The Fourth Chakra - The Heart Chakra
The fourth Chakra is located in the centre of the chest, over the heart.
This Chakra governs our ability to enact our vocation and live our life lovingly.
The colour associated with this Chakra is vivid green.
The fourth Chakra is about compassion, service and vocation. It is about acting lovingly. It is our "centre," and the first of the spiritual Chakras. The first three are considered "physical."
This Chakra opens as we are able to see beyond ourselves and become of service to others through "self-centered selflessness." Vocational thinking tells us that we are here to be of use, not to use others or to be used by others.
Blocks in this Chakra will affect the upper back, arms, heart and lungs.
Heavy heartedness, grief, pain, and anger can live here.
This essay concerns the Heart Chakra (4th). The 4th chakra is the seat of love and compassion.
One of the questions I get a lot of is around the meaning of 'popped' sternums. Here’s a picture.
Sternums pop when the ligaments that attach the ribs to the sternum tighten. Metaphorically, the sternum moves out to protect the heart from further injury.
This typically happens after a tragedy or loss. Our egos (of course…) get involved and by fiat declare our hearts incapable of dealing with the loss. (They'll "break..." after all! - Yikes!)
Of course. Our egos are invested in telling us that we are hard done by, victims, weak and incapable of looking out for ourselves. In other words, our egos are invested in keeping us stuck and in pain. The whys of this are for another article.
The Heart Chakra is the home of emotional processing. In a sense, the Heart Chakra is all about agape (selfless love) and compassion. The heart processes our emotions for us. We grieve and mourn and equally celebrate and laugh uproariously, from the heart. We say, “It feels good to get that off of my chest.” Get it?
In order to work on this region, you'll have to get familiar with the territory. You need to find your sternum, your ribs as they connect to the sternum, and the "intercostal spaces" between the ribs.
Once you've located the points, use the text below to explore letting go of blocked "heart material."
At the workshop Darbella and I led at The Haven, I read a heart meditation by Stephen Levine. I decided to write my own heart meditation for this article.
I’ve also recorded it, and you can download the mp3 file here. (right click to save to your hard drive.)
If you'd like to listen to the meditation from here, click the "play" icon, below!
Heart Release Meditation
Begin by finding a place to lie down. Adjust yourself so that you feel comfortable, secure and safe.
Begin to breathe in and out, softly and gently, being aware of the breath as it moves through your mouth and nose. Feel the breath filling your lungs, fully and deeply.
Now, using your fingers, locate your breastbone.
Slide your fingers outward, toward the place where your ribs meet your breastbone. Move your fingers into the spaces between the ribs, and press inward a bit, feeling for soreness or tenderness.
When you find the spots that seem the most tender, rest your fingers there.
Press the tender spots gently, and then increase the pressure until you are aware of the pain you hold in your chest.
Breathe into the pain.
Allow your mind to float free.
Recall situations in your past where your heart has been hurt.
Perhaps someone abandoned you. Friends, loved ones, may have died. Situations, jobs, careers may have ended or been taken from you.
See what emerges from your mind’s storehouse of memories.
Recognize that you have pushed these memories away. You told yourself that you’d grieved enough, that it was time to move on. Or, you promised yourself that someday, eventually, at the right time, you’d come back to revisit the pain of your loss.
And you never did.
The mind stores data. And it replays the data as it seems appropriate. Often, our painful, unresolved memories become the things our dreams are made of.
Our waking moments trigger memories we thought were lost in the recesses of the past.
Breathe. Take in a breath of calm surrender to all of your memories, good and bad.
Continue to apply pressure to the tender area.
Open yourself to the possibility that you cannot think a feeling.
Your heart is designed to be vastly capable of containing all that you feel, all that you hope, all that you dream.
As you let down the walls you have erected to guard yourself from further hurt, you begin to feel just how big your heart is.
Breathe. Acknowledge that, in the past, your pain caused you to tighten up. Your shoulders rolled forward, as you attempted to protect your heart from further hurt.
You became blocked, rigid and unloving – of your self – of others.
Far from protecting yourself, your tightness only isolated you from others.
Breathe. Open to the possibility of letting go. Feel the tender spot beneath your fingers, and be kind with yourself.
Recognize that all of the avoidance did not diminish your pain. All that it did was pushed it deep inside. Your mind seized upon it and obsessed over it. Your mind found people to blame for all of your pain, and when no one was convenient, your mind blamed you.
And you blamed you, and tightened more, and hunched your shoulders and rolled them over your heart, and from there, attempted to live.
Open yourself, right now, to feel the pain beneath your fingers. Let your sadness and loss be real for you. Open the centre of yourself – open your heart, and let in all of the hurts and sadness of your life.
Feel them. Let your heart do what it is best at.
Grieve your losses.
Let go of your need to hold on to your pain, to your stories, to your victim stance. Let it all go.
Let your heart absorb your thoughts and remembrances.
Let your heart begin to feel. Everything.
Notice that, as your heart begins to feel, the pain beneath your fingers is diminishing. Your muscles are relaxing. The pain in your tender spot is easing. You feel your heart opening.
Breathe. Recognize that blocking your heart from your pain means you’ve also blocked yourself from giving and receiving love.
Love is meant to be given with abandon, received with abandon. Love is not doled out with an eyedropper, but rather is released as a flood.
Open yourself to feeling compassion – for yourself and for others.
Breathe compassion out into the Universe, and breathe compassion for yourself into every cell of your being.
Notice that the pain at your tender point is almost gone. A remnant remains, not the result of refusing to feel, but rather because, as humans, we all hurt.
All of us are broken at the heart.
Breathe, and have compassion.
Let your hand fall away from your tender spot.
Breathe in the freedom that comes as you open your heart to your self and to the universe. Notice your relaxing muscles, the ease with which your lungs fill with air, and then release it back.
Breathe. Feel what it means to be human, and let yourself hold your heart fully and widely open.
Let your breath return to normal, and feel yourself sinking deeply into the ground. Relaxing. Letting go.
Stay there until you are ready to carry on with your day.