We invite you to read Ellen Tadd's introduction to her upcoming book,
A Framework for Wise Education:
“Chakra” is not a new-age word but rather an ancient Sanskrit term that means “wheel.” The phrase “Chakra System” refers to a structure of seven interrelated energy centers, extending from the top of the head to the base of the spine and contained in the “human energy field” or “aura” for every person. Each chakra represents a different aspect our nature, and it is through this interconnected network that we receive, express, and process our life experiences.
The Importance of Chakras in Childhood Education
Many people today are hard at work crafting and applying a variety of approaches aimed at improving our educational policies, solving our school problems, and supporting action plans for the benefit of children. Yet despite these well-intentioned efforts, many such strategies fall short of a system that covers the development of the whole person. In this book, I would like to propose a different approach. As I hope to demonstrate, I believe that for children, as well as adults, understanding and applying the lessons of the chakra system provides a foundation for developing a well-rounded person.
Through my own examination of the chakra system and forty years of working with students and clients of all ages, I have observed a structure that can help us simplify our understanding of the course of human development and aid us in creating an educational strategy, that supports and endorses the maturation of the whole child. Many factors are involved in providing a well-balanced education, especially in preparing children who must occupy a complex and rapidly changing world. I believe that a wise approach to education must recognize that children’s self-esteem will influence their academic performance; that inspiration can affect creative ingenuity; that certain basic disciplines are required for achieving excellence; and that relationship skills must be developed so children can learn how to collaborate positively and productively.
As human beings, our development is personally multi-faceted and collectively interconnected with others. In my experience, the chakra system has served as a clear and cogent means to organize individual and interpersonal complexity into categories, thereby making the process of understanding people, their behavior, and their interrelationships much quicker and easier.
Please understand that it is not necessary to be aware of the chakra system for it to have an effect. Just like the anatomical or physical facets of human existence, the chakra system exists and influences our well being whether or not we are conscious of how it functions. Just as the various organs and other systems performed their individual and interconnected tasks long before people understood human anatomy, so the chakra system has functioned as an integral part of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
The decisions we make regarding our physical bodies can help or hinder our development and experience. Knowledge can help us make wise choices. The same principle holds when we consciously approach working with the seven chakra energy centers. Although each center functions whether or not we are aware of its operation, cultivating a conscious awareness of the seven energy centers can enhance the health of the chakras, thereby providing a means to positively influencing the quality of our lives.
How I Came to Understand the Chakras
My approach to learning about the chakras as a means for deeply understanding human development was partly inspired by the work of the Swiss child psychologist Jean Piaget. In college, I was primarily interested in child psychology. As I studied Piaget’s work, I was deeply impressed by the fact that his interest in and theories about child psychology evolved through his observations of his own children.
Through Piaget, I learned that careful observation of human behavior—including the behavior of one’s own children can serve as an extraordinarily rich source of knowledge. When I had children of my own, I followed Piaget’s lead and carefully scrutinized their maturation process. My observations helped me gather information about human development.
I should explain that I had another source of knowledge, as well. Ever since childhood, I have had a natural clairvoyance; and as I watched my children and the adults around me, my examination extended beyond physical and emotional scrutiny to the observation of energy patterns exhibited by both children and adults. My awareness of these energy patterns ultimately led me to an understanding of the chakra system.
Here I add another cautionary note: Whether or not you believe in clairvoyance is entirely irrelevant in determining the value and practicality of the ideas I offer for raising and educating children. Please judge my proposals on the basis of their merits rather than dwelling on any association with clairvoyance. To use an analogy, though few of us understand how to build computers or even how they function many of us benefit from our ability to use them.
My Aim in This Book
My first book describing the chakras and their impact on our lives, The Wisdom of the Chakras: Tools for Navigating the Complexity of Life, caught the attention of my student Maureen Burford, the director of Creative Lives.
Together we discussed the possibility of tailoring the ideas expressed in that book to underpin a new approach to education. Inspired by her interest, I was further encouraged by articles I’d recently read that advanced the proposition that educational innovation often comes from outside the traditional, academic study of education. With that observation in mind, let me introduce you to the chakra system as a practical, holistic methodology for creating a framework for wise education.
I begin by noting that the workings of the chakra system are not so different from the workings of energy that we all experience but rarely observe directly. For example, we all know from high school biology that our arm may look solid but it actually consists of energy in motion. The awareness that solid-looking things are made up of small traveling particles not visible to our naked eye has been proven in many areas and is widely recognized and accepted. Furthermore, every day, we all rely on energies and frequencies that we cannot see and simply take for granted: for example, cell phones, computers, and other electronic appliances.
While the chakra system is often not seen or acknowledged, people nonetheless feel its effects. I believe it is fair to say; we are influenced by it virtually every day in the ordinary course of our lives. Here is one common example: When we become inspired we feel glad to be alive. How does this happen? As I will explain, inspiration opens the crown chakra at the top the head and this energetic expansion creates a joyful experience. Conversely, when we are discouraged, the crown closes with the result that we can feel depressed. Here is another fairly common example: When people talk about what they feel in their gut, they are acknowledging unknowingly the activity of the solar plexus chakra of emotion, which is located in the naval area.
As I hope to show in this book, understanding how the seven energy centers operate individually and collectively can enable us to frame a coherent structure for healthy character development, as well as insight into the process of creating thriving group dynamics—both of which, as you will see, are necessary for raising and educating children so that they become well-rounded adults.
What Lies Ahead
Although A Framework for Wise Education can serve as a checklist of universal components needed to raise and educate children into thriving adults, each individual child has different strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, even as we recognize that every child shares general needs and fundamental qualities, guiding a specific child’s development requires an individualized approach.
While the insights and practices described in A Framework for Wise Education can be applied in all educational settings among children of different ages, the particular means of implementation will vary according to a great many considerations, such as the age of the child, the child’s teachers, the subjects being taught, the nature of the surrounding community, financial resources, and so forth. In the following pages I will explain the positive qualities associated with each of the seven chakras and describe the means of cultivating these qualities. The principles and tools presented here will, I hope, not only assist children in developing these positive characteristics, but will also make the job of parenting and teaching children easier and more effective, no matter the circumstance.
Traditionally, a well-rounded education includes academics, art, music, and sports. The framework I am proposing contains many key elements associated with a conventional well-rounded education. At the same time, I will demonstrate how understanding the function of the chakras can serve as a checklist that provides a more detailed understanding of the building blocks necessary for healthy development. As you will see, an appreciation of the chakras can help parents and teachers ensure that they are aware of the fundamental categories needed to create desirable outcomes for children.
A Brief Introduction to the
Attributes of the Seven Chakras:
When the seven energy centers function properly they act in concert as an interconnected system. However, because of a variety of circumstances, one or another of these centers may become diminished or dominant, then problems arise. I have divided into three categories my explanation of the varying behavioral patterns and experiences associated with each of the chakras: well-functioning, dominance, and diminishment. In the following descriptions of the seven chakras, I outline the varying behavioral patterns and experiences associated with each of these three major categories.
The Crown Chakra, located at the top of the head.
Attributes of a well-functioning crown chakra: Feels good to be alive; a sense of connection, comfortable with spontaneity; feelings of devotion; inspired by many things; a sense of trust; capable of experiencing a sense of fun.
Common tendencies when the crown chakra is diminished: Feeling discouraged; contracted, or depressed; closed mindedness; an inability to act spontaneously; a sense of isolation.
Common tendencies when the crown chakra is dominant: Feelings of exhilaration or excitement associated with avoiding responsibility; a lack of attention to detail; irresponsible behavior; a carefree, invincible feeling that can be dangerous; desiring reward without doing the work to earn it.
The Third Eye Chakra located in the middle of the forehead.
Attributes of a well-functioning third eye chakra: Good focus and concentration skills; the ability to retain knowledge; the capacity to make choices that benefit oneself and others; wisdom, mental and emotional clarity.
Common tendencies when the third eye is diminished: Confusion; distraction; a tendency to make unfortunate choices; difficulty absorbing knowledge; poor performance. attention deficit disorder.
Common tendencies when the third eye is dominant: Capacity to offer insight or wise advice, but an inability or unwillingness to implement it in one’s own life; can “talk the talk” but not walk the walk;” intellectual pride.
The Throat Chakra, located at the throat.
Attributes of a well-functioning throat chakra: Confidence in one’s own value; appropriate verbal expression; wise use of power; love of learning; self-honesty; a sense of comfort in one’s skin; openness to feedback.
Common tendencies when the throat chakra is diminished: Low self-esteem; difficulty in communicating verbally; judgmental of self or others; fear of others’ opinions; difficulty absorbing knowledge; defensiveness; inability to accept compliments or a constructive criticism.
Common tendencies when the throat is dominant: A need to prove oneself special and powerful, competitiveness; bullying; talking too much; a lack of concern for others; a need to impress.
The Heart Chakra located in the middle of the chest.
Attributes of a well-functioning heart chakra: Feeling and expressing love appropriately; enjoyment and love of life; appropriate generosity; an ability to walk through fear; wanting the best for others.
Common tendencies when the heart chakra is diminished: Focus on emotional hurt; self-protectiveness, inability to experience or express joy; envy; fear of becoming fully involved with life and relationships.
Common tendencies when the heart chakra is dominant: Excessive, exhausting generosity; openness and warmth toward all without clarity or discernment; confusion around the appropriate response to feelings of warmth or love toward others.
The Solar Plexus Chakra, located above the navel area.
Attributes of a well-functioning solar plexus chakra: Emotions aligned with clarity; a deep sense of internal harmony; peace; acceptance of what is; the capacity to take action rather than simply react; intuition.
Common tendencies when the solar plexus is diminished: Emotionally closed; over-intellectualization; inability to relate to others; loneliness; self-protectiveness; controlling behavior; inability to respond to others’ needs or feelings.
Common tendencies when the solar plexus is dominant: Feeling overwhelmed; addictive behavior; eating disorders; anger; grief; violent tendencies; reactiveness; inner turmoil; oversensitivity to others’ emotions; confusion about the origin of one’s own feelings.
The Identity Chakra, situated at the mid-point between the ovaries in women or girls and a comparable location in men and boys.
Attributes of a well-functioning identity chakra: An internal balance which translates into being comfortable taking action or waiting; ability to speak up and listen well; comfortable with leading or following; the capacity to live creatively; healthy sexuality; contented with one’s relationships and with one’s identity in the world.
Common tendencies when the identity chakra is diminished: Discomfort in relationships with others; passivity; willingness to conform without regard to one’s own needs or aspirations; feeling unfulfilled; loneliness; lack of confidence; suppressing creative potential.
Common tendencies when the identity chakra is dominant: Aggressiveness; need for control in relationships; pushiness; insensitivity toward the feelings of others; rebelliousness, inability to listen to others; overly responsible or demanding of others.
The Base Chakra, located at the base of the spine.
Attributes of a well-functioning base chakra: Disciplined; responsible; able to establish order; adept at managing money, time, and vitality; comfortable with one’s body and on the Earth; attentive to details and acquiring skills; hard working.
Common tendencies when the base chakra is diminished: Inability to distinguish or maintain order; habitually lax; uncomfortable with one’s body, irresponsible; inability to manage time, energy, and money; poor attention to details; laziness.
Common tendencies when the base chakra is dominant: Preoccupied by discipline; inability to act spontaneously; tendency to fulfil duties without enjoyment; overly-consumed with details as a way to feel secure; controlling; focused on work without play.
Some people’s chakra expressions and patterns are consistent, while others flip flop and change throughout the day. In the chapters that follow, I will address different approaches to facilitate the development of the attributes, as well as explain what can cause the dominant and diminished patterns to occur.
In brief, within the framework of the seven chakras, a happy, healthy child would demonstrate the following attributes:
1. Inspiration in the crown
2. Good focus in the third eye
3. Positive self-esteem in the throat
4. Self-love and wanting the best for others in the heart
5. Emotional wellbeing in the solar plexus
6. Comfortable in one’s identity to be a leader or a follower whenever appropriate
7. A good work ethic in the base.
A final point in this introduction: by no means do I believe that having an awareness of a well functioning chakra system will make it quick and easy to bring children into well being and enable them to actualize their best. But there will be a reduction of difficulty derived from greater clarity and the tools that will aid in bringing about favorable outcomes. Gardening is a good analogy. Even when you have proper tools and knowledge about gardening, it is still a lot of work to create a thriving garden. But think about how much more difficult it would be without an understanding of how to grow flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and with poor quality tools. My hope is that this book will provide the understanding and the tools to make the job of fostering healthy, happy children easier and more enjoyable.