Sunday, March 02, 2014

Notes on the Chakras: Vissuddha

So we come the fifth chakra and I almost don't know what to say.

Which is ironic considering that the fifth chakra is the throat chakra, the center of speech and communication and listening and expressing. I've heard it called the chakra of consequence due to the fact that words have power and how we express ourselves to the world is our effect on that world. Some express too much and some express too little but I have to wonder what the balance is. The eternal challenge is when to speak and when to shut up. And I usually opt for remaining quiet for a variety of reasons.

This chakra is my personal challenge which may be why I'm finding it difficult to talk about it. Full disclosure: I am painfully shy. So shy, in fact, that to walk into a room full of people takes a supreme effort. I'm a little better one on one but I am intimidated by groups of people I don't know.

Now, those that know me personally would scoff at this. My writer's sense of detached observation married with my six foot six frame gives me an unintentionally intimidating presence. So I don't look shy. And if you approach me, we will have a good conversation. If the conversation steers towards a topic that I am well versed in such as pottery you will have a hard time getting me to shut up. I have spent time in front of groups of people speaking off the cuff, following all the rules of public speaking such a making eye contact and projecting my voice and trying not to say "um" after every other sentence. So most of those that know me might not accept that I battle shyness in almost every social encounter. But I do. I've had 40-something years to work on it but rest assured, there is scared little five year old inside of me that would rather stand off to the side of the playground, looking down and kicking dirt clods rather than risk a bad social encounter.

But I think I've done well. I have faced my fear and let it pass over me. And I have been fortunate that special people took an extra step and said the extra word to close the gap a bit so I didn't have so far to reach to make that first connection. Those people were friends before we ever met and I am eternally grateful. I am also grateful for those friends who truly know me and understood my battles and either had my back or held the door open so I could escape if i needed too and did so without commentary or judgement.

Because judging someone else's fear is wrong. What right does anyone have to tell someone else that their fear is illegitimate? When you are truly afraid of something, the most real thing in your universe at that moment is that fear and to have someone stand and state that your fear is stupid or silly is a direct attack on that person's reality. You can offer rationalizations to help guide a person through their fear and you can offer understanding so that they know they are not alone. Or you can just offer a hand to hold which can be an anchor in the storm that makes the fear less real. But to dismiss their fear is to dismiss their experience and how can you climb over the mountain if someone is constantly telling you the mountain isn't there?

This leads back to the fact that your words have consequence. How you express yourself is the imprint you leave on your local reality.

You can help or you can hurt.

So what do I have to say about this chakra?

Not much really. Obviously, it's the one I've worked on the most without realizing it and it's the one that still needs a lot of attention. I think it will always be a work in progress more so than the other chakras due to my artistic endeavors which I believe is another expression of this particular chakra.

Because that is what art is. Philosophers struggle all the time with the definition of art but in the end it is just a means of expression, an encapsulation of an experience. At some point long ago, someone was inspired to paint on a cave wall and an idea was conveyed, an experience was communicated and the totality of the human experience was accelerated because suddenly the idea could be conveyed and the experience could be communicated.

(Some would attached the artistic endeavor to the next chakra up which has a lot to do with "seeing" and "perceiving" but I don't see it that way. The fourth chakra feels. The fifth chakra expresses. The sixth chakra perceives. Or at least it thinks it does. We'll delve into illusions and the nature of reality with a later post.)

So it's all about expression and all that it entails. We have an inner reality and through the fifth chakra, we express that inner reality to convey the idea and the experience. I find it interesting that the name of this chakra, Vissuddha, means "purification" in sanskrit because as we express that inner reality, we purify the experiences and purge the inner reality and if we choose to not express, to hold it all in, to hide the good and the bad, then we putrefy. We can find a way to let it out that is healthy and expressive. Or we can find a way to express it in such a way that's not so healthy and probably a bit destructive. Or we can rot. It's a bit crazy how often the importance of this chakra is glazed over in favor of the "love" of the fourth or the glamour of sixth.

So what do I really have to say about this chakra?

Ok, probably too much. I could go on about the nature and means of expression and how it can be judged for good or bad and I could talk art for pages and pages and it would be really interesting on a personal level to talk about some of the conversations I've had with that scared little five year old I mentioned above. I don't think people realize the power of going back and talking to the person you once were and trying to work through different issues. Because that person you once were is still in there somewhere and they might still need help.

See, I could go on and on.

But I really need to shut up.

Because I honestly can't tell if I've said too much.

Or if I haven't said enough.