The Subtle system

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The Subtle System & Glossary of Terms

The Chakras

Inside every human being there is a network of nerves and sensory organs that interprets the outside physical world. At the same time, within us resides a Subtle System of channels (‘Nadis’, see A  to C on diagram) and centres of energy (‘Chakras’, see 1 to 7 on diagram) which look after our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual being.

When we receive our Self Realisation, our Spirit is awakened and the Subtle System becomes connected with the all pervading life force.


Each of the seven chakras has many qualities. These qualities are intact within us, and even though they might not always be manifested, they can never be destroyed.  When the Kundalini mothering energy is awakened, these qualities start manifesting spontaneously and express themselves in our life.

Through regular meditation, we strengthen and nourish the chakras and the subtle system.


The Subtle System

Read more about the chakras, the nadis, and their qualities, below.

Shri Mataji introduces the Subtle System (8mins 51s)

Shri Mataji’s short description of the Subtle system’s Chakras (13 mins)


Self-Realisation is achieved when the Kundalini, which is the mothering and spiritual energy present in all human beings, is awakened. The Kundalini energy rises from the sacrum bone through the spinal column. As a result, the energy centres (or chakras) become energized and nourished. When this energy passes through the brain, we spontaneously achieve mental silence and a higher state of awareness.

The Nadis (Energy Channels)

Within our subtle system there are 3 energy channels. They correspond to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

A. The Right Channel
The right channel corresponds to our physical and mental activity. It ends with the ego on the left side of the brain. Ego gives us the idea and sense of individuality. The right channel is the conduit for our energy of action.

B. The Left Channel
The left channel corresponds to our past, emotions and desires. It ends with the superego on the right side of the brain. The superego stores our memories, habits and conditionings. The greatest quality of the left side is joy, which is the nature of the spirit.

C. The Central Channel
The central channel is the channel of our ascent and spiritual growth. It is the conduit which sustains our evolution and guides us, consciously or unconsciously towards higher levels of awareness culminating in the Sahasrara, our uppermost chakra.

The activities that take place through the parasympathetic system and the rising of the Kundalini are spontaneous happenings, hence, the term Sahaja (spontaneous) to describe the meditation introduced by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi. Once the Kundalini is awakened and has raised above the top of the head, we become “enlightened or Realization people, enjoying a full awareness of our subtle system and spirituality.

The Chakras (Energy Centres)

The chakras are centers of energy looking after diverse aspects of our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual being. In western medical science, their physical representations are the plexuses.

In Sanskrit, the meaning of chakra is “wheel”. They are represented as wheels of energy turning in a clockwise direction. Each chakra vibrates with a specific quality. When fully manifested, these qualities are expressed in our lives, giving us inner balance and beauty.

1. Mooladhara Chakra (Innocence)
The first chakra is situated below the sacrum bone in which resides the Kundalini, and its main aspect is the innocence. Innocence is the quality by which we experience pure, childlike joy, without the limitations of prejudice or conditionings. Innocence gives us dignity, balance, and a tremendous sense of direction and purpose in life. It is nothing but simplicity, purity and joy.

The Kundalini (Mothering energy)
The Kundalini is the primordial source of all energy. It is a living energy that knows how to act. Prior to Self-Realisation, the Kundalini lies dormant in the sacrum bone at the base of the spine. When rising in our central channel, the Kundalini purifies our subtle system and chakras. She generates the power of pure desire, the power to evolve and to become one with the spirit.

2. Swadishthan Chakra (Creativity)
The second chakra is the chakra of creativity, pure attention and pure knowledge. It is the one which connects us to the inner source of inspiration, and enables us to experience the beauty around us.

3. Nabhi Chakra (Peace)
The third chakra is the one that gives us the sense of generosity, complete satisfaction and contentment. When enlightened, the Nabhi chakra gives us our spiritual ascent, righteousness and inner sense of morality, and complete balance at all levels in our life.

3a. The Void (the Guru)
Surrounding the second and the third chakra is the Void which stands for the principle of mastery within us. In Sahaja Yoga you become your own master, your own spiritual guide since you can feel your subtle system on your fingertips.

4. The Heart Chakra (Love & Compassion)
The fourth chakra, the chakra of the heart, is the place where resides our Spirit, our true Self, which is eternally pure and unaffected by anything. It shines like a hidden diamond within us, witnessing all our actions.It is from our heart that the compassion and love manifests, and also the heart chakra is the one that gives us the sense of responsibility and pure behaviour towards others. The heart chakra also gives us complete security and confidence.

5. Vishuddhi Chakra (Collectivity)
The fifth chakra is the chakra of diplomacy, of pure relationships with others, and of playful detachment.It removes our guilt feelings, and gives us a kind and compassionate voice. The Vishuddhi is the chakra which gives us the connection with the whole, enabling us to feel our oneness and the fact that we are all part and parcel of the whole.

6. The Agnya Chakra (Forgiveness)
The qualities of the sixth chakra are forgiveness and compassion. Forgiveness is the power to let go of anger, hatred and resentment and to discover, in humility, the nobility and generosity of the Spirit.It is the one that dissolves all our ego, conditionings, habits, false ideas of racialism, and all our misidentifications. It is the narrow gate which opens the way for our consciousness to ascend to its final destination, which is the seventh center.

7. The Sahasrara Chakra (Integration)
The seventh center integrates all the chakras with their respective qualities. It is the last milestone of the evolution of human awareness.

Today, this chakra is now awakened, allowing our consciousness to enter into this new realm of perception and awareness, which is beyond our mental activities and thoughts.This chakra gives us the direct, absolute perception of Reality on our central nervous system. This is precisely what is achieved by Self Realization, through the spontaneous awakening of the Kundalini given by Sahaja Yoga.

Glossary of Terms

While exploring our website or listening to the various talks,  you will come across several terms that may be new to you. This is an overview of the most commonly used terms…

  • Attention: The attention is a very important faculty within us. It is often damaged by over-emphasis on the intellectual side of our nature. So the attention itself must be cleansed, steadied and healed. This is a natural process performed by Kundalini.
  • Catches: A catch occurs when the efficient functioning of the chakra is impaired. This blocks the passage of the Kundalini through that chakra to a higher level. Chakras can become distorted and bruised, and this is the root cause of problems in our lives. Once the Kundalini starts to naturally repair bruised chakras, the problems will disappear. It is very important, however, not to focus attention on catches. Keep your attention on the Kundalini and on the positive aspects of your ascent.
  • Chakras: These are subtle energy centres that are located at the sites of the main nervous plexuses. A chakra is a wheel (this is the literal Sanskrit meaning) of energy. There are seven main chakras in our subtle system, which relate to the stages of evolution. Once awakened (i.e., after realization) they begin to emit vibrations, expressing the unique qualities of the divine within us. It is in this sense that we are created in the image of God. Physical, mental and emotional problems can also be traced to an imbalance in one or several chakras.
  • Kundalini: The mothering energy that is lying dormant at the base of the spine in the sacrum bone. This energy is awakened by Self-Realisation to connect us to the Divine and begin its work of cleansing and balancing our energy centres.
  • Meditation: Meditation is the personal experience of going beyond one’s thoughts, worries and upsets, and being in a state of peace and calm through thoughtless awareness… being aware there are no thoughts in the mind.
  • Self-Realisation: The process of awakening the Kundalini within an individual. Everyone has the capacity to receive their Self-Realisation.
  • Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi: The founder of Sahaja Yoga meditation. In 1970, Shir Mataji started her lifetime work of giving people their Self-Realisation to enable individuals to discover and nourish their inner-self through meditation.
  • Spirit: This is the reflection of the divine which is present within us. The object of Sahaja Yoga is to fully become Spiritual Self, which is the true Self. By virtue of Kundalini awekening, the Spirit can be perceived and felt in our attention, and we can then live and act in harmony with the divine.
  • Subtle System: The network of energy centers (chakras) and channels (Nadis) through which our inner energy flows (the Kundalini). After Self Realisation, the System maintains our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual welling.
  • Vibrations: Once Kundalini is awakened, vibrations can be felt on the palms of the hand, in the body and on top of the head. Everything in creation emits vibrations, but the ability to feel them comes only with Kundalini awakening. Anyone or anything emitting cool (not cold) vibrations is balanced and “holy”. Hot, tingling vibrations are emitting when there is an imbalance or lack of harmony with the Spirit.

What does Self Realisation mean?

You have received your Self Realisation by the grace of Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi. The mothering, healing energy called Kundalini has become awakened in your subtle system. It has been raised to the level of the highest of the subtle centres in the body – the Sahasrara. You may have already felt this as a cool breeze on top of your head or on your hands. You may have felt the results of this experience immediately, or it may develop more strongly over time – spiritually, emotionally, physically. Your initial experience can be enhanced through meditation and by taking a little time each day to cleanse your inner being so the Kundalini can flow more freely.