The throat chakra.
This week, we are on chakra five – visuddha. Again, I found myself drawn to the color associated with the chakra this week. I even painted my toenails blue a few days ago! I’m just finding it so interesting that I am subconsciously surrounding myself with the colors of the chakras each week.
Visuddha is also known as the “throat” chakra. This is the first chakra of our upper chakras, so it is here that we start tearing down boundaries and begin to explore the concept of self actualization. The color is bright blue and the lotus flower has sixteen petals at this chakra. Sound is a huge part of this chakra, with the mantra commonly used here being “I speak”. Visuddha means “purification” in sanksrit, and sound acts as that purifier for our body. The throat chakra is linked to vibrations, self expression, and creativity. Some of those forms may be in listening, speaking, writing, chanting, and the arts. Our throat uses vibrations as a form of communication and expression, and vibrations are like ripples. In that same idea, this chakra aims to help an individual identify patterns and develop positive rhythms of life. Communication is critical at this chakra level (Judith, 2002).
Since communication is a big part of this chakra, I had no problem finding a way to tie this in to counseling. It seems like I’m always talking about talking with my cilents! All jokes aside, this really is a big issue for a lot of people. Whether I’m telling my younger clients to “use their feeling words” when they are angry, or I’m discussing how to communicate with your spouse, it’s all over our field. There is tons of research out there on the power of communication. There are so many ways to communicate, too! I’m really loving seeing how these chakras are all tying in together. Last week we talked about anahata and the love languages. Those love languages also help you learn how you express yourself and how you want others to communicate with you. I express my feelings nonverbally most of the time, and I expect the person I’m “communicating” with to understand what I’m feeling because they should be spending quality time with me. (Oof, that’s a lot of expectation on my part. Maybe I should work on that.) Knowing how we want to be communicated with and where our strengths and weaknesses lie is a huge step for this chakra, in my opinion. I think working on this chakra with guarded clients, in couples and family counseling, and clients who have a difficult time expressing their feelings in an appropriate manner (those angry kids!) will really help them get in touch with how they should communicate to feel understood. That’s all my clients ever want. They want to feel understood and validated! It’s so simple, really. But how do we listen to what they are really saying?
One of the first things that I learned in graduate school is that counseling is a lot of reflection and paraphrasing. Literally. If a client said to me “I had a really bad day today because my car wouldn’t start, my boss was mad that I was late, and I burned my tongue on my coffee this morning” I would say something like “You’re upset because nothing was going your way today”. I literally just repeated what they said but in a different way. This is so straightforward yet really effective in counseling because than the client says “YES! Exactly!” and then you dig in to the deep, fun stuff. Take the time to really listen and then let that person know hey, I really heard you just now; I understand. I bet you’ll be amazed by the effects.
Another communication tool that popped up in my head while reading about visuddha was “I messages”. I teach these all the time in my parenting classes and I love talking about them. I use this when I’m discussing important things with my husband because it helps the conversation stay positive instead of leading in to an argument. (I should say I try to use these with my husband – I don’t want ya’ll thinking I’m perfect because I definitely still use negative words sometimes. I’m only human!) The idea behind I messages is that the speaker puts the emphasis on their self instead of the other person. When using a “you message” such as “You didn’t put your socks in the hamper like I asked you to!” it blames the other person and makes them, typically, angry and causes a big blow out. Instead, using an I message helps the individual understand why that makes you upset (Irwin, n.d.). So for that particular example, the I message could be like “I feel unappreciated when I am constantly picking up your socks after I asked you to help me.” Again, this helps with empathy. It is my belief that empathy is the most important concept we learn in this world. This simple technique can open up a dialogue that would likely never happen when the blame game starts. It helps us develop positive communication and a deeper grasp of what others are feeling, which makes the world a happier place. 🙂 (If you want to read more about I messages and see the “steps” for building an I statement, check out the article by Murray Irwin.)
Some other counseling tools to utilize with clients struggling with communication:
-music therapy (let the lyrics speak for them – this is so fun to do with adolescent clients!)
-play therapy (I could write a lot of posts on this one, which I’m sure I will.)
-journaling back and forth between two people (I like to do this with children and their parents. Sometimes writing is the easiest way to be honest about our feelings.)
Some yoga tools to utilize with clients needing to balance visuddha:
-shoulder stand (another one of my faves!)
(Geroux, 2014; Judith, 2002).
So there you have it, folks. Develop a mantra, meditate on it, then let me know how you intend to improve your communication!
Happy OM’ing. ❤
Geroux, C. (2014). Chakra 5 – visuddha – speak your truth. Retrieved from http://coraandbodhi.com/chakra-5-vissudha-speak-your-truth/
Irwin, M. (n.d.) How to get your message across respectfully. Retrieved from http://www.encouraging-appropriate-behaviour.com/free-stuff/how-to-use-i-messages.html
Judith, A. (2002). Wheels of life: A user’s guide to the chakra system. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.