The ancient science of Ayurveda describes the human body as both physical and energetic. Every human being has seven chakras which act as interfaces that relay information between the body of flesh and bone and the subtle, energy body that operates our sensory and emotional response systems.
In this article, we give a detailed overview of the fourth chakra.
Thinking of the human being’s nervous system as a powerful radio station provides a helpful analogy for visualizing how it works.
First, imagine the spine as a radio tower. Sensory information is transmitted to the spinal column via the five senses, which act as satellite receivers. Then, this information is sent up the vertebrae to the central control room, the brain, where it is displayed on the screen of the mind.
The chakras are energetic filters that direct the in-out flow of feeling and perception, based on your personal genetic program. When your chakras operate at peak performance, you feel amazing. However, when they are overworked, obstructed, or repressed, you experience various physical and mental ailments.
By adopting healthy habits and cutting out harmful lifestyle choices, you can bring your chakras into balance and experience a huge boost in happiness and well-being.
Each of the seven chakras has defining features that make it unique. Below is the profile of the heart chakra, known in Sanskrit as अनाहत (anahata), or “the impervious.”
Physical location: The chest. By bringing your awareness to the cardiac plexus, or the bundle of nerves near your heart, you can feel the energy of your fourth chakra.
Developmental stage: Four to seven years. In this period, the child gains awareness of their belonging within a greater community. Their network of relationships expands to include teachers and peers, and they may even take on some responsibility for caring for younger siblings.
Chief domains: Self-love, compassion, and relationships. The heart chakra shapes our approach to relationships and determines our capacity for love.
Emotional challenge: Grief. While grieving is a natural part of the human experience, excessive lamentation blinds us to life’s many gifts. It stifles our ability to give of ourselves. Love cannot thrive in a heavy heart.
Element: Air. The heart chakra rests at the functional center of the body. In yoga and ayurveda, the life-air, or prana, is the vital force on which all bodily activity depends.
A person with a healthy heart chakra is at peace. They remain stable even amid the chaotic changes life inevitably brings. They know that in their core self, they are integral and pure. However, they are quick to acknowledge their weaknesses, and they constantly strive to embody their very best self.
This self-compassion enables you to also see the best in others. When your fourth chakra is balanced, you are empathic, caring, and non-judgmental. You sincerely wish for the welfare of those around you, including people whose beliefs or opinions differ from yours.
A mature heart chakra makes you robust and healthy on all levels — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The power of this chakra radiates and sustains your entire chakra system.
Heart Chakra Rights & Identities
In her book Eastern Body, Western Mind, Dr. Anodea Judith explains that each chakra has a right and an identity.
The heart chakra deals with the right to expressing and sharing love.
It governs our social identity and our need for self-acceptance.
Chakras display two distinct types of imbalance: they’re either too open or too closed. This causes the chakra to be either over-stimulated or suppressed. In some cases, a person’s energetic body may oscillate between the two types of imbalance.
An Over-stimulated Heart Chakra
A person with an overactive fourth chakra is needy and possessive. Their displays of affection are well-intentioned, but they often end up smothering loved ones. They have a difficult time respecting personal boundaries and they generally aren’t deeply in touch with their own feelings and needs.
Excess energy in the fourth chakra creates a “helper” type personality. These people boost their own self-esteem by sacrificing for others in a way that is not supportive of their own physical and mental health. They give too much. When asked for help, they are unable to say no. However, they often don’t see the self-serving motives behind their helping mentality.
An over-stimulated heart chakra can cause a person to choose a life partner for the wrong reasons and end up in co-dependent or abusive partnerships. It leads to emotional burnout, jealousy, and an idealistic approach to relationships.
A Suppressed Heart Chakra
Persons with a deficient fourth chakra feel incapable of loving others. Due to a past hurt or a poor self-image, they believe they are unworthy of love. The fear of rejection, disappointment, or heartbreak is overwhelming. They would rather remain alone than risk more emotional pain.
This pessimistic stance towards relationships leaves a person bitter and cynical. Their fourth chakra is completely depleted. Deprived of the nourishing warmth of friendships and loving exchange, their feelings of loneliness and alienation increase.
Fourth Chakra Health Issues
The chakra system reveals that all illnesses are at least in part psychosomatic. In other words, the condition of your mental well-being and subtle life will always impact your physical health.
These are some of the health issues that can arise in a person whose heart chakra is out of balance:
- Auto-immune disorders
- Chest pain
- Cardiovascular issues
- Asthma and other respiratory issues
- A lack of bodily strength
If you recognize in yourself some of the symptoms of an imbalanced fourth chakra, there are many things you can do to help restore it to balance.
Here are some steps you can take to heal your heart chakra:
- Cultivate habits of self-care. Good health is often taken for granted. When we are spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically strong, we are able to do so much more for those we love. Taking proper care of oneself is a necessary prerequisite to loving and helping others.
- Practice loving-kindness meditation. Known in Pali as metta-bhavana, this type of meditation focuses on developing love and compassion for oneself and others. It is a highly effective tool for improving loving relationships.
- See a marriage / relationship counselor. Pre-marital counseling is an often overlooked but valuable step for serious couples contemplating marriage. Or if you’re already in a committed relationship, couples counseling can help you identify unhealthy behavior patterns that are ruining your marriage. Single people who have difficulty with intimate relationships can also benefit from seeing an experienced relationship counselor.
- Practice pranayama. Pranayama is a health practice originating in India that involves different types of controlled breathing exercises. It is a very powerful technique for calming and soothing the mind and body, and it also enhances mental clarity.
- Start a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal is a great practice for opening your heart to receive love, which can be challenging for people with an imbalanced fourth chakra.
Below, we list affirmations which help to strengthen and nourish the fourth chakra. In addition, chanting and meditating on the Sanskrit syllable, YAM (pronounced like “yum-my” with a nasal intonation on the “m”) will balance this chakra. You can also try out chakra meditation.
Affirmations to Restore the Heart Chakra
“I am eternal. I exist to love and be loved.”
“I carry those I love with me.”
“God / the Universe is my true friend and beloved.”
Learn More About Your Other Chakras
The shoulder stand, a type of inversion pose, offers a good place to start before practicing other inversions. This pose will pump fresh, healthy blood through your body and encourage growth in many ways. This guide offers an in-depth look at the shoulder stand pose (salamba sarvangasana).
Anxiety stems from the necessity of stress during situations of life-and-death, though these instances are quite rare in the modern world. For some, this stress is crippling and becomes an anxiety disorder. Yoga teaches management of this stress for a healthy balance.