In today’s world, where yoga and meditation are quickly becoming more and more popular across the globe, more and more people are also becoming familiar with the concepts of chakras and kundalini. But what are ‘chakras’ and ‘kundalini’ actually? In this blog I will give an introduction, and will tell you how different musical instruments are connected to the 7 chakras and therefore have a specific effect on our emotions as well.
Our body and mind function because of the life-force energy that flows in it, also called ‘Prana’ or ‘Prana Shakti’ in Sanskrit. The Prana flows through subtle channels called ‘Nadis’, that distribute the energy throughout our body, like the way impulses are carried through our nervous system, or blood is circulated through the network of blood vessels throughout the body. The Nadis cannot be seen by the naked eye, but they can be felt by a sensitive or trained person, and the field of Prana or life-force, also sometimes referred to as ‘aura’, can also be photographed with more sensitive technology, such as Kirlian Photography.
Any physical or mental imbalances or diseases reflect on a more subtle level as blockages in these channels, and are a result of an improper flow of life-force or Prana Shakti. This is also why Pranayama – breathing techniques that allow one to increase and regulate the flow of Prana Shakti in the body – has proven a very effective tool to overcome many physical and mental problems.
The 7 Chakras
The Nadis distribute the Prana Shakti throughout the body, and there are major and minor ‘centers’ in the body where the energy accumulates, is stored, and from where it is again distributed, which are called ‘chakras’. The Sanskrit word chakra means ‘wheel’, and it refers to the spiraling movement of the energy in these centers – like whirlpools in a flowing river. There are many chakras in and around our body, but references to chakras are usually to the six or seven main ones, that are placed more or less along our spine. The lowest of these 7 chakras is called Muladhara, and is situated near the base of the spine. The second is called Swadhisthana as is situated behind the genitals. Above this are the Manipura chakra near the navel (which is also referred to as solar plexus sometimes), the Anahata chakra in the heart region, the Vishuddhi chakra near the throat, the Ajña chakra between the eyebrows, and the Sahasrara chakra near the top of the head. The energy that moves up and down the main Nadis connecting these 7 chakras is also referred to as the Kundalini Shakti.
Emotions and Chakras
It is interesting to notice how different emotions and different sensations in the body are connected to these centers in the subtle body. For example, the feeling of ‘having butterflies’ in the stomach area is caused by the energy moving in the Manipura chakra, and the feeling of one’s ‘throat choking’ when feeling grateful or sad is caused by the Prana Shakti moving in the Vishuddhi chakra. Anger or alertness, which are connected to the Ajña chakra, can physically also be felt in the region between the eyebrows. Stimulating the various chakras can sometimes help remove blocks and allow the energy to flow more freely, and that is why in the ancient Vedic tradition they used the sounds of different instruments to stimulate different chakras. So what is this connection between various instruments and the various chakras?
Instruments and Chakras
Drums are connected to the Muladhara chakra, and big pipes or trumpets (wind instruments) affect the second chakra. The third chakra is stimulated by string instruments played through friction like the violin and the heart chakra resonates with plucked string instruments like guitar and piano. The sound of flute stimulates the throat chakra and small bells are connected to the Ajña chakra between the eyebrows. The sound of the blowing of the Shankha or conch finally stimulates the Sahasrara or crown chakra.
This phenomenon was already known to the sages in the ancient Vedic times and is also revealed in the scriptures dealing with the architecture of temples. Large temples used to have seven big gateways that lead one to the main deity. Each consecutive gate having different instruments to stimulate the 7 chakras and direct the energy upwards to the top of the head where bliss is experienced. The outermost gate would have large drums, the next large trumpets, and so on.
Awakening the Kundalini
In our modern world, this also explains why many people enjoy going to a party, club or a rock concert, as the strong beats stimulate the base chakra, awakening the energy that lies dormant. This is why people experience a rush or feel more energetic or enthusiastic, but after some time again it becomes dull, as the energy is not allowed to move upward to the higher chakras or energy centers. Spiritual practices such as chanting mantras, pranayama and meditation, however, allow the energy to flow all the way up, gradually awakening and stimulating the various energy centers. However, a sudden or forceful ‘awakening’, of the Kundalini Shakti, that some people are looking for, can have different and even harmful effects on the nervous system of a practitioner who is not ready for it.