Your spiritual life requires attention.

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Balancing the human and the spiritual is a significant challenge on the path of self-development and growth. Too much focus on humanness suffocates true potential. Too much focus on the spiritual can disconnect people from day-to-day realities.

Fortunately, the chakra system offers a comprehensive map of the human experience. When working with the chakras — the psychic energy centers that belong to the subtle body — there’s an opportunity to harmonize and balance both the human and the spiritual. The seven chakras are typically split between lower “Earthly” qualities and higher “divine” qualities.

The higher chakras link to self-transcendence and spiritual awakening. At the very top of the chakra system resides the crown chakra. Crown Chakra energy is said to be the seat of the True Self (or Higher Self/Atman), beyond all limitations of the mind and body. 

This article will provide an overview of this sacred energy center, allowing you to better understand how to integrate your highest spiritual potential into the human experience.

What is the crown chakra?

The crown chakra, or Sahasrara chakra in Sanskrit, is located at the top of the head or slightly above the top of the head. In many traditions it’s viewed as the bridge between the body and the spirit, and the place in which the soul leaves the body after death. 

Its name refers to “thousand petals,” as the chakra is symbolized as a lotus flower with 1,000 petals of different colors, although the chakra itself is represented as violet or white.

the crown chakra
(© Philippe LEJEANVRE / Getty)

A balanced crown chakra is associated with thought, awareness, higher intelligence, and wisdom. It’s the chakra that acts as a portal to interconnection and unity of all things, beyond illusions of ego-separation. The purpose of yoga is to realize the absolute nature of existence, once energy rises from the base of the spine (the root chakra, or Muladhara chakra) through the solar plexus chakra, the heart chakra, the third eye chakra, all the way up to the crown chakra. 

In Tantric traditions, where the theory of the seven chakras originated, the direct experience of the divine occurs when Shiva (pure consciousness) and Shakti (the creative force of consciousness) unite at the crown chakra. Although the chakras are symbols of energy, this illustrates how yoga unites the physical and the spiritual dimensions.

The crown chakra is the giver and receiver of spiritual consciousness and regulates the energy of consciousness through the rest of the body. Its value doesn’t only reside in transcendental states or detached, existential bliss. A crown chakra imbalance or an underactive crown chakra is to be avoided at all costs. Balancing the crown chakra is vital for the rest of the “lower” chakras to be healthy and functioning at maximum capacity. 

Crown chakra: Meaning and signs of a blocked crown chakra

Anodea Judith is a leading expert in integrating the chakra system into Western psychology, having written books such as Western Body, Eastern Mind. She notes that imbalances go both ways — deficient or excessive. 

Signs of an excessive imbalance of the crown chakra as disconnection from the Earthly reality, spiritual addiction, and over-intellectualizing. Additionally, deficiency leads to disconnection from one’s spiritual nature, cynicism, and close-mindedness.

There are other signs of a block crown chakra. Understanding the purpose of the seventh chakra as a portal of spiritual connection and transcendence shines a light on what symptoms can arise when it’s out of balance. They include:

  • Feelings of isolation or separation
  • Excessive egotism
  • Existential despair or depression
  • Meaninglessness
  • Mental fog or lack of clarity
  • A rigid and fixed sense of self
  • Materialism
  • Apathy or a lack of caring
  • A lack of compassion or connection with others
blocked crown chakra
(Alex Karamanov / 500px / Getty)

Again, these symptoms aren’t hard and fast rules of what it means when you have a blocked crown chakra. Instead, they’re pointers. If you’ve experienced similar symptoms as above, it’s worth exploring how you can work to unblock your crown chakra, which we’ll explain in detail below.

The benefits of aligning the crown chakra

Depending on your background, your upbringing, and your culture, you may have certain views of human potential and the nature of reality. Terms such as universal consciousness or “the absolute” might seem far-fetched or fantastical. It’s worth remembering that the original yogic texts didn’t share these insights for entertainment or knowledge, but as instructions on accessing these states.

7th chakra
(Stefan Cristian Cioata / Getty)

The seven chakras are a similar guide. They aren’t an attempt to describe scientifically verifiable facts, but maps for the subjective journey of self-discovery. Allow the benefits to be an inspiration for your journey, and always use your own discernment to test whether they contain any truth.

With that said, here’s a description from Vivekachudamani, an ancient text and self-teaching manual said to be written by Indian philosopher Adi Shankara in the 8th century. This excerpt refers to a student’s joy when experiencing self-realization:

“The ego has disappeared. I have realized my identity with Brahman [the word for the absolute reality] and so all my desires have melted away. I have risen above my ignorance and my knowledge of this seeming universe. What is this joy that I feel? Who shall measure it? I know nothing but joy, limitless, unbounded!

“The ocean of Brahman is full of nectar–the joy of the Atman [the individual Self]. The treasure I have found there cannot be described in words. The mind cannot conceive of it. My mind fell like a hailstone into that vast expanse of Brahman’s ocean. Touching one drop of it, I melted away and became one with Brahman. And now, though I return to human consciousness, I abide in the joy of the Atman.”

Although such descriptions appear beyond the realm of comprehension, such levels of insight are a realized goal of many yogis. In more accessible terms, Anodea Judith describes the distinction of the crown chakra as: “rather than looking at what consciousness is pointing at, we contemplate the miraculous nature of awareness itself.”

Away from spiritual frameworks, this alone is a transformative experience. It’s the reason the seventh chakra represents and is closely linked to moving beyond limitations — from the miraculous nature of awareness itself, you’re better able to view the nature of thoughts and beliefs, allowing more space to overcome them.

How to balance an under or overactive crown chakra

The best way to balance the crown chakra is to integrate spiritual practice into your daily life. Because chakras are psychic energy centers, they’re alive and vibrant and require constant care and maintenance. Balancing any chakra isn’t a one-off, but an ongoing practice of maintaining wholeness and harmony throughout the entire chakra system. 

Remember Judith’s signs of an excessive imbalance of the crown chakra: disconnection from the Earthly reality, spiritual addiction, and over intellectualizing. The ego can hijack the process, intellectualizing spiritual experiences to create a new self-identity as being highly evolved, as a sense of superiority. Grounded balancing of the crown chakra integrates these qualities, without rejecting the Earthly.

In Buddhism, one type of craving is vibhava-taṇhā, or craving for non-existence. For many spiritual seekers, it can be tempting to lean into spiritual practice as a way to escape earthly reality. It’s something I’ve experienced myself and witnessed in clients and peers. I recommend using the root chakra and connection to the earthly as a counterweight to working with the crown chakra.

In practical terms, steps to balance your crown chakra include:

Meditation for the seventh chakra

Certain forms of transcendental meditations are far the best route to connecting to the crown chakra. Meditation allows for stilling of the mind and strengthening the connection to awareness itself.

Create distance between your physical body and thoughts

The crown chakra is the center of thought. Thoughts can be skillful, but many aren’t, serving to reinforce self-criticism or the sense of an isolated, separated self. Learn not to take thoughts as gospel, instead, observing them with a non-judgmental attitude.

Challenge your worldview

Mainstream Western science is playing catch up in comparison to ancient Eastern philosophies (although increasingly modern science, especially disciplines such as quantum physics, is affirming the approach of gurus and yogis from the past). It’s to realize the crown chakra’s potential if your worldview doesn’t support consciousness beyond the brain. Explore your worldview, and if necessary, take a leap of faith.

Practice crown chakra yoga poses

Body, mind, and spirit are interconnected.

what is a crown chakra
(kasto80 / Getty)

Working with the body directly can have significant results, in particular, to remove blocked energy and align the body with the chakras. In many ways, yoga is meditation with movement.

Unleash the power of imagination

As touched upon previously, the chakras aren’t supposed to be factual descriptions, but instructions. In ancient times, many yogis used the chakras as symbolic pointers for mental visualizations. Try playing with visualizations to unblock your crown chakra — try picturing a spinning ball of violet light in the area at the top of the head, and imagine it clearing any blockages.

Contemplate the cosmos

When I have conversations with people about the nature of the universe, I get a natural high. Admittedly, I’m a bit weird. But contemplation is a core practice of spiritual traditions for a reason. Reflecting on the nature of reality puts you into a mindset beyond day-to-day problems or concerns into the bigger picture. 

Take time to look at the stars and reflect on existential themes, such as where we came from, or what this all means. This is even better if you can find like-minded thinkers to explore life’s great questions.

In conclusion

We are spiritual beings having a human experience, yet we’ve lost touch with our true nature. The chakra system offers a guide back to ourselves. And within that system, the crown chakra is the seat of the spiritual and the sacred. Balancing its power whilst remaining grounded in the earthly is one way to find a deeper connection with the world and wider reality, as well as moving beyond limitations and ego-based thinking.

crown chakra healing
(DianaHirsch / Getty)

The above information is just a signpost; the work begins by committing to your own journey of understanding the full potential of human consciousness. Make sure to let go of lofty expectations — experiencing the absolute or unity of existence is rare, and for many takes a lifetime to achieve. But rest in the knowledge that your potential is far beyond what your mind might have you believe.