In yogic philosophy, the human body carries energy up through channels, using specific centers or ‘wheels’ to process different kinds of life experiences. The fifth chakra, known in Sanskrit as Vishuddhi or Vishuddha, is the area that enables us to process and communicate our wants and desires to the world. As such, this is a center for creativity and for self-expression. Using this area as a focus of meditation can be extremely beneficial, as this region of the body helps us to better understand who we are, what we want, and how we can bring these desires into reality.
Vishuddhi chakra is often visualized as a as a flower with sixteen petals. The number is significant, as it corresponds to both the number of vowels in the Sanskrit language and in the time it takes for the new moon to reach fullness. Both of these are symbolic of the human experience of deciding what we want, asking the universe to help us fulfill it, and doing what it takes to achieve our desire.
If this chakra is blocked, we may have trouble expressing ourselves, both physically and emotionally. Illnesses that involve the throat, such as hoarseness, laryngitis, trouble swallowing, or perhaps even gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD) can indicate blocked energy at this wheel, as can inabilities to express ourselves in words and conversation. In order to communicate effectively, we must know what we want to say and how to say it; blocked Vishuddhi energy can compromise this skill.
Physically, asanas such as Cobra, Camel, or Bridge help to balance the energy here. Because Pranayama is located in the throat area, it’s especially helpful. Ujjayi breathing will stimulate Vishuddhi energy and ramp up our communicative abilities; that said, samastitihi or equal breathing, will provide a calming effect when this area is inflamed. Bhramari, or Bee Breath is another wonderful way to interact with this chakra because of the technique’s integration of sound and breath.
Interestingly enough, this chakra is said to be the place where the physical and astral bodies connect. When we experience a traumatic event, we say that we ‘leave our bodies’; those of us with PTSD or similar disorders often experience a feeling of being alive only ‘from the neck up.’ Meditating on this chakra can help us to feel like we are ‘back in our bodies’, as well as help us to distinguish between events that happened in the past and those that currently occur. By strengthening the throat energy, we can thus experience the present for what it is, unconnected to the stories our minds develop around events, and stay with our current experience rather than forcing ourselves to find a means of escape.
To meditate on this chakra, move into a seated or prone position. Focus your awareness on your breath, and use one of the above breathing techniques. When you feel that you are ready, try visualizing Vishuddhi with your eyes closed, imagining the energy running through the wheel from both up and down. Those who have trouble meditating with closed eyes might instead focus the gaze on an illustration of the chakra, taking in the artwork. Perhaps finish with the mantra associated with this chakra, which is HAM.
During the day, bring the energies associated with this chakra into play by using the color associated with it. Wearing turquoise or dusky violet serve as a reminder of your meditative work, and can help you to integrate the qualities of better communication and creative expression into your life.