Our fourth or heart chakra is the middle chakra. It brings together the three lower chakras: root (survival), sacral (sexuality and creativity), and solar plexus (personal power and identity) with the three higher chakras: throat (truthful speech), third eye (intuition and knowing), and the crown (spirituality).
As you might suspect, the heart chakra has much to do with love—love of self, love of others, love of nature, and love of beauty.
The heart chakra is located in the center of the chest behind the breastbone between the shoulder blades but in front of the spine. It is called Anahata and means “unstuck” or “unhurt.” Its vibrational color is green. The element associated with the heart chakra is air and the sense is touch.
How to know if your heart chakra is balanced:
- You are accepting of and give unconditional love, because you know that in order to love another you must first love yourself.
- You’re able to forgive others, forget the negativity of the past and move on.
- You are empathic, caring, and compassionate.
- You are willing to help others, but also are aware of when to say no.
- You take care of yourself and your needs.
- You are confident in your abilities.
- You’re at peace with those around you.
- When balanced, you have a profound love for nature and all of her creations.
The heart chakra is more affected by a lack of balance by the lower chakras than the higher ones, therefore, if unbalanced, one must work on the root, sacral, and solar plexus chakras as needed.
When the heart chakra is unbalanced to the excess:
- A person can become demanding, jealous, possessive, and possibly a co-dependent and arrogant.
- They can try overly hard to please those around them.
- Their boundaries may become blurred.
- They are unable to say “no” when asked, and often find themselves immersed in the problems of others.
- They often feel like martyrs.
- Many of these people have “flakey” personalities which often makes them forgetful.
When the imbalance is caused by a deficiency:
- The person can become anti-social, withdrawn, shy, cold, critical, judgmental, and intolerant.
- They often are lonely and depressed.
- Healthy relationships are difficult to maintain.
- There may be a fear of intimacy.
- They can become bitter and selfish.
- They can be the passive-aggressive types.
Due to the location of the heart chakra, in the Eastern tradition the following body parts may be affected by an imbalance:
- Circulatory system
- Rib cage
- Shoulders, arms, and hands
- Upper spine
Tips On Balancing the Heart Chakra
If you feel you may have an imbalance in this area, re-balancing can be accomplished by trying any, several, or all of the following.
As with the other chakras, there are two ways to work with herbs with the heart chakra: by their color or by their use in a particular area of the body. Planting, working with green herbs or even just having them in your life will often work. Gardening in general brings one in contact with many different colors of plants.
Some green herbs that help the heart chakra include:
- Sweet Annie
- Lady’s mantle
Others that may be useful for their properties and that may benefit areas of this chakra area include:
- Tulsi (Holy Basil)
Adaptogens are especially good when searching for help for this chakra. Nervines may be of help when the imbalance manifests in hypertension.
Herbal teas to try:
- Green tea (especially matcha where you ingest the leaf of the Camellia and is not just an infusion)
- Hawthorn berry
- Hibiscus (iced or warm)
- Tulsi (Holy basil)
- Linden (delicious with lemon)
Several of these blend well together, so experiment! You can make an herbal honey with any of the above herbs as an option. The herbal honey can be used in a tea, or in warm water as needed.
Nutritionally, take care of the heart. Eat a diet low in fat, high in omega 3’s (cold water oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, herring and flax or chia seeds), and lots of green leafy vegetables (Swiss chard, spinach, kale, romaine, arugula, collards, mustard greens, sprouts, dandelion greens).
The Brassicaceae family (cabbage) is particularly good for balancing this chakra nutritionally—cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and bok choy are a few good options.
The allium family (onions, leeks, and especially garlic) is another important heart chakra group. But don’t forget celery, avocados, squash, watercress, peppers, and yes, zucchini. Green apples, pears, and kiwi are nutritious, green, and make wonderful snacks.
The Mediterranean diet is an especially good option when working with this area. Meal choices might include a vegetable omelet or frittata for breakfast. A salad with as many vegetables as you like for lunch, and perhaps salmon (or other oily fish) or a stir fry for dinner.
The following pesto recipe with arugula and basil is a yummy recipe!
2 cups basil (can include spinach, kale, and arugula in any combination)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 – 3 cloves garlic (by your taste—more is better)
¼ cup pine nuts (or walnuts, peanuts, cashews)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Put it all in a blender and blend.
When I harvest my basil at the end of the year, I make pesto, freeze it in ice cube trays, and then in freezer bags for winter use in pasta dishes, soups, and stews.
If you’re into yoga, some poses that may be beneficial if you feel you’re blocked, not in balance, or even for maintenance include:
- Forward bend poses
- Fish pose
Swimming is a good exercise for this chakra, especially the breaststroke. It opens the chest area.
Hugging always a good thing, but especially when working on the heart chakra.
Since this chakra deals with air, meditating in a natural place where the wind is blowing is particularly beneficial. If this isn’t possible, a ceiling or other type of fan that creates a breeze on your face works. You can either lie down or sit straight when meditating with this chakra. Think green and concentrate on your breathing exercises.
When meditating, know that your mind will wander off (called mind chatter). That’s OK—just bring it back and regain your concentration. In time, you will be able to hold your concentration longer and longer. Don’t get discouraged!
(If you have a FitBit Charge or anything similar, you can check your heart rate prior to and after meditating for confirmation of how well it is working!)
A breathing exercise you might try is one-nostril breathing. Close the left nostril with your hand and breathe in with the right nostril. Release your breath using the left nostril and breathe back in, close the left and breathe out and in with the right one. Do a cycle of these (about 10-15 complete cycles).
Essential oils are always a wise choice if used correctly. Some of the essential oils beneficial for the area are:
I especially like neroli (which is distilled from Seville orange blossoms) and gives many people a sense of security. Adding a drop of lemon adds another dimension to the neroli. You can incorporate essential oils into your life by using a diffuser, adding it to your bath, applying a few drops with a carrier as a massage oil, or simply applying to a cotton ball and placing it near you.
Incenses you might like to try are lavender, jasmine, and orris root.
- I live in grace and gratitude.
- I am open to love.
- I accept and love myself.
- I love and respect the beauty of nature.
- I am at peace.
If you want to try visualization, try thinking back in time to an incident you are unable to forgive. Examine the motivations involved and forgive the person(s). Take the memory of the event and pull it out of you with your mouth and blow it into the wind. Watch it float away. If you’re a gardener, you can visualize a flower, especially a rose, slowly opening, from a bud to a fully formed flower.
- Open windows and let fresh air in your area whenever possible.
- Decluttering always gives one a sense of spaciousness. Add pictures of nature, especially moon or sky scenes that may help regain calmness.
- Walking, especially in nature, is usually a good place to start with the rebalancing of this area. Use your senses: touch, smell, and really look at the plants you encounter. What color are they? What are the leaf patterns? Listen for the rustling of the leaves. If you encounter what you are absolutely sure is an edible plant, taste or pluck one from your garden.
Chakras have been an Eastern tradition for thousands of years. Studying them and trying to keep them in balance can only help us. Try using the information provided as you are able, and see if it works for you. I hope it has made you curious enough to find one of the many books about chakras and start reading.
Stay tuned for next month when we’ll talk about the throat chakra.