“How did you get here? Close your eyes and surrender.”
The crown, or seventh, chakra is all about surrender. Located at the top of our head, towards the back, right where our skull begins to curve down (our rear fontanel), the crown chakra is about letting go of the hold the world has on us, of all we think we seek, and even of our own sense of who we are. It is considered the ‘spiritual’ chakra, the chakra of enlightenment or awakening, and yet to truly let go into our crown, we have to let go even of our ideas about spirituality. We have to let go of all ideas, all conceptualization, and just be, just rest, in the pure awareness or light at the essence of our being.
In kundalini meditation traditions, the goal is to bring the kundalini (or spiritual awakening energy) up into the crown chakra from the root chakra. There are hundreds of different practices related to this goal. Over a lifetime, as the kundalini pushes through each chakra on deeper and deeper levels, different ‘lessons’ or karmas are triggered. During the various phases of our life, we are working through these lessons. It is taught that those who choose to engage in chakra meditation speed up this process – by consciously urging the kundalini energy through the chakras over and over, the process of growth is quickened.
Although most spiritual traditions do not discuss the chakras or include any spiritual practices related to them, the surrender into light associated with an opening crown chakra is described in remarkably similar ways by seekers and mystics within every tradition. The crown chakra is the place where divergent paths are unified. The experience of dissolution into light and pure awareness is the mountain to which all paths lead.
Surrender and dissolution may not seem like a desirable goal to many. Most of what we call spirituality in today’s culture is more about self-improvement or life-improvement. It is not about the direct experience of the divine. And all of this is good and wonderful – from the perspective of chakra teachings, different spiritual tools, philosophies and methods help us with the lessons of each chakra (many of which have been covered in the articles preceding this one in this chakra series.)
But once we seek to discover the essence of life itself – call it God, or Goddess, or light, or love, or pure awareness, or anything you like – we naturally begin to shift into our crown chakra, whether chakra work is consciously part of our path or not. As our experiences of letting go deepen, much of what we thought was true, of what we held onto, falls away. Heart and mind, love and consciousness, are united.
Because this is not something that we can make happen – we have to be ripe for it – many chakra meditation traditions do not include explicit meditations on the crown. In fact, it is sometimes taught that it is dangerous to bring the kundalini into the crown before we are ready. Instead, the focus is on moving energy up through the chakras to the third eye (sixth chakra), or on opening and empowering individual chakras.
Personally, I do teach crown chakra meditation, as I believe most people experience ‘tastes’ or moments of dissolution that help them to learn to trust this experience. These warnings from traditional texts may be valid for those who are meditating hours each day, and in danger of overwhelming their energetic systems. But for most of us in the busy, modern world, this is not the greatest danger – the greatest danger is that we will never taste this being-ness, this silence and peace, our true essence.
When our crown chakra is closed, or when we are going through a phase in which it becomes blocked or weakened, we experience a sense of spiritual disconnection. We may suddenly doubt all we once believed, or despair of our spiritual practices. We may trust only what our physical senses show us, or what our intellectual mind can figure out, discarding any other kind of knowing. In the worst case, we may fall into a Dark Night of the Soul – a spiritual crises of faith that shakes the very foundations of our existence.
If we are able to move through these phases – through continued seeking, through heart, and grace – we are offered the opportunity to move deeper. Our very questioning, our doubt, becomes a way of shedding old beliefs that we no longer need. Then our crown chakra opens once again, even wider, and we open to a knowing beyond belief. Often on our spiritual journey, this cycling into a dark night will happen many times as our seeking matures, and each time we gain new levels of wisdom.
From an energy medicine perspective, the crown chakra is linked to our pineal gland, which (among other things) produces melatonin, the hormone that modulates our sleep/wake patterns and other circadian rhythms. The crown chakra is also linked to our cerebral cortex and sometimes our skin. Problems in any of these areas are therefore considered at least partially energetically linked to problems in our crown.
In the following crown chakra meditation, I will try to help you open the crown chakra doorway for yourself. However, it is not really something that can be guided, and so I begin the meditation by explaining this, while you ground yourself with deep breathing. Then I will guide you through bringing light downwards from crown to root, to assure you are properly grounded (always very important in upper chakra meditations.) Following this, we will bring the kundalini back up into your crown. I invite you to simply sit and rest in this, and surrender over and over. Each time your mind wanders, simply pull it back, and let go, again and again.
Be sure to properly ground yourself once again when you are finished. And know that you are light!
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