function of blockages in that life energy. Some people have larger constitutional quantities than others which can be seen by the general lifeforce and daily activity they emit. As well, each person has a different distribution of their energy, dependent on their aspirations, desires and needs. The particular quantity of shakti one may have, as well as the qualitative expression of that shakti, can be wilfully increased through yoga. Full awakening of one's kundalini potential is said to be the purpose of human existence. This is called self realisation.
The kundalini energy flows along the main central nadi in the spinal column. Just like electricity, there is a positive and a negative polarity to this energy and, just like the electricity transmission grid, there is a major supply line, distribution hubs, substations, switching stations and branch lines, all of which contribute to the harmonious flow of that energy. These sub-stations in humans are called Chakras.
Figure 6 on page 64 shows the position and symbolic imagery for the major chakras and their trigger points in the human framework. Chakra means "wheel" or "vortex of energy". Physiologi-cally they represent the major nerve plexi which branch off the spinal cord to serve the major organs in the body. More than just some "superstitious old Hindu nonsense", as many might think, the existence of the chakras and their effects upon our physiology have been well studied and documented by laboratory tests upon yoga practitioners and meditators for many years. It is now known that the nervous pathways which medical science has identified, and the energy channels the yogis speak of, have very similar effects upon the brain. It has been shown that by self-stimulating or self-sedating particular chakras, we can have direct control over certain brain functions, including the autonomic nervous functions like brain wave frequency, heart rate, digestion, sleeping patterns, the process of aging, and many other previously uncontrollable functions. All these skills can be gained through the techniques of asanas, pranayama, mudras, bandhas, Yoga Nidra and meditation.
The mechanisms of exactly how meditation upon the chakras can affect physiological states is not so well understood by the medical scientists, and even less understood by them is how chakras can affect one's psychological states and states of consciousness, as
they do. However the yogis have described very clearly how all these facultie interconnect by way of a network of psychic energy channels (the nadis) and how the practitioner's awareness is a major factor in the equation. Yoga maintains that by taking one's awareness to any particular area of the body, and particularly to the area of a chakra, dormant and previously unconscious areas within the brain are activated which cause a corresponding effect on body function and a corresponding expansion of consciousness.
As you may have heard, it is estimated that the average person uses only about 10% of their brain's total capacity. They say Einstein used 15%! Well what about the other 85 - 90%, what does it do? The enlightened masters liken the brain to a "sleeping city" where most of the lights are turned off, where most of its function is unconscious, if not sometimes subconscious. Kundalini Yoga is one sure way of turning them on! Superstitious people call these dormant, hidden faculties supernatural, occult forces or sometimes demon forces, whereas kundalini yogis just think of them as awakening more of our human potential and developing higher levels of consciousness. Greater physical, intellectual, artistic, poetic, psychic and mystical / spiritual abilities can all be developed by direct concentra-tion on the chakras in the spinal column or on their associated trigger points along the front of the body (See Figure 6, p. 64). All of our unconscious thoughts and actions can be made more conscious by accessing those particular chakras which are known to control those things. Fears, phobias, negativities can all be purged, and extra positive attributes can be developed. Kundalini Yoga is a proven system for such management of the mind.
Each of the chakras represents a different level of energy manifestation and consciousness development. It is not a case of being fully awakened or fully asleep at any one chakra. We are all born with different levels of chakra development, and during our lives we may awaken some chakras more than others or, as is most often the case, life events do it to us. From time to time the openness and efficiency of any particular chakra may fluctuate. Sometimes they go to sleep for a while and we seem to get stuck in one area of development. At other times they have periods of great activity and we leap ahead in our growth.