Read an Excerpt
Essential Elixirs for the Mind, Body, and Spirit
By Elise Marie Collins
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2006 Elise Marie Collins
All rights reserved.
CHAKRAS, the plural of the Sanskrit word chakrum, meaning "wheel," are filters through which our soul receives and broadcasts pure energy. Chakras are psychic centers that do not exist in physical reality, but in a spiritual dimension that defies logic and quantification. Nevertheless, chakras have been studied and celebrated by many cultures for thousands of years. Through the chakras we filter life's daily events, dreams, hopes, desires, fears, regrets, thoughts, and communications. They are the ultimate devices for storing, sorting, and retrieving mind, body, and spiritual data. Yet understanding how exactly the chakras work is not intrinsic to their function. Like the plumbing or electrical systems in our homes, they operate invisibly, behind the walls of our physical bodies.
Existing on a level beyond ordinary perception, chakras serve to organize the psychological and spiritual lessons of the human condition in a philosophical system. Each chakra corresponds to thematic emotional and spiritual issues and challenges that can be overcome in order to move on to higher levels of selfmastery and fulfillment. Each chakra represents a spectrum of energetic frequencies that correspond to psychological and sociological stages of development that we continually move through on the journey of life. As we tune into internal reservoirs of power, we are internally empowered to deal with the specific life challenges of that energy center, or chakra, and as a consequence to live more whole, meaningful, and fulfilling lives.
Often lessons and situations repeat themselves throughout life. We begin our journey at the base of a steep and pointed mountain and then circle around and around to climb to the top. Along the way we continue to circle back to areas where we have been before.
What sets the chakras apart is that although they can be viewed as a psychological or philosophical organizational system, they are intimately linked to anchor points in the physical human body. Unlike modern psychology and spirituality, the ancient Indian system of the chakras interweaves what Western science separates into separate disciplines. Psychology, physiology, sociology, even politics and economics are all linked by universal life force, which pulsates through the chakras of all living beings and drives the culture around them.
There are seven major chakras, each approximately two to three inches in diameter, lined up on the spine from the tip of the tailbone to the crown of the head. The locations of the chakras correspond with what science now understands as specific places along the spine where there are nerve plexuses. Linking, the spiritual world and the material world, the chakras spin like pinwheels as they process and transmit energy from the physical realm to the nonphysical realm.
Responding immediately to the conditions of the mind, the physical body, and the unseen spiritual world, the chakras originally were understood experientially, in terms of energy that moved through these psychic centers. The ancient Hindu science of yoga viewed the tattvas or elements (fire, water, earth, air, and ether) as driving the life force in nature and the universe. The chakras were recognized as the body's most direct and immediate link to these elements. As the late Indian author and tantric scholar Harish Johari wrote in Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation, "These elements are constantly coming and going with the circadian rhythms of the body. The ancient Indian science of Yoga therefore laid great emphasis on knowing these elements and on working accordingly, for the chakras are understood as playgrounds of the elements." The chakras are constantly in flux with one another, influencing in tandem our mind-body-spirit connection.
The immediacy of the chakras' regulation of energy has been connected theoretically for many years to the function of the endocrine system. The endocrine system consists of our ductless glands, which release hormones straight into the bloodstream; it is one of the body's great communication networks. These hormones act as messengers, and they are crucial and intrinsic to almost every function of the human body.
First discovered in 1902 by British scientists, who named them after the Greek word hormo, which means to set in motion, hormones directly affect nearly every function of the body. Many of the ductless glands correspond in location and function to the chakras and their energetic domain. For example, the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland, located at the front of the throat, corresponds energetically to the throat chakra.
In general, the chakras' locations and connections to physical health are as follows.
Root chakra: Located at the base of the spine, it is associated with survival and sometimes the adrenal glands, blood, and overall general health.
Sacral chakra: Located at the top of the sacrum. It is connected to the reproductive glands and the urogenital organs and the lower back.
Belly chakra: Found at the solar plexus, it is associated with the adrenals, stomach, pancreas, and liver.
Heart chakra: At the center of the chest, it is linked to the thymus gland, the heart, the lower lungs, the midback, and the shoulders.
Throat chakra: Located at the base of the throat. Its function is enjoined to the thyroid, parathyroid, upper lungs, ears, and neck.
Brow chakra: Between the eyebrows, it is also known as the third-eye chakra. Its physical correlation is with the pineal gland, the brain, the nose, and the eyes.
Crown chakra: At the top of the head. It is associated with the pituitary gland.
Keep in mind that the actions of the chakras can be separated only intellectually. In the nonphysical plane, the function of each chakra often blends with the functions of others, especially with its neighboring chakras. Although there is much agreement on the knowledge of the chakras, there are some inconsistencies among students and scholars. In some cases, knowledge of the chakras has been passed on from student to teacher in a guru relationship. Western and Vedic scholars have created their own schools of thought. So have modern-day clairvoyants in many countries. Each has a personal perspective and many interesting things to say about the chakras. Since the existence and practical function of the chakras cannot at this point be scientifically proven, I encourage you to discern your own valid opinions regarding their processes.
The chakras direct streams of energy through channels called nadis, which run through the body conducting universal life-force energy. There up to 350,000 nadis, of which fourteen are considered primary. The three most important are the sushuma, ida, and pingala. The sushuma runs along the line of the spine and is the body's main energetic power line. In addition, the ida, or feminine stream, associated with the moon, and the pingala, the masculine nadi, associated with the sun, weave in and out of the chakras, creating polar streams of energy that spin the chakras in a clockwise rotation. The image of these channels is mirrored in the caduceus, the internationally recognized symbol of medicine.
The chakras contain infinite color and energy frequencies, as they serve to process endless streams of data. At times the physiological or psychological flow of energy gets clogged and slows or comes to a standstill. When the chakras are slow, we may feel lethargic or shut down. When they are overdilated, processing or rotating at excessive speeds, we may feel vulnerable or spunout. We are "in the zone" when our chakras spin perfectly, like whirling multicolor pinwheels whose hues appear separate when still but become one in motion.
I use the analogy of a pinwheel because, likewise, the chakras have many colors that blend as they spin, and for each chakra there is a symbolic color that appears most often when the chakra is healthy, open, and vibrant. The chakras organize our inner light into the frequencies of a rainbow: the root chakra appears, red; the sacral chakra, orange; belly chakra, yellow; heart chakra, green; throat chakra, blue; brow chakra, purple; and crown chakra, violet or white.
As we said, understanding the subtle mechanical workings of our chakras does not affect their operation. They will continue to function without our knowledge of them. Chakras operate on a hidden level, and often people wait until they have a physical, spiritual, or emotional breakdown before they explore alternative methods of healing like balancing the chakras. Nevertheless, understanding the chakras can be a tool to assist in healthy physical and spiritual living. As we grasp our spiritual, physical, and psychological challenges and how they are interrelated through the model of the chakras we can become empowered.
In our efforts to understand the chakras, we often explain them in terms of three-dimensional models. While models lend tools for mapping the chakras and their activities, we cannot possibly be conscious of the level of information being processed through them. The chakras process and digest every thought, emotion, experience, and sensation each of us experiences. In this way they are somewhat analogous to extremely powerful computers with Internet service. The chakras store and process information and are connected to other chakras through a network of universal life-force energy. Yet this, too, is perhaps a poor model of their unfathomable complexity.
In our modern age, as technology evolves to a new level, we are in turn accelerating the pace of our energetic bodies. Information is spreading at accelerating rates through the Internet, mass media, and other means of communication. There is more travel around the planet, too, resulting in deeper communication and better understanding among peoples. Chakras must "keep up" with the bombardment of all these copious amounts of data. The irony is that in this quickened pace we are too rushed to eat healthy food when we need it most. We are so busy that we forget drinking high-quality liquids and eating nutritious foods are exactly what we need to help us process the high levels of information and life-force energy that are being channeled through our bodies. With care and compassion, we can commit to a ritual of creating vital, fresh, and healthy foods, as well as drinks. In this we can offer our bodies as vessels for transformation and higher consciousness.CHAPTER 2
YOU WILL NEED the following equipment to make the teas, tonics, and smoothies in this book.
A blender can be used to puree solid ingredients such as ice, fruit, vegetables, or nuts. It can be used to make nut milks or simply to blend ingredients in smoothies. A powerful, reliable blender works best; however, techniques and ingredients can be modified to suit the blender. If you have a less powerful blender, ice can be crushed in a towel with a mallet or a rolling pin. Fruit can be cut into smaller, more manageable pieces. Also, your smoothie can be enjoyed on the chunky side. While a professional blender like the Vitamix works wonders, smaller, more portable ones can be handy and suitable for the job. I have a battery-operated camping blender, purchased at a garage sale, that I use on occasion that prepares simple soft-ingredient smoothies beautifully.
An investment in a juice extractor will significantly change the quality of your life for the better. There are several types of juicers available with various features and prices. A juicer should be easy to operate, dismantle, and clean.
There are several different extraction methods used in juicing. Centrifugal extractors cost less, and they get the job done. This type of juicer finely grates food and uses centrifugal force to expel and extract the juice into a container. The motors on centrifugal extractors have a tendency to add oxygen to the juice, which destroys vitamins, so juice from these extractors should be enjoyed immediately.
Masticating extractors are slightly higher-end machines. This kind finely grates and then "chews" the fruit or vegetable, creating even finer particles, from which it then extracts the juices. These high-quality juices will last up to one day in the refrigerator.
Hydraulic press extractors are the most efficient and expensive of juicers. The Champion Juicer is a hydraulic press extractor and is the choice of most professionals. This model uses revolving cutters to grate then crush any fruit or vegetable; then it places the pulp under tremendous pressure, creating juice that contains the highest nutrient content with no oxygen. This juice can be stored one to two days in the refrigerator.
A juicer will quickly pay for itself if you are purchasing fresh juices several times a week. For families with children, it is a wonderful way to ensure picky eaters receive their daily servings of fruits and veggies. If you want a juice today, but don't yet have a juicer, many juice bars will custom-make blends for you. Take a recipe from this book and they will usually juice à la carte.
Citrus juicers are used to extract juice from section fruits such as lemons, grapefruits, and limes. The least-expensive models depend on your muscle power to press the juice out. Citrus juice presses use pressure applied through a lever to remove the juice, and motorized juicers turn a ridged dome so that the juice will be extracted and strained.
Electric coffee grinders are a handy tool, great for grinding nuts or seeds into a fine meal or powder, rendering them easy to blend into drinks and often more digestible. Native Americans ground acorns on large stones. You will need a designated seed and nut grinder, as coffee residue is oily and the flavor will not easily clean out of a grinder.
oxo mini angled measuring cups
Brand names are usually not worth mentioning in kitchen measurement tools, but this cup is a gem for measuring exact quantities of small amounts of liquid ingredients between one and four tablespoons. If you use a spoon, you are more than likely to spill or overpour. The Mini Angled Measuring Cups come in sets of three and feature a patented angled surface that lets you read measurement markings by looking straight down into the cup. Oxo also makes a wonderful, reasonably priced flaxseed grinder and nut choppers.
French Press: Lovely for tisanes made with fresh-picked herbs because you can see the herbs floating in water.
Tea Ball or Spoon Infuser: A double-sided spoon or small metal ball that closes with a latch to hold dried herbs for teas, a handy, easy-to-clean way to brew tea with dried herbs.
Teapot and Strainer: Fresh or dried herbs can be immersed in hot or boiling water and then be strained prior to drinking.
Individual Tea Bags: You can purchase empty small and large unbleached paper tea bags to fill with dried herbs to brew for chakra tonic teas. The t-sac is available at www.taylormaidfarms.com.
chakra tonics to go
Klean Kanteen manufactures inert steel bottles that hold twenty-eight ounces of liquid and weigh about five ounces. Designed by Robert Seals, a metal artist who felt surged with inspiration to eradicate the ubiquitous plastic water bottle after he heard a speech by Julia Butterfly Hill. After listening to Hill, the visionary eco-activist, bemoan the hazards of plastics on our bodies, souls, and environment, Seals set to work designing the Klean Kanteen. The Kanteen has a shape similar to an old-fashioned glass milk bottle, which deters bacterial growth in sharp corners. You can purchase Klean Kanteens to store your homemade hot and cold drinks at www.greenfeet.com.CHAPTER 3
"For this healing to be powerful, you must do it with great respect. Unless you have a spiritual relationship with the plants you use, it doesn't work."
"What was that lime drink you gave me earlier?" I asked next.
"Nothing but a good dose of spirit and lime," he answered with a chuckle. "You wanted to learn about the garden and my healing work, didn't you? Then you must experience the Earth and it's plants with your heart, not just your mind. That's the difference in our medicines. My medicine has magic in it, yours does not. Spirit does the healing, not science. Science is good, it is knowledge. But spirit has the real power."
—Connie Grauds, Jungle Medicine
MYSTICS, SHAMANS, and astrologers all pointed to monumental changes that would occur at the dawn of the twenty-first century. In order to raise personal vibrations to accommodate the increased frequency of the planet, excessive use of processed and denatured foods must be eliminated. The irony is that we are moving faster than ever; we've never been busier. We're turning to processed foods for convenience, yet these denatured foods have a slower, lower vibration than vital, fresh foods.
Excerpted from Chakra Tonics by Elise Marie Collins. Copyright © 2006 Elise Marie Collins. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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