Dancing through the dark times

The self of my dreams came the day I found out that there was gold hidden in my darkness, that there was light shining in my bad behaviour, and that there was power hidden in the traumas of my past. Debbie Ford

Chakradance is a journey within. Using the chakra system as a map to consciousness, we dance beyond the everyday, five sensory awareness into a deeper experience of ourselves. This allows us to move through the issues that may be causing us difficulties in life, and to find a sense of inner peace.

One of the less obvious influences on Chakradance, often overshadowed by the more apparent influences of the Hindu-Tantric chakra system and shamanic trance-dance practices, is Jungian psychology.

While the Chakradance facilitator is all too aware that his or her role is to ‘hold space’ for the experiences of the dancers, a very Jungian concept, as is the use of mandala art to ‘contain’ the numinous experiences and energy of the dance. These Jungian aspects are often not obvious to the dancer.

I often refer to Jungian archteypes that people may encounter in their dance journeys, these will often manifest as visions of scenes that play out as interactions between archetypes like mother and victim, warrior and servant.

The experience of Chakradance is described like a ‘waking dream’ where the dancer lets go of their conscious, thinking mind and allows the unconscious mind to communicate through images, feelings, colours and insights.

Chakradance is a way to interact with our shadow, a Jungian concept for the aspects of self that we are either unaware of or actively suppress because we are ashamed of that aspect of ourselves.

Chakradance is a journey within. Using the chakra system as a map to consciousness, we dance beyond the everyday, five sensory awareness into a deeper experience of ourselves. With our eyes closed and our imagination as a guide, during Chakradance we experience our inner world as a waking dream. Many people see visions in their mind’s eye, encounter beings, ancestors, animals, different landscapes which all tell a story about the disposition of our inner self.

In the new Chakradance cycle, called Freedom, we have a different guide for each chakra who takes us on this journey. But I have found many people intuitively find their own guides in the dance as well, be they humans, ethereal beings or animals.

After participating in a Chakradance cycle, many people are surprised at the visions and experiences, not to mention the insights and transformations in their real lives, that they encounter.

It is so astonishing to uncover this unconscious aspect of ourselves, and to realise our conscious, day to day self is like the tip of the iceberg in terms of the multitudes we all contain.

So when we immerse ourselves into the sound and movement of chakradance, what will often arise is aspects of ourselves that we have not been aware of. This can be visions, emotions or insights that are experienced in a loving and beautiful way. Sometimes we are ready to shift and release less attractive aspects of ourselves. These might be long buried memories, strong emotions, or even aspects portrayed as creatures who come out of our subconscious dark zones. 

Like a deep-water diver, encountering sharks or other prehistoric and primal creatures that we may be afraid of, our first reaction to these is often fear or repulsion.

So what is this shadow? And why do we have it. And yes, you do.

Renowned psychologist Carl Jung believed that on the journey to discover your inner secrets and mysteries, you will encounter the dark, hidden crevices within your psyche. He called this place the “shadow self.” It is also called the lower self, animal nature, the alter ego, or the inner demon – the place where the unowned side of your personality lives.

The shadow is the parts of ourselves that we may try to hide or deny. According to Carl Jung, it can be said to consist of energy patterns, known as selves or sub-personalities that were disowned — pushed down into our unconscious in childhood, as part of our coping strategies.

Jung created the Archetypes model, a concept to describe how our unconscious minds are fragmented or structured into different “selves” in an attempt to organize how we experience different things in life.

Your shadow self is the part of you that stays unknown, unexamined, and out of the light of your conscious awareness. It is the part that is denied or suppressed because it makes you uncomfortable or afraid. Whatever doesn’t fit your image of your ideal self becomes your shadow.

Jung asked, “Would you rather be good or whole?” Many people choose goodness, or more accurately ‘correctness’ as a means to belong in society, and as a result, are internally fractured. There is your persona, the part you want the world to see, and your shadow, the part that you don’t.

When I found myself at a rock bottom, crashed and burned emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually not long after my fortieth birthday, I was searching for answers.

When I stumbled upon Chakradance, something lit up inside of me. Here was the best of the New Age. A practice that combined ancient wisdom with modern psychology. It drew upon the Chakra system, shamanic dance and Jungian psychology. All practices which resonated with me. 

And best of all, it was music and dance! I had always found great freedom and liberation from my difficulties by pumping up the stereo and dancing myself silly. Chakradance gave me a framework to use this for my healing.

Any practice which takes us out of the conscious mind and engages with the unconscious, be it dance, creating art or music, meditation, immersing ourselves in nature, will help this more primal side of ourselves to emerge.

In Chakradance we dance into our unconscious, and then we create a mandala drawing so we can express all this beautiful untapped energy, and all the powerful images we encounter which help us to recognise these hidden parts of ourselves.

Because the shadow is often made up of primal instincts and urges we have repressed, as well as tribal and ancestral traits we have rebelled against, I feel that the base chakra is particularly relevant to this work.

When my shadow self seems to be bursting out causing me to act, think and feel in ways I find very overwhelming and challenging, I have this beautiful practice of Chakradance to ease me back into my body, to help me integrate all these aspects of self. 

Chakradance is gentle like that, it doesn’t force things to come up in the psyche, Jung believed that could be counter-productive. But when stuff is ready, it rises, and it feels so good to be able to dance through and integrate my shadow work.

In the base Chakradance we connect with our power animal. Dancing our power animal is one of the most powerful shamanic practices to revitalise and strengthen our spirit. Each animal brings its own strength, wisdom or medicine, and a connection to our primal, instinctual nature.

Through Chakradance, I have found peace with myself again. And beyond that, these angry and hurt ‘shadow’ parts of myself actually taught me a lesson or two about how I could be kinder and support myself better in my life.

In India, the Hindus practise Aarti, which literally means an illuminating light in the darkness. I believe by bringing the light of awareness onto our shadow we can find gold there. Don’t throw away the treasure in your cave because you’re scared of the dark – light a candle and see the gold in there.

Hari om tat sat. Namaste. Blessings.

Christina at Raw Mojo

Try Chakradance – Rhythm for your soul

Mantra your chakras 7 The Crown Chakra

anneliesolis

I hope you have enjoyed this series of bija chakra meditations. This week brings us to the crown chakra, located at the top of your head. 

According to the yoga tradition, the crown chakra connects your individual awareness with infinite consciousness.

Sahasrara in Sanskrit means “thousandfold,” so Sahasrara chakra literally means a thousand-petalled lotus. The thousand representing a number so big, it is infinite.

Traditionally, this lotus is visualised upside down with the stem and roots rising to the sky and the petals pointing downward. A lotus flower with its roots in heaven bringing down divine grace through the crown of our heads.

Considered to be of the highest vibrational frequency and the pinnacle of the seven major chakras, Sahasrara is regarded as a gateway to the energy of the universe itself. It is an energetic passageway that connects you to the divine.

Play the video – you many want to set a timer for 5-15 minutes as the video goes for an hour.

Divya-jyoti or Divine Light Meditation

1. Sit in a comfortable meditation pose with your legs crossed and your back straight.

2. Rest your hands in your lap, palms upward, with your left hand on top. This is the mudra (hand position) for receiving energy. Close your eyes and let your breathing become slow and even.

3. Visualize a thousand-petalled lotus at the crown of your head. Imagine its petals gently opening to reveal an intense light. Let this divine light flow down into you through your crown chakra.

4. Feel the light spiralling down your body. Enjoy the warm glow as it saturates your entire being. Feel the light slowly moving down and permeating every cell and pore of your body.

5. Focus your senses on the intensity of the light so that you not only see it, but hear, smell, taste, and touch it.

6. Feel like a pure channel for the light: allow yourself to be at one with it. In this state of oneness, intuitive thoughts and inspirations may enter your consciousness. Be thankful for this guidance. Rest in the blissful awareness for as long as you wish.

7. After 5-15 minutes, take a few deep belly breaths, wiggle your fingers and toes to ground your energy, and open your eyes.

Feel yourself connected to the source and yet grounded in this divine energy as you go into your day.

Hari om tat sat. Namaste. Blessings.

Try Chakradance – Rhythm for your soul

Art credit: This beautiful feature image is by Annelie Solis

Mantra your chakras 6 The Third Eye Chakra

There’s so much mystique around the idea of the third eye chakra and psychic abilities, so for me it really helped to simplify the concepts associated with this chakra into ones I can get my head around, like intellect, intuition and imagination.

Ajna in Sanskrit means “command” or “see.” This chakra is visualised at the centre of the forehead, in between the brows and just above the brow line.

Ajna is the junction of the three main nadis or energy channels – ida, pingala and sushumna – that run alonside your spine. This is where all your subtle energy channels unite, making it a very powerful centre to meditate upon.

The traditional element associated with the sixth chakra is called mahat, meaning supreme, the culmination of all the elements into one. 

This element is often perceived as light, without which the third eye would be unable to ‘see’ or perceive things.

So let’s chant and meditate on our third eye. 

Play the video to begin. (Set your alarm for 5-10 minutes, or up to 20 minutes if you like.)

Sit in a comfortable cross legged position. You may also sit on a chair or lean against a wall for this meditation.

Elongate your spine upwards, lengthen your neck and subtly bring your chin back and in. This will align the spine with the back of your head.

To begin, take 5 deep, slow breaths though your nose. 

Keeping your head still, use your eyes to look up at an imaginary point in the middle of your forehead, just above the eyebrows. This eye position is called shambhavi yoga mudra. Close your eyes while holding this mudra. Do not strain excessively.

Rest your hands in any comfortable position, you can place them on your knees.

Try to remain as still as possible.

Now inhale deeply and begin to chant in a soft, slow, steady voice the manta OM (pronounced AUM). 

One chant of OM (AUM) Mantra should last for the entire exhalation. It’s a long “Oh,” followed by a semi-long “Mmmm” during each exhalation.

Once all the air has been expelled, inhale fully again and begin to chant the mantra once more. 

Visualize the OM sound coming from a point in the middle of the forehead just above the eyebrows and emanating throughout your entire body.

Continue for the duration of the meditation. If your eyes tire from shambhavi yoga mudra release the mudra but continue to chant the OM (AUM) mantra as above. Reapply the mudra again when ready.

Once you have completed the meditation, rub the palms of your hands together and then place them on your eyes as you open them slowly. This will relax and comfort your eye muscles.

Take a few minutes to ground and centre yourself. Be aware of the presence of your intuitive mind as you go about your day.

Hari om tat sat. Namaste. Blessings.

Try Chakradance – Rhythm for your soul

Art work – artist unknown

Mantra your chakras 5 The Throat Chakra

As you rise up into the energy of the throat chakra, you will begin to notice a shift in energy. Each of the four lower chakras corresponds energetically to a physical element. By the time you reach the throat, you are moving out of the physical plane and into the non-physical realm of ether.

Vissudhi, the Sanskrit word for the throat chakra, literally means purification. In the throat Chakradance, we chant and sing to cleanse the throat chakra, and enhance our ability for self-expression. 

The non-physical element associated with Vissudhi is ether, the field of subtle vibrations surrounding all things. The throat chakra, more than any other, governs our relationship with vibrations and resonance.

It is from the throat centre that you produce sound through vibration. As such it is incredibly susceptible to vibrational energy, and responsive to resonance of all kinds.

Chanting and humming, listening to vibrational sounds are among the best ways to clear and balance this chakra. 

Physiologically this chakra governs the health of the throat, nose, ears, mouth, neck and vocal cords, as well as the thyroid and parathyroid glands, which are responsible for our metabolism.

The throat chakra carries the energies of truth, integrity, honesty, and communication. It also governs the ability to listen, both to the words of others and your own internal dialogue within your body. 

The throat chakra energy is resonant with authenticity and purification. Paramount to Vissudhi, is the expression of self through speech and creativity. Finding your true voice.

The Humming Breath is a wonderful pranayama or breath practice to stimulate the throat chakra.

Sit in a comfortable position with a straight spine.

Begin by exhaling as much air as possible from your lungs before taking in a deep, slow breath through your nose, refilling your lungs.

On your next exhalation, make a soft humming sound like a bee.

When you run out of breath, take another deep inhalation, continuing the humming sound as you exhale.

Begin with a few minutes practice, working up to 10-15 minutes at a time. 

Now play the video and chant the mantra “ham” pronounced “hum” as you exhale.

When you have finished your humming breath and mantra practice, lie down and relax for a few minutes.
Let your humming throat chakra energy fuel your self-expression in your day.

Hari om tat sat. Namaste. Blessings.

Try Chakradance – Rhythm for your soul

The beautiful art work used is Throat Chakra by Qahira Lynn

Mantra your chakras 4 The Heart Chakra

The Sanskrit name for the heart chakra is Anahata or ‘un-struck’ – in the Indian Vedic tradition there are two kinds of sounds, and ‘unstruck’ means an inner resonance or subtle vibration that is perceived through the heart centre.

The heart is the place of the awakened self. Here we move from group consciousness, defined by family, tribe, society into a more individual, self-reflective consciousness. Here we find our own heart truths.

This chakra builds a bridge between the physical and spiritual dimensions of your self. Carl Jung described the heart chakra as the centre of thinking and feeling, the beginning of reflections, values, and ideas.

Bring your hands palm to palm, in prayer position in front of your chest, connect the base of your thumbs to your sternum – this position is called Anjali Mudra. 

Breathe into your belly and lightly close your eyes. Turn your focus to your breath.

Next, rub your palms together vigorously. Bring your right palm to the centre of your chest at Anahata and place your left on top of your right.

Feel the warmth and radiance of your heart and chest. Visualize the green, radiant glowing light emanating from your heart, in all directions.

Play the video and begin to sound the mantra “yam” pronounced “yum.” (This is the seed mantra of the element air. The heart centre is associated with the cosmic element of “prana” or “air.”)

(Note: this video goes for about an hour so you may want to set a timer for a shorter period of time, say 5-10 minutes)

Release your palms to face up on your lap. Direct some of your lightness and heart energy to someone in your life in need of compassion or healing. Finally, inhale your arms overhead and exhale your arms down to connect to the Earth before completing your practice.

Carry this open and loving heart energy with you into your day. Yum.

Hari om tat sat. Namaste. Blessings.

Try Chakradance – Rhythm for your soul

Art credit: artist unknown

Mantra your chakras 3 The Solar Plexus Chakra

The solar plexus chakra is known as Manipura in Sanskrit, which means lustrous gem. This truly is the shining jewel of your vital life force energy.

Manipura regulates our pranic – or life force – energy throughout our body, controlling our energy balance, vitality and strength. It governs our digestive fires and heat regulation in the body.

The solar plexus chakra is the seat of our personal power and will. Energetically, it is the fire that fuels our metabolism, and when activated it increases our energy, drive, and sense of purpose.

And really, who couldn’t use some of that?

The seed mantra for Solar Plexus Chakra is RAM. Its element is Fire. Manipura is considered the centre of dynamism, energy, willpower, and achievement (iccha shakti), which radiates prana throughout the entire body. It is also associated with the sense of sight and the action of movement. 

Through meditating on Manipura, we can turn on this inner power and release this optimal flow of prana.

Let’s begin with a breathing exercise or pranayama called the Breath of Fire. This exercise will really tune you into your inner power source and get your solar plexus chakra pumping.

Place your hands on your belly. As you breathe in through your nose, your lungs fill with air and your belly pushes out.

Feel your belly pushing into your hands. As you exhale through your nose, empty your lungs and flatten your belly. At the end of your exhalation, gently pull your navel towards your spine.

Then, breathe in gently through your nose, feeling your belly expand. Exhale through your nose as you press your navel towards your spine, gently using your abdominal muscles. 

Begin to do this quickly, almost like a dog panting, only through your nose. Feel your belly bounce. Do this rapid breath about 30 times, making sure that you breathe in and out of your nose each time. If you feel comfortable with this breathing, you can repeat the 30 breaths up to 4 times. 

Fire breathing is a powerful way of cleansing and energising your solar plexus and your whole energetic field. 

Now let’s centre ourselves for the mantra meditation. Play the video.


Begin by grounding yourself, either sitting on the floor or on a chair and feel your spine or your feet rooted to the earth.

Feel the crown of your head connected to the energy of the divine or the source.

Imagine the line of energy that extends from your crown to your root chakra, and then bring your awareness to a point on this line around your belly and diaphragm.

Now repeat the mantra RAM as you keep your attention on your solar plexus chakra. Manipura.

(Note: this video goes for about an hour so you may want to set a timer for a shorter period of time, say 5-10 minutes)

When you have finished. Again draw your awareness back to your root chakra and your connection to the earth.

Sit quietly for a moment before going about your day. Be aware of your energy, power and inner fire throughout the day.

Let your entire day become a chakra meditation.

Hari om tat sat. Namaste. Blessings.

Try Chakradance – Rhythm for your soul

Art credit: the beautiful work of Sheranda Ann Kumara features in this week’s post


Mantra your chakras 2 The Sacral Chakra

Moving from our root into our sacral chakra. Here we begin to explore how we feel, in our body, in ourselves, and in the world around us.

This is our sensory domain, translated in sanskrit as “our own inner place.” Svadhisthana. ‘Svadha’ in sanskrit also means sweetness or pleasure. This is our own sweet spot.

Water is the element associated with the sacral chakra, so play the video, either stare at the ocean there or close your eyes as I take you through a meditation adapted from one by Anodea Judith.

(Note: this video goes for about an hour so you may want to set a timer for a shorter period of time, say 5-10 minutes)

Begin by grounding yourself, either sitting on the floor or on a chair and feel your spine or your feet rooted to the earth.

Feel the crown of your head connected to the energy of the divine or the source.

Imagine the line of energy that extends from your crown to your root chakra, and then bring your awareness to a point on this line around your pelvis and lower belly.

Settle into your own place. Focus on your breath, feel how it moves your chest and belly. 

Notice the sensations within you and around you, notice the ‘you’ that is feeling these sensations. 

Notice the temperature in the room, are there any sounds? Tuning into your feelings, are you tired, bored, restless?

Drop your awareness down into your lower belly, hips and pelvis.

Gently pull your lower belly in towards your spine as you exhale, and expand your lower belly out on the inhale. 

If you find it hard to physically do this, just imagine it.

Imagine you are breathing in and filling up your lower belly with water. Imagine your pelvis like a bowl you can fill up. It’s your own body of water.

As you breathe in and out with your focus on this body of water in your sacral chakra, begin to chant the mantra “vam” alongside the video.

You may find yourself intuitively swaying or rocking your hips. Go with it! This is the chakra of your inner ocean, let those waves roll.

When you have finished. Again draw your awareness back to your root chakra and your connection to the earth.

Sit quietly for a moment before going about your day. Notice your sensations, sounds, tastes, feelings throughout the day.

Let your entire day become a chakra meditation.

Hari om tat sat. Namaste. Blessings.

Try Chakradance – Rhythm for your soul

Art credit: the beautiful work of Sheranda Ann Kumara features in this week’s post

Mantra your chakras 1 The Root Chakra

 

kumarabasechakra

I thought I would start the New Year with a series of Chakra Mantra chants.

Mantras are specific sounds which have long been used to activate the chakras by chanting the sound that resonates to the particular chakra vibration.

Sound is probably THE most powerful way to activate and balance your chakra system.

When I was in India I visited an ayurvedic doctor who prescribed mantra meditation for me.

He noticed my base/root chakra Muladhara – which literally means root support – needed activating. An underactive root chakra had left me feeling dizzy, disconnected and unsupported in life.

So let’s start at the root and practise this daily for 7 days and each week I will guide you through the next chakra meditation using freely available videos on YouTube.

Here’s the video with the mantra sound you can chant along to.

To begin, sit comfortably with your butt or feet connected to the floor. Really feel that connection to the solid earth supporting you. As you breathe in draw energy through your crown chakra at the top of your head.

Draw this energy down to your base chakra, located at the base of your spine. You may like to visualise the colour red here. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles – or Mula bandha – as you exhale chant the mantra “Lam.”

Let the sound be your exhale. Feel the sound vibrating through your base chakra. Imagine the sound pushing down through your root chakra as you connect with the earth.

If it feels like too much to focus on the breathing and the bandha and the sound, just focus on the sound and put your attention onto the base of your spine. 

I find our energy body meets us where we are, responding to the intention and the sound vibration, so you don’t need to do it perfectly. You can always fine-tune the practice as you get used to it.

Having a balanced root chakra will help you feel secure, grounded and provide ease of physical movement.

It will also provide a good foundation for your whole chakra system.

Repeat this for a few minutes each day and notice how much more present and stable you feel.

Hari Om Tat Sat. Namaste. Blessings.

Try Chakradance – Rhythm for your soul

Art credit: the beautiful work of Sheranda Ann Kumara features in this week’s post