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The 9 Human Design Centers – An Overview of the Fascinating Philosophy

Human Design center philosophy is a part of Human Design, a system combining astrology with personality, which guides you to exist in sync with your true nature, and live your true purpose.

Human Design Center Philosophy

Human design center | Image shows a woman meditating by the sea.

Alongside articles sharing the undeniable value of journaling and other personal development approaches such as shadow work techniques and inner child work, I’m also beginning to examine more unorthodox philosophies, and what aspects might be useful in the context of science and psychology.

In this article I’ll explain the concept of Human Design, and then discuss crossover with proven personal growth techniques.

What is Human Design?

In Human-Centered Design, your Human Design chart, or BodyGraph, is calculated using your birth date, time, and place, to produce a unique map detailing your inherent skills and talents. It also identifies your potential and vulnerabilities.

Human design chart.

The BodyGraph is uniquely coded, and understanding it essentially means understanding yourself, your own makeup, and how to negotiate the world in a way that reflects self-acceptance and authenticity.

Using the information you glean from your personal chart, you’re equipped with practical techniques to help steer your decisions and choices, to effectively improve your life experience.

How? Instead of trying to fit the expectations placed upon us, or that we place upon ourselves, using our personalised design to help navigate us, we’re able to comfortably live in alignment with our true purpose. 

What Are the Origins of Human Design?

Human design centre mythology is a system combining several holistic principles, including the I Ching, Vedic philosophy, Hindu-Brahmin chakra system, Kabbalah, astrology, and quantum physics.

The concept was developed by Alan Robert Krakower who released a book called The Human Design System in 1992, under the pseudonym Ra Uru Hu. He wrote the book following a spiritual experience in 1987, and dedicated his life to sharing his vision. 

How Does Human Design Work?

A fundamental element of the theory behind Human Design is based around neutrinos, an aspect of quantum physics.

Neutrinos are electrically neutral particles with a tiny mass. The majority of neutrinos are produced by the sun, and each second about 65 billion solar neutrinos pass through every square centimetre of the Earth facing the sun. 

Neutrinos typically pass through other matter undetected. In the context of Human Design, it’s suggested that they leave an imprint of information within the body as they do so.

This information determines your unique Human Design chart, and is represented on your BodyGraph, within energy centers.

What is a Human Design Center?

Defined centers contain fixed, consistent energy, which are reliable in the way they function, and can be considered our strengths.

In Human Design, we have nine energy centers in our bodies, which can be ‘defined’ or ‘open’.

Human design bodygraph

Human Design centers appear on your BodyGraph as either white (open) or coloured (defined) geometric shapes, each representing an energy hub. 

Defined centers contain fixed, consistent energy, which are reliable in the way they function, and can be considered our strengths.

Open, undefined white centers on the other hand are where we are most impressionable and vulnerable, and flexible on our life path.

Our open centers are a great source of wisdom and can be used to learn about the world and contribute to our insight, but we should avoid making decisions from these centers since they may be susceptible to outside influence.

Our open centers are where we are most susceptible to being conditioned (influenced), by the people in our lives, but also by cultural expectations and societal norms.

The Value and Challenges of Open Human Design Centers

An open center can be a source of rich and fascinating input – however it’s generally where you are stuck trying to satisfy those expectations I mentioned earlier. We will never feel at ease trying to be what we are not, and in Human Design, this state is called the not-self mind.

The not-self mind is composed of the monologues on loop in your head, tormenting you, and are driven by your open centers.

Our open centers are where we are most susceptible to being conditioned (influenced), by the people in our lives, but also by cultural expectations and societal norms.

This can feel confusing because energy input changes based on our environment and who we are around. This can manifest as inconsistent values and beliefs, resulting in questioning our self-worth, because we’re unable to authentically express our true selves.

For each open center within your BodyGraph, there’s a question to help you determine whether you’re allowing yourself to be influenced, and wisdom which can help you to achieve perspective.

Strategy and Authority in Human Design

In tandem with your BodyGraph which is sometimes shown within a mandala overlaid on top of the zodiac signs, Human Design provides two tools, called strategy and authority, to help you harness the energy in your defined and open centers. 

Human design mandala.

Using the information from your BodyGraph, your unique strategy and authority guides you to work with your natural energy, instead of against it, so that you make the decisions which are most in alignment with your authentic self.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the nine centers, and then I’ll give a practical example showing how this element of Human Design might overlap with Jung’s shadow work theory.

What Are the Nine Human Design Centers?

We have the following 9 energy centers in our bodies:

  • Head center
  • Ajna center
  • Throat center
  • G center
  • Heart center
  • Spleen center
  • Solar plexus center
  • Sacral center
  • Root center

Here’s what how each center influences us, dependent upon whether they’re defined or open/undefined:

Head Center (Top Triangle)

Pressure center. Center for inspiration, ideas, and willpower.

The defined Head center:

  • Is the pressure to think,
  • Has energy to think through doubts,
  • Has the capacity to be inspirational,
  • Can have an interesting perspective.

The undefined Head center:

  • Takes on and amplifies the thoughts of others,
  • May feel overwhelmed,
  • Puts pressure on your shoulders to act on things that don’t concern you or are not your responsibility.

The open Head question is: Am I trying to answer everybody else’s questions?

Advice: Use your personal strategy to assess what ideas are your own and which are not. Be selective in which you actively engage with, ensuring you pursue only those projects which align with your purpose

Ajna Center (Second Triangle) 

Awareness center. Center for conceptualisation and analysis.

The defined Ajna center:

  • Is how you think,
  • Feels confident in its opinions,
  • Is consistent in the way it views information.

The undefined Ajna center:

  • Feels pressure to commit to a fixed opinion,
  • May result in anxiety about inconsistency,
  • Can overcompensate by projecting an impression of certainty.

The open Ajna question is: Am I trying to convince everyone/myself that I am sure?

Advice: Keep in mind that it’s not necessary to have a fixed opinion about anything; there is value in remaining openminded and having a fluid perspective.

Throat Center (Top Square)

Center for communication energy and manifestation of ideas into form.

The defined Throat center:

  • Is about communication;
  • Is the center from which all energy in the body is expressed;
  • Is where all manifestation, transmutation, and transformation take place;
  • Speaks in a fixed way, with consistent expression.

The undefined Throat center:

  • Has an inconsistent voice, which can cause anxiety and pressure to speak;
  • Can say or express something (manifest) in order to relieve throat energy pressure.

The open Throat question is: Am I trying to attract attention?

Advice: Seek attention in appropriate ways, and recognise the value in pausing and listening, without feeling a need to fill the silence unless there’s something worth contributing. 

G Center or Identity Center (Diamond)

Center for identity, love, and direction in life.

The defined G center: 

  • Is the identity of the self;
  • Represents a fixed sense of self;
  • Expresses love in a stable, consistent way.

The undefined G center:

  • Has an inconsistent identity, which adapts with changing environments;
  • Can feel like they need to grasp on to a specific identity to feel secure.

The open G center question is: Am I looking for love and direction?

Advice: Recognise that it’s not necessary to define yourself; it’s okay to be flexible and fluid and not put yourself in a specific box. Choose to spend time with people who make you feel authentic and good and don’t directly or indirectly contribute to your insecurity about your identity.

Heart / Ego Center (Small Triangle)

Motor center. Center for ego, willpower, and values.

The defined Heart center:

  • Is about willpower and values;
  • Makes healthy commitments;
  • Can appear stubborn or assertive, especially to those with undefined willpower.

The undefined Heart center:

  • Feels pressure to prove and improve itself,
  • This can manifest as lack of self-worth.

The open Heart question is: Do I have something to prove or improve?

Advice: If you have this center undefined, avoid making promises you’re not able to honour – you will end up reneging or burning out from attempting to access willpower you do not possess. Use your strategy to ensure you only make commitments that place your value and the value of others at their heart. 

Image shows a woman meditating in the sunshine.

Spleen Center (Left Triangle)

Center for awareness, immune system, time consciousness, and center for intuition.

The defined Spleen center:

  • Is about instinct, intuition, and survival;
  • Is our most primal awareness;
  • Functions in the moment;
  • Has a developed sense of intuition.

The undefined Spleen center:

  • Can feel vulnerable and engage in unhealthy behaviours, in pursuit of security;
  • Sensitive, and in tune with physical body;
  • May struggle with time-keeping;
  • Can act impulsively;
  • Might find it hard to know when to let go of things.

The open Spleen question is: Am I holding on to what is not good for me?

Advice: Trust your intuition and learn to let go of things that no longer serve you, including relationships, resentments, clutter, etc. And develop organisational systems to better manage your time!

Solar Plexus Center (Right Triangle)

Motor and awareness center. Center for emotional energy.

The defined Solar Plexus center: 

  • Is about awareness and emotion;
  • Undulates and cycles between hope and pain;
  • Takes time to and space to consider and evaluate, resisting rash decisions;
  • Is often relieved to discover the reason for their fluctuating emotions is simple chemistry.

The undefined Solar Plexus center:

  • Absorbs and amplifies the emotional energy of others,
  • Learns not to make waves in order to avoid turbulence and conflict.

The open Solar Plexus question is: Am I avoiding confrontation and truth?

Advice: Recognise that the highs and lows you experience may be emotions that you’ve absorbed from others. With this awareness and emotional clarity, feel empowered to shake them off instead of taking them on as your own, and take the time you need to release that negative energy.

Sacral Center (Upper Bottom Square)

Motor center. Powerful center for life force energy.

The defined Sacral center:

  • Is the source of life force and reproduction,
  • Is a response motor and regenerates through fulfilling activity,
  • Can become drained and frustrated by unsatisfying tasks.

The undefined Sacral center:

  • Has inconsistent access to life force;
  • Lack of sustainable energy;
  • Takes on and amplifies the sacral energy around them;
  • Can indulge in an excess of what is energetically correct for them, leading to addiction.

The open Sacral question is: Do I know when enough is enough?

Advice: Recognise your limits and avoid taking on more than you can realistically manage, or you risk burnout or addiction.

Root Center (Lower Bottom Triangle)

Pressure and motor center. Center for adrenaline energy and stress.

The defined Root center:

  • Is about adrenal pressure and stress;
  • Moves energy through the body to fuel action;
  • Feels consistent compulsion to be active;
  • Is a healthy energy if utilised appropriately, in activities such as exercise.

The undefined Root center:

  • Is the amplification of adrenal stress, experienced as pressure to be busy;
  • Can be persistently exploited by the pressures of daily life.

The open Root question is: Am I in a hurry to get everything done so I can be free of the pressure?

Advice: Recognise that your open center means that it is normal for you to experience adrenaline energy as pressure. Use this awareness to perceive it in a more productive way, by allowing the energy to wash over you, whilst mindfully releasing excess pressure and consciously relaxing.

Human Design and Shadow Work

I mentioned a possible crossover with shadow work, and here’s what I mean:

Let’s focus on an undefined spleen center.

This undefined center is said to manifest as unhealthy behaviours, in pursuit of security (which, from a psychological standpoint, stands up: we know that there’s a relationship between insecure attachment and substance use disorders).

Supposing your BodyGraph determines that you have an open spleen center. Maybe you cling to a toxic friendship due to insecurity and difficulty in either recognising it as such, or because of the addictive quality of a hot/cold dynamic.

In the context of shadow work, it could be perceived that perhaps you contribute towards the toxicity of the relationship, in a way you’re unable to recognise or accept. (Which might be a healthier attitude, since it takes responsibility for the situation, thereby empowering you to make a healthy change not only in the specific instance of the friendship, but perhaps also by working on the unhealthy quality within yourself.)

Psychological categorisations and conflicting traits within the various centers are fascinating in their soundness.

In this example, the spleen open center characteristics appear have similarities to an aspect of the shadow self. And this idea of undefined center attributes being aspects of your shadow could be applied to every center.

Image shows a man watching the sunrise.

Is There Any Scientific Basis For Human Design?

Depending on who you ask, the answer to this question will vary. If you’re looking for specific research or studies providing evidence, you will not find it. So the short answer: not really.

The longer answer is that there are elements which have a legitimate scientific basis – but that in itself may be problematic (see below).

The appropriation of science as a manipulative tool is a reason for caution to be exercised with Human Design.

Neutrinos are absolutely real, and some of the psychological categorisations and conflicting traits within the various centers are fascinating in their soundness, too.

Why You Should Be Cautious of Human Design Philosophy

As is often the case with New Age philosophies, one theory for the apparent accuracy of Human Design can be explained as the Barnum Effect: the characterisations are vague and generic enough that they’re widely applicable, and therefore widely accepted.

But there’s a greater reason for caution to be exercised with Human Design (and many other pseudoscientific principles): the appropriation of science as a manipulative tool.

There are several powerful personal growth strategies underpinning Human Design.

When empirical evidence can be shown, in the form of linked research and studies, you can be confident that what you’re reading is legitimate. But it’s important to remember that the words ‘research has shown’ are effectively meaningless without citation and/or links.

Arguably even more problematic is the use of specific scientific theories (in this case neutrinos), to purportedly shore up Human Design philosophy.

Why the Human Design System is Fascinating

Whether or not you believe in astrology and such, there’s definite value to much of the philosophy of Human Design.

Shadow work aside, there are several other powerful personal growth strategies underpinning Human Design. 

The questions for each center and the corresponding advice is sound, for everyone – regardless of whether they’re especially vulnerable in these areas.

Self-awareness, living in accordance with our values, mindfulness, and reframing are all profoundly valuable principles in the pursuit of peace and a meaningful life.

Ultimately, there’s no harm in buying into the concept of Human Design, and there may be elements that could benefit you. However, much of the wisdom is applicable to each of us across the board – and it’s accessible, free of charge, without the requirement (or cost) of a BodyGraph or reading.

Why not check out these proven self development techniques you can try independently at home?