Take heart. How to feel, give and receive more love

Heart-shaped tree in field

Ah, love, that most desirous and ruinous of human emotions. Fortunately this blog is not about the drama of romantic love (although that is relevant too) but love in a spiritual sense.

The heart chakra, located in the centre of the chest, is the energy centre that’s all about how we give and receive love – to all people, not just our partners, and to ourselves. 

People who have blockages in their heart chakra can be judgmental or they could be prone to jealousy. They might be unable to forgive someone or they might be grappling with grief.

As the fourth of the seven chakras, this is the meeting point of the energy centres that are associated with the physical world (the basesacral and solar plexus chakras) and the three chakras representing the spiritual world (more on each of those in future posts). To get a bit airy-fairy, it’s where heaven and earth meet. 

When the heart chakra is balanced, we’re compassionate, empathetic, forgiving, peaceful, loving and able to help others without depleting our own resources (i.e. we don’t overcommit). We’re also able to honour our feelings, crying when we need to, but also administer self-care when we need it – that’s everything from drawing ourselves a bubble bath to simply speaking kindly to ourselves. We’re also able to receive love easily – we don’t say ‘no’ to people when they offer to help and we don’t put up barriers when people who we like get close to us.

What I think is so significant about the heart chakra is that while the solar plexus was all about shame, this chakra’s enemy is grief. If you think about it, it is loss of any sort (not just bereavement) that makes the heart hurt. Because self-love is so strongly emphasised in this chakra, this loss might be to do with your attachment to ideas about what your life should look like or who you thought you should have become.

Repressed emotions really come to the fore in this chakra – particularly for people who suffered deep hurts in childhood such as a death in the family, bullying or abandonment by a parent.

Two hands forming heart shape

People with deficiencies in the heart chakra might be:

* anti-social

* lonely

* fearful of intimacy

* narcissistic

* judgmental (including racist, sexist, homophobic etc)

* lacking empathy

* unable to let go

* unable to forgive

* struggling to accept help from people

People with excessive energy in the heart chakra might be:

* co-dependent

* jealous

* demanding of their loved ones

* needing to be needed

* fearful of betrayal

Physically heart chakra blockages show up in heart problems (obviously), circulation issues, asthma and lung issues, low immunity, high or low blood pressure and tension between the shoulder blades. 

Any issues with the arms can be related, too – and when I’m clearing this chakra in a reiki session people often report tingling in their hands. That’s because this chakra is all about touch – and that’s a key way we show love to people, right?  

To clear blockages in the heart chakra, forgiveness is the key (read my post about that here).

· Another suggestion I’ve heard is to try and go a week without criticising anyone, which will really help you examine how accepting you are.

· Remember that love is about giving AND receiving, so look at how you can increase the amount of love you’re giving out – that’s anything from smiling at people regularly to giving compliments and donating to people in need.

· If you’re into yoga, back bends, bridges and the wheel pose are great for targeting this chakra – and yoga also helps you to sit in the present moment, which is beneficial for your energy field as a whole.

I see negative people, they're everywhere... (this is how I shield myself)

Woman walking in bubble

Lately the angel cards have repeatedly urged us to clear away toxic energies, so a blog post on shielding against negativity seemed like a good idea.

Having worked in the magazine industry for almost 15 years, I’ve crossed paths with some fairly extreme personalities. Narcissism, cynicism, backstabbing and just plain nastiness are par for the course in what is a highly competitive field - although, this can happen in any workplace. Because I’m very sensitive to other people’s energy (read my post about that here), it’s been essential to learn to avoid absorbing those harsh energies. If I don’t protect myself from negativity emanating from the Eeyores or the Regina Georges of this world, I feel sluggish, miserable and on edge.

In the past year I’ve become better at shielding myself against negative energies. It’s not possible to live in a place where you never encounter whingers or mean-spirited types, but you can certainly limit the extent that you're affected by them. I do a shielding exercise every morning as part of my daily meditation. I also often carry crystals, such as clear quartz and labrodite to prevent me absorbing other people’s energies – particularly when I’m doing reiki sessions, during which I’m working intensely in people’s energy fields – but you don't have to go to those lengths.

This is how my shielding exercise works. While meditating (you don't have to meditate to do this, you can just visualise it), I’ll call upon Archangel Michael, the archangel in charge of protection, to create a shield around me. He's the patron saint of police officers and security guards, so I regard him as my spiritual bouncer. I’ll envisage him using his sword to create a bubble of white light around me for protection. Next, I’ll ask for extra layers. If I’m feeling like my self-love or compassion are lacking, I’ll ask for a layer of sparkly pink light to boost my love energy. If I’m feeling emotional, I might ask for green energy, which opens my heart chakra and invokes healing. Then I’ll ask for a layer of purple light, which is psychic protection, or energy field protection. Basically, this protects me from lower energies, negativity and harsh energies. If this is too complicated or just too 'out there' for you, just focus on the white light layer – that’s for general protection. I ask for this to remain intact for 24 hours.

Glam woman wearing helmet

Does this mean I’ll never encounter criticism or nastiness? No. Haters gonna hate, as that wise philosopher Taylor Swift once declared (lol). But it does mean I don’t feel myself being sucked into that vortex. I’m not taking on what I’m being exposed to. It’s easier to simply shake it off (sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

Most emotions will hit you with no rhyme or reason, and there’s little you can do about that. But when those emotions belong to other people, you don’t have to take them on. Shielding yourself is a way to take control.

*If you feel like you’re weighed down with other people’s energies, a reiki session can help. I also offer distance energy healing and cord cutting; email onegroundedangel@gmail.com for more information.

Ever had a bullying boss? Chances are, they had solar plexus chakra stuff going on

Tiny woman being dominated by giant man

You know how people talk about having ‘fire in the belly’? That’s an indirect reference to the solar-plexus chakra, which is the energy centre concerned with personal power and control. This is an energy centre I’ve had constant blocks so I’m very familiar with it.

Symbolised by the element of fire, the solar plexus is the third chakra, sitting above the base and the sacral chakras. Located in the middle of your back and belly (just above the navel), it’s all about asserting your power without dominating other people, having will power and being comfortable with your place in the world.

People with blocks in the solar-plexus chakra might be doormats, or at the other end of the scale they could be bullies. They could be low in self-esteem or they could be workaholics.

If your energy in this chakra is balanced, you’ll be confident, flexible, self-disciplined, able to take responsibility for your actions and will have a good appreciation of your personal power (i.e. you don’t need to exert power over others to feel important). You’re just as happy to lead as to be led. You’ll also be warm and playful, because sense of humour is strongly connected to this energy centre (hence the saying ‘belly laughs’).

Even though chakras deal with esoteric energy, your physical energy is also at play in this chakra. If this chakra is balanced, you use your energy wisely – you don’t overextend yourself for long periods, and you don’t waste it on people who drain you.

While the base chakra was about fear and the sacral chakra was about guilt, the solar plexus’ enemy is shame.

Solar plexus chakra symbol

(Image: the solar -plexus chakra symbol)

Essentially this chakra about owning your identity and being at peace with where you’re at in life – and it makes sense that that’s lacking in people who are bullies, workaholics or constantly angry.

People who are deficient in energy in the solar plexus chakra might display these characteristics:

· Low or no self-esteem

· Share no opinions, ever

· Avoid conflict at all costs

· Say yes to everything asked of them (hello, doormat!)

· Rely on other people’s validation to feel like they matter

· Passive approach to life (letting opportunities pass them by)

· Victim mentality

· Constant worry about what other people think of them

People with excessive energy in this chakra might have some of these things going on:

· Arrogance

· Constant need to have things their way (in the extreme: bullying)

· A need to be right and to have the last word

· Always having something to prove (typical of workaholics)

· Aggressive and prone to outbursts of anger

· Domineering and controlling

· Always criticising other people and very judgmental

· Perfectionism

· Always stressed out

Physically, blocks in this chakra present as problems in digestion (which is how physical energy is obtained in the body), stomach (particularly with ulcers – not surprising given the connection with anger), the muscular framework (especially chronic fatigue) and the liver and gall bladder. Because this chakra is associated with the pancreas and adrenals, it’s also connected to hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia.

Balancing this chakra comes back to instilling a healthy sense of self-esteem. If there’s something deep that’s proving an obstacle to healthy self-worth, seeking professional counsel could be helpful. Setting a goal and working towards it can help, as that requires you to back yourself and see yourself as worthy of success. If outbursts of anger are an issue for you, addressing the underlying issues could also be beneficial. Anger is a secondary emotion – it’s always masking a deeper problem, usually a fear of some sort. And of course, reiki is a brilliant way to clear blocks in any chakra, which is why I’m such a big advocate for this energy healing modality.

Emotions, taking us over. How emotions, creativity and sexual energy affect your wellbeing

Couple's hands against steamy car window

Following last week’s post about the base chakra, I’m delving into the sacral chakra. This is the energy centre that angel card creator Doreen Virtue calls the "sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll chakra". Oh boy, this is going to get interesting...

Located just below your navel, the sacral chakra is the energy centre in your body concerned with pleasure, creativity, sexual expression and emotions. All the good stuff, in other words!

An imbalance in this chakra shows up for a lot of people, because it governs how you connect with others – which is a pretty fundamental aspect of the human experience. People with poor energy flow in the sacral chakra might be difficult to get close to – or at the other end of the scale, they could be needy and clingy in their relationships. In extreme situations they might battle addictions (and not just to drugs or alcohol; this could include addictions to food, sex , shopping or drama!).*

Emotional balance is a major component of this chakra. Remember that emotions are energy in motion (hence: e-motion), so the way they flow is significant. If emotions fester and stagnate that can result in an imbalance in your sacral chakra. The way to avoid that stagnancy? Learning how to let go... no biggie, then!

Having emotional balance means you don’t hold back with your emotions – which would make you cool and detached – but you’re not overruled by your emotions either. So you can be angry and express that, but you don’t project it onto others. Here’s what an emotional overreaction looks like: if you give someone at work a task to complete, instead of simply telling you that they’re too busy right now but they’ll deal with it tomorrow, they fly off the handle and, in a raised voice, start ranting about how busy they are and no one understands and everyone’s out to get them and and and... (yeah, you know the type).

Sacral chakra symbol

(Image: the sacral chakra symbol)

While the base chakra’s biggest challenger is fear, the sacral chakra’s adversary is guilt. This shows up in people feeling saddled by obligations, because guilt is stopping them from setting healthy boundaries. Particularly highlighted is guilt around sexuality. For example, at a subconscious level there may be guilt about violating family or societal expectations, such as ‘living in sin’ (Catholic guilt, anyone?!). Even though you may be content with your choices, you may have an irrational guilt playing out in the background around operating outside family norms – particularly for women, who are still expected to be 'good girls'. Sounds weird, but sometimes our desire to conform and our desire to meet our own needs can cause internal conflict that we’re not even aware of.

Other guilt stuff that can result in a block with this chakra – people who’ve cheated on someone or deceived a partner in some way (perhaps by pretending you were still happy in a relationship but you really wanted to leave). 

Sadly, because this chakra concerns sexuality, it is commonly out of balance in people who have been the victims of sexual crimes.

People who have a deficient energy flow in the sacral chakra might have some of these characteristics:

* emotionally distant, and very hard to form close connections with (they put up barriers)

* lack of passion in their lives (no hobbies, no creative expression) 

* martyr mentality (this is all about feeling shackled by perceived obligations)

* dislike of being touched (related: low libido)

* tendency to destroy anything that offers them pleasure (i.e. relationships, household stability)

* irregular periods

People who have an excessive energy flow in the sacral chakra might demonstrate some of these qualities (I have worked with a lot of people who fit into this category):

* addictions (this includes people who are addicted to creating drama)

* hedonism

Woman looking angry

* tendency to blame others for their problems

unable to be alone (always jumping from one relationship to the next)

* dependent on others (needy)

* mood swings

* heavy periods

* tendency to respond with an excess of emotion 

By the way, you can be BOTH excessive and deficient at the same time (weird, I know).

Physically a sacral chakra imbalance can result in issues with the reproductive organs (no surprises there!), lower back, hips, and bladder and kidneys (these two operate in tandem, from a spiritual perspective). 

Some ideas to rebalance the sacral chakra:

· Movement and flow are a major focus of this chakra, so exercise is important – particularly in a form that brings you pleasure (surfing, dancing, cycling etc).

· Yoga is recommended (because it includes so many hip openers).

· This chakra’s element is water, so make sure you drink lots of water and spend time around water (ocean, lakes etc) if you’re struggling with emotions.  

· Creative expression will help a lot, so get going on any creative project that calls to you.

· Letting go is important, through whatever means you find helpful – counselling, some forgiveness work, NLP, affirmations around releasing old hurts etc. See my post about forgiveness here

Phew – so that’s the sacral chakra. Coming up in a future post: the solar plexus chakra, which is all about power and control. Yikes!

All about that base! How your attitudes to money and your parents affect your emotional health

People standing on stacks of coins

I’ve started a series to explain how each chakra (or energy centre) in the body works, and what happens to your health and wellbeing when they're blocked. If you’ve done yoga, meditation, reiki, kinesiology or acupuncture, you’ll likely have heard a bit about chakras, and having a bit of extra knowledge about their function can really help you identify where you might be hitting emotional blocks in your life. 

Chakras are located in the energy field just outside your physical body and are the avenues through which your life force (chi, prana etc) flows. Or not, as the case may be ;)

For this first entry, I’ll look at the base chakra, known to some as the root chakra. It’s concerned with our material needs (money, food and shelter), our family, our safety and our connection with our bodies. So people who have an imbalance of energy in this chakra might struggle attracting and keeping money, could be materialistic and struggle to sit still (i.e. are unable to stay grounded).

This chakra is located near the base of your spine and because  it is the first energy centre in the body to develop (up until one year of age), it is heavily influenced by your parents. People who had one or both parents absent in their lives, or whose parents had a volatile relationship, often end up with a base chakra imbalance because that affected how they shaped their concepts of belonging and safety. 

This chakra is also influenced by your parents’ attitudes. If your parents constantly complained about a lack of money you may grow up to be overly fearful about ending up in poverty – or even resigned to it as a fait accompli (the attitude of ‘people like us will never have enough money’). Equally, if your mother was constantly worried about all the myriad things that could go wrong in the world, you may have absorbed that energy in the base chakra (because it’s all about safety).

Just to make it clear, this doesn’t mean that your parents are responsible for your lot in life. Even though you may have taken on their beliefs or been influenced by your upbringing on an unconscious level, you’re not destined to follow your parents’ example – you determine your own path. Your choices are your own. However if a belief has taken hold at a young age it may have created an energy block without your awareness, and some chakra-specific meditations or energy healing (reiki, kinesiology, NSA, etc) will help you shift it.

Base chakra symbol

(Image: the base chakra symbol)

The base chakra is also associated with belonging and how you fit in to the world. If you are not at peace with where you came from – particularly if you are disconnected from your ancestry or ethnic make-up in ways that make you feel lost – that will manifest in the base chakra.

People who have a deficient energy flow in the base chakra often have some of these characteristics:

·        Poor attention span

·        Difficulty sitting still  (the overachiever, who never feels like they have enough or are enough)

·        Refusal to listen to their body (particularly in messages about nutrition and rest)

·        Exaggerated fears about their safety

·        Chronically disorganised lives

·        Lack of boundaries

·        Perennial financial struggles (they can never ‘catch a break’; whenever they come into money they lose it somehow)

Some of the qualities of people who have excessive energy in the base chakra include:

·        Hoarding

·        Obese

·        Obsessed with material items, and constantly upgrading cars, electronic gadgets (FYI there is nothing wrong with enjoying objects, but attaching your value to your material possessions is problematic)

·        Fearful of change

·        Rigid ideas about how the world SHOULD be

·        Constantly constipated (ie they can’t let go!)

Physically, base chakra imbalances show up in the intestines, legs and feet, bones and teeth – although, of course, if you have issues in these areas that doesn’t *necessarily* mean you have a base chakra imbalance.

To rebalance your base chakra, here are some ways you can ground yourself and find balance:

·        Spending lots of time in nature

·        Learning how to be still regularly (meditation and yoga are helpful)

·        Addressing your attitudes towards money – remember that it’s OK to ask the Universe for more money, but the pursuit of it as a means to happiness is flawed

·        Practising acceptance and learning to let go

·        Using regular affirmations to assure your subconscious that you are safe, you have everything you need, you belong and you are enough.

So there it is – all about that base. I’ll give you a rundown on the other six chakras over the coming weeks.