My clients (and any of you, too!) have free reign to contact me with issues, questions and comments.

A client of mine e‑mailed a story of an interaction. She and her partner had a conversation (sort of) about the state of the relationship. What became clear was that they were coming at the relationship from two different perspectives. She also mentioned some pain in her collar-bone area, and I remembered that she had been quite sore at her upper back at her last Bodywork session.

I wrote back, and half way through, realized that what I was writing would be beneficial as a BLOG article on Bodywork and relationships. What follows is my take on the issue my client raised, with notes.

I replied with two things:

1) some stuff on bodywork, and

2) some stuff on relationships.


The chakras are energy centres, and each is concerned with an aspect of physical, emotional and spiritual development. In a sense, they tell us the story of our lives, and provide the energy for transformative being. What follows is a metaphor that demonstrates the path to full and vibrant living.

There are at least two “diaphragms” or “gates between” in the body. The first is between the solar plexus and the heart, and the second is at the shoulder region. Let’s talk chakras, but these zones also exist in Chinese medicine.

Here’s the pattern in simplified form.
The | mark represents the gates.
It’s 123|4|567

123 are physical chakras, and sadly, most people stay stuck in these 3.

  1. Root — security, stability, existence
  2. Belly — relationships, to everything and everyone.
  3. Solar Plexus — self-esteem

There is a “zone” made up of chakras 1, 2, and 3 — this is the zone of stability, relationships, and self-esteem.

My client discovered that her partner’s self-esteem is connected to job, money, “cleanliness,” tidiness, order, control, etc. For him, any form of “clutter” becomes a self-esteem issue. In other words, he thinks: “If I see a mess, I feel bad about myself, and assume it is either an insult (I blame others for my messes) or I blame myself for not trying hard enough.”

With effort you can move past zone 123

lower gate

Physical is joined with heartfulness

However, because of the first diaphragm or gate, (which requires persistence to penetrate,) most people do not move out of this very physical realm. They have a vague sense of “something more,” but no clue how to get there, so they keep messing around in familiar waters. They change jobs, partners, obsess, clean, move their piles from one place to another, try to be happy by making more money etc, and this tension and drive to shift piles seems normal–as in, “What I’m stuck with.”

You get yourself unstuck by identifying the 123 zone, owning it, and then coming to a new understanding, which might be thought of as the “spiritual” or vocational aspect of living. This begins at the heart.

4- The heart chakra is the intermediary between physical (123) and the spiritual (567)

Openheartedness is the first step on a long walk into vocational, present, “in the moment” living. This requires simple acceptance — of others, of self, of the Taoist principle. “The way it is, is the way it is.”

The Heart Chakra is the locale of “being,” (as opposed to “doing,” which is the realm of Zone 123) and is sensed as “emptiness” (as in, “empty of meaning”)

This is not nihilism, but rather symbolized by the emptiness that comes in between thoughts when meditating, for example.

The next diaphragm, at the shoulders, is interesting.


Physical, heartful living, joined with the transpersonal

You could, I suppose, “live” at the heart level, and simply be a sort of passive acceptor of “whatever.” This, to me, seem disingenuous, and somewhat self absorbed.

The transition, the process of moving through the upper gate or diaphragm, leads to the actual expression of (the actual living of) an egoless spiritual life. This transition requires the use of


5. The throat — which it the medium for the release of true self into the world, metaphorized by speech, but actually about expression of the totality of being.

6. The Third Eye — Insight — trusting intuition, and the ability to see what’s really going on.

7. Transcendence — satori, enlightenment, etc.

If there is a block at the shoulder diaphragm, getting past it requires actualizing the first 4. In other words, the work is to assimilate the 123, physical zone, with the heart, so that all physical being and acting is done out of compassion. As Lama Marut put it:

Compassion for others is impossible until you care enough for yourself to really want to stop your own suffering.”

My client wrote a list of her priorities for life:

Her list was, in the order she chose: love (chakra 4), taking care of self (chakra 3), taking care of others ( chakra 2)

Footnote: our real work is self work, so therefore the language of the last priority is not correct. We can care about others, but can never take care of others. That is their job. (Infants and children are the exception!)

Notice the direction of my client’s list — hint — it’s downward, toward the root chakra, which means it’s focused on stability and security, as opposed to moving past whatever issue arises by transcending it.

My list might be: being loving (an action), being direct and clear, being my-self, and deepening my connection to that which is. Notice that there is only “me” in this — yet if I do “me” well, those around me benefit. The direction is upward and inclusive.

Back to my client’s partner. To use Scott Peck’s Four Stages, he’s fighting off Chaos through “Fundamentalism” — rules and structures.

My client is at the beginning of the next stage, “Doubt — ”she is questioning her “old, stuck ways.” Peck’s 4th stage is Mysticism, (what I call zone 2″”consisting of 567,) where all of the rules and structure fall away, and one just “is.”

  • My client’s partner cleans when he comes home, not to punish my client or to ignore her, but to try to keep his collapsing, chaotic world together. If the house was spotless, he would create another issue to obsess about.
  • My client’s partner is stuck trying to make his little feetsies run fast enough to keep all the balls in the air. I suspect, like most, he’ll have to crash and burn before he realizes the futility of this path.

My client’s job is to keep him talking, while asking, repeatedly, “How’s that working for you?” Until he sees the impossibility of structuring himself into happiness, he’s going to be stuck.

The rules of the Doubt stage:

Question everything, and get rid of what does not work. This is the stage my client is at, and is expressed through pain at the upper or second diaphragm or gate–at her shoulder blades, upper shoulder muscles, and her collar-bone.

My client has rules about who she is and how she is, and she gets stuck defending them, intellectually and physically. She would be better off laughing at her rules, rather than fiddling with them — in other words, having her experience(s) as opposed to trying to force them to fit her no longer useful rules.

We’ll look more at how you can transition from one zone to another in future articles. In the mean time, drop us a line!

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

2 thoughts on “Gates”

  1. Some times, Wayne , you are so right on that I can’t believe it. I have been reading your blog for a long time now and today I just have to make contact. I have probably read the same principles before and today they all came together. The idea of having blocks in my growth has been an accepted fact to me. when I look at them as ‘gates’ there is a resonance that speaks to my experience in my life. For a long time I struggled to ‘create’ stability in my life. I was controlling, orderly, decisive, rigid…you get the picture. People didn’t do what I said and so my life wasn’t secure. I could find no lasting happiness.
    Then I started this work. It has taken me years to open my heart, it didn’t seem like a safe thing to me. I had lots of old rules and past experiences that kept me locked in the past. I knew I had a loving heart, expressing or living in it was out of my experience. I remember an experience in Phase 2 at Haven of “feeling” my heart open during a bodywork session. I started to live with love. I felt awesome. Quietly living a loving acceptance of everything and ever one( mostly). Not really opening my mouth to express my feelings I was just grateful to feel love in my life-it was a welcome change from the constant struggle for security. Let it all go and live in acceptance-perhaps just the other end of the pendulum.
    Speaking my truth, sharing who I am and what I think became the next level of growth. I wasn’t ready to take the risk, to upset the peace that I had in my life. And yet I was not living a full life. I had a sore throat and got Strep throat several times during the winter while I was trying to’ come out’.
    I am happy to report that this winter I have not been stricken with any throat infections. I recognize a tightening in my throat as a need to express. some times I do…sometimes I don’t.I know that my growth will continue and that things come up over and over. I feel more connected to the universe and to myself than I ever imagined possible.
    Your article this week, put my experience into words. I still like order- I just don’t need it!I have a trust and faith in the universe and in myself- which I believe would correspond to your 6th chakra . Thank you for your article this week. And for listening to me-(reading). I just wanted to share this with you.Colleen

    • Hi Colleen,
      Thanks for your elegant comment.
      The idea of “gates” sort of just clicked with me recently. It seemed to me that an extra “push” was necessary moving from the physical to the heart, and then again to the actual living out of a new focus. And for me, some days, it seems like a revolving door!
      I notice a tendency to want to “hold on” to people who get it, for example. Learning to let go and to move on (the latter is the part I make difficult) continues to be one of my learning points.
      The key here is to remember that this is “self” work, and bringing along a chorus isn’t necessary. So, I continue to gently work on that.
      Same with what you are talking about. If you resist the urge to hold yourslef in, you let yourself go — into the experience. and into a fuller manifestation of who you are.
      I’m working with this in the next few articles, so feel free to keep me posted on your progress!


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