In a climate of four distinct seasons marked by greatly varying temperatures, precipitation, and color changes, Winter’s landscape often seems nearly devoid of color: gray and white, frugally punctuated with notes of pine green or tiny dots of berry red. Gone are the sunrise/sunset leaves of Fall; the verdant hills, sparkling blue waters, and thriving gardens of Summer have long since faded; and Spring’s pops of crocus yellow and fragrant lilacs are months away.

Winter also signifies a more internal, or “yin” time of year: As Nature hibernates, our own energies slow and turn inward. I think that the perceived lack of environmental color contributes to the doldrums that many people experience in the winter: However, when the sun shines brightly over a panorama of white, the landscape literally twinkles, and the sun’s rays convey a revitalizing force.

As our mood can shift almost instantaneously with those hits of sun, we can remind ourselves that even when the outside seems dark or dank, our inner system of energies continues to function along the full spectrum of color, i.e., the chakra centers.

In order to enliven and balance the chakras, I enjoy progressive awakening of each chakra from root to crown, and then back down again. This practice is very grounding and stabilizing, which is helpful when over-simulated or pulled in multiple directions. In Winter, however, I often reverse the progression: I start at the crown, moving toward the root, and then rise again, so that my energies elevate; this creates a feeling of lightness and brightness.

Another fun way to work with the chakras in Winter is to note the symbolic colors of the holidays: red, green, blue, and white. (Black would be included in recognition of Kwanza, but as black is not represented in the chakra system, I do not address it here.) With regard to the chakras, the holiday colors denote the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh chakras: one would focus on the root (pelvic floor and spinal tail); heart and chest region; throat and neck; and crown of the head.

There are numerous variations to the aforementioned progressive chakra technique. A simple beginning is to close your eyes, and focus first on the root (red) chakra. With your mind, envision and project the color red throughout the base region: inhale as you conjure the color, and use your long, steady exhale to flood the energetic root center with the color. Proceed progressively through the reproductive region (orange); navel and solar plexus area (yellow); heart center (green); throat (blue); Third Eye (indigo or purple), and ultimately to the crown (violet or white). Then work your way back down.

You may be compelled to move when you are breathing into a specific chakra, or that you want to lay your hands on that region. This is your energy requesting attention: Follow its lead!

Another excellent way to empower each chakra and to harmonize the system with the energy of the Universe is to invoke and align a mantra with the chakras. You can simply use a word or words that currently bear significance for you, or you could chant a yogic mantra: for example, you could chant “Aum” to each chakra.

As I use kundalini mantras, which are in the language of Gurmukhi, I enjoy the following mantra for use in a chakra progression: Wahe guru, wahe guru, wahe guru, wahe jio. (Phonetically, the words are: wah-hey, goo-roo, and jee-oh.) “Wahe” is an exclamation of awe, with regard to divine power; “guru” refers to the lineage of teachers, saints, and sages that have imparted their wisdom throughout the ages, thus turning our darkness”(gu) to light (ru). And finally, “jio” is the proclamation of adoration and respect for one’s soul. The mantra is said to call upon and elicit “infinite bliss,” in accordance with the eternal energy of the Universe.

To practice this technique, you again would focus internally and/or gently place the palm of your hand on each chakra in progression. Simultaneously, chant part of the mantra as you go. So, say, “Wahe,” as you sense and focus your mind on the pelvic floor; “guru” as you move to the point three finger widths below your navel; “wahe” as you move to the Third Chakra, between the navel and solar plexus; “guru” at the heart center; “wahe” at the throat; “guru” for the Third Eye, or Sixth Chakra; and “wahe jio” as you focus on the crown, and into the auric field above and around your head.

To further engage your chakral energies with the “bliss” of the mantra, you might like to use your hands to sweep up and over your crown as you chant “wahe jio”: If is as if you are throwing water over your head, so that it can wash down your back, bathing each chakra center with the energy of the mantra.

Again, this technique is a method open to multiple variations and personal experimentation. As always, enjoy the process of creating that which feels right for you.

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