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Stepping Stones

The Emerald City - Compassion v. Protection

The Emerald City represents the fourth chakra of the eastern chakra system and the fourth stage of the journey. The fourth chakra is the center of love and compassion and is the gateway to our higher spiritual energies. The fourth chakra is located in the heart and is represented by the color green and the element of air. When we are in the power of this center, we feel our breath move deeply and effortlessly into and out of our heart center. We feel the gentle energy of compassion washing over us with each breath and we can hold all the parts of ourselves in a spacious and gracious way. In this expansive energy of the heart center, we can also hold the challenges of life and the difficulties we experience with others with the same gentle energy of compassion, breathing into and around all of the struggles until we feel and experience a deep sense of peace and calm. So the power of the fourth chakra is our ability to be open-hearted through the energy of compassion and forgiveness for ourselves and others, regardless of the events and experiences of life.

The shadow side of our fourth chakra is our human tendency to close ourselves off in a feeling of protection when we experience challenges. As our weary Oz travelers arrive at the gate of the heart center—the Emerald City—they are first turned away by the gatekeeper as he slams the door closed in front of them. Their first response to being turned away is disappointment and discouragement. They feel angry and betrayed that they have traveled so far and come through so much and are now being stopped at the gate. This response represents the danger of the fourth chakra. Disappointment, anger, grief, bitterness, resentment and judgment are the human emotions we confront in the lower heart center of the fourth chakra, and these difficult emotions can cause us to close our hearts off to try to protect ourselves from the pain and struggles of life.

If we close our hearts in self-protection and get stuck in the negative emotions tied to our seemingly unfulfilled human expectations, we will not gain access to our spiritual inheritance. When we close our hearts in the energy of protection, it is like that gatekeeper closing the door to the Emerald City. The spiritual power of the fourth chakra, however, is our ability to remember our connection to our soul and its ability to receive these difficult emotions of the human experience with compassion, acceptance and love, and to transform even our most difficult human struggles by providing the space for healing and transformation. When Dorothy shows the gatekeeper her ruby slippers, she reminds him that she is walking in the energy of her soul. Immediately the door is opened and she is received with compassion, love and joy. This is the power of the heart center – to connect us to our soul – to gently receive and hold us in our struggles – to breathe through and around our difficult emotions and transform them through the power of compassion – and to open the doorway to our highest possibilities.

Weekly Stepping Stones

When you experience difficult emotions, can you feel the difference in your body between closing off in protection or opening in compassion? If you soften your heart center and breathe deeply around a struggle, can you imagine new possibilities emerging for yourself? When you view the challenging experiences of your life with the love and compassion of the heart center, what spiritual gifts did you receive as you moved through those difficult times?

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