The Power Within: Manipura Chakra / Solar Plexus
The Jungle Book was a childhood staple for me. Something that left an impression on me was the emphasis on the red flower, or fire, in the film. How Mogli seeks out the red flower to battle the evil he is faced with against Shere Khan. While this symbol of power turns to be a dramatic fail that causes disturbance to the place he called home, the forest, it shows the complex relationship to power humans have. The element of the third chakra is fire. The location is the solar plexus which is above the navel and between the two sides of the ribcage; the center of the body where a bundle of nerves live. Manipura, or lustrous gem, is the Sanskrit name for the third chakra associated with personal power, will, sense of self and confidence. The energy from matter in the first chakra and movement in the second chakra leads a will to action in the third chakra. This is where we feel a push to be and do better; to move in the direction of love (we’ll get to that in the fourth chakra). “In the chakra system as a whole, the purpose of the third chakra is to transform the inertia of matter and movement into a conscious direction of willing activity,” says Anodea Judith in Eastern Body Western Mind. Like Mogli’s desire for the red flower, a symbol of power, we all want access to the fire within. Power with and in is what enables us to use our fire to benefit not only ourselves, but the greater good as well.
Tapas is a Sanskrit word meaning your burning zeal for life; moving energy with heat. Tapas are also known as little plates of food served when you order a drink at a bar or cafe in Spain; aceitunas (olives), gambas (shrimps), pan con tomate (toast with tomato), or tortilla Española (potato and egg omelette) to name a few of my favorites. This connection of the same word from different cultures helps me remember the purpose of the third chakra. Like digestion after eating provides energy through calories that helps you carry on, the little plates of food, tapas, are served alongside your beverage to balance alcohol in the system. A friend in Spain once told me the history of these little plates came from trying to prevent people from staying at the bar too long or driving home drunk. Genius idea, really, like preventative medicine. This is a great comparison as to how we find balance in this fiery energy in the body. Know yourself well enough to take care and act on what is right for you; right action for you. In his book Meditations from the Mat, Rolf Gates explains Tapas as “the spirit of inquiry”, as “having the heart of an explorer.” He goes on to say, “It is the willingness to work hard in practice, the desire to know oneself, the will to be honest.” It is this internal fire, tapas, that enables outward momentum in the direction of our digested feelings, thoughts, and physicality on this planet.
When you feel on-point, on top of things, energetic, in the “zone”, finding flow, in the groove, however you want to say it, this is a good indicator that your third chakra is balanced. With confidence and self-esteem being associated with Manipura, this makes sense that when you are “on fire”, energy here has been put to good use. This doesn’t even have to be something big like writing a novel or having a difficult conversation, it can be putting your energy somewhere useful; sweeping the floors, making a cake, taking a hike. When feeling is put into action, it has somewhere to go.
A couple weeks ago while visiting my parents, my dad was helping me get materials together for some macrame hanging plant shelves I’ve been working on. He has a workshop in the basement of the house I grew up in with tools, scrap wood, gadgets and gizmos galore. It’s a really cool space where he makes bookshelves, marble board games, Vinyl and record player stands, and other furniture projects. To prepare the shelves, my dad showed me how to use a power sander. After a quick tutorial I stood with power sander in hand and confidence in what I was doing to use the tool for a purpose; to change the surfaces and edges to make perfectly smooth shelves. Watching my dad prepare each piece through the table saw, clamp down the mold to drill the perfect sized hole into each corner perfectly, and wipe down each piece after sanding, I recognized his confidence in what he was doing. He was in control, focused, and using each power tool for a specific purpose. To make something good, something along the lines of what you are going for, there’s got to be a vision. My dad inspired this in me. With noise cancelling headphones on, my power sanding stance, working side by side with my dad, I couldn’t help but think of Audre Lorde, one of my most recent favorite writers and activists, and her ability to powerfully express towards her vision through poetry, emotion, strength, through personal and collective experience. She says, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” Power tools or internal power, when you know what to do with it, it becomes much more efficient.
There is great power in little moments like using a power tool or acting on a feeling that can open doorways to the other chakras where flow becomes possible; where things seem to happen along the lines of your vision. This is when power is used inclusively; with others, with awareness of other parts of yourself, with acknowledgement of why. The color of the 3rd chakra is yellow, like a lightbulb being turned on or a flame of a campfire burning bright in the night. This light brings clarity which can enable ease in decision making, confidence, and shows the way back home again and again.