Anahata holds the middle point in the chakra system, between the three lower chakras governing ordinary human life and the three upper chakras going into transcendence.
Related to the air element, it represents the beginning of true spiritual life and also the ending point, the place from which you live once you’ve already gone to the top of the mountain and seen the complete view, so to speak.
Qualities of Anahata Chakra
The primary qualities of Anahata are very beautiful. They are the very flowering of human life in harmony and integrity:
- Love. As the heart chakra, of course, the primary expression of Anahata is love! It may begin as a personal love, still related to forms and identity, but culminates in a pure universal love that radiates directly from the Self with no limitations.
- Compassion. It’s said that when your fear meets the suffering of another, it becomes pity. When your love meets the suffering of another, it becomes compassion. Compassion is love in action, the capacity to empathize with another being in full presence.
- Devotion. Our modern society is skittish of devotion. We want secular yoga, secular meditation, approved by 9 out of 10 scientists to make us more calm and focused. This is fine, but misses somehow the essence of true spiritual practice—that taste of the ineffable. It’s missing the Beloved. If you want to experience the world of Anahata, let go of this conditioning and open to the mystery beyond yourself—which is nothing other than your true self.
- Generosity. Anahata wants only to give, in every form. Material generosity, generosity of time and presence. At this level of consciousness, life becomes a continuous act of offering.
- Freedom. Until rising to Anahata, you will always be dominated by the forces and conditions related to the lower chakras. Even the tremendous power of manipura is still ego-based: the greatest king or dictator is still ruled by their own tendencies. From Anahata up, when the structures of the ego start to dissolve, you can come into a real freedom that doesn’t depend on external circumstances.
Signs of a Blocked or Unbalanced Anahata
Most people can express Anahata in some aspects of life, but few of us are naturally stabilized or really open at this level. This is the primary evolutionary step for humanity, from Manipura (already a step in itself for many people) to Anahata. From the ego to the heart.
Practicing on Anahata will allow the qualities I mentioned above to flow naturally through you. Especially if you feel coldness or dryness—like you can’t easily give or receive love—Anahata should be a central point in your practice.
Unlike the lower chakras, there aren’t really any negativities at the level of Anahata. The only problems that can arise are a kind of flightiness or instability, constant wanderlust, or compulsive need to help others that comes with a lot of personal attachment.
In these cases, the problem is a shallowness or unbalanced activation of Anahata, which can be resolved by deeper practice and attention to the polarity (giving and receiving energy) in Anahata. This might sound a bit abstract, but once you understand the basic principles of hatha yoga it’s very easily applied.
How to Cultivate Anahata Chakra
- Hatha yoga. Since Anahata is such an important chakra, hatha yoga offers a multitude of practices for it. Asanas, pranayama, and even deeper techniques of mantra and visualization will support the opening and balancing of Anahata.
- Many meditation techniques center around the heart. Loving-kindness (metta) meditation from Theravada Buddhism, tonglen in Tibetan Buddhism, “Blowing on the embers of the heart” from Sufism, Christian prayer, or many others. Find the one which resonates with you.
- Bhakti yoga. Chanting, rituals, mantra repetition and prayer are the classical tools of the “yoga of devotion,” a full-on path of the heart. Religion or formal aspects of devotion don’t matter so much. It’s more about finding the spark within yourself, a sense of longing that can’t be defined.
- Spend time with heart-centered people. Love is contagious! If you find people who have this openness, which often seems to radiate from them no matter what they’re doing, try to be in their company and catch that frequency.
- Practice living with an open Heart. Anahata isn’t just for the yoga mat, it calls for a transformation in your entire life. What brings your heart to life? Children, animals, art, nature? Helping others? Find this and follow the thread.
More than technicalities, living in Anahata requires a surrender of the ego, which can feel like a quantum leap from world of “normal” human life. It’s no coincidence that even in the physical body, the greatest distance between two chakras is from manipura to anahata. This movement isn’t a linear progression—it’s not about gaining more and more energy until you can force yourself by the ego to live from the Heart—but a radical dropping away of self-concern.
Without this attitude, you can move the energy and experience beautiful states related to Anahata, but they will come and pass just like any other state. Only when you are ready to let everything go, to die into love, then you can come to truly live in the kingdom of God that is inside your Heart.
In its full expression, Anahata becomes a heart on fire, the lion’s heart, with an incredible power of action flowing from a depth of empathy. It can embrace all the suffering of the world, precisely because of this capacity of surrender. Nothing to protect, nothing to hold onto, only a complete openness to life in all its mystery.
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