As Westerners, it's important to apply a healthy degree of skepticism when considering Eastern practices, making sure we filter ideas from cultures other than our own through our own filters, rather than whole-heartedly accepting something without proper vetting.
So when one of my teachers, the lovely r.r. Shakti, asked that I take each chakra center and select a song, a chakra playlist of sorts, I hit one of these West meets East moments.
Chakra sounds kind of ooey-gooey new-agey for many Westerners. Not so much for me, as a long-time yoga and Ayurveda teacher, but as I began the process, and learned more about these mysterious energetic centers, I found that chakras, and the developmental questions they raise, share a lot of philosophy with the West. The thing is, chakras also look at spiritual development, whereas in the West, we sometimes set this aside in favor of more quantifiable variables.
To the uninitiated, talk of the chakras slaps of a kind of new-agey-ness that was better off left in the 60s with hippies seeking enlightenment via LSD. But you don’t have to imbibe mood-altering drugs to hook into the chakras.
Understanding what each of the seven chakras represent, as well as how we can assess where our strengths are, and where we need to grow can be truly empowering. So while Abraham Maslow had his five levels of development, the hierarchy of needs, Erik Erikson had his eight stages of psycho-social development and Jean Piaget had his four stages in cognitive development, Tantra works through psycho-spiritual development by way of the chakras. The concepts inherent in the chakra system are remarkably similar to Western theories, but allow for a spiritual component as well; the perspective views spiritual development as a requisite part of maturation and moving toward wholeness. So, in reality, it’s not new-agey at all. In fact, it’s a practical way of connecting with what is blocking you and keeping you from wholeness.
Here’s a brief synopsis of the chakras, followed by the music I chose to bring them to life. In the weeks to come, I’ll go into each center in more depth here on MindBodyGreen, perhaps giving you some insight as to your own development and places you may need a bit of growth.