If we are very fortunate and wise enough to open to it and see its value, something comes into our lives completely unbidden and changes us forever by giving us purpose and direction. I am grateful that this happened to me in the 1980s when I was introduced to a method for accessing information stored in the chakras that was otherwise unknown. I used these techniques and then modified them for ease in use when I noticed that the effect on my mind was so beneficial—my self-esteem increased and my fear decreased. I was captivated and from then on, devoted myself to healing my subtle body chakras while also incorporating these techniques that I call Traya into my work with others.
Together, my clients and I explored the inner world and depths of the mind discovering its energetic structure and the numerous benefits of working with the chakras in this way. I searched for anything similar to this process written about the chakras in both ancient and modern texts. I found that while some of the main functions were known, few of the additional attributes of each chakra I had discovered were known and most importantly there were no techniques that could actually heal a dysfunctional chakra (and thus the mind) nor was there relevant material about the secondary chakras my clients and I discovered. These secondary chakras were found between each of the primary chakras and have specific functions of their own impacting the mind in important ways. I wrote Chakra Wisdom: Healing the Mind of Negative Thoughts, Feelings and Beliefs with Meditation, Yoga and the Traya Process to bring this ground-breaking information to the wider world. My book includes material that came up during the Traya exploration process when working with others that provides a comprehensive accounting of all of the functions and attributes of the entire system. While we may not normally think of them as such, Yoga and meditation are also subtle body practices. I found they both enhance and are enhanced by the Traya process and I encourage everyone to include these practices with their Traya practice as I have been blessed to do. Traya is also spiritual practice because it connects us to Self and the inner teacher. The spiritual aspects of Traya becomes clearer when working with the higher chakras. Chakra Wisdom includes simple exercises that will enable the reader to use these techniques to purify their minds of negative patterns that create suffering in their lives.
Subtle energy (the prana within us that is processed and stored in the chakras and channels that circulate throughout our system) drives our lives. To understand how this energy does this we can look at our relationships as we all have them and they often reflect our state of mind.
Everything is energy; the ancients called this prana. Relationships are enhanced or diminished by energy patterns that play out between people. To improve relationships we must first examine the patterns that we bring to them. These patterns are stored in the chakras as vasanas,or tendencies resulting from previous experiences. Because we all have different life situations and experiences, we will have a specific combination of energies unique to us. This is our "relationship energy." When our relationship energy is healthy (we have had mostly positive previous experiences), we feel connected to others and attract others with good relationship energy into our lives.
Relationship energy is powerful and can have positive and negative charges. These charges create "magnets" that attract us to people who match our energy specifics. For example, if we felt invisible in our childhood relationships with our parents and peers, there will be a strong negative charge to our relationship energy that will bring people into our lives that will contribute to the continuation of this pattern. Our energy may even stimulate in them behaviors that match this pattern, such as not listening when we speak.
When we think of relationships what usually comes to mind are relationships with other people—romantic, family, friends, neighbors, etc. We are also in relationship with things, such as with money, and there is a separate pattern determined by our experiences with money energy—how money was handled by our families, the beliefs they held about money, etc. or related areas such as self-esteem that determine the dynamics of this relationship. If we spend beyond our means or are miserly, our money relationship is out of sorts and we think and worry about it too much. Money is inanimate, so there is no one to point to as it is only our "money energy" creating the problem. At the moment that we are having money issues, we are the only ones that can change this relationship. We can't blame George Washington for our misuse of the dollar bill even though we see him every time we spend a dollar. We get that we are responsible for mishandling money, and to change the relationship we must change ourselves. With money the default reaction is, "I need to change this or that." Perhaps I will start to keep a record of everything that I spend so that I can see where all of my money goes, or I will get a part time job until my debts are paid. Whatever I do, I look to myself to change—not to the money.
Relationships with people are more complicated because people bring their unique patterns of relating based upon their own past experiences to bear. In difficult human relationships many of us have a tendency to first blame the other without looking for "what is it in me that is attracting or encouraging this dynamic." If we take a similar approach to interpersonal relationships as we do to that with money, we will go a long way towards having healthier relationships in the future.
There is a saying that, "Your worst enemy is your best friend." Being confronted with a perceived enemy allows us to see our negative reactions to them that lie dormant within us. What buttons are being pushed and where are they located in the chakras? We know the popular saying, "he or she pushes my buttons." Yes, if we have a strong negative reaction there is something in us that needs to be purged. It is not about fault; it is about taking the opportunity that our unconscious is providing to heal this dynamic by making our dormant reactions clearer and then healing them.
Many such opportunities arise when people live together. One of my teachers likened life in a Zen Center to a potato washing machine where the potatoes are tossed around and washed by rubbing up against each other. Our buttons get pushed in interactions with those in close quarters.
Often we miss the opportunity to heal our own issues when we move on from a difficult relationship only to create the same dynamic elsewhere. That is not to say that we need to stay in problematic relationships in order to heal them. No, we can move on, but while we work that out we can grow by addressing the issues that came up. We can look clearly and acknowledge our part without blame. "Why does this keep happening to me?" Part of that involves seeing the pattern and not participating in it. That means to take back the negative energy that we are contributing by engaging with the pattern and to look at ways to do things differently. Taking rigid positions strengthens the negative magnet and dynamic we want to be rid of. Bringing negative to negative makes negative stronger. A negative magnet can only be undone by positive energy. The first step is to let go of blame, rigid ideas, and positions even when we are "right." When we look first at ourselves, we must be sure to apply the same standard. Even if we are responsible for bringing these negative patterns into our lives, we are not at fault. We did not create the pattern—it was created by our experiences. The good news is that we have the power to change any relationship by changing what we contribute to it. We cannot change anyone else. Traya is all about removing our buttons. If we understand this, when our buttons are pushed we are happy to see it because then we can change it. We can let go of fault, reorient ourselves, and find our good will, wisdom, patience, tolerance, understanding, and skillful speech. So a difficult relationship can be a good situation if it gives us an opportunity to locate negative energy patterns in us and then follow up with the Traya practice to eliminate them.
In my work with couples there comes a point when both drop their defensive stances and open to really seeing what is going on and what each contributes. In Zen practice there is a term ("together action") that means full cooperation in an effort by two or more people. When this happens with couples, the energy shifts and it is refreshing—like a cool breeze on a hot day—and we all feel it. It is a pivot point and the rebuilding of the relationship starts here. One of the couples I worked with was at this point, and the anniversary card the husband sent to his wife reflects this perspective:
"Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase 'each other' doesn't make sense any more."—Rumi
Conflict will always arise, and good relationships are those that use good communication skills to resolve conflicts. Good communication involves listening and really trying to understand where the other is coming from and what is driving the behavior that "rubs" us the wrong way. It also means that we must express ourselves and own our truth. If it is too soon to forgive, that must be acknowledged. I once heard it said that, "forgiving too soon is like putting icing on a burnt cake." It just doesn't work, and we are not being true to ourselves by trying to avoid truth.
There is one relationship where compromise is not allowed—the relationship with self. If we are to blossom we must learn to trust and take care of ourselves. We find a way to drop blame without abandoning ourselves. It is truth that nourishes us. If we trust ourselves we will know when to work on a relationship and when to leave it, but we can never leave the relationship with ourselves. Indeed for all of us this is a relationship that we must put more attention on and more energy into. We give our most important relationship scant attention. We pay attention to our physical bodies, cooking great meals for it and taking long soaks in a hot tub because we enjoy it, and there will be consequences if we don't. We understand how we depend on the physical body yet are ignorant of the workings of the subtle body and don't understand the consequences of this. The mind and spirit are embedded in the subtle body, and if we are give it the attention it deserves we will reap untold benefits and live our lives in a completely new and fulfilling way. Practices that impact the subtle body like yoga and meditation increase our self-awareness. Now we also have the Traya practice to directly connect with the subtle body, surface buried patterns and take them apart. When we use the Traya practice, we connect with ourselves in a meaningful, deep, and healing way. Once we understand how the subtle body and mind energy really work, we will be happy to place more time and effort there. The more that we work with it the easier it is for us to spot its signals and respond accordingly. The more we give attention to it, the more it gives to us—joy, insight, healing, wisdom, and direction.
Trish O'Sullivan is a licensed clinical social worker, a senior dharma teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen, and a certified yoga teacher. In addition to her private psychotherapy practice, she conducts Traya practice ...