The fourth chakra
The heart, for so many of us, is the source of both ecstasy and agony. Almost everybody on earth has struggled at some point with matters of the heart, be it heartbreak at the end of a relationship, the pain of unrequited love or a lack of love for yourself, and these problems have only grown in the modern age due to the busy, stressful nature of life.
Such living allows little time for tenderness or time spent with loved ones, showing appreciation and love and thus receiving in equal amounts. When we look back through our lives, those moments of heartbreak stand out almost above all others, and the source of such pain is often, if not always, due to a blockage in the fourth chakra, the heart chakra.
The name in Sanskrit for this important vortex of powerful energy is "Anahata", which translates to "the unstruck note". This poetic name refers to the potential energy and power of the heart, which is often lying dormant, waiting to be struck by someone or something and thus releasing beautiful music.
It is symbolized by a deep, leafy green, the color of new life, of thriving and natural beauty. This color gives us some clue as how to nurture this most tricky of chakras. It isn't difficult for the Anahata to become blocked, and indeed, energy quickly leaves this vortex should we become broken-hearted or lose love for ourselves.
Feeling loved and loving others are vitally important parts of human existence, and when this chakra is open and blossoming like a lotus flower, life is a beautiful, happy, blissful experience.
As such, taking care of this chakra, even if alone, is something we should all take the time to do. When closed, the heart chakra manifests a wide range of physical and mental problems.
The most common are feelings of jealousy, anger, confusion, bitterness and resentment. We lose all empathy for others and become that stereotypical person who scowls when seeing a happy couple on the street.
It is very easy when this chakra is not filling us with energy to feel as though life is hopeless and that we will never find somebody to love and be loved by. This is a gateway toward real loneliness, real resentment of ourselves, and we are quick to bear grudges or be unforgiving of those who hurt us or do not return our feelings of love.
Heart disease, asthma, lung problems, high blood pressure, breast cancer and immunity problems are all deeply linked to severe problems with the heart chakra. As such, we must find practices in our daily lives that assist in the overall health of this energy center.
The heart chakra is nurtured by acts of forgiveness and of unconditional love. Perhaps the most positive actions we can take in order to fill ourselves with powerful, loving energy are those that involve some sort of voluntary work, where we selflessly give without expecting reward.
People always speak of a "warm glow" inside when volunteering, knowing they've made a difference to a life. This warm glow is the heart chakra, blossoming with energy and healing that which was broken.
Cleansing the heart chakra
Taking care of animals, loving a pet or working at an animal shelter are also powerful ways of healing this chakra or even tending plants and flowers can make a difference. Furthermore, acts of forgiveness are one of the key ways we can encourage the spinning of this chakra.
Writing letters to those who we resent, even if we don't send them, can clear away blockages. Knowing that we have a deep connection with all living things and that life in this material world is too short and precious to bear grudges can quickly remove blockages.
The heart chakra is particularly responsive to aromatherapy. Lavender is a natural, essential oil that many people claim has a powerful link with the heart chakra. Even by meditating whilst burning lavender oils or bathing with a few drops of this particular plant extract is said to make a significant difference.
The heart chakra is also quite an easy one to meditate on because we know and recognize the feelings of an energized heart. When meditating, redirect your attention to your heart, remember the feelings of love, the physical, tangible sensation of being in love, and visualize a powerful, vivid green energy returning to this part of your body.