Chakras for Storytellers, Part 1: Exploring the Souls of Your Characters

by Ashley Christiano
published in Writing

Do you ever feel like you could fill out a thousand character worksheets and still not get to the soul of who your protagonist, antagonist, or supporting cast are? Not the details of what they look like, what they do, and what they want, but the essence of what makes them them. It’s that depth that will turn them from a two-dimensional character into something more. 

If that experience rings true for you, delving into the energetic concept of the chakras could be just what you need to explore your characters on a deeper level.

The Seven Chakras

Chakras are a common concept that anybody studying spirituality or practicing meditation is likely to stumble upon at some point. Chakras are an ancient, Hindu concept of energy centers in the body. Each of these energy centers holds a different purpose, from a sense of safety to a sense of enlightenment. 

While there are more than a hundred different chakras interconnected in this energetic system, there are seven main chakras. Here is a quick look at the seven main chakras.

1stYour “root” chakra is located at the base of your spine.Safety, security, stability, groundedness
2ndYour sacral chakra is about a hand’s with below your belly button. For women, this is often referred to as the “womb space.” Sexuality and emotion
3rdThis chakra is at your Solar Plexus, just below your rib cage.Power and confidence
4thThis is your heart chakra, right at the center of your chest.Love and compassion
5thThis is your throat chakra, right at the hollow of your throat, but expands to your mouth and ears.Self-expression and ability to communicate your truth
6thYour Third Eye is right between your brows. It is aligned with the pineal gland in your brain.Intuition
7thYour crown chakra is a few inches above your head.Spiritual Enlightenment

How The Chakras Impact Each Other

The seven chakras each have their own theme, but they do not exist in a vacuum. The system is interconnected. That means that the health of each chakra impacts every other chakra. 

It’s kind of like a traffic grid. If one traffic light is not working, it impacts more than just that intersection: it throws off a finely tuned balance of cars for blocks to come. If too many traffic lights are out of wack, you might end up with gridlock, with no cars moving in any direction. But if all traffic lights are running as the system requires, then you get to your destination without a hitch. 

In chakra lingo, the traffic lights have three main flavors: blocked, balanced, and excessive. 

A blocked chakra is a barrier for your energy. It kind of acts like a dam, stopping energy from moving upward through the chakra system. 

An excessive chakra has too much flow and is pulling too much energy up the system. You can think of this as a fire hose turned on full blast. 

A balanced chakra is healthy. It is letting energy flow through in a healthy, even flow, like a lazy river carrying its riders in a seamless circle of good vibes. 

Here’s how those three main flavors might impact each of the seven chakras. 

1stSafety, security, stability, groundednessYou feel secure in your body. A from that sense of safety you can act independently. You live in survival mode, with a threat around every corner (real or imagined). You exert control over others to feel secure and safe in life.
2ndSexuality and emotionYou can freely express your honest emotions and sexuality in a healthy way. You are out of touch with your emotions and/or sexuality. You may come off as prudish or aloof. You overshare of your feelings and body out of a compulsion to merge with others.
3rdPower and confidenceYou act with confidence and believe in yourself and what you bring to the table. You lack self-esteem and may put yourself down or sacrifice your needs for the needs of others.You see power as a scarce resource and exert it over others out of fear that if you don’t they will take it from you.
4thLove and compassionBecause you love yourself, you are able to love others in a healthy, balanced way.You struggle to love yourself, and may give too much to others to earn their love.You experience some narcissistic tendencies and project self-love when really you seek validation.
5thSelf-expression and ability to communicate your truthYou find it easy, or at least possible, to articulate your thoughts, ideas, and feelings to yourself and others.You experience challenging in speaking your truth…or sharing of yourself at all. You may also experience social anxiety.You constantly talk over others to ensure your voice is always heard. You’re often the loudest person in the room.
6thIntuitionThrough reflection, you can sense the connections between ideas, people, and experiences with ease. You struggle to see the patterns or deeper meaning in life.You are so in the fantasy of life that you miss out on the present reality and those you’re connected to.
7thSpiritual EnlightenmentYou are tapped into an innate wisdom and understand that we are all one, and are now able to teach others this in turn. You see the world as scattered pieces, and don’t believe there is any higher meaning or purpose to life.You’re obsessed with gaining wisdom and living a spiritual life. This obsession pulls you away from others. 

Now that you’ve got a map of the chakra basics, let’s see how examining these different aspects of your characters can help you understand how the different dams, fire hoses, and lazy rivers within them add up to something greater.

Two Ways You Can Tap Into The Chakra System as a Writer

First, chakras add movement to a static character. By looking beneath the surface of your character and into these seven energetic points, you can see where there is stagnancy or frenzy within them. Adding the chakras to your character sheet and identifying the status of each chakra (blocked, excessive, healthy) will help you visualize the flow of energy within them. 

Let’s use a real-life character as an example here: Regina George. This classic Queen Bee and Mean Girl has an excessive 1st and 3rd chakra. This causes her to exert control and power over others. But this means that she doesn’t have any true, honest, warm relationships (deficient 4th chakra). She’ll never experience true friendship and any higher meaning in life until she resolves those root issues likely tied to boundaryless parenting during her formative years. 

A second way charkas can help you as a writer is identifying what within your character you can change to help them develop over the course of your novel. That change is what creates tension, momentum, and allows your reader to root for your characters. For you to track that arc over the course of 70,000 or more words, you’re going to have to determine what is changing and why. The “what” that is changing can be found in the chakras. Maybe your character’s second chakra moves through all three stages of blocked, excessive, and balanced, for example. 

Let’s use another real-life character as an example here: Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is a survivor (blocked 1st chakra) who has the emotional spectrum of a rock (blocked 2nd chakra). But she loves her sister and will do anything to keep her safe (healthy 4th chakra). Over the course of the competition, Katniss will have to take her survival into her own hands (1st chakra journey) and learn to express her emotions and love more freely (2nd chakra) in order to get her truth heard and send a louder message (5th chakra). 

In Conclusion

The Chakra system sounds complex, but there are tons of resources and meditations that will help you get the hang of it! If you’d like to explore the chakra system in more depth, I’d recommend checking out Anodea Judith’s book Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System As a Path to the Self.

Otherwise, give the chakra system a try. It’s a worthwhile thought exercise that will help you look at your characters in a deeper light. Perhaps it’s just the angle you need to unblock your writing.

Ashley Christiano is a fantasy writer, experienced tarot reader, and professional astrologer based in Los Angeles. As The Novel Mystic, she combines the power of astrology, tarot, and creative writing to empower women, educate the astro-curious, and inspire her own storytelling. You can find her on her website or follow her on Twitter to learn more or get your own reading.
You can find her on her website or follow her on Twitter.

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