What is a chakra and eight other esoteric terms explained
Words: Carly Stephan // @carlystephan
When you first dip your toes into the waters of a spiritual journey it can feel a bit like you’ve started a new job and everyone around you is talking in acronyms that you can’t understand. It’s a whole new language to master, and it can feel a little intimidating, right?
Well, I’m here to break down some of these terms for you, so you’ll know what they actually mean, and how to use them. Now, let’s sort your dharmas from your karmas and finally find our what a chakra is.
This can be interpreted in a couple of ways. Sometimes it’s used as short-hand for ‘dropping into’ your body more deeply. Our Western-cultured society places a lot of emphasis on mental power and mind-based analysis and knowledge, but a lot of our wisdom and intuition actually resides in our bodies. Connecting into – and feeling – our hearts, our gut, our womb area (for women who have them) can lead to a more well-rounded insight in any situation. So, go drop in and see what you find!
You can also ‘drop in’ to a flow or meditative state (which again can be accessed via your body), or other practices that help you move very deeply into the present and access flow like reflective journaling, movement (dance/running), creative expression, or time in nature.
2. Fifth Dimension:
You’ve probably heard of the third dimension – it’s where you live right now. You can feel the clothes on you, the chair you’re sitting on, the room around you… all of this is material of the third dimension. And you might also be famililar with the fourth dimension – you go there in your dreams, in the astral realm and your imagination/thoughts begin on this dimension.
Well, the fifth dimension is a plane of consciousness where you access a phenomenal amount of peace, love, compassion and joy. When your internal frequency and vibration becomes high enough, you access life in the fifth dimension. Your personal awakening journey is what will lead you to experiencing life in the fifth dimension… it isn’t a place you ‘go to’ physically (yet!).
It’s a widely held belief in the New Age community that once we reach a tipping point of people who are accessing the fifth dimension internally, the reality of it will more readily be witnessed in our world.
3. Paradigm shift:
This happens when a view or underlying assumption of yours changes. So the regular way you think about or do something is replaced by a new way, particularly in relation to ‘the way things work for me’. For instance, if you live in a current paradigm that believes the universe is out to get you, you will often see evidence in your world that this is indeed the case… which often leads to a downward spiral of emotion and upset.
Allowing a paradigm shift to occur here would be to adopt the perspective that ‘the universe loves and supports me’ and begin to observe that everything that’s happened to you so far has been so supportive to your awakening journey, even if it doesn’t appear obvious to you at the time. Dr. Wayne Dyer encapsulates the benefits of a paradigm shift really well with this adage: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
People use this term in a few different ways. It can be used to describe a clear and unimpeded alignment of your chakras or energy centres in your body (see definition below!) and your connection to a higher source of power.
It is also used to describe a state where your truest values and beliefs are consistent and completely congruent with your daily actions and deeds in the world. This has a lot to do with your personal integrity and honesty with yourself.
For instance, if you value and believe in the importance of self care, yet you currently live your life in a state of perpetual burnout and fatigue, this would be living out of alignment.
5. Higher self:
This is the highest part of you that exists here, the version of you that is wise, loving and joyous. It is not separate from you, but can often be deeply buried under a lot of social constructs and ego-driven fears.
The spiritual awakening journey involves tuning into and listening more so to your higher self than what you previously have. If you’ve never felt this part of you, you can begin to access your higher self during meditation, dancing, time in nature, and energy healing sessions like reiki, kinesiology, and kahuna / lomi-lomi massage therapies.
The further along you journey in your spiritual awakening, the more you and your higher self will be able to merge into one (and the quieter your ego becomes - yay!).
6. Shadow self:
The ‘shadow self’ and working with this aspect of yourself is really about owning and integrating the repressed parts of ourselves that we have previously disowned for fear of not being accepted. Although the term was first coined by Dr. Carl Jung, my favourite definition of the shadow self is by the expert of shadow work herself, Debbie Ford:
“Our shadow, formed long ago, contains all the parts of ourselves that we have tried to hide or deny, the parts we believe are not acceptable to our family, friends and, most importantly, ourselves. It is made up of everything that annoys, horrifies or disgusts us about other people or about ourselves. It holds all that we try to hide from those we love and all that we don’t want other people to think about us or find out about us.”
Reclaiming and owning your shadow self allows you to rest into the wholeness of who you are.
A few religions use this term including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. In Buddhism it is a term to describe teachings that describe the true nature of the universe, whereas Hindu’s use this term to describe the moral order of the universe and code of living.
The term dharma has found its way into western vernacular, and is used in general terms to mean righteousness of your purpose, your true inner path, and the inspiration to live it, daily.
Self-evidently it means ‘a lot of’ something, but when used in the context of spiritual-speak, it describes the essence of living with everything you could ever desire and need: love, wealth, connection, health, opportunities, amazing experiences - to live a life that is juicy, and overflowing with blessings.
Another sanskrit term usurped by the West, a lot of people are confused about what a chakra is. The word chakra is used to describe the ‘wheels’ or energy centres that reside within us (and outside us in our broader energy field). Within our body there are seven chakras - beginning at the base of the spine at our ‘root’, and moving up the body towards the top of our head, where our ‘crown’ chakra resides.
These energy centres do not reside on the physical plane of existence (our third dimension), but rather in our energetic or spiritual body. Their job is to spin and take in energy from the outside world and keep each layer of our body balanced and in optimum health - our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies.
When we experience blockages or stagnation in our lives, making sure our chakras are clear, balanced and charged up can be a huge help. You can do this yourself using a chakra cleanse meditation, or see a reiki practitioner.
And there you have it! I hope these explanations help to demystify these mystical terms. If any of them feel particularly interesting to you, I encourage you to dive into reading more about them… before you know it, you’ll be dropping into your body, spinning your chakras, living in alignment and paradigm shifting yourself into a fifth dimensional way of living. Talk about living your dharma, hey?