The Politics of the Heart Chakra

-Rosemary Barria

 

This month we are focusing on balancing the heart chakra. The heart chakra to some of you may be some abstract concept, so I will explain briefly. In the yogic tradition there are opposing energies that cross from the left and right side of our bodies (the ida and pingala, male and female, left and right sun and moon, yin and yang). The hubs where these energies meet are referred to as chakras. Though there are many chakras, in the United States and in Western practices we refer to seven mainly. I will not go into the details of all of these chakras, because that is not my intention of this post. We focus this month on the heart chakra, the fourth chakra, located at you can guess, your heart. It’s the gateway between the higher chakras and the more body based earthly chakras. The heart chakras focus color is green and the sanskrit is Anahata. The sound or mantra associated is Yam. We go over a lot of this on our instagram.

Using the heart chakra as a model of compassion for the self and others is pretty timely right now. Regardless of your belief system, there are numerous reasons for us to have a closed or overly active heart chakra. If your good and beautiful heart is too open or closed, I don’t blame you. It would be a very normal response to the mass traumatic experience we are experiencing. Some of us have been used to the world feeling unsafe for a long time. This is true, particularly for those of us who are persons of color, women, gender nonconforming, trans, immigrants, gay or lesbian, poor, but these fears have been amplified since November 8, 2016. So how do we cultivate authentic compassion and have a balanced heart chakra during these times? I will discuss both having too open of a heart and too closed of a heart in this post and hopefully offering a way to balance ourselves.

Lack of self-care is a sign of an overactive heart chakra. Self-care is everything when it comes to compassion. Self-care seems well selfish now, but it’s not. I have seen many of my friends post story after story and attend rally after rally, event after event. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were leaving time for themselves. I have myself chosen to spiral into an unhealthy read/post cycle on social media and it left me empty many days. When we don’t leave time for ourselves, how can we grow? Do we really need to be empty shells to be worth something? What are we trying to prove when we keep pushing? We can’t be out “there” trying to change the world when we are void of substance ourselves. This is what self-care does. It gives us substance of depth, wisdom and energy. This makes us powerful agents of change. When I speak of self-care, I’m not talking about fluffy bubble baths and chocolate (well not on its on anyway). I am talking about asking our body, spirit and mind what it needs each day. Audre Lorde said that self-care is an act of political warfare. There is a war on women. There is a war we are fighting, whether we like it or not, so we need to be prepared each and every day.

And when you find yourself cold, unable to leave your bubble to do anything about the horrors around you? You may find that your heart chakra is closed. The ones who are numb and seemingly inactive in the community may be the ones hurting most of all. Those who are deeply affected and have been for a while may be numb for self-preservation. This is why I have such a problem with people urging everyone to go to this or that rally, to be more active. Some of us can’t for psychological, not to mention financial or other practical reasons. The thing is we can all do something…we just need to expand our idea of what is “enough”. This is how we begin to open our hearts, along with some self-care of course. It’s not nothing if you say hi to people if you feel safe to do so. It’s not nothing for you to be ears and eyes for those in more danger than you are. It’s not nothing to exist as a person who has spent time with yourself to inform others that racism exists in all of us….it really does. The sooner you start practicing things like saying hi to people, by informing yourself or by attending a local SURJ meeting your heart will reach some healing. I went to a SURJ meeting with my little family and I will tell you it was incredibly healing to discuss everything. I believe for most of us we have a true desire to alleviate suffering. It is something we can cultivate and it can grow.

Our unfaltering compassion, not pity, but true compassion is our grand weapon. To live with love guiding our entire path, to love for ourselves, our family and community. It’s everything. Here are some exercises that may help and of course don’t try to do them all unless you have time. Maybe even focus on one a week. I am firm believer in daily time to yourself and I am a mother of a one year old…it is possible Even 5 minutes helps:

If your heart is too open, take some time to yourself:

•Check in daily with your heart, chant Om Bhakti Yam 9 times with the intention of self-compassion.

Loving Kindness Meditation, do not forget yourself!

•Journal your heart in balance. DIG. Look up shadow work…oh it hurts so good.

Take the project implicit test

•Turn off social media and news for at least a day.

•Go for a walk, hike, ride a bike, swim. Be outside.

•Do a chakra balancing. If your heart is overactive is may be protecting you and trying to rebalance because another chakra is closed.

•Get some energy work done.

•Attend a community yoga class or something else that will not trigger you to be even more “active”,but to help you connect authentically instead.

•Have you eaten today?

•Yoga poses: child’s pose, mountain pose, and goddess squat

If your heart is too closed, find support as you support yourself:

•Journal your heart in balance. DIG.Focus on shadow work, ask yourself some questions and write whatever comes to mind even if it does not make sense. Eventually something will strike you.

•Check in daily with your heart, chant Om Bhakti Yam 9 times with the intention of compassion for yourself and your community

Loving Kindness Meditation

Take the project implicit test

•Turn off social media and news for at least a day.

•Go for a walk, hike, ride a bike, swim. Be outside.

•Get some energy work done.

•Attend a SURJ meeting or something similar and just listen and if you want be heard.

•When was the last time you shared a meal with someone?

•Yoga Poses: cobra, wild thing, standing back bend

Resources and References:

Chakras

Self-Care for People of Color after Trauma

Everything is Awful and I’m Not OK

 

 

Vegan Recipes for Your Heart

Candice Billings: Holistic Nutritionist

It is estimated that over 600,000 people die from heart disease each year in the United States, making it the number one killer in the country. This disease is caused by plaque build up in the body’s artery walls, making it difficult for blood to flow properly throughout the body.

What many people do not realize is that heart disease is a nutrition related disease, meaning that what you put into your body each day heavily impacts your risk for developing heart disease.  The plaque that builds up in the arteries is caused by consuming foods that contain high levels of saturated fat, which causes your cholesterol level to rise.

One way  to significantly reduce your risk for heart disease is to avoid foods that are high in saturated fat.  Meat and dairy based foods are high in saturated fats, while plant based foods do not contain any saturated fats.

The following are some easy plant based recipes that you can use to substitute some of your favorite meat and dairy based foods.

To learn more about how nutrition affects your heart click here.

Vegetable and Tofu Scramble:

1 package (14 oz) extra firm tofu

2 bell peppers

1 large or 2 small sweet potato

2 cloves of minced garlic

1-2 cups of spinach

Vegetable broth

½ tablespoon of turmeric

¼ tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring pot of water to a boil.  Wash and peel sweet potatoes, then dice into cubes.  Add sweet potatoes to pot of boiling water and cook until tender.  In a skillet add 1-2 tbsp of vegetable broth.  Add minced garlic and sauté until there is an aroma then add chopped green peppers and sauté until tender.  While peppers and sweet potatoes are cooking drain tofu and then crumble into a separate skillet.  Allow tofu to heat thoroughly, then add turmeric slowly until desired color.  Add cumin and salt and pepper.  When peppers and sweet potatoes are finished mix in with the tofu.  Add 1-2 cups of spinach and allow it to shrink down. Makes 4 servings.

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Butternut Squash Sauce with Macaroni:

2 cups cubed butternut squash (You can buy frozen already cubed, just thaw first)

2 cups whole grain pasta

2 cloves of minced garlic

1/4 cup cashew milk

3 tbsp nutritional yeast

4 tbsp vegetable broth

Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat small skillet with 2 tbsp of vegetable broth.  Add minced garlic and allow to slightly saute. If using a fresh butternut squash be sure bake in the oven until tender first.  I usually use frozen squash because it cuts down on prep time.  Add 2 cups of (thawed or baked) butternut squash to a blender or food processor.  Add cashew milk, nutritional yeast (more than recipe calls for if desired), remaining tbsp of vegetable broth, salt and pepper to taste, and blend until it forms a thick liquid.  Add the butternut squash sauce to a sauce pan and bring to simmer.  Once sauce is heated thoroughly pour over cooked macaroni pasta.  Add steamed broccoli or other vegetables if desired. Makes 4 servings.

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

1-2 sweet potatoes

1 can of black beans (15oz)

Vegan whole wheat or corn tortillas

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 avocado

1/2 red onion

1 tomato

1 jalapeno

1 lime

Cilantro

Peel and then chop potatoes into cubes.  Bring pot of water to boil and add potato cubes. Drain and rinse black beans and add them to a large skillet on low to medium heat.  Once potatoes are tender add them to the black beans.  Add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and let simmer.

Dice red onion, tomato and jalapeno.  In a small bowl add onion, tomato, jalapeno, chopped cilantro and lime juice from 1/2 lime, mix well.

Peel and slice avocado.

Once potato and black beans are heated and seasoned to your liking add them to a warm tortilla.  Top with fresh salsa and avocado slices.  Makes 4 servings.

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I hope these recipes were able to show you that substituting meat and dairy in your diet is not difficult and the outcome is delicious and also reduces your risk for disease!  Remember to think before you eat, and get daily exercise.

As always, thank you for reading.

Candice

 

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Candice is a certified holistic nutritionist focusing on a plant based lifestyle. After battling years of stomach pain and discomfort she was able to cure herself with a plant based lifestyle and is determined to spread awareness to others.  She is also a yoga practitioner, MPH student, urban garden volunteer, and a loving cat momma.