For those who are living with cancer and undergoing cancer treatment, hypnosis can be tremendously helpful to address a wide range of symptoms, from emotional distress to physical pain. Relaxing and opening ourselves up to the mind-body-spirit connection improves quality of life and overall wellbeing.

My life is giving birth to me

It is not a comfortable process. There are moments of comfort, certainly. But there are unavoidable moments of painful growth, when I am squeezed and pushed and molded into something new. Painful experience seems to be part of the human condition. We are told that humanity as a whole is progressing under the 4th Ray of Divinity, the Ray of harmony through conflict. That theory is hard to argue with.

Our painful experiences, though, are turning us into something more useful and pure. Pain is the heat applied in the crucible of our existence. When we hold this in our minds, it makes the pain a little easier to bear. When we are able to detach a little from the pain, we can navigate it a little better. One way I’ve found to be a little more detached is to remember that each of us is made up of many parts, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Our bodies are made up of 50 trillion cells, and each of those cells is a little unit of consciousness. Bruce Lipton, in the fabulous Biology of Belief, describes the movement of cells in a lab setting: In a Petri dish, human cells will move toward a sugar source and away from a poison. They have consciousness, of course on a different scale than ours, but consciousness nonetheless. Imagine how they respond to the thoughts we send to them…imagine how they will respond to kinder thoughts.

Our emotions exist on a different level of consciousness than our bodies or our minds. Emotions use different brain structure than thoughts. The limbic system is the emotional brain and the cortex is the “thinking” brain. The limbic system sends more signals up to the cortex than the other way around, which helps explain why emotions can sometimes overwhelm reason. Luckily we can learn to take a more detached position, and when we do, we begin to notice the flow of emotions. We still experience them, but without drowning in them.

Our thoughts are different from our feelings. Our thoughts sometimes run away with us, but with practice we learn to control them. The first step to this control is to witness them. We notice them arise and float away, and begin to realize that we have thoughts, but we are not our thoughts. We have been told that with our thoughts we create the world. As I look back on my own life experiences, it seems that there is some truth to this. But often we create by accident or default because we create the things we are afraid of. With practice we can learn to use our thoughts to create the things that are for our higher good.

The highest level of being that most of us are able to access at times is the level of our Soul, which is who we really are. Instead of identifying with the passing pleasure and pain of our 3-D physical world, we are learning to identify with a higher purpose, a higher level of consciousness. When we contact our soul, we experience pure joy, gratitude, and peace. We become more intuitive and less critical, and realize that when one member of our human family is suffering, we all suffer. We come to understand that we are more than what meets the eye.

I think that is the purpose of our suffering: To teach us to shift our focus upward. Painful experience shows us that we are placing our attention on the temporary and transient rather than the real and transcendent. Holding on to this idea has helped me to witness my suffering on one level, even as I participate in it on another. This eases the pain and opens me up to pure joy. And that is pretty fantastic!

The Chakras: Foundations of Health

The chakras are energy vortices that conduct energy though our energy field and into our bodies. Each of the seven major chakras is associated with a particular gland, and the functioning of the glands is a reflection of the functioning of the chakras. The chakras also affect the organs near them. Each chakra is also associated with a particular set of emotions and with a level of our aura, or energy field.

Energy moves through our chakras and into our bodies via nadis, which are etheric or energetic patterns of our nervous system. They also send energy into the governing and central vessels, which run our meridian system; from there, energy is distributed throughout the entire meridian system. It is not an overstatement to say that the function of our chakras is foundational to our overall health and wellbeing. Here are some basic ways the chakras affect our health:

1st chakra: Imbalances in the first, or root chakra affect our “will to live” and ability to get along on the physical plane. When we have a block or sluggishness in our root chakra, we may be “spacey”, or unable to manifest the best life we are meant to live. Over-activity of the root chakras is associated with over-activity of the adrenals, so we feel stressed.

2nd chakra: Imbalances in the second or sacral center are common, as this is the center related to our emotional life. The sacral chakra is related to the gonads, so imbalances lead to sexual problems and problems with the sex glands. Sacral imbalances also lead to emotional problems, and problems with money and relationships. This is an area of creative expression, so a block or over-activity will also affect our ability to create.

3rd chakra: The third or solar plexus chakra is related to the pancreas and its neighbor, the spleen. The spleen is responsible for circulating prana, or energy, throughout our body; it actually has its own mini-chakra, but is closely related to the solar plexus center. The pancreas, of course, is responsible for fueling our body by regulating blood sugar levels. Dysfunction in the solar plexus can lead to blood sugar problems (hypoglycemia or diabetes), lethargy or over-energy, and stomach and digestive complaints.

4th chakra: The fourth or heart chakra is related to the thymus gland, which runs our immune system and is critical for our overall health. Heart chakra imbalances can lead to problems with the thymus and also to heart and circulatory problems. These problems are most always because the heart chakra is blocked or drained.

5th chakra: The fifth or throat center is associated with the thyroid, which regulates our metabolism. Thyroid problems are linked to dysfunction in the throat chakra. This center is also involved in many throat problems and respiratory complaints.

6th chakra: The sixth chakra, the forehead or “ajna” chakra, is associated with the pituitary body, which is responsible for running our entire glandular system. Blocks in the ajna center are related to endocrine imbalances and some sinus and head complaints, as well as vision and hearing problems.

7th chakra: The seventh or crown chakra is related to the pineal gland, which is responsible for producing melatonin, the sleep hormone; it regulates the body clock. Dysregulation of the crown chakra (and its polar opposite, the root chakra) can lead to sleep problems as well as migraines and other brain issues.

Past-life regression and a short reference to getting sick

I have seen and experienced incredible healing through past-life regression therapy over the years―on both sides of the recliner, so to speak. As a therapist, I have helped clients resolve longstanding issues through regression therapy. As a client, I have used regression to gain insight and heal the patterns that kept me from thriving and to shine light on things that made no sense from my logical mind’s point of view. Regression therapy is one of the very best tools we have for making strides―big strides―in personal growth.

One of my most interesting experiences happened when I was in graduate school. I have not been afraid to speak in front of groups since I was in middle school; in graduate school, I gave many presentations without a hitch. I went on to become a professor at the local community college. I’ve given talks at corporations, taught yoga classes, led meditations….you get the point. But one time in grad school was very different.

As the final project for my human development class, I had to give a five-minute talk about “anything related to human development”. I chose to talk about the chakras. It went well, and I received a high A for my effort. But I felt sick. After class I went to meet my boyfriend at the park so we could run together. When I got to the parking lot, I opened my car door and got sick on the asphalt. So much for our run.

A few days later, I met with my hypnotherapist to figure out what had gone wrong. We did a regression therapy and uncovered a lifetime in which I had been stoned to death for having religious views that differed from the prevailing norm. I think that the lifetime was during the very early Christian era, and that I was a Gnostic Christian. The specifics of the case are interesting but far less important than what happened next. What happened next was the healing.

My hypnotherapist and I did healing on this memory. We connected to the after-death experience to reinforce the knowing that death really isn’t bad, and my Higher Self nurtured, loved, and protected that unfortunate me. Eventually that other “me” felt brave and calm and almost regal, and totally unafraid to speak her truth.

And now I’m writing a public blog post about past-lives, hypnotic regression, and metaphysics.

What would you do if you could release a past-life trauma?

Energy Healing

Energy work is gaining popularity. It is a powerful tool for personal growth and healing. Clients are amazed at the transformation they experience in just one session. One client texted me the day after our first energy work session to say, “That was amazing!” Her physical discomfort was gone and she felt emotionally at ease with an objectively difficult situation.
Remember we are energy beings! The physical body is an automaton responding to the energetic input from the etheric levels. The aura is real, and you have probably seen it. Have you ever noticed that white outline around things? Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, you are seeing energy. This level of the aura contains the template that runs our physical existence.

In the film A Thin Sheet of Reality, from the 2011 World Science Festival, a panel of four physicists (a Nobel Prize winner, and professors–interesting ones!–from MIT, Berkley, and Stanford) explain their theory that our three-dimensional world may be a holographic projection of a two-dimensional template. The theory developed from their research into black holes.

As an energy healer with a penchant for research and scientific investigation, I was so happy to see a scientific explanation of what to me is a very real and very important part of reality. Another constant source of scientific backing for the energy-healing world is Bruce Lipton, author of the Biology of Belief.

Luckily we don’t need a PhD in physics or biology to receive the benefits of energy healing. If you would like to experience the peace that comes from releasing energy blocks, whether for physical healing or spiritual growth, please contact me.

Clearing the clouds and the cobwebs

Have you ever known somebody who spends a lot of time thinking about their decisions, yet they seem to be paralyzed when it comes to deciding? Even though they devote a lot of time and energy to thinking about their decisions, it doesn’t seem to help them make a decision, or make a good one. If you could see the energy field of this type of person it would look really cloudy. And that’s exactly what is happening.

You may have heard the expression “thoughts are things”. Turns out, it’s true. Thoughts are “things” that exist on the energetic level and they cloud our energy fields, preventing us from seeing clearly. This cloudiness of our energy fields is called “miasma” in the East, and it’s largely composed of thought forms. Clearing up that miasma is an important part of our spiritual growth. It helps us get in touch with our Higher Selves and helps with decision-making.

The work of clearing thought forms is mostly a matter of intention. Becoming aware of the problem—coming to the realization that by over-thinking we are becoming less and less clear in our thinking—is an important first step. Once you decide to tackle the issue, there are some other techniques you can apply to “stop the madness”. Here are some exercises you can try. I learned many of them from my wonderful teacher Josiane D’Hoop.

  1. The “Whirlpool”: Imagine a whirlpool or vortex of energy surrounding you, 20 feet all around. As it swirls (no matter which direction) it is clearing away anything that is not in your highest good. You can deliberately throw specific problems (like “fear of failure” or “the fight with my partner”) into the vortex. You can also just intend that it is clearing negative things and let it do its work. Spending three to five minutes a day doing this exercise a few times a week, and especially after a challenging day, is really helpful.
  2. Chakra by chakra clearing: Imagine each of your chakras, one by one, opening up like a funnel and clearing out any negativity. There are patterns and problems associated with each chakra; you can learn about them here.
  3. Connect to your Higher Self and imagine a laser-like beam of light coming into your energy field to clear a problem. This is particularly effective to clear up a specific thought form or type of thought form (“my anger toward my partner” or “my anger”).
  4. Ask your Higher Self to release and dissolve any thoughts that are not here for your highest good. This only takes a few seconds yet it’s effective.
  5. When complex decisions arise, practice not focusing on them. Do a little brainstorming and then think about something else. While you are busy doing “something else”, in the back of your mind the decision is being made. It will be wiser than the one you over-think.

The more we work to clear our energy fields, the clearer our connection to Guidance becomes, and the better our decision-making will be. A win-win, so have fun with it!

The chakras, or energy centers

You know you are more than your body, that you are an energy being, timeless and expansive. How does that energy become the “we” that we see? Part of the explanation comes from an understanding of the energy body. Our physical bodies receive energy through seven major energy centers or chakras. Each of these energy centers corresponds to a layer of our aura or biofield. Inside our bodies, the chakras correspond to a gland. And each chakra is associated with some basic physical and emotional issues, both positive and negative.

Energy flows into our system from the crown chakra and circulates through all of the other chakras, typically in the back and out the front. Energy is stepped down, layer by layer, as it circulates through the biofield or aura, eventually making its way into the etheric sheath, the layer of energy that envelops the physical body, and from there to the physical body itself. Nothing exists in the physical that doesn’t first exist in the etheric. The health of our body is directly related to the flow of energy through our etheric body and the health of the etheric body is directly related to the flow of energy through the six other chakras and their respective layers of the aura.

The first or root chakra corresponds to the etheric sheath. The root chakra is located just below the perineum. It is associated with the adrenal glands, which are the masters of the “fight or flight” response. Root chakra imbalances, then, often involve either chronic stress or flightiness, a lack of grounding. The issues typically associated with the root chakra include survival issues and the will to live, inherited beliefs, some sleep problems, and groundedness. When the root chakra is fully functioning, our body receives a harmonious flow of energy and we are grounded.

The second or sacral chakra is located at the top or the sacrum, about two inches below the navel. This energy center is related to the astral or emotional body, what we often think of as the inner child. The astral body forms the second layer of the aura. The glands associated with the sacral center are the reproductive glands. Not surprisingly, then, issues associated with the sacral center include sexual issues, emotionalism, relationships, and money issues. This center has a lot to do with relationships, and creating harmony or disharmony. When the sacral center is clear and fully functioning, it will be the clear reflection of the light of the soul.

The third chakra is the solar plexus center, and is located in the area of the diaphragm. This center is related to the ego or lower mental body which forms the third layer of the aura. In terms of the glands, the solar plexus corresponds to the spleen and pancreas. The issues associated with the solar plexus center include judgments and criticisms, separativeness, and an “us vs. them” mentality. It is also the seat of stress. When the solar plexus is fully functioning and clear, it will be turned upward in service as the ego is aligned with the Higher Self.

The fourth chakra is the heart center and is located right at the middle of the chest. This energy center connects the energy of the fourth layer of the aura and corresponds to the thymus gland, which is important in regulating immune function. Opening the heart chakra includes self-forgiveness and self-love and releasing past hurts. When the heart chakra is open and fully functioning, we are connected to our Higher Self and open to group consciousness, understanding that what is good for one is good for all – and when one is hurting, all are hurt. The third and fourth chakras are directly related to one another; when the third is over-energized, it drains the fourth.

The fifth chakra or throat center is located at the base of the throat. It is associated with the thyroid gland which runs our metabolism. This chakra is all about communication: speaking our truth, connecting to our Soul, and manifesting. Issues associated with the throat center can be over-active (angry outbursts, for example) or under-active (unable to speak up for ourselves). Throat center imbalances also are implicated when we are not clear about what to do or how to move forward. When the throat is fully functioning and open, we are able to effectively and harmlessly speak the truth, and we are connected to our Soul and able to create or mainfest. The fifth and second chakras are directly related; when there is over-activity in the sacral center (emotional body) our throat center is drained (unable to communicate, know our path, or connect to the soul).

The sixth chakra is called the ajna center and is located at the middle of the forehead. It corresponds to the pituitary body, which runs the endocrine system. When this center is fully open, it functions as the Third Eye, opening our awareness to the Buddhic plane, the center of intuition and the sixth layer of the aura. For now, the ajna center contains the recapitulation of all the energy from the lower centers. Imbalances in the sixth chakra typically happen when we are too much “in our heads”.

The seventh or crown chakra is located above the top of the head. Energy pours into our system via the crown chakra and circulates through the other chakras. This chakra is associated with the pineal gland and the seventh layer of the aura. It connects us with the Monad or Spirit and opens us to what is sometimes called Christ consciousness, or universal consciousness.