Post number four in this series on the chakras brings us to the halfway point: the heart chakra. In case you missed the beginning of the series, check out the first three posts on the root, sacral, and solar plexus chakras!
The Heart Chakra at a Glance
The heart chakra, or anahata chakra in Sanskrit, is located at the center of the spine at heart level. Anahata roughly translates to, “unhurt.” Accordingly, the heart chakra acts as the individual’s center of compassion, empathy, love, and forgiveness. This chakra governs one’s senses of trust, fearlessness, peace, generosity, gratitude, and connectedness, as well as change and transformation, healthy boundaries, depth in relationships with others, emotional control, and love for oneself.
The heart chakra has a feminine energy and is symbolized by a green six-pointed star within a 12-petaled flower. Elementally, the heart chakra is associated with air, and its mantra is, “I love.”
The heart chakra is special because it is the fourth of the seven chakras, making it the exact halfway point of the system and the unifier of the physical and spiritual chakras. By connecting the lower three chakras — the root, sacral, and solar plexus — with the upper three chakras — the throat, third eye, and crown — the heart chakra acts as the bridge between earth and spirit.
On the Earth
The heart chakra exists on the planet, too! The heart chakra of the earth is believed to be dually located at two towns in southwestern England about 30 miles apart from each other, Glastonbury and Shaftesbury. Another 25 miles beyond lies Stonehenge, which adds another layer of mystique to this earth chakra. All kinds of legends center around this location, like the tale that Glastonbury Tor has a connection to King Arthur and the ancient mythological land of Avalon.
Others stories point to the historical figure Joseph of Arimathea, who is believed to have carried relics of the resurrected Jesus across the ocean to modern-day England. Meanwhile, in combining the symbolic meanings associated with Glastonbury and Shaftesbury, one joins love — Glastonbury — and will — Shaftesbury, making this a powerful location for the earth’s heart chakra.
Glastonbury and Shaftesbury are the most commonly discussed location for the heart chakra; however, another location which is sometimes considered is Maui’s Haleakalā volcano. Apparently, the energy at the top of this dormant volcano gives off the same frequency as the beating of the human heart.
When Blocked or Out of Balance
When the heart chakra is out of alignment, a number of issues can arise. One might feel hard-hearted, brokenhearted, unhappy, lonely, insecure, easily hurt, or unable to receive love. One might choose to lead with the head and not the heart, to grow distant from others and put up walls, to shut down emotionally, or to hold onto resentment or bitterness.
As always, I love yoga for bringing the chakras into alignment. A variety of yoga asanas — specifically, bow pose, camel pose, and chest openers — can help to bring balance to the heart chakra. Consider following along with a guided yoga flow like this heart chakra yoga for beginners, 15-minute flow, anahata chakra yoga class, or heart-opening rose yoga.
Exercise in general can play an important role in developing a healthy sense of self-love, as well. Our bodies are our greatest gifts, and the more we learn to respect, honor and take care of them, the healthier our heart chakras will be overall!
Breathwork is also a powerful practice, especially considering that the element of the heart chakra is air. Even something as simple as deep breathing can bring peace and calm to the heart and remove stuck or negative energy from the heart chakra. Take it one step further with a visualization exercise, like imagining a beautiful rose blooming from the heart chakra to open wider and wider.
Meditation is a great tool for balancing the chakras, and following a guided meditation designed specifically for the heart chakra, like I’ve linked here, can do wonders. Lastly, use the vibrational energy of a sound meditation to feel the heart chakra come back into alignment by verbalizing the seed syllable, “yam.” (Pronounce it with the same vowel sound as “yawn,” rather than, “yam,” like the vegetable!)
Incorporating affirmations into any of the aforementioned activities, or simply reciting them on their own, can further help align the heart chakra. Some affirmations which could target the heart include:
- I am worthy and deserving of love.
- I forgive myself and others.
- I am open to giving and receiving love.
- I live with gratitude and generosity.
- I honor the guiding of my heart.
Furthermore, things like aromatherapy, crystals, healthy foods, and color therapy can help to align the heart chakra. Try an essential oil like bergamot, jasmine, geranium, lavender, cypress, or rose, or ethically-mined crystals such as aventurine, green jade, peridot, rose quartz, emerald, or malachite to target the heart energy. Incorporating natural, bright green foods like kale into the diet can be effective, as well. Even wearing green to create mindfulness of the heart chakra is a good idea.
Perhaps a more general approach to balancing the heart chakra would be to engage in activities that spark love, passion, and joy. Whatever prompts a smile — do that! In addition, try to express gratitude. There is something about thankfulness that seems to make the heart radiate love and positive energy, and incorporating a habit such as writing in a gratitude journal into a daily routine could be a powerful way to keep the heart chakra in alignment. And don’t forget about self-care! By putting personal needs first, caring for others doesn’t have to lead to burnout. Only by loving ourselves well can we, in turn, pour out to love others well.
The heart chakra could also be aided by focusing on its element, air. Placing oneself in environments which have a strong sense of open space and fresh air could be highly beneficial — bonus points for a natural abundance of the color green! Plus, getting in touch with nature in general often has a freeing mental and emotional effect. Find peace in the untouched, rolling green hills of places like Canada’s Banff National Park, Newfoundland, or the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Or, for a more local trip, try a spot in the rural U.S. like Idaho, Wyoming, or Glacier National Park in Montana.
Sometimes, in the busyness and stress of everyday life, the heart gets overlooked. We tend to pay attention to our physical needs and the thousands of thoughts bouncing around our brains, yet when it comes to self-love, generosity, and connectedness, we are quick to put the emotional work on the back burner.
However, by working to balance our heart chakras and keep them in alignment throughout the day-to-day, we only set ourselves up to be the best, most compassionate, most joyful versions of us that we can be. If we can remain in touch with our hearts to do all things with love, the world and the people around us will be that much better for it.