M U L A D H A R A C H A K R A
Muladhara means "root support." And chakra means a vortex of energy. Living at the base of the spine, muladhara is the first chakra of seven. Like its names suggests, it is the vital exchange point for our relationship to the earth. A healthy root chakra begins with honoring this opportunity to be embodied.
The root chakra is about the basics, the foundational stuff. When we don’t have a good connection through this center we will feel anxious, unmoored, alien. We become disassociated us from our bodies and other peoples' bodies. It can cause us to treat the physical world with a lack of respect and care.
In one extreme, this becomes the personality unable to put down physical or emotional or spiritual roots, of creating nourishing and restful routines. In the other, the desperate search for safety and solid ground drives one to become rigidly stuck in routine, unable to go on new adventures, to flow with life or change when necessary.
To bring the root chakra back into optimum health means to bring about a sense of SAFETY, groundedness, deep connection and belonging.
Below are some notes on the chakra system as a whole. I will properly introduce the 6 other chakras next month. For now it’s all about creating a safe and stable space, an environment that is nourishing and friendly. Then we have good ground for planting more information!
Listen to this earthy playlist as you try some of the exercises at the end of the post.
WHY THE CHAKRA SYSTEM?
The human condition is complex. Even though I live it every day, there is much about being human that I still don't understand. While there is much I don't know, I have figure out that I really care about upgrading my consciousness--I have experienced time and time again that immaturity and ignorance keeps me in cycles of suffering. Happiness seems to come in the wake of wisdom.
I also know that I would like to improve the quality of my contributions to the world. I am endlessly inspired by the wise folks of this world and want to bring more of what they're bringing. And I am regularly saddened by the damage immaturity and ignorance can wreak on our communities and our shared resources.
So, in a reality where I know very little, I am sure that I want to evolve into someone who understands more and moves in a wiser way. But where do I begin? Without turning to some kind of system for understanding my own complex being I feel bewildered or overwhelmed. If I don't have a kind of blueprint for my makeup it is easy to get lost in one little detail of my being, or to give up the endeavor all together.
When we look at the chakra system we get a kind of blueprint. We can back up and see how everything fits into a larger whole. Or we can zoom in and check out the details of what happens in each "room" or energy center.
There are lots of systems which could do this. I have chosen to focus on the chakra system because it is ancient, accessible, elegant and effective. People tend to have some baseline knowledge of this system because of the popularity of yoga in the Western world. It posits that there are 7 main energy centers in the body and that by learning how they work and applying their wisdom to our lives, we learn how to diagnose and cure our various ailments, body, mind, heart and soul.
I have studied the chakras with several different sources and will do a little resource list at some point in this series. For now, know that what I will present in these blogs is an integration of all that I've studied and tested against my own experience.
While I ask that you give this stuff a chance to soak in and work on you, I hope that you also keep your curiosity active and your sense of autonomy on line. Listen, be open, note what your intuition is drawn toward and do your own research. Sure, search on line and read books. But too much information from outside can actually just create noise that drowns out true wisdom. The best research findings will arise in your meditation practice and in your daily life.
Be patient, calm and steady as the earth and you will eventually have experiences that prove the efficacy of chakra work to you, one way or another, indisputably and first hand. I recommend picking one or two of the exercises, doing them for the rest of the month and taking notes on any shifts in your energetic, mental or emotional wellbeing; watch for new experiences in your work life, your relationships, or your environment.
If you can (1) learn the system, (2) devote some time and attention observing yourself through its seven lenses, (3) do the work that your observations point toward, you will grow up into your own guru. You will start confidently, compassionately and wisely guiding yourself through your journey. This is good news.
ANATOMY OF THE SOUL?
Chakra is a Sanskrit word that means wheel or disc. The system developed in India and we will refer to Sanksrit names for the chakras throughout this series. But similar systems came out of indigenous spiritual traditions all over the world. Some likely spread from India, but others, like those that arise in Shamanic traditions in the Americas, seemed to develop independently.
Some describe the centers as spinning wheels of light, as the name suggests. In my deep meditative states I have mostly experienced them to be orbs. I will invoke the different imagery at different times and I encourage you to play with both. There are 7 major centers, but there are also smaller centers elsewhere, all linked by the nadis or meridians, rivers or circuits, of energy. Together this whole system is called the “subtle body.”
The yogis and shamans teach that the subtle body is prior to the physical and lasts beyond it. It is the part of us that never dies. They believe that your chakras hold the memories of previous lifetimes, like data banks, and that the circumstances of this particular physical incarnation relies completely on the programming carried over by those centers.
Through contemporary medical science, we now know that the chakras line up with the major centers of our endocrine and nervous systems. Together, these two physical systems are responsible for how the body communicates with itself. The glands of the endocrine system secrete hormones which move through the blood stream; each ganglia or nexus of the nervous system sends information via neurons.
In deep meditative states we become aware of more subtle aspects of our reality, we develop the ability to access, observe and effect those deeper levels, often to the great benefit of all that which it connects to on the surface. Perhaps the physical reality of glands and nerve clusters came first, and the yogis and shamans experienced the vibrational fields they created—just as we can now scientifically measure the vibrational fields of all beings. Maybe they could feel those hotspots humming with our most essential human programming. Maybe their trained awareness picked up on the activity of life communicating with itself.
Whether the subtle body is just the energy fields manifest out of the physical, or the physical was born from the energetic body, the chakras are powerful internal mediation objects, great aids to anyone who is committed to getting to know them. Whether the ancient yogis or the modern scientists are right, the chakras point to where your deepest programming is stored. They introduce you to the aspect of you which is most exquisite, mysterious, ancient and profound.
The chakras teach us how to connect the visible and the invisible, the known and the unknown, matter and spirit. And that is a great gift. Let’s see what happens when we start working at the level of light…
< < < R O O T C H A K R A P R A C T I C E S > > >
When the root chakra is out of balance you are either letting too much energy in without letting it back out, or you are closed and and can't get in fresh energy. Often both are true!
Can you give away what you've been stuck with? Can you receive back new energy, new information, new collaboration, new love?
You don't have to stick to the list below. Perhaps they will inspire you to create your own practice that dissipates fear and grows trust.
/// AT HOME IN THIS BODY ///
The root chakra governs the whole body. Feeling the realness of your body against the realness of the world is brings it into balance.
Anything that helps you feel safe, strong, vibrant and easeful in your body is great. Working with the feet, legs and pelvic floor can be especially helpful.
- OPEN FEET > feel your feet on the ground while you're sitting or standing. can you make the feet more supple? spread them out and imagine you could breathe in and out of them. release your energy down into the earth and draw her energy back up. rolling out the feet with golf, tennis or lacrosse balls is also great.
- STRENGTHEN LEGS > do squats, tadasana, warrior poses, kali pose
- YIN OR RESTORATIVE YOGA > this helps you redevelop trust in your quiet and still parts
- BE TOUCHED > get massage or reiki or receive a nice long hug
- TOUCH > lay hands on a loved one or anything connected to the earth (pets and trees work great for this one!) be still and quiet, bring your awareness to the energy exchange between you and the other. sense how your not so separate.
- NUTRITION JOURNAL > How do you nourish yourself? How do you nourish others?
- SAY GRACE > Before you eat, thank every being that contributed to your food's journey between the earth and your mouth. If it takes too long, consider getting closer to the source of your food. ;)
If you want to build your life on a solid foundation, meditate every day. I haven't found anything better suited for cultivating a deep connection with everything that is steadfast, peaceful and healthy.
Here are few examples of mediations that help heal muladhara chakra
- NOURISHMENT MEDITATION > Get into a comfortable position. Breathe in and out, noticing how the breath brings in what you need and releases what you don't. Rest. Feel how you are always being comforted, nourished and loved by your environment. You don't have to "earn" it by doing anything. Just be.
- SAFETY MEDITATION > Visualize the safest, most comfortable environment you can. Feel yourself sitting there. What does it feel like in your body, that sense of being safe? Is there a way to feel this way more often in your daily life?
- TREE MEDITATION > Sit in a comfortable position. Imagine that you're growing roots through your lower body that connect you deeply into the earth. At the same time feel that the upper body is expanding up and out like branches. Be a tree, perfectly rooted, perfectly reaching, perfectly connected, perfectly content.
- COLOR RED > Visualize yourself as the root chakra, breathing in and out scarlet red
- PELVIC FLOOR MEDITATION > Sit comfortably and get a sense that you are anchored on the earth. Feel your perineum. Practice softening it and relaxing it down. Practice contracting it and drawing it up. Then try to find something in the middle, a relaxed awareness of that part of the body.
- MANTRAS > you can work with these seated, or going about your day:
- I am grounded.
- I am nourished.
- I belong.
- I am real.
- I am here.
- I am never disconnected from the source of life
/// AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ///
It can be helpful to take a good look at your daily routines and physical environments and how you interact physically and energetically with them.
What will more firmly establish the sense that you are safe, you are steady, you are connected to the Big Mama? What can you do to give Her some of your load? What can you do to be more open to Her nourishment? She wants to help. But you have to open the door. This is muladhara chakra work.
ROUTINE + RITUAL
Routine that is solid and steady but also loving and alive develops a healthy root chakra. If you feel anxious, exhausted and burnt out, it's likely that you are avoiding those regular routines that bring grounding and respite.
If, on the other hand, you are totally resistant to change, then your daily habits may have become so hardened that they are not actually bringing in the nourishment they're meant to. Are your routines open enough to let in water, light and air?
Rituals help us remember that spiritual work happens right here on the material realm. Watching your own embodied form undertake sacred actions heals the divide between matter and spirit.
- DAILY HABITS JOURNAL > free-write about your daily routines. set a timer for 10 minutes and don't let the pen leave the paper til the buzzer goes. if you have trouble getting started, begin by making one list of the regular habits you have and another of regular habits you want. then see what happens!
- REGULAR RITUAL > develop a simple regular ritual for yourself--something that you will actually do! a 1-5 minute meditation practice every morning before you leave the house or a weekly bath will change everything.
- SEASONAL RITUAL > do an earth ceremony. get some potting soil and an object from nature. plant a hope/wish/dream/intention in the soil. feel your hands in the dirt. then be patient for your new life to grow.
- GENTLE CHANGE > letting go of old negative habits and creating new ones is not easy for any of us. BE KIND TO YOURSELF. as you begin getting the nourishment you really need through your new habits, like meditation, the old ones will begin to fade away on their own over time. let the process work without you rushing it.
What does home feel like to you? Do you spend some time every day just resting in a nurturing environment, or are you always on the go? Maybe it's time to do some nesting!
Are you so afraid of being unplugged from home that you never go on adventures? Maybe it's time to remember that you can be home in other environments.
- HOME IMPROVEMENT > refresh your living space by cleaning it out, reorganizing it, redecorating. burn palo santo, sage or incense while saying, "anything that isn't here for my greatest and highest good, please leave."
- BODY LANGUAGE CHECK > pause in whatever you're doing and bring awareness to your physical habits. what's your posture like? are you moving a lot or quite still? practice grounding more through your feet, relaxing, breathing more deeply and moving less. notice how this your energy, mood, words and work.
- WALK/RUN OUTSIDE > This opens the senses and helps our body remember how it is at home here in the natural environment.
- TRAVEL > Go somewhere new and discover.
- NATURE > Spend some time hanging out with our beautiful Mother Earth. Commit to visiting the park each day or even spending a few minutes looking at the sky out of your window. As in our human relationships, you have to devote some of your precious time and attention to grow a bond between two beings. You will never be satisfied if this bond isn't nurtured.