Avatar: The Last Airbender was arguably the greatest animated series of all time. The characters were well-balanced—lovable, witty, and able to learn from the many mistakes they made. The action sequences were amazingly well-researched with expertise contributed by leaders in various martial arts. But the factor that may have piqued and sustained interest worldwide is the incorporation of eastern philosophies.
The protagonist of the series is Aang, the Avatar or living embodiment of light and peace who must master all four elements. In every generation, he is reincarnated into one of the four elemental nations. In the scene below, he needed to master the Avatar State wherein his abilities are at their ultimate. In order to do this, he sought out guru Pathik who showed him how to cleanse his chakras.
As with the various fighting and element-bending styles showcased on the show, the depiction of chakra cleansing was clearly well-researched and informative; although, the explanation is of course simplified to accommodate an audience centered around children.
The lesson began with the series’ signature humor regarding strange combinations. Aang gagged when made to drink onion-banana juice by guru Pathik. What the kids didn’t know is that these two ingredients are commonly found in diets recommended to enhance meditation and spirituality.
Guru Pathik then proceeded to use the traditional metaphor of a pools in a creek to represent the chakras as repositories of flowing energy in our bodies. After establishing this, he then guided Aang in cleansing the 7 major chakras. In alignment with the series’ elemental nature, he named the chakras by how they correspond to the natural elements, as well as linking them to their particular body parts. He also taught Aang what each chakra governed and how to unblock it by surrendering negativity.
- The Earth Chakra at the base of the spine governs Survival. Surrender your fears to unblock it.
- The Water Chakra governs Pleasure. Let go of your blame and guilt; forgive yourself.
- The Fire Chakra in the stomach governs Willpower. Release your shame and disappointment in yourself.
- The Heart Chakra governs Love. Release your grief.
- The Sound Chakra in the throat governs Truth. Release the lies you’ve told yourself.
- The Light Chakra in the center of the forehead governs Insight. Release all your illusions.
- The Thought Chakra at the crown of the head is where pure cosmic energy enters the body. Release all earthly attachments to unblock it.
What’s wonderful about this scene is how seamlessly the lesson is incorporated into the larger story arcs of what Aang has been facing. When Aang found his Heart Chakra blocked, it was due to the grief he felt as lone surviving member of his people. Guru Pathik quickly guided him through this by focusing on the love between Aang and his people, and how this love can be reborn in the form of his blossoming feelings toward Katara.
“Love is a form of energy, and it swirls all around us. The Air Nomads love for you has not left this world. It is still inside of your heart and is reborn in the form of new love.”
When Aang faced difficulty in unlocking his Thought Chakra due to his earthly attachment to Katara, he reacted with his signature humor.
“Three chakras ago, that was a good thing!”
Guru Pathik was still able to guide him through this pitfall that is all too common when cleansing the Sahasrara (Thought Chakra), and it further illustrates how this lesson was particularly effective. If you were a fan of the series who’s invested in the characters and had never heard of chakra-cleansing before, seeing Aang do it, face difficulties in chakra-cleansing, and then how he overcame them could effectively guide you in learning to do it yourself.