Do I "believe" in chakras? Hm, not so sure. The idea of chakras relates to what gets called the subtle, or energetic body, in yoga. It's not the physiological "gross" body. The chakras are the energy centers in this energetic body, and the idea is, that the freedom or blockage of these centers relates to areas of freedom or blockage in the way we live our lives. To me, talk of Chakras falls in the realm of new age spirituality--What I have occasionally dismissed as "hoodoo."
As an academic, as the child of an atheist household, I am very skeptical about taking things "on faith." Why would anyone do that?
But as a student of literature, I do believe in the power of a good metaphor. Emerson's Eyeball, Morrison's ghost Beloved, Melville's Whale. The metaphor isn't necessarily "real" but it does work nonetheless. Pinning a metaphor down and proving that, for example, slavery produced real ghosts (or didn't, for that matter) wouldn't make Beloved more or less powerful. Metaphors do work without being literal.
My very brief initial encounter with Chakra-based yoga was powerful. Using guided meditation, the teacher asked the students in the class to do a series of breathing and physical exercises with eyes closed, imagining the colors associated with the different chakra centers. For me, it was powerful to realize that while I could easily see yellow in my solar plexus (associated with personal strength), when it was time to see the green associated with the heart chakra (an emotional center) I came up with nothing.
Now, do I *believe* that I have a heart chakra--no idea. Maybe not? BUT, the metaphor resonated. As an academic, and particularly as a young woman in academe, it's not surprising that I have grown out of touch with my emotions, which might be seen as liabilities on this career path.
Though I retain skeptical about the "truth" of the metaphor, it nonetheless does work, all of which makes me think that academics, who are trained in various scientific and other methods of inquiry, might indeed try to be more curious and explore systems of thought about which we are VERY skeptical. Not that we will necessarily come to accept other accounts of reality AS our reality, but we may nonetheless find new metaphors to guide us.