The heart chakra is a chakra, or point of energy, used in various Buddhist, Hindu, and yoga practices along with several other chakras. It is typically considered to be the fourth chakra, with three above and three below, and is physically located behind the spine around the center of a person’s chest. This chakra is associated with the color green or vermilion, and with a person’s emotions regarding love and charitable actions, as well as the skin and hands of a person. The heart chakra is commonly depicted as a circle around a six-pointed star made up of two equal triangles, surrounded by 12 small petals.
Chakras, including the heart chakra, are found in a variety of spiritual and religious systems, notably Hindu and Buddhist religions and those systems influenced by those beliefs. Yoga practices, including tantric and kundalini forms of yoga and meditation, often focus on the chakras found throughout a person’s body. These different systems usually recognize seven basic chakras, beginning with the root chakra at the base of a person’s spine and moving up to include the sacral, naval, heart, throat, third-eye, and crown chakras. Each of these is associated with various psychological and physiological concepts, as well as different colors and ideas.
The heart chakra is typically associated with emotions such as love and kindness, as well as acts of charity and compassion. It can also be associated with emotions related to loss or jealousy, and often related to the skin and hands of a person. Movements of the hands, including particular positions and ways in which the fingers may be arranged, are often utilized in opening or focusing on this chakra during meditation. Since a person’s skin is also associated with the heart chakra, the sense of touch is usually included in such meditations.
In Sanskrit, the heart chakra is called anahata and is often translated as “the unstruck sound,” which indicates the sound created by objects not being struck together. This is meant to be a sacred or celestial sound, which surpasses common sounds. It is often associated with higher thinking, and especially with thoughts of selflessness that come from beyond a person’s base mind.
When depicted visually, the heart chakra is typically green, though it may also be vermilion, and pictured as a six-pointed star, known as a shatkona and similar to a Star of David, within a circle. The two triangles of the star each represent male and female energy, brought into balance and harmony in the form of the star. Around this star and circle are 12 small petals, each one sometimes marked with a different Sanskrit symbol. These represent 12 different concepts governed by this chakra such as longing and hope.