Chakra Myths and the Quick-Fix Perscription

In my recent CHITHEADS interview with Anodea Judith, I was very interested to get her perspective on common myths about the chakras. Due to my own sense that much of the material out there about the chakras is fluffy and hippie-dippe at best, I wanted to hear some of the myths from someone who takes a much more grounded, rigorous, and intelligent approach to the chakras. 

She mused humorously about some of the nonsense she hears - including someone who once wanted advice about their dog's chakras -, but she mentioned one particular question that she said comes up again and again: "which way do the chakras spin?"

I probably giggled a little bit at that point. While I have taught a whole chakra series before (based on Anodea's work) and co-led two retreats to Costa Rica themed on the chakras, I have always felt it important to emphasize the non-physical (but nonetheless still real) existence of the chakras. In a similar way that we can't physically see love yet we see its material impact on the world and can thus speak about it -- analogously we see the physical impact of the chakras in the world, psychologically and collectively. 

The "spin" of the chakras seems to be wrapped up in a misunderstanding of how the chakras should be considered. Anodea agrees with me: "The spin of the chakras is so superficial to be not even relevant. If you part your hair on the other side, will you become smarter?”

I wanted to go deeper on this point, so I pressed on: "what are the stakes for someone in figuring out which way the chakras spin?" I asked her.

Anodea remarked that her sense of why people get wrapped up in the spin boils down to a cultural bias toward the quick-fix prescription. "People want to heal without doing the work". 

Amen. As ridiculous as it seems - at least to me - that someone would imagine laying a crystal on your heart chakra could somehow wipe away years of sedimented trauma from a history of abuse, the underlying symptom that leads someone to believe in such hoke-pokery is far more sinister. Anodea calls it the belief in a "magic potion".

Indeed, the whole psychiatric medical establishment operates on this mythology: "all your troubles will be over if you take this magic pill. If that one doesn't work, try this one," and so on, ad infinitum. I certainly don't mean to say that medication is not sometimes timely and practical, but the pervasiveness of medicalized responses to existential crises far outweighs the real need for them. Meanwhile, the pockets of pharmaceutical executives are lined with gold, as this mythology continues to weave through our collective psyche. 

Healing using the chakras as a map is not a pill, not a quick fix. It is rather a powerful tool for allowing human struggle and crisis to be woven into the telling of our story (personal, social and political) in a way that doesn't pathologize nor medicalize that struggle for financial gain. 

As a result, we become more gentle and compassionate with ourselves when we're going through a rough time. We are less compelled to grasp for a magic potion due to this socialized habit of seeing sadness, anxiety and the more challenging qualities of life as if they were diseases. 

The chakra system, as Anodea teaches it, embraces the beauty of darkness as a necessary thread in the weaving of polarities that is human existence. 

If you have yet to listen to my interview with Anodea, check it out through the link below.


Jacob Kyle. Frustrated with the rigidity and spiritual emptiness of his past life on the academic path, Jacob eventually redirected his energies toward sharing the practice of yoga - a practice that has enriched so many lives. Wisdom is not an affair of the head alone, but must be grounded in the heart and in an embodied way of living: this has been the deepest truth Jacob has taken away from his some ten years of practice. If he can play even a small role in imparting that truth to the world, his goals are met.  Jacob created Five Tattvas in an attempt to meet those goals. Jacob is a frequent contributing writer to elephant journal, teaches in teacher trainings, and hosts retreats year round at destinations both local and abroad. jacobkyleyoga.com

Jacob Kyle. Frustrated with the rigidity and spiritual emptiness of his past life on the academic path, Jacob eventually redirected his energies toward sharing the practice of yoga - a practice that has enriched so many lives. Wisdom is not an affair of the head alone, but must be grounded in the heart and in an embodied way of living: this has been the deepest truth Jacob has taken away from his some ten years of practice. If he can play even a small role in imparting that truth to the world, his goals are met.  Jacob created Five Tattvas in an attempt to meet those goals. Jacob is a frequent contributing writer to elephant journal, teaches in teacher trainings, and hosts retreats year round at destinations both local and abroad. jacobkyleyoga.com

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