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Art by Vrindravan Das
"In our modern culture many of us get caught up in our day-to-day living and often lose contact with the deeper significance of our lives. This can leave us feeling empty and our lives can begin to feel meaningless. This is why finding this spiritual connection is so important. The more connected we are to our spiritual source, the more harmonious our lives can be." Natalie Southgate
Many people dismiss the chakra system as just another New Age concept that enables people to escape reality by living in a world of pseudo-spiritual consciousness, spending all their time communing with subtle energies and spirit guides and not really living in the 'real' world.
On the contrary, the chakra system is one of many traditional spiritual systems that is all about managing your spiritual power as a physical being. Essential to the management of this power is the ability to be grounded in the physical world, as well as connected to the divine.
The chakras are called a system for a reason, the health of the whole depends on each aspect or chakra of that system functioning effectively.
No one chakra is independent or more important than another. That said, it is pretty clear in the Hindu-Tantric texts, which describe the chakras, that the goal of activating the chakra energy is to unite the shiva/shakti energy at the crown chakra.
Shakti is the feminine aspect of energy, it is dynamic, active, moving, manifest - this is the energy that gets stuff done in the world (while Shiva is more of the 'sit on a mountain-top and meditate' kind of guy).
When you dance and move your energy in Chakradance, it is this shakti energy that you are moving. This energy winds its way through your chakras, up your shushumna, the energy channel which runs parallel to your spinal column.
It is said that at the crown chakra, the shiva energy is reunited with the shakti energy granting you spiritual enlightenment, a sense of oneness, and the ability to integrate and ground this divine energy into your energy system, spirit, mind and body.
Obviously this can't happen if your energy is blocked or inactive in your lower chakras, which is why in Chakradance, as in most systems that work with this subtle energy, initially you work from the base up.
The shiva energy is pure consciousness, it is unmanifest or formless. It can be seen as the divine self, or essence of your being.
In the Hindu texts Lord Shiva sat on a mountain top meditating in pure oneness with the universe, but there was no movement or action until shakti energy in the form of the goddess Parvati came along to snap him out of his reverie. Without form and movement there was a whole lot of nothing going on.
In the Hindu texts, the masculine and feminine energies need each other to achieve form, wholeness and balance. So while you may want to achieve oneness with divine consciousness, it is only by uniting this with the shakti energy of movement, action and power that you can integrate this awakening in your life.
The splitting of these energies created the duality that is the world as you know it. Yet they need each other. Energy without consciousness is as ineffective as consciousness without energy.
So the purpose of the tantric texts was to unite these forces to become a fully integrated and embodied conscious human being. And hopefully to begin to awaken from the illusion of duality in the world.
Shiva energy resides in the crown chakra, or Sahasrara, meaning thousandfold, referring to the thousand-petalled lotus which resides at the crown of the head, unfurling as your consciousness opens and expands.
Chakradance, and other subtle energy practices, are designed to activate the shakti energy in the root chakra and gentle raise this energy, activating each chakra, until shakti reaches the crown chakra and is united with shiva energy. This can be seen as the integration into your true self.
The dance of the crown chakra is a devotional dance. In Chakradance you open the gateway to the soul through a meditative sacred dance. The music of this chakra is of such a high frequency as to be almost transcendental in nature. In Chakradance, the music and movement are used together as a way of entering into the highest meditative state.
The crown Chakradance is an ecstatic dance. Most people intuitively raise their arms to the sky and move slowly as they stand in the bliss and sense of oneness of their energy field plugging into divine consciousness.
The experience of receiving this divine wisdom can be likened to golden nectar dripping down through the crown and permeating your whole body.
I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, but it's pretty much like a subtle energy orgasm.
Once this chakra is activated, you have access to an expanded consciousness which can only be blocked by your negative beliefs or fear of accepting or acknowledging the divine.
When this shiva/shakti energy is united, this integrated energy can then reside in the heart chakra. So the goal of integrating these energies becomes how to live as a compassionate and balanced being bringing loving, conscious actions into the world.
Sometimes it feels like my shakti energy becomes too frenetic from so much interaction in the physical world - always creating, managing, manifesting in the world. When I dance she rises up and is released into the expansive nature of the shiva energy, it's so freeing, there's so much space. Suddenly she is not restricted or contained, she too is limitless and divine.
To me the crown chakra is where I access that limitless divine energy, which is so sublime and beautiful, and which I can then channel into my energy field and out into the world.
The shakti energy moves this divine energy, grounds it, allows it expression and manifestation in the world. But without the shiva energy to inspire, replenish and release her, shakti can become frenetic and trapped in the repetitive cycle of the physical world.
When the energy of your crown chakra is balanced, and grounded through your physical body, the transformation that follows is a joyous path of discovery and wisdom of your true self - and an expression of this spiritual connection in every aspect of your life.
Natalie's 5 Top Tips for balancing your crown chakra