Working with energy is an ancient practice. Virtually every culture and every geographic area of the world has (at least historically) some way of working with energy or “laying on hands.” There is a great depth of indigenous wisdom in how we can raise, move, release, and channel energy for improved health and in my observation there are many commonalities that repeat across history and culture.
The Chakra system, which originates from India in the Vedas between 1500 and 500 BC, is the basis of the commonly used hand placements and theory around Reiki in the last 50 years or so, but was not original to reiki practice when it was first developed in Japan. It offers a clear structure to how the session transpires, rather than its initial approach of being more intuitive through careful scanning of energy. This change allowed for reiki training to occur much more quickly, allowing for a more intellectual strategy to work with energy based in the chakras and its associated meanings.
Like with most things that begin with ancient cultural wisdom and become a standardized or even commodified practice, the Chakra system has become overly concretized and is often spoken about in new age and wellness contexts as distinct energy centers that can be blocked, open, or “opening.” This language feels incomplete, limiting, and in some ways shaming towards those who experience restriction and pain in aspects of their energy experience.
As children we are very energetically sensitive and open, having natural psychic attunement capacities that are often discouraged by adults.
The idea that our energy systems should be open and flowing in a particular way ignores the reality that we do not all exist in a safe environment that makes energetic openness adaptive.
Our energy systems then develop as we do– our psyche being an energy system too- influenced by our attachment relationships, oppressive systems, gender norms, financial/home stability, and traumatic experiences. It is also shaped by our exposure and connection to resilience such as supportive adults and community members, friendships, ancestral wisdom, relationship with nature, and others. Energy centers are then connected and maturing/developing in relationship to each other allowing for the optimal flow of energy within a certain context. There are numerous ways to explore the relationship between different energy centers, but a particular pairing that I see emerging for so many that I work with is the Heart and Throat chakra connection.
The Heart Chakra is known for being the center that is associated with love and self-love; the heart itself contains its own electromagnetic field that allows for our heartbeat and is therefore a center for our life force. It is the most powerful energy field of the body, moreso than the brain, and when measured with instruments found to extend far beyond the physical confines of the body. In my understanding, Sufism has a concept pertaining to relationships about developing the ability to connect on the “heart to heart” level as a key component to true intimacy and connection, allowing for stability in the face of inevitable conflict. Heart opening as a goal is a common refrain and the subject of many spaces for personal development, but the degree to which we feel safe enough to open our heart center is heavily influenced by our experiences and environment. To open our hearts without cultivating a sense of safety and support is to experience wounding that creates new barriers, cultivating self-love can be a gritty affair and requires a lot of grieving to soften the places that have protected us for so long.
Our throat chakra traditionally relates to expression and using our voice. We can’t look at this capacity without considering the degree that we find refuge and support in our heart center. To express your true self, your needs, requires a belief that you can be heard and that your voice matters. To express your truth in a world that can be dangerous and unforgiving requires connection to something bigger than yourself, a self-love that stretches beyond the individual. And yet, part of how we heal our wounds around love is to share our experiences, articulate our needs, assert our authenticity, and discern between our opinions/thoughts and our emotions.
As these centers grow together, creating an optimal flow in the given circumstances, there may come a time when our energy experience reflects the past more than the present, or becomes a barrier to the futures we seek. It is necessary to work with them together, to address the reasons why we are how we are, and move slowly and thoughtfully as that healing unfolds. Holding them side by side can help us separate fact from fiction, past from present, and what we need from what we think we can get.
Consider bringing these questions into your energy practice, card pulling, or journaling as you explore your own heart-throat chakra relationship:
What is the relationship for you between a desire to connect and how you actually express yourself?
How have past experiences sharing your deepest feelings impacted how readily you share them now?
What does it mean to have an “open heart?” Do you feel that your own heart is open in an optimal way for you in this moment?
What wounds of the past are calling for your attention, what needs for the future are asking to me seen?