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Attention Massachusetts Practitioners and Reiki Clients

Massachusetts Senate Bill S2416 will affect your options! Read more!

Reiki and Chakras

To round out the picture of Reiki, we present in this chapter some theories about the human energy system and our understanding of how the energy system relates to deeply ingrained emotional patterns. A specific technique for scanning and assessing the energy system is fully discussed in Chapter 5. This technique may be used reliably to assess the client’s physical and emotional health. A well-trained Reiki practitioner can use these techniques to plan an appropriate course of treatment.

Only medical doctors may diagnose and prescribe. Nonetheless, Reiki practitioners can gain a wealth of information about the physical and emotional state of a client by scanning the energy field of the body and then allowing that insight to guide the treatment. John developed these understandings and procedures based on his work with Hawayo Takata, Brugh Joy, M.D., and others.

John’s theory of Emotionality and the Chakras asserts that the musculature, not the chakras, hold emotions. When they are not fully expressed, emotions can get locked in the body creating a state of muscular tension which prevents energy flow through the chakras. We make use of this theory with every client we see. We teach it to all our students and we recommend it to all Reiki practitioners as an effective approach to administering Reiki.

“Chakra” is a Sanskrit word for wheel. The word has come to be generally used to name the seven powerful wheels, or vortices of energy, that are part of the energetic human body. It is generally agreed upon that the purpose of the chakras is to deliver energy to the cells and organs. Explanations and diagrams of the chakras can be found in both ancient and modern writings on yoga, particularly in the Tantric disciplines of meditation and exercise. Japanese researcher Hiroshi Motoyama, in his book Theories of the Chakras, explains further. The chakras, in addition to being control centers for the human energy system, work as centers of “interchange between the physical and the astral and between the astral and the causal dimensions.” Dr. Motoyama considers the chakras to be such a crucial part of human energy anatomy that he writes: “Chakra awakening is a process which must be undergone if the soul is to evolve and if enlightenment is to be reached.”

John’s education in the chakras started not with books on Eastern philosophies, but rather with Western-trained medical doctors. During studies with Richard Moss, M.D. and with W. Brugh Joy, M. D, he learned that chakra energy can be felt and assessed.

As recounted in his book, Joy’s Way, Joy happened onto chakra energy while examining a man in his office. On impulse, he used his hand to scan the area six inches or so above the man’s liver, trying to detect any energy radiating from that organ. As his hand passed from the right side of the liver to its central portion, he encountered “something that felt like a warm cloud” in the solar plexus. Astonished, he began to systematically scan a wide area above the body of the man. He also began to scan his other patients. He found and mapped uniform energy fields, cylindrical in shape, occurring in the same locations on each person. Later, while browsing in the Eastern religious section of a bookstore, he opened a book on Tantric Yoga and saw a diagram of the major energy fields. “My God,” he exclaimed, “I’ve discovered the chakras!” John worked with doctors Joy and Moss in the late 1970s, deepening his understanding and experience.

After studying the subject for many years, we have come to believe that life energy pours into our bodies through these chakras, which appear to be centers for energy accumulation. They supply a link between our physical and non-physical bodies. We imagine the chakras as cylindrical, perhaps one-and-one-half inches in diameter, entering the body to supply the nearby meridians, glands and organs with energy.

Over many years, John developed a system that evolved both from his own perceptions of the human energy field and from his studies of the work of Wilhelm Reich. A psychiatrist and student of Sigmund Freud, Reich discovered that the muscles hold memories of past emotions or trauma and often respond by becoming chronically tense. This response, sometimes subtle, sometimes pronounced, can prevent a person from experiencing and expressing a full range of emotions. As Reich explained it, “muscles hold memory.” Based on our direct experience, we agree. Muscles hold emotional memories, but harsh memories can be released to improve health.

Years ago John experienced several healing sessions with a man named Al Bauman who had studied directly with Reich. To reach the root of a particular emotion, such as sadness, Bauman had the client lie down and breathe in and out for five minutes or so. Then he would deeply massage the muscles around the throat area. The client might suddenly have a remembrance of a past sad experience and break into tears. After one or two sessions, the emotion was released from the muscles holding it, allowing the client to experience a fuller range of emotion: sadness, anger, contentment, happiness, the qualities that make daily life rich and meaningful. John discovered that Reiki can often help achieve the same results.

“When I encountered Dr. Reich’s system,” said John, “I understood what had happened during my childhood when I feared my father’s tickling. The muscles around my solar plexus chakra had locked down on the fear of my father and future tickling. As a young child, I feared that the powerful, seemingly uncontrollable feelings aroused by tickling would lead to something terrible, death perhaps. I locked down so hard on the muscles around my solar plexus chakra that I cut off the energy flow. The band of glands and organs, supplied with energy by that chakra, became weak and vulnerable to problems.”
John and Lourdes regularly give private sessions to individuals with physical problems. John says, “during the counseling session before the actual Reiki session (Chapter 5), we routinely ask the client about the physical problem, ask when the problem first surfaced, and then, the key question: what was going on at that time. In a large percentage of responses, the client tells us that he or she had been experiencing an emotional trauma either during or just before the physical problem surfaced. Recognizing the connection between the two events, the client is more easily able to work on the physical difficulty.”

The significance of events is colored by our temperament and life experiences. What might deeply affect one person could be a minor nuisance to another.

Once John was giving a Reiki treatment to an economist. She had undergone a mastectomy ten years earlier. They talked about this traumatic event and the possible underlying emotional cause of her illness. This gave her an insight into her problem. Six months prior to the diagnosis of her cancer, the United States government had embarked on a fiscal policy which she was certain was going to ruin the nation. She became profoundly upset and, upon reflection, she saw that her cancer was her response to this situation.

Emotional Set-Points

“Emotional set-point” is a phrase coined by John. We use it to describe the long-term, overall emotional tone of a person. From infancy through early childhood, we humans develop emotional set-points based on experiences with siblings, parents, grandparents, caregivers, neighbors and close friends. These experiences, if profound, and especially if repeated, give rise to emotions such as happiness, fear, joy, doubt, anger, love, self-trust or self-doubt. When one of these conditions crystallizes within a person, it can be considered an emotional set-point.

Once established, these points are usually with us for the rest of our life. Like a sine curve, set points keep popping up as we encounter words, smells, sights or other sensations that remind us subconsciously of key childhood situations and experiences.

If a set-point is an uncomfortable one, like fear, doubt, or anger, it may well get stronger and stronger until it starts communicating itself to the body. Statistically, angry people have more heart attacks than others and sad people tend to get more diseases than happy people.

Uncomfortable emotions are held in the muscles. For example, emotions relating to fear and anxiety become lodged in the muscles of the solar plexus area. The muscles then tighten up creating a tourniquet effect on the chakra’s energy flow. The chakra is prevented from delivering adequate energy to the glands and organs.

If a chakra is low, or weak in comparison to the other chakras, the basis of the weakness is likely an emotional set-point which causes certain muscles to lock down. The surrounding glands, organs and other body systems receive less life force, thus becoming vulnerable to physical problems.
Often Western medicine deals with symptoms, trying to ease them one way or another, without looking for the cause. The emotional set-point of a person can serve as a window, giving us a clearer view of the root causes of illnesses and allowing us to offer direct and appropriate treatment.

A Survey of the Chakras

A body worker named Rachel Claire first outlined to John the relationships between chakras, the muscles around them and emotional set-points. As John worked with these relationships, he expanded them into the system he now uses. Following is a general outline of the chakra system:

The root chakra is at the bottom of the torso, in the perineum, between the anus and genitals. It is related to an individual’s self-image, an aspect subject to many double messages during early childhood. A weak root chakra can suggest that growing up, the child felt overwhelmed and hid feelings of inadequacy. He or she is unsure of his interactions with others, fearful of a hierarchy and sometimes contemptuous of those below. For example, from the shame-inducing statements children hear around toilet training or from a lack of feelings about safety and security, a child can develop a poor self-image.

A strong root chakra suggests a good self-image and basic self-confidence. These are people who enjoy life, get along with the boss and genuinely like colleagues, social events, clubs and family. People with strong root chakras understand intuitively that these realms of social activity are opportunities for learning about and helping the self. They are not afraid to admit they are not perfect and welcome opportunities to improve.

The glands and organs supplied with energy by the root chakra are as follows: the penis, testicles, prostate gland, vagina, partially the colon and the legs.

The lower abdominal chakra is an inch or so below the navel. It is related to sensuality and the senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell, taste and the “sixth sense,” intuition. This is where the so- called “gut feelings” originate.

When the lower abdominal chakra is weak, a person can be inhibited from utilizing his or her senses to the fullest. Patterns of behavior learned in early childhood often cause this. For example, a little boy scratches his genitals. His parents react: “Don’t touch that!” So he stops touching and perhaps becomes inhibited around touch. Many children are able to see energy in various forms but are told they are imagining things and begin to mistrust their intuitive sight. Limits to sensuality can obstruct the ability to enjoy the senses, the capacity, for example, to be moved by music or to fully experience the taste of a ripe peach or the scent of a rose.

If the lower abdominal chakra is strong, the senses and the brain communicate clearly. Those strong in this area are more mindful of the scent, taste, sight, sound and touch of the world around them including sexuality, which is part of the sensual experience but not the only one. Glands and organs within the area of the lower abdominal chakra are the small intestines, partially the colon, the bladder and partially the prostate gland. An evolving consensus claims that the ovaries and the uterus get their signals from the lower abdominal chakra.

The solar plexus chakra is just below the tip of the sternum, at the center of the “V” between the ribs. When the solar plexus chakra is weak, the practitioner can be certain that from infancy and early childhood the client has had an emotional set-point around fear of the future. This fear may well be directing the client’s life.

If the chakra is strong, you can suspect that this person probably thinks about the future in a positive way. He trusts in himself and his ability to handle each moment as it comes along. The band of glands and organs around the solar plexus include the stomach, spleen, pancreas, liver, gall bladder, kidneys and adrenal glands. These glands and organs are vulnerable when the solar plexus chakra is low.

The heart chakra is located between the breasts. When a Reiki practitioner notices weakness in the client’s heart chakra, this suggests a pattern of anger existing from early childhood.

In the 1950s, two cardiologists, Meyer Friedman, M.D. and Ray H. Rosenman, M.D. noticed an emotional component in their work with heart patients. From their study of the phenomena, they wrote a groundbreaking book, “Type-A Behavior and Your Heart.” This well-regarded thesis has been statistically examined many times. In brief, it states that stress associated with meeting business and professional deadlines, coupled with excessive competitive drive, might be the chief causal factor for heart attacks. Their first research effort involved a study of the normal blood cholesterol and blood-clotting rate of 40 accountants. Both rates rose alarmingly as tax-filing deadlines approached and then returned to normal levels after the deadlines had passed. From this information, large-scale studies of behaviors and patterns labeled Type A were generated.

The Type A personality is characterized by an inferiority complex twisted into a compulsion to be “the boss” in everything. Type A needs to succeed over everyone else. If the game is golf, he needs to have the lowest score. In tennis, he expects to beat the opponent every time. The resultant body armoring reduces the flow of life force to and from the heart chakra. The deprivation of this energy renders the heart and lungs vulnerable to physical problems. The client, when asked about the physical body, will usually mention heart problems or asthma.

If the heart chakra is strong, the practitioner may suspect an absence of hostility, aggression, anger and likely a pattern of love. The person probably has a compassionate personality, for the self as well as others.

The heart and lungs get their signals from the heart chakra.

The throat chakra is just below the Adam’s apple. If the throat chakra is weak, the practitioner may suspect this person has an emotional set-point of sadness that has run his life since early childhood. It can indicate a separation trauma within the family at an early age. This could be a single disturbing separation, like the breakup of the parents’ marriage, or something small but often repeated, such as a mother heading off to work and neglecting to reassure the child that she will return. Muscles around the throat are perpetually tightened, clamped onto the memory of loneliness or sadness. The life force flowing into that area is reduced.

People with weak throat chakras seem to be more susceptible to disease in general. We have scanned many people with cancer. With the exception of two or three people, all have had a weak throat chakra. Lourdes has also scanned many people with HIV-Aids. She has noted a weak throat chakra in all of these people. This attitude of hopelessness and helplessness leads to a drop in the functioning of the immune system, which renders the self vulnerable to bacteria and viruses.

A strong throat chakra indicates a happy person, one who enjoys life and companionship but is able to be alone and not feel lonely. People with strong throat chakras are often found in occupations in which they work by themselves. Such individuals are likely to breeze through hours and hours alone, a desolation to someone with a weak throat chakra. Painters, sculptors, writers, computer programmers generally have strong throat chakras.

Glands and organs within the region of the throat chakra include the esophagus, trachea, larynx, thyroid and parathyroid glands. The thymus gland gets its signals from the throat chakra. This gland is part of the immune system and is responsible for the maturation of T cells.

The brow chakra is found in the center of the forehead, just above the eyebrows. Scanning a strong brow chakra is a rare occurrence. Individuals having a strong brow chakra tend to be involved in self-awareness and self-development activities. Meditators for the most part, they seem to be able to look both backward and forward in time and space better than most of us. They are characteristically intuitive.

Some chakra systems link the brow chakra to the pituitary gland and the crown chakra to the pineal gland, although John has not found such connections when he scans.

The crown chakra is located at the top of the head. Whenever we scan a strong crown chakra, and that is quite seldom, we know the person is deeply involved in spiritual development, one who asks for help from other dimensions: the guardian angel, the Christ Consciousness or the Higher Self.

Only about ten percent of the population will have a strong brow chakra, and those who do seem to be highly involved in personal development. Less than one percent of the population appears to have strong crown chakras and they tend to be on spiritual paths.

Throughout history, sensitive people have observed the radiant glow about the head and sometimes the whole body of particularly devout individuals. Artists have often painted it as a halo encircling the heads of great spiritual personages such as Christ and Buddha. The halo indicates a strong and awakened crown chakra.

The knees and feet are the sites of sub-chakras, smaller energy wheels. Observing the differences in strength of the left and right in a client can help the practitioner to assess the balance of yin and yang. Balance is the ideal state. Therefore, people who have the vitality of right and left side equally distributed are generally balanced in their thoughts and actions.

The left knee and foot represent the yin aspect. This aspect is equated with the feminine, intuitive, emotional, receptive nature and the right hemisphere of the brain. The right knee and foot represent the yang aspect. This aspect represents the masculine, mathematical, factual, projective, executive aspect, and the left hemisphere of the brain.

By comparing the yin and yang aspect, a Reiki practitioner can obtain insight on how the person functions within their world. When the chakras of the left knee and foot are stronger than the right, the feminine aspect predominates. This suggests someone suited to work which emphasizes the totality of situations: painting, sculpting, counseling, and so forth. If the yang aspect is stronger, this suggests a person suited to a job where the focus is on getting things done, one who pushes forward regardless of obstacles, perhaps a management or middle-management type. Comparing the chakras of the knees and feet can provide a good indication of the way the person deals with life.

In our Reiki classes, John often tells a bit about himself to illustrate this point. “My left knee and foot are stronger than my right knee and foot. I tend to get into situations where I need to be intuitive and develop information on a given subject so I can present it. Conversely, my right knee and foot, my yang aspect, my executive nature is weaker. I am slow to get things done. I am very good at processing how they should get done, but doing them is something else again.”

When people have jobs that are incompatible with their basic yin-yang orientation, they often develop physical problems emerging from the side they are not emphasizing.

The Theoretical Basis for Scanning the Human Energy System

Just as it has a complex physical anatomy, the human body has a complex energy anatomy. This is something that has been known and worked with for thousands of years in the Orient, but only recently in the West.

Materialism begins with an assumption that matter alone is real; hence everything that exists is either matter or entirely dependent upon matter. But this view leaves out at least half the picture. The world in general, and human beings in particular, are also made up of forces, or energy. Reiki is a healing modality keyed to energy of the human body. Through skillful means, the practitioner links the client and the client’s energy body to a vast, infinite source of a particularly beneficial band of energy frequencies. This band of energy is the basic vitalizing force at large in the universe. When a person has an ample supply of it in proper balance, they have radiant health. When the energy is depleted, they are depleted and, hence, vulnerable to illness.

Today there is an extensive literature on the human energy anatomy. We make no effort to present a comprehensive review of that literature in this book, for such an effort has been, and is being, done well by others. We offer a few key points and a list of recommended reading for readers who wish to learn more.
We affirm the reality of a human energy anatomy, a reality not only discernable via the hands of trained and experienced Reiki practitioners, but also by scientific means.

Various books from both the Orient and the West show artistic representations of the human energy system. Some designate a color for each part of the system, or a symbol, a musical note, or some other device. Some books show specific aspects of the human energy system located in one place, while other books show those aspects elsewhere. Yet other books omit some aspects altogether. This confusion will sort itself out in time as our spiritual and scientific capabilities mature, for the human energy system is quite real and quite essential. At a minimum, it provides additional, different, and essential energy beyond what we receive from food, water, and air.

In the West, Harold Saxon Burr, a neuro-anatomist at Yale University School of Medicine for 43 years, uncovered and documented the existence of electromagnetic fields around living things. He conducted numerous experiments on plants, animals, and humans in order to map these life-energy fields, “L-fields,” as he called them, auras as they are popularly known.

At one point Burr became interested in tracking the embryonic development of salamanders. He discovered in the embryos, an electrical axis already shaped in the form of the healthy adult animal, aligning the tail and the head. The adult energy form existed, and could be measured, while the physical salamander was still an embryo. Burr theorized that electromagnetic fields around living things serve as a matrix, or mold, to guide the future shape and arrangement of those organisms.

Burr was also successful in predicting future pathology where no clinical signs were yet detectable via standard diagnostic methods. He did this by measuring abnormal voltage patterns in the energy field. He used the analogy of a jelly mold that has a dent or a bulge, which produces dents or bulges in the jelly itself. Burr found that the electrical patterns of disease first exist in the electromagnetic field or aura before they manifest in the physical body.

Burr’s finding may help us to understand how a trained Reiki practitioner can scan the body of a client with his or her hand, and actually feel not only the quantity, but also the quality of the energy.
The basic idea of an energy field around the human body was developed further by scientist Rupert Sheldrake in his theories of morphogenesis, as outlined in his landmark books: A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Morphic Resonance and The Presence of The Past. One of Sheldrake’s important contributions was to formulate fairly loose ideas about energy fields into a testable theory. Current research into morphogenetic fields is establishing a common language, allowing energy healers and scientists to discuss and explore these realms together.

In summary, the human energy system, though not visible to the human eye for most people, is a real and essential aspect of our overall anatomy. Assessing the energy field can provide a wealth of useful information.

Within the overall energy anatomy, three major components merit attention from Reiki practitioners. These components are: the aura, or electro-magnetic field around the body; the nadis and meridians, channels or pathways along which energy flows; and the chakras, wheels or vortices of energy which transfers energy from the outside of the body to the inside.

Aura – According to Barbara Brennan’s book The Human Energy Field, the word “aura” means “atmosphere or light, and is an appropriate enough term, given the nature of this phenomenon. It is usually defined as a sort of multi-dimensional energy field..” The aura can be considered a series of subtle energy bodies that surround and completely envelop each human body. It is a luminous field of energy, unique to each living being. Each of the subtle bodies that make up the human aura has a specific pattern and frequency, with a specific purpose. In general, the aura is a transitional energy field between the ordinary physical plane and the many and various planes of energy at large in the world. In analyzing the aura, we limit our observation to the segment closest to the body. This segment, which measures less than 36 inches from the physical body is considered the “physical aura.”

Nadis – The nadis of yoga and the meridians of Chinese medicine are often considered to be essentially the same, for in their respective traditions they are recognized as the channels, or pathways, for the internal flow of vital energy (ki, chi, prana, etc.). One can picture the nadis as a dense and complex system of rivers, streams, and rivulets. Instead of carrying water or nerve impulses, the nadis carry energy. In the physical body the nadis are represented by the cardio-vascular, lymphatic, and nervous systems. The nadis and the chakras are closely interrelated. The precise number of nadis in an average human being has not yet been established, but there are many. Some ancient teachings specify a total of 72,000; others say there are as many as 340,000.

Chakra – Covered previously in this chapter.

As related in Chapter 1, John’s childhood fear of tickling led to adult anxiety and severe stomach problems, reflected in a low solar plexus chakra, prior to his learning Reiki. “Fear in the face of a real and present danger is a legitimate emotion,” says John. “One marshals the body to deal with life-threatening situations, shifting blood supply to the arms and legs, increasing and speeding the breath and sharpening the senses to provide the best possible reaction to the fire, storm, accident, or whatever emergency has occurred. But to fear the future and to marshal the body’s extraordinary capacities in defense of it, is fruitless, draining and opposes good health.”

Those who drive may remember a time when another car came recklessly speeding by, through a stop sign or from the side. Such an immediate threat may have resulted in a flash of feeling in the pit of the stomach when the muscles clamped down, preparing to respond. In an instance such as this, it is fear of the present reality that causes the reactions.

Fear of the future works similarly in the body. When muscles clamp down in the pit of the stomach, they constrict the flow of life force into the solar plexus chakra. If this happens regularly, as is typically the case with people who are anxious about the future, then the band of glands and organs are deprived of the life force. They become weak and vulnerable.

In general, Reiki practitioners need to pay attention to the information received through all of their senses. Notice what your hands feel, of course. But also notice information from the other senses. When you experience an unusual sensation, such as a pain in a certain area of the stomach or a sudden smell of fear or distress, or some peculiar sort of signal that speaks to the moment, take note. The practitioner needs to ask, “How does my experience relate to my work with this client?” When you get an unusual sensation, keep it in mind. It may be a key part of the health puzzle for the client. Further, the day may come when you get another experience of that same sensation. If so you may also discern a relationship between those sensations and the health issues presented by the client. Such insight may prove to be profoundly helpful in getting to the root cause of a health problem. As Hawayo Takata said repeatedly, “Reiki is cause and effect. Find the cause and remove it and you will get rid of the effects.”

Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.

John Harvey Gray & Lourdes Gray, Ph.D.
The most experienced Reiki Instructors in the United States