When most people start studying the mind-body-spirit connection, they realize that the heart helps healing. Unconditional compassion, pure love: intuitively, we know that these vibrations can transform dis-ease into wholeness and bliss. We also sense that a „broken heart“ can contribute to illness, and that extreme anger can cause a heart attack. But there’s much more to the heart chakra! As humans, we could study the heart chakra forever because it continues to expand and evolve, but here are some of the most common manifestations:
Major Systems of the Heart Chakra:
This one’s pretty self-evident to most people. When speaking of the heart chakra, we expect to see the heart as part of it. High cholesterol, heart murmurs, heart attacks: all of these make sense. But the circulatory system also includes the blood itself, which means things like anemia and leukemia. Additionally, the movement of that blood comes into play with varicose veins, cold hands and feet, Reynaud’s Syndrome, and high or low blood pressure.
Some of these conditions straddle other chakras, and they all carry their own unique vibration and set of symbols, related to the individual soul and body in question. To give you an idea of how deeply and beautifully your body can talk, let’s look at something obviously related to the heart chakra: a heart murmur. If you wanted to hear the body’s talk, you could take a few moments to listen – really listen – to what that heart was murmuring! Intuitively, you could commune with the heart and ask what secret hopes, loves or desires it wants to express. Why does it feel compelled to murmur instead of thumping joyfully to the universe? A heart murmur usually sounds like an extra beat or „turbulence“ in the blood flow. How do this heart’s natural desires not fit into the normal beat of life? In the case of a weak valve, where might the person be backtracking in life – expressing dreams and then pulling those back, not honoring the heart’s deepest desires?
Science recognizes connections among emotions and stress, and among stress and heart attacks. But these connections exist on all levels and in all disorders. With compassionate attention, the body’s secrets can be unlocked, revealing insights and opportunities for healing on all levels.
Housed in the chest, the lungs make up a huge part of the heart chakra. I cannot tell you how many times someone calls me with pneumonia, bronchitis, the flu or lung cancer after experiencing a major period of grief. Grief resides in the lungs, and when we don’t fully release our grief, our lungs start shedding tears for us. Excess phlegm and mucus are the tears of the lungs.
Emphysema and asthma often occur when people cannot articulate their grief or when the cause for grief seems too little to justify its full expression. Coupled with this fear of being understood, grief literally suffocates until someone or something intervenes.
Lung cancer tends to come from extreme grief combined with anger/frustration and a sense of utter depletion from imbalanced giving. When Dana Reeve died of lung cancer, many people felt surprised because she hadn’t ever smoked. But lung cancer sometimes appears in long-term caregivers, even (especially) if they felt very close to the one who needed care. Rather than directing the anger at the spouse or child, the anger starts to bubble up at the universe at large: how can a loving God allow such suffering? Why, after all this caregiving, all this love, is their loved one still dying? In the presence of grief, anger and what I call soul-weariness, that love begins to mutate, sometimes into cancer cells.
This one surprises many people, but the thymus gland, located under the top of the breast bone, is part of the heart chakra. In children, the thymus gland plays an important role in developing the immune system. In adults, tapping on the thymus gland can „remind“ the body to stand strong in the face of infection. All lymph nodes begin with seeding from the thymus gland, which means the emtire lymphatic system begins in the heart chakra. Unlike the circulatory system, the lymph system does not have a pump. It needs regular exercise and/or massage in order to move things around and clean house. By extension, issues with the lymphatic system require self-care, self-love and attention.
Common immune system/heart chakra issues? Allergies, auto-immune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer (especially breast and lung cancer), influenza, AIDS/HIV, Lyme Disease, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Epstein-Barr … Swine Flu … As humans, we are being asked to evolve in a major way through the heart chakra. It should come as no surprise that so many of our biggest killers or most commonly „communicated“ illnesses reside in the heart chakra.
Lyme Disease and Chronic Fatigue are sometimes called „seventh chakra issues.“ Indeed, they do affect both the heart and crown, one reason that survivors of these types of illnesses tend to become healers themselves. People with extremely wide open hearts often develop compromised immune systems, like their system is too „friendly“ to bacteria. A solution is allowing the self to feel completely at one with, and balancing the ebb and flow of love. Too much love out without receiving the equivalent love from self or others can weaken the immune system. The solution is not to send out less but to allow the self to receive more love.
On the flip side – also a generalization – people who struggle with an overactive immune system benefit from backing down judgments of self or others. Allergies occur when the body recognizes an otherwise harmless substance as an invader. This mistaken attack by the immune system causes the symptoms we associate with allergies. Some people with intense, „incurable“ allergies have unresolved past life issues driving the reaction. Bringing those events to light can allow the immune system to stop attacking itself and innocent bystanders like food or pollen.
Breasts are also an important part of the heart chakra, especially for women. Breasts represent mothering, nurturing and the feminine principle. Breast cancer happens when sluggish lymph and toxins stagnate in the breasts. Fibroids and tumors come from things things that „weigh on the chest,“ as in „I wish I could get this off my chest.“ To support breast health, allow yourself to speak from the heart. And allow yourself to listen. Suppressing the deep longings of the heart or trying to convince the heart that it feels something else can morph into something even less desirable.
Emotional Disorders and Imbalances
Depression, Phobias, Grief, Fear, Sorrow, Anxiety: all have at least one foot in the heart chakra. As the bridge between our three lower chakras and our three upper chakras, the heart picks up on a lot of imbalances from both the gut and the brain. For this reason, cleaning up the diet can affect both physical health and mood; practicing meditation to reduce stress offers the side benefit of opening the heart and radiating joy.
What You Can Do
Spend some time each day connecting with your heart. Focus on your breathing and allow yourself to feel the center of your chest like a tender flower or warm ball of light. Feel that flower or light flicker with your breath. Listening to sacred chants or the harp can move your heart strings, too. Imagine the music flowing out from the center of your chest. Reiki also offers a way to nurture and balance your heart chakra. You can find a certified practitioner or learn how to give Reiki to yourself.
In general, if you have any health issue, you would be wise to ask your heart what it wants to share with you and with the world. As a culture, we have nearly lost touch with the language of the heart, but our hearts continue to cry out in layered songs and symbols.
And do not be afraid.
As Helen Keller once said, „The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.“