Of the seven primary chakras, the heart chakra is the fourth, and perhaps the most famous. Presumably, this is because love is the primordial driving force behind everything we do, when we’re energetically in balance, at least. We speak of ‘matters of the heart’, ‘opening the heart’, ‘coming from the heart’ and having a ‘broken heart’; none of these concepts really refer to the physical organ. They refer to the energy of the heart chakra.
When we feel compassion, love, empathy or sadness, we feel it mostly in the heart area; sometimes a physical ache, as if the sensation was coming from the organ itself. Such is the power of the heart chakra! It integrates as it unites, encouraging wholeness… in other words, it is the ultimate healing tool.
Where is the heart chakra?
Like the other primary chakras, the West refers to the heart chakra by its position. Its location probably needs no clarification, but just in case: it is located in the center of the chest. The heart chakra is often thought of as the bridge between the upper and lower chakras; a kind of hub through which all your energy travels to be processed.
The Sanskrit name for the heart chakra is Anahata, and you may hear this in spiritual songs and Indian mantras. Anahata literally means ‘unhurt, unstruck and unbeaten’, implying an indestructible strength. It may seem ironic, given that we feel pain in our energetic hearts; and yet we humans seem incredibly adept at recovery. Perhaps the motto of the heart could be “onwards and upwards”!
Anahata Nad is the Vedic concept which means ‘unstruck sound’, or in other words, the sound of the celestial realm: the realm of all potential. Our hearts have a huge capacity to love, which is why Anahata is associated with joy, compassion, warmth, balance, calmness, and serenity.
On a physical level, the heart chakra corresponds to the heart, lungs, chest, arms, and hands; the circulatory system and thymus gland too.
Key characteristics of the heart chakra
The symbol for Anahata is the lotus flower, surrounded by twelve petals. In the center there are two triangles forming a star shape; this is identical to the Jewish Star of David, which incidentally was originally the Vedic Anahata associated with yoga tantra, Sri Chakra, and Yantras.
Called the shatkona in Hindu Yantra, the symbol represents a union of the male and female. The seed sound of the heart chakra is LAM, the predominant sense is touch, and the sense organ it relates to is skin. The element this chakra corresponds to is air, and as you can see in its symbol, its color is green.
The twelve qualities of the heart are love, compassion, forgiveness, joy, peace, harmony, kindness, clarity, patience, purity, understanding and bliss. We greatly favor and strive for these ultimate qualities, so a balanced heart chakra is very important. Without this, these qualities feel beyond our grasp somehow.
The heart chakra is responsible for our deepest bonds with others, whether family, friends, partners or pets. If you’ve ever been in love, you’ll recall the feeling of a bursting heart. A warm buzz flows through the center of your chest and you can’t wipe the smile off your face; your heart chakra is spinning at maximum capacity and you are full of the joys of life. No wonder we crave the feeling of being in love!
What happens when the heart chakra is imbalanced?
When you feel liberated, creative, compassionate and loving, your heart chakra is probably functioning optimally. You naturally care about other people and yourself, you have a healthy sense of self-love, and the urge to nurture and support others. Moreover, you have healthy boundaries and know when it’s time to take care of yourself.
This in itself leads to generosity, unconditional respect, and altruistic inclinations. Your energy will be magnetic to others and you’ll find that you inspire them to be the best they can be. You’ll be non-judgmental, radiating warmth and kindness… and who could possibly resist?
Moving away from the physical world, the heart chakra has its roots firmly in the spiritual too; this manifests as a sense of spiritual connection to the source energy you may or may not call ‘God’. When balanced, you really feel that you are an innate part of the whole; that every single thing in life is intrinsically connected.
An under-active heart chakra
When the heart chakra is under-active, your positivity levels can hit rock bottom. You may well shift into ‘glass half empty’ mode, struggling to muster up optimism and motivation. There’s a chance you will project this onto others, perceiving that they don’t really love you, or that you can’t trust them. These feelings of invalidation lead to lack of self-worth and self-esteem.
Due to the law of attraction, what you expect – however unconsciously – will be what you manifest, so you may start to attract people who don’t respect, consider or love you. It’s possible to become quite lonely. If this happens, remember that this state can be undone with a little effort to rebalance your heart chakra.
An over-active heart chakra
Those with an over-active heart chakra tend to be emotionally all over the place. There is a tendency toward feelings of self-pity and grief, despair, sadness and anger. You might find yourself wildly swinging between the emotional poles; one minute you’ll be sad, and the next extremely happy; something others find hard to navigate.
With others, you feel be inclined to be greedy, manipulative or controlling. Love goes from being unconditional to very conditional, and you’ll feel unsatisfied with what others have to offer. You may demand that they change to suit your preferences, and you may end up in codependent relationships, forming unhealthy attachments.
You’ll become more critical of yourself and others, but with a tendency to worry about your own social identity. You could fear that others don’t really like you, and your healthy boundaries may dissolve. Your relating style may become more ‘take’ than ‘give’, or you might attract takers who will drain your energy and resources. Your perspective on forgiveness becomes skewed, so you forgive when you should assert yourself.
A blocked heart chakra may result in immune system problems, or ailments relating to the heart, lungs, chest, etc. Circulatory problems are more common and you may find you have high or low blood pressure.
How to balance the heart chakra
If you can relate to the above symptoms, it can’t hurt to try heart chakra rebalancing. There are many ways to do this, so we’ve picked out a few we find particularly beneficial:
Forgiveness can be difficult – especially when it comes to forgiving ourselves! But forgiveness holds the keys to freedom. Forgiveness shouldn’t be blind, and it does require discernment; it doesn’t mean repeatedly throwing yourself back into unhealthy situations. It means recognizing that whoever has hurt or wronged you is did so because they lack understanding and balance. It’s more about them than you.
You don’t have to forget, but try releasing the emotion and don’t obsess. Likewise, self-forgiveness is the only way to truly move forward. Remind yourself that you are a fallible human who grows through mistakes just like everyone else.
Meditate on it
Meditation can bring balance back to the heart chakra by restoring the energy flow through it. Taking a comfortable seated position, find a quiet spot and focus on pulling energy down from the source field, inviting it into your heart chakra. Visualize the chakra glowing green and spinning freely. Set the intention to heal, and allow feelings of pure love to come back in.
Try heart opening yoga poses to invite love and forgiveness into your life.
Listen to beautiful music
If music is the food of life, it can certainly nourish the thing that makes life feel beautiful: the heart. You can listen to music while you meditate if it helps, but it’s good to do it at any time. With well-chosen, soft music that speaks to the spirit, it is difficult to maintain a negative emotional state.
Don’t listen to any melancholy love songs, however beautiful the melody. Stick to upbeat, joyous music and perhaps spiritual mantras. It’s love we wish to invoke, not sadness.
Try some affirmations and mantras
When the heart chakra is out of balance, this often results in problems with self-worth and a negative self-image. Positive affirmations are a great way to pull yourself out of this.
Practice repeating things like, “I love myself and others unconditionally”, “I have more than enough love from the people in my life”, “I forgive myself and others for mistakes”, and “I am grateful for (insert things you appreciate about your life)”.
You can also try using the Anahata seed sound, YAM, for rebalancing. Again, do this while meditating, by either chanting out loud or hearing the sound in your head. The spoken word is more powerful, mind.
When we open ourselves up to love with the intention of giving it back out, the world seems like a much more beautiful place. It is not so difficult to reconnect with our spirits and feel the joys of life once again. We hope you enjoy rebalancing your heart chakra!
Learn more about the chakra system here!