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Chakra Levels Part 2: Working with Our Senses

August 3, 2015

The first, outermost level of the chakras is usually what people mean when they talk about ‘aura.’

This is the second post in my series on Working with Chakra Levels, in which I’ll cover how to work with the first, physically-linked level. My goal in this series is to outline ways anyone might work with each chakra level on their own, so the techniques I’m offering are basic and accessible, but along the way I’ll try to provide book and website suggestions for those who would like more depth. On the other hand, I am assuming a basic knowledge of the chakras already, so if you don’t have that, you may want to check out my Chakra page first to get you started.

The first level of each chakra is the outermost, surface layer, the layer most directly linked to our physical body. Usually, when someone talks about an aura, they are talking about this level of the energy body, and the combined colors and energies present within it (although there are also aura systems in which there are multiple levels.) Most chakra and aura ‘cleaning’ or ‘balancing’ products available – sounds CDs, crystals, aromatherapy, color therapy etc. – impact this level of our energy body. Ideally, the energetic vibration of the sound, color, smell, stone etc. matches the empowered state of a particular chakra, and so by connecting with the object, we are strengthening that vibration within our own energy body.

Working with this level of our chakras involves engaging our senses. Our physical sense organs are the bridge to our subtle sense, the means through which we can begin to sense vibration and energy differences. Normally, we are only aware of our mind’s reaction to a sensation (a sound, sight, smell, etc.) – the process of recognizing it, naming it, judging it, perhaps emotionally responding. But part of this process occurs at our subtle body level too – our subtle body reacts energetically to the sound, sight etc. Most of us are only conditioned to tune into our mind’s reaction to sensations, but we can train ourselves to tune into the vibrational level too. Doing this through the senses is one of the fastest and most effective ways of learning to sense chakra vibrations, because we have something ‘real’ – in the form of the phenomena we are sensing – as a reference point.

Here are some of the most well-known examples of items we can map to the chakras related to each physical sense:

Sight – colors, yantras

Sound – mantras, specific tones/musical notes on chimes/bowls/bells

Smell – essential oils, aromatherapy

Taste – foods, herbs

Touch – stones/crystals, elements

In each case, there are systems for mapping each chakra to a variation; so for example in the case of color, red is mapped to the root/first chakra, orange to the second/sacral chakra etc. Note that just as there are multiple chakra mappings, there are multiple color, mantra, scent etc. mappings, each specific to different energy medicine or spiritual traditions that utilize the chakras. There is a lot of crossover, but in general, it’s most useful to stick to one system in the case of each sense, so that whatever items you are using are compatible with each other – one scent/chakra mapping for example, or one color/chakra mapping.

With this kind of work, we are trying to empower a particular chakra’s energy by engaging our sense(s) with phenomena that best reflect the vibration of that chakra’s empowered state in the physical world.

In my experience three conditions are required for this to work effectively:

1) The object we are using has to be a pure expression of the corresponding chakra’s energy.

If the vibration is not refined enough, it won’t do much good. I made a decision a long time ago not to endorse specific products on this blog (beyond book mentions), so you will need to feel this out on your own. I think the question to ask yourself when considering a chakra related item is, ‘Does this feel refined? Does it feel pure?’ Then notice the reaction in your body. Does your body reach for the product or pull back? Our body knows all! It can take time to learn to tune in in this way, but the only way to get there is to practice.

Of course, another thing to consider is that you don’t need any products at all – nature is an excellent resource. Simply contemplating a flower associated with the color of a chakra, or spending time in or around the element associated with a chakra, can be an amazing way to help bring forth that chakra’s energies, because the purity is guaranteed.

2) We have to mindfully connect with the object.

Some people would dispute this, but I find it’s essential to actually focus on the object we’re using. Simply placing a crystal on your navel or wearing yellow while watching television or even reading a book, won’t do much for you, as your mind is connected to what you are watching or reading, as opposed to the vibration of the crystal or color. We need to make an effort to connect our intuition, our subtle body sense, to the vibration we are seeking to empower, especially when working at this first, physical level.

As I mentioned, working with this level is largely about engaging our senses, and that means engaging both our sense organs and our consciousness. Think about it – at any given moment there are hundreds of sounds, smells, sights around us. The vibrations of all of those are hitting our sense organs – our nose, eyes, ears, etc. But we will only become aware of a small percentage of these sensations – our mind filters out the rest. While we may be impacted on some level by all of these vibrations, we are most impacted by those with which we consciously connect. The same is true for subtle sensations – we will be most impacted by those vibrations with which we make a conscious effort to connect.

This means that whether or not a particular method will work for us depends at least partly on how developed our subtle sense is. The more we develop our ability to sense vibrational differences, the more effectively we can use these kinds of chakra methods on our own. So it isn’t only about the item we are using, but also about our ability to connect. Part of the service a good energy healer or worker provides is a boost to your own ability to connect in this way – he/she is actually bolstering your connection with his/her own awareness. That’s not meant to discourage you, as I really believe in the ability and benefit of anyone working on their own in this way. But it may take practice and time.

3) We also have to focus on the physical focal point for the chakra.

We need to focus on the physical focal point for the chakra while engaging our senses. This is another point that not everyone will agree with, but I think it’s vital when working at this first, physical level of the chakras (not so much with the other 2 levels.) So for example, if you are trying to empower your root chakra by chanting a specific mantra or inhaling a particular scent, it is most effective when you are also focusing on your tailbone, the focal point for the root chakra, at the same time (or legs or feet might be effective too.) It isn’t always possible to do this the entire time your senses are engaged, especially if, for example, you are taking a bath (connecting to water) to empower your sacral chakra. But it’s helpful if you do it at least at the beginning and end of the work you are doing, because this outermost level of the chakras is most directly connected to our physical body, and so these physical intersections of chakra and body are the most relevant when working in this way.

So what is the value of working with the chakras at this outermost, physical level? On its own, working at this level can really shift your vibration and therefore your present state of awareness. To use it effectively in this way, you do have to understand what states of awareness and psychological states are linked to each chakra (I’ll get into that a bit more in the next post, but for a quick reference check my Chakra Legend or books from my Chakra Booklist.)

For example, if you are feeling spacy or ungrounded, working to empower your root chakra at this level will help. If you have to power through a difficult situation on a particular day, empowering your third or navel chakra will help. If you have a big speech or presentation, you might empower your throat chakra.

This level can also be helpful as an augment to treatment for minor physical ailments. If you are feeling fatigued, you can stimulate your adrenals, which are linked to the root chakra, by stimulating that chakra through color, sound etc. If you are experiencing digestive issues, you might empower your navel chakra. If you are feeling mentally dull or drowsy, you might stimulate your third eye.

I say ‘minor physical ailments’ because it gets tricky to really work with the chakras in this way without a fairly sophisticated understanding of how the chakras work together. For example, if you have a headache, it’s rarely a good idea to focus on your third eye, as very often the issue is tension, and stimulating your third eye might actually exacerbate that. You might be better helped by a heart focus for soothing, or a navel focus for boundaries. If the problem is a cough, focusing on your heart chakra (which is linked to the lungs) will rarely help; boosting your immune function through root and navel empowerment might though. A physical ailment is almost never linked to only one chakra – the subtle body needs to be viewed holistically. Also, personally I never advocate chakra energy work as the main way of addressing a physical issue – it is a good complement to medical treatment (whether traditional Western medicine, Chinese medicine, or homeopathic care) but rarely effective on its own.

The limits of working with the chakras solely at this level is something I mentioned in the first post of this series – the work is really surface level and does not get to the root of the problem. So for example, if you are feeling chronically fatigued, and want to augment medical care for this with chakra work, you most likely need to work at the second, psychological level, to identify any blocks or drains to your root chakra that might be impacting your ability to fully activate it. Work at this outermost chakra level provides a temporary vibrational shift, but on its own it rarely releases blocks held at the second psychological/karmic level, and therefore rarely brings about long term change or personal growth. Combining work on multiple levels of the chakras, however, can be life-changing.

Another limitation of working at this level is that it is mostly about activating or empowering a particular chakra’s energy. It is not so effective at quieting an overactive chakra, or at balancing the energies between chakras. Often work of this type is marketed as ‘balancing’ the chakras, but a better word might be ‘tuning’ – at it’s best, this kind of work attunes each chakra to its optimal vibration, which overall does balance your outermost subtle body level. But again in general, it won’t release deeper blocks, and won’t bring about a deeper, long term state of equilibrium or balance.

There are so many different chakra mappings for this kind of work, and as I said I don’t want to get into endorsing specific products here, but in the table below I’ve outlined some of my favorite ways to work. Here’s a guide to what each sense system in this table represents:

Sight – Color: This is using the standard ROYGBIV/chakra mapping that many Westerners are familiar with (however, there are other color mappings.)

Sound – Tone: These are the tones mapped to the chakras in one form of Tibetan Bowl work. Most bowls/chimes actually produce multiple tones – there are apps available for testing yours if you want (google it!)

Smell – Scent: Various essential oils and incense blends are tied to the chakras – here I’ve combined some Ayurvedic recommendations with some of my own favorites.

Taste – Food: These food/chakra correspondances are not only about taste but also about how they impact the organs and physical systems associated with each chakra, but working with them at the taste level is also very helpful.

Touch – Element: These are the nature elements associated with each chakra (as with every other mapping here, there are multiple versions of this, these are the elements I like to work with.)

Chakra Sight (Color) Sound (Tone) Smell (Scent) Taste (Food) Touch (Element)
1st/Root Red B Minor Patchouli, Cinnamon Protein, Root Vegetables Earth
2nd/Sacral Orange E Minor Orange, Sandalwood Seafood, Tropical Fruits Water
3rd/Navel Yellow F Sharp Lemon, Geranium Whole Grains Fire
4th/Heart Green C Rose, Lavendar Leafy Greens Air
5th/Throat Blue G Chamomile, Eucalyptus Melons, Pure juices, Soups Ether/Vibration
6th/Third Eye Indigo/Purple D Juniper, Rosemary Berries, Tea, Spices Light
7th/Crown Purple/White A Frankincense Pure Water Source


While there are a lot of methods for working with these and the chakras, you don’t need a complicated approach to doing so. To experiment in a simple way, keep in mind the three recommendations I made above: 1) Select a pure, refined example of each, 2) Mindfully connect, 3) Focus on the physical focal point for the chakra as you do so. And again, for more correspondences, check out my Chakra Legend series, and for more in depth info, check out my Chakra book list or other Chakra articles.

Have fun and trust your intuition! Next week I’ll focus on working with the second, psychological level of the chakras, which is where block-releasing really occurs. Namaste-

Other posts in this series:

Introduction to Chakra Levels

Second Level – Emotions and Psyche

Third Level – Doorways of Light

10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2015 10:36 pm


  2. Lauren permalink
    August 3, 2015 11:02 pm

    Lisa, very well done. Do you think of this level as like tuning an instrument- you use the sense items to tune the chakras to the right frequency? I work with stones and the chakras myself and this is how I think of it…

  3. Nina permalink
    August 4, 2015 12:44 am

    Thank you for this article, Lisa. I am interested in learning about other chakra color mappings that you mention. Can you give me any leads? I haven’t been successful with internet searches thus far.

    “Sight – Color: This is using the standard ROYGBIV/chakra mapping that many Westerners are familiar with (however, there are other color mappings.)”

  4. August 4, 2015 1:59 am

    Thanks Cindy, glad you found it helpful.

    Lauren, yes I think instrument tuning is a great metaphor for this kind of chakra work. We use the colors, mantras, chimes, scents, foods etc. to help adjust our own ‘frequency’. And just like tuning, it requires some conscious action on our part, i.e. focusing – it doesn’t just happen by coming into contact with the item(s). And the items themselves need to be a pure reflection of the frequency we are trying to tune to – tuning one instrument to another out of tune one does nothing. Glad you liked this!

  5. August 4, 2015 2:30 am

    Hi Nina, it’s not easy to find other color mappings online, as this ROYGBIV version has taken off in the West and become the most prevalent. Cyndi Dale offers 2 other systems with alternate color mappings in her book The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy – a Tibetan alternative and a Cherokee one. In fact, in Tibetan Buddhist texts I have found several alternative chakra mappings and color mappings, but because within Tibetan Buddhist lineages these chakra mappings are part of spiritual teachings that one must receive as part of a transmission from a qualified teacher, they aren’t generally described outside of these practices using them. The somewhat academic book Highest Yoga Tantra, which describes several different Tibetan Buddhist subtle body meditation practices, does describe some alternate color mappings. In many of these, white is at the crown, red at the root, and blue in the heart. In some practices, the white moves down and the red move up to meet in the heart. In others, the blue in the heart is focused upon.

    In terms of Hinduism, I have also seen many alternate mappings as part of subtle body meditation practices. Blue flame in the heart is a visualization I have seen more than once. The heart in general has many different colors associated with different levels of experience – one I have seen is green for this physical level, pink for heart compassion, and gold for universal love.

    So, I’m not sure how helpful this is, but I think it points to the fact that we can’t get too tied to the idea that ‘the root chakra is red, the heart chakra is green.’ Each of these systems are mappings that as a system help us differentiate between the different vibrations of the chakras. Chakra mappings are themselves just maps, not our subtle bodies themselves – they are tools for navigating what is ultimately infinite and unknowable. As long as we find a system that works for us, and practices that do, that’s all that matters. In general, staying internally consistent is important, i.e. picking one system to work with.

    I’ll also say that I feel the colors, especially this ROYGBIV version, are really only useful at this first, outermost level of working with the chakras. At the other levels of the chakras that I’ll talk about in the next 2 posts, I mostly work with gold and white light, or rays of varying colors depending on what kind of block I’m trying to help release. At those levels, the color I’m working with is not based on the chakra but on what kind of work I’m doing, or what kind of kundalini is being activated.

  6. Nina permalink
    August 4, 2015 7:32 pm

    Thanks for your informative response, Lisa. It was very helpful. I have been feeling like the ROYGBIV colors were not working for me, so hopefully this will help me understand why. I was able to request the books you recommended through interlibrary loan and I am looking forward to reading them. I assumed that this was the second book you recommended: Highest yoga tantra: an introduction to the esoteric Buddhism of Tibet by Daniel Cozort.

  7. August 5, 2015 3:06 pm

    Hi Nina, yes that’s the right one – academic but interesting. Another one to ask about is Cyndi Dale’s Kundalini – not so much in terms of the chakra colors but in terms of understanding another model for working with the kundalini that is not tied to a specific Indian or Tibetan lineage.


  1. Chakra Levels Part 3 – Emotions and Psyche | Mommy Mystic
  2. Chakra Levels Part IV – Doorways of Light | Mommy Mystic
  3. Chakra Levels – Part 1 of a Series | Mommy Mystic

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