Vishuddhi Chakra (Throat Chakra)
Vishuddhi chakra is referred to as the "purification center" because the Sanskrit word "shuddhi" means "to purify." This is the first intellectual chakra and it uses reasoning to harmonize opposites or conflicting emotions. This intellectual ability is often referred to as nectar that contains within it the potential to be medicinal and poisonous at the same time.
When viewed from the perspective of conflicting emotions or conflicting information, this chakra uses its intelligence to differentiate between good and bad, useful and harmful, and so on. Therefore, it goes without saying that making the right choices is good for one's health and one will live long! Vishuddhi represents a state of openness where life is actually viewed as the provider of experiences that lead to greater understanding. One ceases to constantly stay away from the unpleasant aspects of living and seek the pleasant. Rather, there's a 'flowing' with daily life, allowing things to take place in any way they do. Both poison and nectar are actually consumed in vishuddhi chakra, and they're understood to be parts of a greater cosmic whole. Proper understanding and genuine discrimination dawn out of this equal acceptance of the dualities of life.
The greater abstract aspect of vishuddhi is actually the faculty of higher discrimination. Hence, any communication received telepathically could be tested here for its accuracy and correctness. Telepathy is a natural phenomenon but - like all information - it is not reliable. When people start thinking that they are telepathic, they are merely counting the hits, not the misses. This is confirmation bias! Since I guessed something, I become a mind reader - one doesn't take into account the number of times when those guesses are wrong!
Similarly, vishuddhi enables us to differentiate between realization dawning upon our consciousness and the simple babble of the subconscious mind. In this context, vishuddhi chakra is not given its importance: practitioners are so focused on muladhara and ajna! However, it must be remembered that vishuddhi is the chakra that helps you distinguish between good and bad; so, any practice will benefit from the development of its discerning abilities.
Vishuddhi chakra is said to be located at the throat pit and is represented by a dark grey colored lotus and sometimes a purple lotus of 16 petals. This chakra controls the vocal chords and also hearing because you would be practically speechless if you couldn't hear. This speech and hearing are controlled by vishuddhi chakra and these, in turn, can be used to stimulate this chakra.
Some yoga exercises make use of vibrations (Brahmari Pranayam is one such example). Not surprisingly, the voice box can produce many sounds that are nothing but vibrations. But it may come as a surprise to know that muladhara is also considered a vibratory chakra. Under certain physiological conditions, you will feel a trembling in the groin or anal region. This could happen even if you are not practicing any Kundalini Yoga. This vibration is also caused by the downward flowing "wind" or apana.
Ascent Through Vibrations
The ascent of consciousness through the chakras can be compared with the musical scale. Each and every note corresponds to the vibratory level of consciousness of one of the chakras. This vibration is often generated through mantras, chants, hymns, and the like. A good song, a great composition, and even a strong beat can be uplifting and stimulating to the chakras. The music doesn't have to be religious!
The nectar has symbolic representatives in many religions of the world: this is obvious because intoxicants were discovered by all ancient communities and the use of intoxicants to awaken the Kundalini was also known to them. This divine fluid has many labels: ambrosia, amrit, soma, and (in the Tantras) madya. Perhaps in the modern world, it's called marijuana or MDMA!
When you perform khechari mudra you're trying to turn the tongue up and backward into the nasal passage to stimulate the flow of nectar. Please remember that there no nectar in the nasal passage! But this mudra does stimulate the sinuses and therefore refreshes the head region thus the symbolic purifying! Jal Neti is also a good cleansing exercise for this chakra.
In one story from Indian mythology, the nectar-poison symbolism of vishuddhi is depicted wherein the demons and the gods churn the primordial ocean (our unconscious mind) to bring out any hidden treasures. They churn out divine nectar with its poisonous properties. The demons and gods both want the nectar but without its poison. Finally, Shiva drinks the nectar-poison to indicate that The One who is truly awakened, needn't worry about the duality of good/evil, right/wrong, nectar/poison...
This story signifies that even poison could be conveniently digested when vishuddhi chakra is actually awakened. It means that at greater levels of understanding, at the stage of vishuddhi and above, the negative and poisonous elements of existence can be incorporated into the pattern of being. Negativity is rendered powerless and positivity is rendered meaningless as the duality disappears. At this particular state, pure consciousness absorbs all negative and positive manifestations of reality and convert them into bliss.
Vishuddhi awakening can also make us empathetic due to the subtle vibrations that are present in the environment. One example is knowing when someone is in your immediate vicinity even without looking. Most blind people can "sense the presence" of people around them. Being able to hear a bird's wings fluttering (the singer Ray Charles could do this) is also possible. And one can also vibrate with other creatures (not only humans) just like most pet dogs can sense the vibrations/emotions of their owners/human parents.
It is said that awakening the vishuddhi can do away with the need for food and drink. Now, why would anyone want to do that?! Unfortunately, it is this kind of rubbish that attracts some deranged people. I once met a yogi who could levitate. He looked quite old - say around 60 or 70 - but I found out that he was only 37 years old. A couple of years later I was informed of his death... so much for levitation!
Ignorant people and conmen-turned-tantriks will only talk about supernatural powers of yogis; they will not tell you about the price they have to pay for acquiring (allegedly) those powers.
Vishuddhi is in fact the legendary "fountain of youth." Asanas and cleansing kriyas help maintain youthfulness because of this chakra. Tantra Yoga states that exercises and meditation around this chakra help maintain a young mind. Not unlike the vipareet asanas that reverse the entropic flow of energy, vishuddhi chakra reverses the aging process. Done correctly and consistently, you could live forever! Well, not really! But you will definitely enjoy good health. Consider this real example: a 50-year-old yogi who started doing some asanas stimulated his growth hormones and his height started increasing. The increase was just about an inch, but more importantly, the vitality he felt was that of a 20-year-old, healthy, young man.
The idea of youthfulness is not about breaking the Olympic record for the 100-meter dash (though many old people still manage the full marathon), but to stave off diseases related to aging. Many tests are available to show what your biological age may be, and it's often seen in genuine yogis (not the levitating types!) that their biological age is half their numeric age.
The power of a disease-free life is achieved through vishuddhi awakening. One also feels that one has acquired all the knowledge in the universe - this is intuitive knowledge and not the language of mathematics. In other words, you don't become smart, you become wise. And this may not be so surprising, since the Brahma Shastras (Brahma Sutras) state that all knowledge of the universe is available to those who meditate. Replace "meditate" with "logical reasoning" and you can easily see how this is achievable.
This is the first intellectual chakra - where our powers of reasoning come into play. And this is the first chakra where one begins to comprehend the concept of shunyata or nothingness. In this context, it is the first chakra that makes you realize what consciousness really is!