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Vishuddha: Storytelling, Self-Expression, and Sound

Sound, space, and truth influence the fifth chakra. 

Located at the pit of the throat, Vishuddha translates to ‘purifyer’ in Sanskrit and represents our ability to express, speak, communicate, voice opinions, and bring our authentic vision and values to the world. 

How we feel is directly correlated to our thoughts and modes of self-expression. The words we choose shape our attitude, preserve culture, keep traditions alive that may or may not serve, and bond us to cycles of suffering when we fail to see our participation in shaping the future. Creating habits that express how we feel in ways that promote health, longevity, and sustainability rid our environments- and the world- of the disease that ensues due to miscommunications. 

Yoga is an alchemical process of acknowledging our emotions and shifting how we feel.

An asana practice moves the energy in the body while pranayama, mantra, and meditation target the subtle body to create new neural pathways in the brain. The nadis are channels of pranic/energy in the subtle body. The main Nadi of the body is Sushumna which runs from the base of the spine to the crown. There are seven main chakras along the spine that have both physical and metaphysical properties.

The chakras represent energy points that correspond to a specific organ in the body and the physical, emotional, psychological, and emotional states.

The earliest mention of the chakra system is from the Vedas between 1500 and 500 BCE. The word “chakra” is a word in Sanskrit that translates to ‘wheel’ or disks that have the ability to transform the body’s subtle energy. 

This post explores the themes for the fifth chakra, Vishuddha, that is located at the throat. Read on to learn the blockages and imbalances, or listen to the interview.

Themes of Vishuddha Chakra

Voice & Authenticity

The discovery of inner power and purpose is associated with Vishuddha. The upper chakras relate to the masculine intellectual realm (Shiva) and the ethereal properties to manifest and give birth to ideas. Connecting to the lower chakras relates to the creative feminine realm (Shakti) and the physical properties to amass the strength and focus for our desires. Vishuddha chakra represents voicing our dreams and aspirations. It’s where we find the ability to vocalize our purpose and bring our inner dialogues out into the world for others to witness. 

The throat chakra is where we develop the confidence and free will to express our authenticity, bridging the gap between our creative second chakra and the all-seeing awareness of the sixth chakra at the third eye. 

Truth & Purification

The Eightfold Path of Buddhists provides an outline of practices to lead to the release of suffering. Right speech is one of eight precepts for practice to develop the connection of the body-mind. It includes abstaining from lying, divisive and abusive speech, and idle chatter. Developing the right speech would be speaking that which you know to be true and beneficial to others. Understanding how gossip, assumption, judgement, prejudice, and fear shade our language and completely shift the receiver’s dynamic is part of honouring right speech.

As you cultivate a practice for right speech, you might ask yourself:
  • Is this statement true?
  • Will this statement bring the other person some benefit?
  • What is my intention in what I am about to say?
  • Are these words my own, or am I speaking through a layer of social/cultural conditioning? 

The purification process through Vishuddha occurs when we acknowledge how we feel and vocalize our truth. Discovering this truth is an individual process and often requires space for inner reflection through meditation. Our mind-body connection is one of the powers of yoga as we become better at sitting with how we feel and developing skills in language to communicate with the world. 

Words & Communication

The language we choose creates our reality. Selecting the correct words to describe ourselves and our actions influences who we become and how we see ourselves in the world. Observing the words we choose and their origin may give us insight into whether or not the language we’ve learned shares our current vision and values. Clear and effective communication includes expressing our thoughts and feelings without the assumptions, fears, or judgements of others’ influence over our speech.

Sound and the Power of Mantra

Mantras are a repeated word or phrase that aid in meditation and are a powerful tool to tap into the energy of the throat chakra. Chanting mantra is a way to evolve communication and expression, deepen listening skills, and refine sensitivities of the subtle body. When we chant mantra, the sound currents and vibrations interact with our brainwaves and the body’s energy field. We activate the electric impulses in our brain that control our thoughts and hormone secretion. Emotions are generated from the process of the brain’s electrical impulses activating the release of hormones into the body.

Repeating mantra subconsciously redirects the brain’s electrical impulses to induce a state of calm and rewire the brain to improve our attitude and habitual beliefs. 

Mantra is a Sanskrit word from man, meaning mind, and tra, meaning instrument. The purpose of mantra is to release the mind from unconscious thought patterns that trigger the release of hormones and influence our emotional state. The repetition of mantra out loud may induce a state of meditation where the sound waves and vibration release stuck and/or stagnant energies, purging the unconscious thoughts and emotions that don’t serve and cause disease.

Chanting synchronizes the right and left hemispheres of the brain, bringing more oxygen to the brain, reducing the heart rate and blood pressure. On a metaphysical level, the vibration of sound through mantra brings us to a positive frequency that aligns with the natural environment. The brain’s new neural pathways are created through mantra to amplify our ability to bring our truth to the physical world, manifest our desires, and acknowledge our prayers.

The bija mantra for the throat is Ham. Each chakra is associated with a bija seed sound to focus on the said area and direct our energy. Chanting this mantra encourages healing and transformation related to the themes associated with Vishuddha, such as expression. 

Expression through Intentional Language and Silence

Sitting Vipassana for 10-days and honouring the silence and meditation required introduced me to the power of words and the influence of language in the world. This process made me more aware of the power of words, the magic in speaking the truth and voicing fears and desires. I became more attuned to the process of bringing the inner, invisible realities and dialogues I created out into the material realm where others could bear witness to what felt, thought, or wished to actualize.

Vipassana gave me a space to reflect on how I could be more intentional through my words. Intentional language requires that we sit with how we feel, make space to reflect, and decide how we wish to communicate, be it verbal or non-verbal.

Silence is just as powerful a tool in self-expression. 

Non-verbal forms of expression may be preferred to communicating how we feel and venting emotion. Dancing our anger, painting our sadness, singing our angst; physical activity and art are therapeutic forms of purging excess emotion and expressing truths that are difficult to vocalize.

You have many chakras (intersection of energy lines) in your body. We, as yogis, focus on seven that run up our main energy channel known as Sushumna.

In this series, explore each chakra with unique classes geared towards lighting them up.

 
Fifth Chakra Interview with Shiv Derek Oss

The Power of Storytelling

When you read stories, you relate to characters who express similar triumphs and conflicts, giving you a sense of belonging to a greater narrative. Storytelling may diminish feelings of separation, loneliness, and anxiety when we realize that we are not alone.

SDOThe biography of Joseph Campbell, it’s the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell was an American mythologist, and he brings together these themes that Carl Jung would call the collective unconscious. Campbell says that every society has this with this myth that the soul, the individual, goes through. 

Campbell uses symbols moving throughout time to track this, this motif moving throughout all time and space. And I think this deals with storytelling as well, this essence of ‘once upon a time.’ This connects with therapy and the therapeutic notions of the cycle of the Aum, about these elements and forces that are within us. Symbols are externalized through the deities, Shiva and Vishnu, and so on. These are external symbols of internal processes. That’s how I got involved in mythology and my journey.

CROThe book that I’m reading right now is a book by Sarah Wilson; she’s an Australian author who wrote, First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Story About Anxiety. It’s a book all about anxiety, and she is a woman who’s worked with anxiety since she was 11 or 12 years old. She’s been in different kinds of therapy, and she’s done all sorts of self-help to medication- anything to kind of help her with anxiety. And she’s been diagnosed with bipolar, and she was diagnosed with OCD and many other things. It’s not a medical book. It’s a book of her experience of anxiety. 

I didn’t realize it until reading this, but I guess I battled with anxiety quite a bit in my teens and early twenties. Then through yoga, I was able to move through it and kind of work with my anxiety. 

SDTThrough someone else’s story, you found solace. The thing with storytelling is it’s not a prescription to living, it’s someone presenting what occurred, and you can choose how you relate to it and how you want to adapt it to your way of being. 

CROWe need to express because it builds intimacy with the people around us.

SDO This reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis, an English author who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia. One of the things that Lewis says, especially in shadow lenses, we read to recognize that we’re not alone. And so storytelling gives us that sense that we’re not alone, and mythology gives us the universal sense. 

CRO–The shadow side of Vishuddha is when it’s blocked, and a blockage shows up when you can’t speak. It goes one of two ways. The other side, in an imbalance of Vishuddha chakra, is that you overshare. 

SDO– A blockage occurred when I was in a boarding school because we were not allowed to speak. And I carry that with me. To balance this, what I’ve done is I’ve learned to sing, and I’m thinking of people who stuttered, people who stutter can sing, and they typically don’t stutter when they’re singing.

What I do instead of singing, I do images. And what gets me going is how light operates and how life is dependent on light. I express myself, not through my throat chakra, but through the photographs and vision through light. 

One of the things I recognize as part of my shadow is now my throat is caught, still caught, and I’m working on that. I do this by massaging myself at my throat, and I’m conscious of wanting to express myself and share my truth.

CRO–When I feel imbalanced in Vishuddha chakra, this is expressed through a nightmare that I have had most of my life is. People can’t hear me in the nightmare, I’m trying to speak, and it doesn’t come out. I’m trying to scream or yell for help, and it doesn’t come out. In the nightmare related to work, I call it a ‘work-mare.’ I walk into the yoga studio, and nobody listens to me. People are on their cell phones. People are talking loudly, and anytime I speak, nobody hears me. No matter how long or how loud I speak, they just keep doing what they’re doing. And so, in that way, an imbalance shows up in my dreams that I’m not heard. 

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