7 Wheels – Chakras, the Nervous System and TCM

My news feed today was swarmed with articles about “Ariana Grande’s misspelled Japanese tattoo (which) translates to ‘Barbecue Grill’ in Japanese”. Something about her tattoo caught my eye, but for another reason.

In Chinese, 七輪 (Traditional Chinese) translates to ‘7 Wheels’. Ring a bell?

Chakra, in Sanskrit, literally translates to wheel or disc. This is because the life force, also called chi, qi or prana, that moves inside of us is spinning and rotating. This spinning energy has 7 centers (wheels) in the body, starting at the base of the spine and moving all the way up to the top of the head. Each possessing its own color and vibrational frequency, these wheels are the catalysts of consciousness and human function. They govern various emotional issues, from our survival instincts and self-esteem to our ability to communicate and experience love.

I began my spiritual journey a few years ago seeking a deeper level of understanding of my true self, and one of the first topics that piqued my interest on this path of self growth is Chakras. Nonetheless, I could not see nor understand the connection of chakras to our physical body until Master Paalu and Sree mentioned in class that the locations of the 7 chakras correspond to the locations of our endocrine glands.

The Chakras are associated with the major nerve networks within the body, which connect from the brain/spine, via the major Vagus nerve, to the glands responsible for hormone production and the functioning of the body in general.

The Vagus nerve is considered the ‘holy grail’ of the nervous system and it mostly conveys sensory information about the state of the body’s organs to the Central Nervous System. Once it leaves the brain it winds its way down the body, and around the internal organs.

The vagus nerve has fibers that innervate virtually all of our internal organs. The management and processing of emotions happens via the vagal nerve between the heart, brain and gut, which is why we have a strong gut reaction to intense mental and emotional states.

By far, the most energetic processes within our bodies are caused by our nerve tissues and specifically our nervous system. The nervous system is that part of our body, that coordinates its voluntary and involuntary actions, and transmits signals to and from different parts of the body and brain. The communication of the body, if you will.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a form of alternative medicine that originated in ancient China, meridians are invisible energy pathways or channels that run through the body. Our vital life energy, or “qi”, is thought to flow along these meridians, and anything that disrupts the smooth flow of chi is said to cause illness. The Chinese term for meridian is “jing luo”. Most acupuncture and acupressure points lie on a meridian and stimulating these points using acupuncture needles, acupressure, moxibustion, or tuina (massage) is thought to help correct and rebalance the flow of energy. There are over 300 acupuncture points on the meridian system.

Looking at 3 vastly different methods of studies on the human body – Ayurvedic science, modern science, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, we can clearly see that they have connections and similarities to one another. As Master Paalu mentioned, physical problems are often the result of blockages in the energy flow in the body system causing the organs or glands to not function properly, and those blockages are often the result of our emotional states registering, and building up (repressed) instead of being released.

This is where our understanding of chakras come in handy. By understanding the essence of each chakra, we can bring awareness to which of our chakras are out of balance, and align them, allowing energy to flow freely. Anytime a chakra becomes blocked, underactive or overactive, it can throw us off balance physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

For instance, if you have ever experienced persistent trouble expressing yourself, felt like you’re walking around in an emotional “fog,” or suffered through several bouts of laryngitis or sore throats these are all signs you may have an imbalanced throat chakra. Generally speaking, when chakras are “off,” the body is excellent about communicating what ones are affected. When you consider all the signs you are experiencing, be they physical or not, odds are they’re centered around the area of the affected chakra.

Our bodies are in constant flux between balance and imbalance. Unless we have an apparent problem in one area of the body, imbalances can be difficult to detect. That being said, it’s good to bring awareness to our body/mind and start to learn its signals and clues, so that we can all be healthy and balanced.