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All About the Heart Chakra

Excerpts from Enlightened Bodies:Exploring Physical and Subtle Human Anatomy by Nirmal Lumpkin, LMT and Japa Kaur Khalsa, DOM

The Heart Chakra is the wheel of energy located at the level of the sternum, or breastbone. It encompasses the heart, lungs, sternum, clavicle, shoulder blades, breast tissue, thymus gland and rib cage. The arms and hands are also extensions of the Heart Chakra.

The Heart Chakra relates to the ability to feel compassion and love. It encompasses the ability to heal yourself and others. It is enhanced by a life of service, because selfless service comes from the strength and integrity of unconditional love.

When the Heart Chakra is balanced and open there is an experience of compassion, love, selflessness, and healing.

If the Heart Chakra becomes too weak or too guarded, there is a lack of trust and sense of disconnection from other human beings.

If the Heart Chakra is too open or unsupported we are easily overwhelmed by sympathy for others to the point of losing perspective of our own needs or becoming an emotional doormat.

The shadow emotion of the Heart Chakra is imbalanced attachment or detachment. Over-attachment shows up when we think there is not enough love or protection in life. We start grabbing at everything in sight, trying to force people into relationships—a feeling of desperation for love, regardless of the cost.

The opposite of this is complete detachment, when there is a purposeful cultivation of aloofness as a way of protection from the potential pain of loving. People in this state will say, "I don't need anyone in my life. I can do it myself." They push people away rather than risk being vulnerable. To pretend that other people aren't necessary might temporarily feel better, but in the end it is lonely and unsustainable.

The solution to both of these issues is to trust that the need for love and compassion will be met. This allows the Heart Chakra to be open and balanced.

The physical muscle of the heart embodies the capacity to work hard, deliver, and be of service. The heart pumps all day long, every day, our entire life and creates the capacity to be steady, to sacrifice and ultimately to be happy. The heart creates the steady rhythm of life. It reminds us to serve steadily and to sacrifice in the service of others.

A Yogic Concept of Love

In yogic philosophy love is a verb—a powerful active force rather than the emotional phenomenon that is typical of society's fantasy-oriented ideas of love and romance. In many cultures, love is portrayed as a gooey, hot, sentimental experience with candlelight, love songs, and sexual arousal. While this is a very exciting and fantastic sensation, it is not sustainable.

Statistically, this “in love” feeling is most dramatic for the first two years of a romantic relationship and can be largely attributed to a primal mechanism that encourages a couple to create, cooperate, and cohabitate. Being in love is part of your body's mechanism to make sure the human race continues.

The challenge of love in action is to sustain this feeling through the grind of daily life after those initial two years. True love is the daily choice to wake up and serve another person, sharing your divine, deep and true qualities. This type of love extends beyond the primary romantic interest in a person's life and is a way to be in service and relate in kindness to all people (BBC News, 2006).

The Heart Nourishes Itself First

How can the heart maintain this never-ending service? This requires a two­-part answer. The heart is made of a unique type of muscle tissue called cardiac muscle. This allows the heart to beat without getting tired or losing effectiveness. Cardiac muscle has a higher percentage of mitochondria—the power sources of the cells—than skeletal muscle, and does not fatigue because the mitochondria quickly produce energy for the heart.

But this tireless service cannot happen unless the heart itself is nourished first. When the oxygen-rich blood leaves the heart it travels through the aorta and out to the body. The first branch off of the aorta superhighway of blood is back to the muscles of the heart itself, via the coronary arteries. The first thing the heart does is nourish itself. It serves the entire body tirelessly every day, for our whole life, but it will always take care of its own needs first.

Here, the heart has another important message: you can't really be of service to humanity if there is no self-care. As a yogi, if all the focus is on serving students and teaching, but you neglect your own practice, there will be stress and possibly even burnout. With a mother, if the focus is on taking care of the children's needs, and the mother never takes a quiet moment to relax and do what nourishes and recharges her, both the mother and the children will suffer. As a doctor, if the long hours of treating patients aren't accompanied by enough rest, the price may be mistakes or resentment. It is important to hear this message of the heart: Be steady in service and practice self-care. This allows for a balanced heart and a balanced life.

Mantras for the Heart Chakra

The vibration of certain mantras are healing for the Heart Chakra. Mantras for the heart include:

Guru Guru Wahe Guru Guru Ram Das Guru

This mantra is said to awaken the Heart Chakra, create healing miracles, and access the Neutral Mind. This mantra can be chanted anytime and anywhere to bring in the full and purest love of the Heart Chakra, without becoming codependent or an emotional doormat.

Guru Ram Das was the fourth Sikh Guru and was known as a teacher, sage, and yogi who humbly served all. Guru Ram Das is believed by many to be a master of the Heart Center.

Hummee Hum Brahm Hum

This mantra means "We are we; we are God." It connects to the expansive energy of the Heart Center and remedies the tendency toward aloofness.

Raa Maa Daa Saa Saa Say So Hung

This is the mantra for healing energy. It calls on the elements of earth, sun, moon, and infinity, and consolidates their power into the present moment in time for transformation. It can be used in long-distance healing treatments.

Balance the Heart Chakra

The Heart Chakra is out of balance when:

  • we feel overly emotional or emotionally closed off
  • we have a lack of boundaries
  • we lack compassion
  • we have few close relationships.

 Physically, out of balance is indicated by heartburn, shoulder tightness, chronic injuries to arms, wrists or hands.

To Balance the Heart Chakra:

  • Wear Green and/or Pink.
  • Wear or meditate with rose quartz.
  • Practice Ego Eradicator.
  • Find a place to serve or volunteer.
  • Ensure the faculties of both giving and receiving are balanced in your life.
  • Gently tap the Heart Center.

Enlightened Bodies: Exploring Physical and Subtle Human Anatomy by Nirmal Lumpkin, LMT and Japa Kaur Khalsa, DOM is available through KRI.

Dr. Japa Khalsa is a 25 year practitioner of Energy Medicine. Her dual degree as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) empower her consultations with authenticity and truth. She has a special alignment with women’s health and she supports all women to be empowered through meditation, yoga and the use of specific herbs to support a woman’s health through all the times of her life. Dr. Khalsa travels and teaches internationally as a Professional Teacher Trainer for Kundalini Yoga, as co-author of Enlightened Bodies, she brings an awareness of the human body’s potential to self-heal in her work.

Nirmal Lumpkin enjoys helping clients and students on their path to their highest and healthiest life. She currently teaches Kundalini Yoga and Meditation as taught by Yogi Bhajan in various locations. She is a Level 2 Certified Teacher (500-hr) with the Kundalini Research Institute and a Professional Trainer of Kundalini Yoga with the Aquarian Trainer Academy. Nirmal is an engaging and practical teacher and trainer specializing in Physical and Yogic Anatomy and Postures.