Chakra is from the Sanskrit word Cakra meaning “wheel”. It is thought to be an energy point or node in the subtle body. Nadi is the subtle body in which the life force Prana moves. It’s believed that there are many chakras in the subtle human body, according to the tantric texts, but there are seven chakras that are considered to be the most important ones. Chakras have been used by Hindu, Vakrayana, Tantric, Qigong, Yogis and New Age spirituality.
In Anatomy of Spirit (1996), Caroline Myss describes the function of chakras as follows: “Every thought and experience you’ve ever had in your life gets filtered through these chakra databases. Each event is recorded into your cells. The chakras are described as being aligned in an ascending column from the base of the spine to the top of the head. New Age practices often associate each chakra with a certain colour. In various traditions, chakras are associated with multiple physiological functions, an aspect of consciousnes, a classical element and other distinguishing characteristics. They are visualised as lotuses or flowers with a different number of petals in every chakra.
Rudolf Steiner considered the chakra system to be dynamic and evolving. He suggested that this system has become different for modern people than it was in ancient times and that it will, in turn, be radically different in future times. Steiner described a sequence of development that begins with the upper chakras and moves down, rather than moving in the opposite direction. He gave suggestions on how to develop the chakras through disciplining thoughts, feelings, and will. The Endocrine System and specturm of light is also associated by healers.
The following features are common:
- They form part of the body, along with the breath channels (nadi), and the winds (vayu).
- They are located along the central channel (sushumna/avadhūtī).
- Two side channels cross the center channel at the location of the chakras.
- They possess a number of ‘petals’ or ‘spokes’.
- They are generally associated with a mantra seed-syllable, and often with a variety of colours and deities.
- There are believed to be 7 major chakras.