It circulates all around you. It kisses your skin. It fills your chest and provides you with the vitality of life. It connects everyone and everything. It keeps you alive. It is your center. It is a state of being. It is love. Love is Anahata. Let’s dive deep and unite with compassion, empathy, community, and love.
The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. - The Dalai Lama
The word Anahata comes from the Sanskrit meaning unhurt, unstruck and unbeaten. It has also been translated as infinite and boundless. This translation really illustrates what Anahata is all about. The love housed by the heart chakra is not a self serving, pleasure driven love. The love in Anahata is selfless, infinite, and boundless. This love is not a feeling, it is a state of being. Love is massive and multifaceted. English only has one word for love, thus the language misses a lot of nuance. The Greeks, however, had six different words for love. Two of them define the type of love Anahata represents; Philautia, love for self and Agape, love for everyone. This is very important and we’ll be visiting this again so let’s put a pin in it.
Anahata is located in the center of the chest. It rules over our circulatory and respiratory systems. The upper back, shoulders, arms, and hands also fall under the heart chakra’s purview. The gland ruled by Anahata is the thymus gland. For those of us that are not anatomy nerds, the thymus is located between the lungs and makes white blood cells. This means that a lot of immune function is governed by the heart chakra.
Anahata is ruled by the color green. The heart is where things become interesting. Anahata is the middle point of the chakra system. It is where we begin to integrate the fiery, earthy, warm, physical lower three chakras with the cooler, spiritual, and ethereal upper three chakras. In Anahata our physical needs of existence and our higher purpose come together. We step outside of the realm of what we need, and begin to enter the territory of the greater good. WIth Anahata we expand out of ourselves and into the collective.
Anahata is ruled by the air element. There are many parallels drawn between air and love. Air is within and all around us. It keeps us alive. Air flows through and connects us to everything. Both keep us alive and bring nutrition to our cells. The air you inhale and exhale has also been inhaled and exhaled by others. Insects, animals, people, and plants all exchange air. We also all exchange love through energy. Once again, we’re repeating the theme of going beyond ourselves.
Love is a state of being in harmony with oneself.” — Anodea Judith
Signs of Balance
Our relationships are defined by our capacity for love, empathy, compassion, and forgiveness, all of which are cultivated in the heart chakra. When Anahata is functioning properly we form healthy relationships set with proper boundaries. We experience unconditional love for ourselves and others. That is not to say there will be no conflicts. When Anahata is fully functional however, these conflicts tend to be resolved with relative ease.
When Anahata is balanced you experience bliss knowing your place in the world. You are happy with the role you play and understand how important your unique contribution to the whole is. This is when you experience the joy of following your heart with confidence. You are aware of the joy, beauty, and passion surrounding you and more importantly, are connected to that joy, beauty, and passion.
Physically, a healthy Anahata presents as respiratory and circulatory system health. Because of its association with the Thymus, a healthy heart chakra also indicates a strong immune system. Also Imma say a vibrant Anahata will present as good posture due to its association with the upper back and shoulders. A posture with your shoulders back and an open heart is always a good sign that the heart chakra is purring.
A radiant, blissful, healthy existence? This reality sounds amazing. Cheers to those who experience this everyday. For those of us that don't, how did we get here? What caused our Anahata to stop functioning efficiently? How do we spark our inner fire to bring it back into balance? What dims our Anahata? What is it that detracts from the joyful existence we all deserve?
What Can Cause an Imbalance?
"Continue to share your heart with people even if it has been broken."
- Amy Poehler
Life is pain. We’ve all experienced pain. Pain sucks. It hurts. We don’t like to hurt. When we’ve been hurt we never want to go through that pain again so we build armor around our hearts. We do this to insulate us from further pain, but in doing so there is significant collateral damage. Our protective armor is really an iron maiden in sheep's clothing. Cutting your heart off from the world leads to a very lonely life. It prevents us from developing true relationships with others. Healthy relationships are about reciprocity. Once you cut yourself off you are setting yourself up not only for seriously unhealthy relationships, but significant feelings of isolation, seperatness, and distrust. Taken to the extreme you can cut your heart off even from yourself.
The relationship you have with yourself is THE most important relationship you have. I’ll repeat that. It is so important. The relationship you have with yourself is THE most important relationship you have. Every single relationship you have is a mirror to the one you have with yourself. You will always be your own harshest judge. When you don’t accept yourself with unconditional love you judge yourself. This creates feelings of unworthiness. It completely sabotages any notion of self love. This can lead to desperate, manipulative, or codependent tendencies and will certainly kill Anahata.
Just like air, love is meant to flow. When Anahata is not flowing you can go too far in trying to please people. When this happens you pour yourself into others and neglect self care. This pattern creates a downward spiral and ultimately leads to hatred, resentment and fear. The old adage is true. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
When energy stagnates it also creates a breeding ground for anger, jealousy, betrayal, and hatred. Stagnation is where grudges live and trust goes to die.
Everyone experiences an imbalanced Anahata now and then. What happens when we encounter someone else who is riding that downward spiral to isolation and fear? The answer is to react with love. Both love for yourself and love for them. Self love is reflected in knowing what you are worth. This makes it possible to set healthy boundaries and NOT absorb the shade the other person is throwing at you. Love for them comes in the form of compassion. Just as your relationship with them is a mirror of your relationship with yourself, they are reflecting their relationship with self onto you. If someone is habitually trying to hurt you, it is ultimately because they themselves feel unworthy of love. Fear, hatred, and ignorance all come from a closed heart chakra. Recognizing a hurtful person as a fellow traveler that is experiencing fear and pain is the embodiment of compassion.
There is always a chicken and the egg moment when it comes to physical manifestations of poorly functioning chakras. Does the chakra cause the physical ailment, or does the disease put stress on the chakra causing dysfunction? I think it’s a little of both.
In the case of Anahata, ruler of the circulatory system, poor circulation, high or low blood pressure, and other heart conditions often present with an unbalanced heart chakra. As overseer of the respiratory system, bronchial infections, COPD, emphysema, and or pnumonia add a lot of stress to Anahata. Infections of any kind, weakened, or a compromised immune system can also indicate, or exacerbate a poor functioning Anahata.
Tension headache? Shoulders up by your ears? Tension in the neck and shoulders is indicative of an imbalanced Anahata. Poor posture is another sign something in the heart may not be right. People with dysfunction in the heart chakra often fold in on themselves. This is a physical manifestation of putting armor around your heart. This move in and of itself can create upper back problems.
Imbalance in the first 3 chakras
The chakras form a system. If one part of a system is experiencing dysfunction, that often manifests through other chakras. If there are problems in the root, sacral, or solar plexus chakra it will certainly manifest in the heart. Remember, the heart is the gateway between the upper and lower chakras.
As the name Anahata means unhurt and unbroken, the name itself implies that is our true nature. Beyond experiencing pain and disease there is a place where hurt, anger, hatred, loneliness, and pain do not dictate how we feel about ourselves and others. How do we get there? How do we unarmor our hearts, and freely open ourselves up to playing our true roles?
Love makes the mundane sacred- Anodea Judith How to Balance the Anahata Chakra
Philautia - love for oneself- Do it now.
Let’s start with the most important thing. All relationships stem from this one.
NUMBER ONE!! Stop waiting to love yourself! Stop waiting to be skinny enough, smart enough, talented enough, vice free, or successful enough. Just stop. Right now you are worthy of unconditional love. I’ll repeat that one again too. RIGHT now you deserve unconditional love. Yes, we should all strive to do better, but in this instant you deserve love, without all the “improvements” and “upgrades”. Philautia, self love, and Anahata is characterized by unconditional love. This means love without conditions. This is something I and many, many people struggle with on a daily basis.
I’ve worked in entertainment for a very long time and have had the honor to work with some of the most talented, beautiful, “successful” people on the planet. World renowned singers? Check. Professional athletes? Check. Beautiful Hollywood people? Check. Shockingly, in the sacred space of the dressing room, more often than not, it comes out that these “elites” also feel they are not enough. To look at a professional athlete and hear them talk about how their body isn’t good enough is both eye opening and jaw dropping. Clearly, it’s not about the belly fat, or the lack of ability, or the bank account. Self judgment knows no limits and has no bounds. There’s something deeper going on. You can lose weight, or get a promotion, but at the end of the day you are still the same person you were before, and that person is entitled to love.
To combat the daily messages we receive on how we’re not good enough, or how we need to consume more to be happy, we need to dig deep and do the work. Come to terms with who you are at this moment. Not you in six months with a promotion and 5 lbs lighter. Not you at the end of the year with a novel on a bookshelf. Look at who you are right now, in this moment, and learn to love yourself. For a lot of us the first step is to forgive yourself.
Learning to love yourself is a serious process, and can take a lot of work. If this is something you struggle with I would seek a qualified professional. There are also a lot of wonderful books on the subject. Make no mistake, this is a process and, while cathartic, is not always a pleasant voyage. There are some small things we can practice daily that will help us boost Anahata, and thus, self love along our voyage.
Show yourself some love.
This is a wonderful fake it till you make it technique. It will awaken Anahata. Make a commitment to do something, anything for yourself each day. Prioritize making time for yourself and do something that benefits absolutely no one else but you. For me I chose working out. It makes me feel good. I was struggling to find the time. Really, in my own life I couldn’t find a half to full hour to myself each day? Where was all my time going? I called shenanigans and made it happen. Each month I also treat myself to a massage. Doing something nice for myself communicates with action that I’m worth the time and effort. Buy yourself flowers. Treat yourself to a nice dinner. Cook something you love to eat. The point is to go out of your way, make time, and do something just for you. Not only is this fun, the more you do it the more habitualized this self care, love, and respect becomes.
Agape- Show others some love
Another thing that boosts Anahata is to show love to others. The beauty of this practice? It also helps boost others Anahata. This can be as simple as freely handing out compliments. See a nice sweater? Say so. Like someone’s haircut? Tell them. When you see others make it a point to be a positive influence.
Relationships and community are vital to Anahata. Find something you love. Get out there, volunteer, and become active in that community. Figure out how your cog fits into the larger picture. Social media gives us unprecedented power to find groups of people that share our interests.While social media creates a lot of negativity and chaos it also makes it so easy to find communities that share our passions. Finding a charity, or group to volunteer with has never been so easy.
Start and maintain a gratitude practice. Recent science suggests that practicing gratitude may alter our brains long-term. Becoming more aware of the people and experiences in our lives that bring us joy is sure to make the heart happy! Practicing gratitude can also be something you do to show yourself some love. One fun thing to try: Don’t just let a casual “thanks” cross your lips. As you go about your day, when someone does something that warrants a thank you, take a beat, reflect on what they’ve done for you, and genuinely thank them. You can also keep a gratitude journal, where each day you list the things you are grateful for. This is a wonderful way to take a look and reflect on the many ways others bring joy to your life.
There are many, many meditations for loving kindness. Google them. These meditations are designed to boost the heart chakra. This is a wonderful practice to adopt, even if it’s only for five minutes a day as you’re winding down for the evening. Most incorporate some form of Pranayama, see below, gratitude practice, and visualization.
Use Your Body to Balance Anahata
Give the plants some love
Each chakra benefits from going outside. For Anahata there’s an extra fun twist. To make the heart chakra happy, get outside and nurture some plants. Not only are you boosting Anahata by surrounding yourself with green, the microbes in soil can stimulate serotonin production in your brain. This is the hormone that stabilizes our mood. Caring for plants creates a reciprocal relationship. Yes, I’m saying plants love us, especially if we love them. In some Indiginous cultures the word for plant translates into something like “those that care for us”. They all make us oxygen. They provide us with shelter, clothing, food, medicine, and fuel. Yup these magical beings give us everything we need to both survive and thrive. To open your heart, get outside and get to know some of the happy greenery outside. Live in an apartment? No problem. There are many plants that thrive indoors as well. Many of these improve the air quality of your house as well.
To physically help Anahata focus on opening up your chest and be very mindful of your posture. In this day and age of working at a desk all day, hunched over a computer, or slouched about on your phone, our posture has been suffering. Folding in on yourself closes off your heart. If you find yourself slouching, focus on back strengthening exercises, like rows, back extensions, bridges, or planks. The companion for back strengthening is stretching out your chest. This sounds like a call for yoga.
Yoga and Pranayama- Open your heart center to open Anahata
Anyone who has been to a yoga class has been instructed to “open your heart”. There are many, MANY poses in yoga designed to open up your heart. Camel and cobra pose are prime examples. Back bends, mini and max, open your heart, as does wild thing. Cat, cow combinations both open your heart and strengthen your back. All of these are wonderful exercises to boost anahata. Follow a hearth opening yagoa routine with a loving gratitude meditation for bonus points.
As the ruler of the respiratory system, Anahata responds powerfully to Pranayama. Pranayama is the practice of breath regulation. For Anahata, focus on inhaling, and extending your exhale. Here are a couple of sites listing specific Anahata practices.
Green foods are what make Anahata go pitter pat. Luckily for us, there is no shortage of leafy greens to choose from. Not only do they contain loads of chlorophyll, a powerful antioxidant that cleanses the blood, they are chock full of minerals that support the heart. Nourish yourself- leafy greens, kale, collards, spinach, parsley, and swiss chard. Broccoli, avocados, and okra are also highly nutritious. Apples, kiwi, and green grapes are awesome fruits for Anahata. Don’t forget microgreens, such as sprouts. Even green tea is beneficial for the heart chakra.
Tools for Balancing Anahata
I have compassion
I love myself
I accept myself completely
I am open to love and kindness
I am connected to all that is
Anahata- Heart Chakra Blend
Marjoram, Basil, Cedarwood, Amyris
I am SO very excited for the Anahata blend. It features one of my favorite plants to love- Marjoram. There was really no other choice to center this blend around other than this herb. This magical little perennial is known as the herb of love and joy. She is also a champion of the circulatory and respiratory systems. Who else could be the star of the Anahata blend? This blend invokes serenity, calmness, and openness.
Mind- Anahata blend is uplifting and calming. While it is a wonderful blend to fight insomnia and relieve stress it can also enhance focus and concentration. Anahata blend is designed to promote peace, love, serenity, and connection. It is designed to open and protect your heart.
Body– Anahata blend is calming and soothing to the skin. It is a wonderful blend to fight insomnia and stress. It is also an antimicrobial blend that can help combat colds and flu. Anahata is a good tonic for the respiratory and circulatory systems. She would also be a useful addition to camping trips as it would be effective as an insect repellant.
Spirit– Energetically, the Anahata blend, just like the chakra is all about love. Many of these plants are traditionally used in love spells. This is a very protective blend that is meant to bring peace and joy to your life. This is a powerfully cleansing blend that will clear negativity. It is a wonderful tool to aid with emotional healing. These plants are happy to light the way through some deep, dark shadow work.
Anahata essential oil blend is an all natural, and organic blend of:
Marjoram- is a warming, calming and comforting anti-inflammatory. Marjoram is a number one choice for relieving stress and insomnia. She is also a champion for circulatory and respiratory issues.
Basil- is an uplifting herbaceous oil that is good to combat stress, anxiety, and fatigue.It is a wonderful oil to enhance focus.
Cedarwood- has a calming effect and sedative effect on the nervous system. It is wonderfully soothing to the skin and is a powerful deodorant.
Amyris- also known as West Indian Sandalwood. This oil can help reduce anxiety and encourage sleep. It is a powerful ally for the respiratory system.
The Anahata chakra blend is available as a vegan soap and a pre-diluted essential oil roll-on.
This smooth, hydrating soap is good for oily skin, yet it will not dry you out. It gets its beautiful green color from one of my favorite little algies, spirulina. Spirulina is antibacterial and full of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Spirulina decreases inflammation, tones the skin and encourages cell turnover to promote a more youthful-looking complexion.
The Anahata roll on is a perfect tool to use in meditations, and gratitude or forgiveness practices. It’s also a useful tool to use just to get through the day. If you are having trouble sleeping, or have been having a rough go of it lately, Anahata blend has your back.
Love Your Heart
Anahata is all about love, connection, and gratitude. Love for self is the place to start. The more you nourish this relationship, the more your other relationships will thrive. Love yourself, be nice to yourself, treat yourself to something special. Practice gratitude and be thankful for those that enter your life.
The old tale of the two wolves is particularly relevant to Anahata. In case you haven’t heard it, it’s origin is unknown, but it is sometimes attributed to the Cherokee or Lenape people. A wise Grandfather told his grandson that inside each and every one of us there are two wolves. They are constantly battling each other. One of them is hate,the other is love. “Which one wins”, asked his wide eyed grandson? “The one you feed of course” replied the grandfather. The more you feed gratitude, positivity, love, and compassion the more it will grow and the stronger it will become. Which wolf are you feeding?