The Chakras from a PsychoSpiritual Energetics Perspective

by Michael J. Santangelo, ND, PhD, LMT

In another post, I explained a bit about PsychoSpiritual Energetcis. I also covered some of the techniques I use in this system here. In this third installment on PsychoSpiritual Energetics, I will explain how the chakras are viewed.

Anyone familiar with New Age thought, yoga, or most any mystical system, is aware of the chakras. (For those of you who aren’t, here is an introduction to the concept.) Depending on the system, however, the number of chakras and the colors associated with them change. To mention a few, Daoism holds that there are three primary energy centers, or dan tien, in the body, located at the forehead, heart, and abdomen. Tibetan Buddhism has five centers: forehead, throat, heart, solar plexus, and abdomen. The system that most of us in the West have heard of is the Hindu system, which has seven chakras. These include the five of the Tibetans, with the addition of one at the crown of the head, and one in the perineum. (Please note that various sources even differ in these basic details. Nevertheless, the above reflects a general consensus.)

In every system of reckoning the chakras, a color is assigned to each. In the 7-chakra, Hindu system, this color assignment follows the rainbow:

  • 1st (Root) – Red
  • 2nd (Sacral) – Orange
  • 3rd (Solar Plexus) – Yellow
  • 4th (Heart) – Green
  • 5th (Throat) – Blue
  • 6th (Third Eye) – Indigo (or Violet)
  • 7th (Crown) – Violet (or White)

In PsychoSpiritual Energetics, the chakra locations correspond with those found in the Hindu system, but the color assignment is quite different. Why is this? Because this system uses the Western Mystery Tradition’s take on the chakras. This is primarily an astrologically based system, with one of the planets of the ancients assigned to each chakra. (They considered the Sun and the Moon to be planets.) Since each planet has a card from the major arcana of the Tarot associated with it, and each card has a particular color associated with it as well, the chakras take on the color of the planet/card combination. Here are the associations, with the color, planet, and Tarot card:

  • 1st (Root) – Indigo (Saturn; The World)
  • 2nd (Sacral) – Red (Mars; The Tower)
  • 3rd (Solar Plexus) – Violet (Jupiter; The Wheel of Fortune)
  • 4th (Heart) – Orange (Sun; The Sun)
  • 5th (Throat) – Green (Venus; The Empress)
  • 6th (Third Eye) – Blue (Moon; The High Priestess)
  • 7th (Crown) – Yellow (Mercury; The Magician)

    The diagram below depicts these associations. In this figure, the chakras are arranged in order of the number of the Tarot card associated with them, not according to their locations.

    western chakras

    These planetary associations make sense when we look at the traditional functions of each of the chakras.

    The 1st chakra is our Root, that which grounds us to physical existence. It reflects survival and belonging. Saturn is the planet of limitation and of making things real, if you will. (I have compiled a series of blog posts at my personal website that briefly cover the planets from an esoteric perspective. The Saturn blog is here). The Tarot card The World is the card signifying, in part, the completion of a cycle or the manifestation of a result. On a grand scale, this is what the material plane is.

    The 2nd chakra is one of action. Though it is often associated with sexual energy, which is true. But in the broader sense, our 2nd chakra is creative in the most basic understanding of the word. It provides the raw energy for action and creation at all levels. The action planet? Why, Mars, of course. (Mars blog is here.) The Tower is the card of Mars in the Tarot. It is an action card, sometimes a drastic change of course, but raw power, to be sure.

    The 3rd chakra is how we put ourselves out into the world. It is frequently associated with our sense of self-esteem and personal power. The planet for this is the expansive Jupiter, a planet which is not shy about showing itself in bold ways. (Jupiter blog is here.) The Tarot card The Wheel of Fortune is Jupiter’s card. Often a positive card, it is also a card which tells of the great cycles of the Universe, and is expansive in an archetypal way.

    The 4th chakra is our heart, our sense of universal and unconditional love. When it is functioning well, it lifts us up to the highest levels of caring and compassion. It is the connection to our soul. The Sun is assigned here. It is the center of our solar system and symbolizes the Divine Light that shines within each of us. (The Sun blog is here.) The card paired with this planet is The Sun (duh!). A fortunate card, it shows our place within the system of the Universe, and how we are connected to all the elements of creation.

    The 5th chakra is another creative one, but at a more refined level than the 2nd. While the Mars chakra is creative, it is more primitive, in a sense, being devoted to procreation and raw energy. The 5th is more artistic, so to say, and concerned with outward creation, such as speaking, building, drawing, etc. No planet is better suited for this than Venus, planet of art and beauty. (Venus blog is here.) The Tarot card The Empress is the card of Venus. The Empress is the quintessential card of creation in the Tarot, and she helps us in all manner of manifestation.

    The 6th chakra is our intuition. It is our way of knowing without knowing. It is quite possibly the new-agey-est of the chakras. The Moon is the planet here, as it has always been linked to our subconscious, intuitive, feminine energies, just as the Sun has been linked to our conscious, in-your-face, masculine energies. (Moon blog is here.) The card of the 6th chakra is The High Priestess, guardian of the unconscious and the intuition. She is a card that appeals to our sense of trust in our higher knowing.

    The 7th chakra is our connection to the Godhead. It is a primary animating chakra, and gives us our sense of purpose in the Universe, as the 7th performs a similar function on the Earthly plane. No planet is better suited to this chakra than Mercury, messenger of the gods, that force which connects us to these higher realms. (Mercury blog is here.) The card for Mercury is The Magician. It is a card that symbolizes one’s ability to contact and channel the highest forces of the Universe, and can be an indication of mastery.

    O:n the physical level, the chakras are paired with organs and physiological processes, in particular the functions of the endocrine glands. As such, they are valuable to work with at all levels of our being.

Some PsychoSpiritual Energetics Techniques

by Michael J. Santangelo, ND, PhD, LMT

In another post, I explained a bit about this therapeutic approach. Here, I hope to introduce you to a few of the techniques I employ when in session. The list is not exhaustive, and the techniques are presented in no particular order.

Hara Line Alignment
This is the intervention I use to begin virtually every session. hara lineThe Hara Line is a line of energy that connects each of us to Heavenly and Earthly energies. It comes from the Above, and runs through the body from the top of the head to between the feet, exiting the trunk through the perineum (the space between the genitals and the anus), and connects us to the Below. It runs mid-line, just in front of the spinal column and is about the width of one’s thumb. The term “hara” comes from Japanese medicine and refers to the abdomen, also known as the Sea of Qi (Ki in Japanese). I have always found the choice of this word unfortunate, as it can be confused from one use (abdomen) to another (entire line from Heaven to Earth). But that’s what we got, so that’s what we work with.

To align the energy, I scan it from top to bottom and perform an energetic correction to any segments I find amiss. We all have some askew segments, and they reflect any stressors, physical ills, or emotional upsets we are undergoing at the time. Fortunately, the energy in this line, being the most subtle in our constitution, corrects quite easily. Once the hara line is running smoothly, it provides a solid base for any subsequent work.

Chakra Alignment
This is another great technique for the chakras from harabeginning of a session. Chakras are assessed and those that need assistance are brought back into alignment through the use of tuning forks. The group of forks I use for this is tuned to perfect Pythagorean intervals, using middle C as the tonic. As is made clear from the illustration at left, the chakras arise from the hara line. In this way, the treatment begins by moving from the more abstract (hara line) to the less so (chakras). One significant difference from the illustration is that, in PsychoSpiritual Energetics, the color sequence of the Western Mystery tradition is used, rather than the Hindu, follow-the-rainbow sequence most people are familiar with. A fuller treatment of the chakras in PsychoSpritual Energetics can be found here.

The preceding two techniques are used to prepare a base for the treatment. Any energetic techniques then used will build on this base and more precisely approach the focus of the session, rather than being dissipated by a “leaky” energy system. Additionally, the pattern of strengths and weaknesses exhibited during the assessment can give direction and refinement to the rest of the session.

Meridian Tonification/Sedation
Given the pattern of the hara line and the chakras, meridiansas well as the presenting problems of an individual, particular Chinese energy meridians are balanced through tonification or sedation. The Chinese meridian system is a complex subject, and an exhaustive explanation is beyond the scope of this post. However, for those interested, a fuller treatment can be found here or here.

Working with meridians in PsychoSpiritual Energetics utilizes stimulation of specific acupuncture points. This stimulation can be achieved through finger pressure, sound vibration, or the use of colored light. (Of course, needles such as those used in traditional acupuncture an be used, but I am not an acupuncturist. Nevertheless, my training in Asian bodywork and Chinese herbalism gives me expertise and familiarity in working with the points.) The most common meridians used are the Heart, Spleen, Lung, Kidney, and Liver meridians. These are used because they are the producers and users of Qi, or vital energy. They also have specific physiological responsibilities and emotional associations (Heart – Ruler of emotion, affected by Joy; Spleen – Ruler of digestion and Qi extraction from food, affected by Pensiveness or obsession; Lung – Ruler of Qi extraction from air and of Qi dispersal throughout the body, affected by Grief; Kidney- Ruler of maturation and storehouse of Qi, affected by Fear; and Liver- Ruler of biological and emotional cycles, affected by Anger). The method uses a Five Element approach to these organ energies. Five Element (or Five Phase) theory is another complicated concept. Suffice it to say that it is an approach where each organ has a relationship with every other organ and serves to modulate other organ functions by the addition or control of vital energy. In my approach, a combination of points is used with the specific purpose of addressing a person’s concerns. Sound and color can be used in this process too, as each meridian is especially sensitive to a certain tone or color.

Color Breathing
Just as meridians have their color sensitivities, so do chakras. color breathingThe technique of Color Breathing is a deceptively simple, but immensely powerful way of fortifying chakra energies and the interconnections among them. I go into more detail about chakras and PsychoSpiritual Energetics in another post, so here I will be brief. Using the color associated with a given chakra (via the Western Mystery tradition’s assignment of chakra color), a person is asked to imagine balls of the appropriate colored lights in the areas of the chakras to be worked with. This really isn’t as difficult as it might sound, and it actually seems sufficient to be able to “know” that the balls of light are in their proper positions. Coordinating with breathing, the person is then asked to imagine a beam of light flowing from one chakra to the other. Note that the two chakras being worked with do not have to be adjacent. In this way, a veritable string of chakras can be worked with simultaneously, using only the end points of the string. This is an easy exercise to be assigned as homework, augmenting the effects achieved during an office session.

Energetic Stimulation of the Chakras
In cases where there are HT chakrachakra imbalances, and especially when this imbalance is apparent in more than one of the spheres of existence (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, also known as PEMS), Healing Touch techniques such as unruffling and smoothing of charka energy are used. Often, energy is also placed into the affected chakra via Reiki (see below). As a result of this stimulation, the affected chakra can resume its regular role in the energetic system. Over time, this can support the body in correcting physical imbalances, as well as allowing the flow between energy levels and between chakras to normalize.

Opening the Wind Gates
This abdominal massage technique Hara Dxcomes from an approach called Chi Nei Tsang, and uses hara (in the abdominal sense) diagnosis to assess and remedy Organ energy imbalances. In this technique, the practitioner uses reflex points on the abdomen to stimulate and balance each Organ system. As with many Asian bodywork techniques, Opening the Wind Gates is both an assessment and treatment tool, with both roles being fulfilled simultaneously. This technique is usually used early in the treatment process to provide another baseline. It is sometimes used throughout the treatment process, if indicated, by repeated imbalances of Organ energies. Other techniques from Chi Nei Tsang are also used in PsychoSpiritual Energetics as the need arises.

This system of energy healingReiki clone is well known in the alternative healthcare community. Originating in Japan in the late 19th century, a practitioner attuned to this energy by a Master/Teacher can channel Reiki through his or her body and out the hands. Reiki is a great adjunct to other healing modalities, and is quite effective in its own right. Reiki techniques can be used to ease pain, facilitate the healing process, assist in delivering affirmations, and bring a deep sense of relaxation. It can even be used for distance healing. I am usually channeling Reiki when I do many of these other techniques, to add a synergistic component to what I do. A most important thing to understand is that it is not the practitioner’s own energy that is being used. Rather, it is a universal healing energy brought through the practitioner from an inexhaustible Source. In fact, Reiki can be used by anyone who has been attuned, either lay or professional. It is a simple, powerful gift from a loving Universe. As an added plus, Reiki can be used to treat oneself as well as others.

Hemispheric Resynchronization
This technique evolved from a hemi clonesystem of medical intuition that I learned years ago. In Hemispheric Resynchronization, the person’s head is cradled bilaterally while energetic corrections are sent to various parts of the brain. It is a relatively brief technique, and is very useful when someone is over-thinking a problem, or is obsessing. Basically, it is a good technique to use whenever someone is “too much in their head.” I also used a similar approach when I determine that the endocrine system needs assistance in resetting itself. It has proven helpful in cases of adrenal fatigue, thyroid disturbances, or in recovery from a prolonged period of stress.

Visualization, Relaxation, Meditation, and Hypnosis
These techniques are relaxationcentral to the idea of PsychoSpiritual Energetics. The ultimate aim of my approach is to change the individual at a fundamental level, so that painful conditions or maladaptive patterns are no longer needed, and dissolve in the face of that fundamental change. Visualization, relaxation, and meditation are old healing techniques that have taken many forms in different cultures. Hypnosis, on the other hand, has been scientifically formalized only over the last 200 years or so. They all spring from the same source, however — the ability humans have to change their consciousness. This ability is capitalized upon to assist individuals in changing patterns and perceptions that are not in their best interests. This same ability also becomes a powerful and empowering tool in self-healing. Often used as homework as well as in session, these inter-related techniques become a key intervention along a person’s road to healing.

Tarot Meditation
Although better known as a magician postdivination device, Tarot is seen in the Western Mystery Tradition as a road map to human consciousness. This is particularly true in the case of the 22 cards of the so-called Major Arcana. Each of the Majors is intimately associated with an archetype or energy contained within the psyche of every one of us. Meditation on a particular card causes stimulation of the associated energy, allowing its fuller expression. These forces can be strong allies on our path to wholeness. For example, there is a card associated with each of the seven chakras, and therefore with the processes, abilities, and physical structures they govern. (Go here for a fuller exploration of the chakras in PsychoSpiritual Energetics). Meditation/contemplation of one or more of the cards of Tarot’s Major Arcana is a common homework assignment in this system, as long as the person being treated is agreeable to it. (In other words, while a very useful technique, Tarot meditation is not a requirement for being treated with PsychoSpiritual Energetics.)

Sound Therapy
Sound has a sound vibeprofound impact on our energy fields. The human voice is the oldest instrument, and the toning of specific vowel sounds can be extremely relaxing and healing. During PsychoSpiritual Energetics sessions, I use music chosen specifically for its healing effect. This isn’t just New Age feel-good music, but compositions that mix and over-dub the human voice and combinations of compatible frequencies. The results in an environment quite accommodating to the healing process.

Additionally, there are particular sounds that help restore the chakras, support the energetic Organs of the body, or assist in the normalization of certain bodily processes. The sounds may be delivered by voice or tuning forks. When indicated, these are used to augment the treatment or to be used as homework. As an example, sounds of the Organs are used in Opening the Wind Gates, above.

Reintegration of the Tree of Life
It has been said many times TOL PSE blogthat the map is not the territory. But the Tree of Life is quite a map. Structurally, the Tree is a figure with ten spheres on it (the sephirah), connected by 22 paths. It seems as if virtually any process can be hung upon it, and the structure of human consciousness is no exception. Simply stated, the Tree is a glyph that originated in the Jewish mystical tradition of Qabalah. It explains the descent of the Divine into Matter. It has been borrowed by the Western mysteries to assist with personal development, measure personal growth, and bring understanding to esoteric topics. I won’t go into a detailed exploration of the Tree in this post, as it has been done so many times by so many and is an incredibly deep subject (see my posts about it here and here.).

Of relevance here is that the Tree can be mapped over the body, over the psyche, and over energetic processes. Using this information, I have devised an energy treatment that is applicable to a dizzying variety of situations. Briefly, the spheres are activated in the treatment, along with a number of the paths. The number of paths activated depends on the situation. The base treatment session, 14 paths are used. Other paths are added depending upon their relevance to the person’s situation. The results have been very heartening, and people report a deep sense of relaxation and peace, as well as a strong diminishing of feelings of anxiety and depression. Repeated application of this treatment over time augment and increase the length of relief.

Several of these techniques are employed in each session of PsychoSpiritual Energetics. The choice of technique is dependent on the specific needs of the individual (based on their treatment plan), as well as the specific needs of the person on that day. In other words, this is no cookie-cutter approach to psychotherapy. As a result, the treatment process remains vibrant and fresh — and the results speak for themselves.

PsychoSpiritual Energetics

by Michael J. Santangelo, ND, PhD, LMT

I’m writing this because I get questions. People that I work with therapeutically, as well as people I encounter, frequently ask me what exactly it is that I do. Fair question. In fact, it’s a really good question. In trying to explain, I’ve had to take stock of the methods I use, the knowledge I draw upon, and then (why not?) come up with a name for it all.

You see, I don’t do the usual, talking kind of psychotherapy. psychospiritualActually, none of the psychotherapists at Eastwind do strictly mainline therapy. That’s why they’re here, and why they’re in such demand. When it comes to me, I’ve put together a system based on all that I have studied in the areas of spirituality, Chinese medicine, and the Western mystical tradition, while dovetailing it with psychology’s understanding of personality, conditioning, thought processes, etc. What comes out the other side, while still psychotherapy, is an approach that is pretty much sui generis, if I do say so myself.

First, let me give you a little bit about my personal evolution. (I promise to be brief.) When I received my PhD in clinical psychology 35 years ago, I was traditionally trained, though I also picked up additional training in hypnotherapy and neuropsychology along the way. I began my career in community mental health, but five or six years down the road I became restless. While people were getting “better” under my care, it seems that something truly basic was missing. Assuming that private practice would allow me more freedom of expression in my therapy, I tried my hand in a couple of practices. While I did find this less restrictive, I left each practice after a couple of years, feeling that each one wasn’t the right practice for me. I eventually left psychotherapy altogether for a while, doing a stint as a researcher, co-directing a multi-state project on HIV and hemophilia. (I’m mentioning this part of my professional history to establish my bona fides as a “real” psychologist) Anyway, at this time my inner urgings could take it no longer, and I went to school to become a massage therapist, specifically an Asian-style bodyworker. I had always felt that emotional difficulties had roots in all levels of the being, not only in the mind. The body and spirit were also important. I had seen too often how a person’s mind could set up blockages and defenses to safeguard the emotional disorder’s existence. There had to be a way around that, I believed, and that way lay through accessing those other spheres through bodywork and energetic techniques.

Here’s where I began my own practice (in 1993), with my wife (Candida Maurer) joining me before long. I was finally able to explore change and healing in my own way. Picking up more training in Chinese medicine and herbalism, Reiki, Healing Touch, Bach Flower Essences, and other disciplines helped to round out my skill set. I combined all this with my long-term study in Western mysticism (with its incredible tools of Tarot and Qabalah), a school of thought that I had pursued since high school. Additionally, spending over 15 years working with The Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.) formalized and immeasurably deepened my understanding of the Western Mysteries, while also accelerating my spiritual development and practice. All of this continues to inform and refine my therapeutic process today.

So, what does a session with PsychoSpiritual Energetics look like? The choice of interventions BOTA treedepends on several factors, including the over-arching reason someone is being seen, their salient problem of the day, and what my clinical intuition tells me might be useful. The reasons people come to see me vary from anxiety or depression, to trauma resolution or the stress of dealing with a chronic illness. These reasons span any and all of the four spheres of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. At any rate, a typical session starts with some discussion of a person’s current situation, such as how they are feeling that day, or if they have experienced any changes in symptoms or presenting problem. After catching up, I have the person lie on my massage table.

I begin table work with a repair/reconnection of the person’s hara line. This is a line of energy that connects each of us to Heavenly and Earthly energies (to use the Chinese medical terms). Then I assess the chakras and make energetic corrections to any that aren’t functioning up to snuff. Not only does this prepare the ground for any work to follow, but it also serves as an assessment of the person’s energy field, giving clues as to what may need attention that day. The main part of the work involves a variety of techniques, depending on the situation at hand. Chakra and energy meridian balancing, bodywork interventions, Reiki and Healing Touch techniques, visualizations, therapeutic dialogue, hypnosis, meditations, and other interventions may be used. I end virtually every session with an energy technique of my devising called Re-Integration of the Tree of Life, which is profoundly relaxing and healing all on its own. A final assessment of the hara line and the chakras, and the session is over. By the way, I explain these interventions in more detail in another post here.By the way, I don’t believe that I do all the work, by any stretch. The person being worked with is actively involved in the process, often via homework assignments such as meditative exercises, visualizations, examination of beliefs, and the like.

The results of these sessions are at times a bit mysterious. People return for follow-up and mention that they feel better somehow, that things aren’t as dire, that they have changed their way of relating to others, etc. What made the difference? I’m not always sure specifically, as there is a complex, energetic interaction going on during the sessions. Also, there is the effects of the person’s carefully fulfilling any homework assignments given. Nevertheless, the changes are genuine, deep, lasting . . . and often, quite painless. Now, I’m not claiming that this is some miraculous, never-fail process. After all, nothing works 100% of the time. Yet, it works a large percentage of the time, with a wide variety of problems. It seems to be, in part, the balancing the energies of the body and clearing away any blockages that interfere with the system’s natural affinity for that balance. It often places the individual in a position of being able to function in a more productive and effective way.

This post serves only as an introduction to my approach. Please call Eastwind or email me to find out more.