The chakras are points of energy that flow throughout every body. There are many different chakra systems with histories that can be traced to south Asia, Africa and eventually carried to the West over time, tradition, and cross-cultural pollination. The seven chakra energy system that runs from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, has been studied most heavily and shows up today in yoga classes, meditation and other body work all over the world. Much of the learning regarding the seven chakra energy system is felt; kind of like tingling in the hands or butterflies in a nervous belly. You could read up on chakras all day, but this kind of felt learning can be a way to more closely experience these different energies that reside in the chakras combining pieces, identities and characteristics that make up your whole being.
The word chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning wheel. These spinning wheels of energy can come out of balance depending on your life story and circumstance; like a global pandemic knocking all of the routine and stability you once knew out from under your feet, bringing a lack of grounding and imbalance in your root chakra; muladhara. The Muladhara Chakra is the first chakra and contains the energy of stability, grounding, solidity, and connection to the body. Mula meaning root and dhara meaning support or base, the root chakra is located near the base of the spine, internally. The space between the pubic bone and tailbone would describe the root chakra’s location more specifically, yet again this is more of an experienced sense; feel into it yourself by bringing awareness to this space in your body and possibly noticing a subtleness of spinning, swirling, or tingling sensation. Red is the color associated with the root chakra, the first layer of the rainbow bridge that connects your earthly body to your spiritual consciousness (7th chakra). The root chakra starts this journey where what feels like puzzle pieces being put together or a top spinning on its tip align to the rhythm of you.
In a culture where disconnection from the body is another epidemic, many people are left feeling uneasy, unstable, and sometimes unable to even make decisions to support their own health. This can be seen in our culture’s obsession with a certain body image, workaholism, alcoholism, and other -isms that often result from self-hate that this push push push culture encourages in media, expectation and other areas we might not even notice. In opposition to this self deprecating mentality, Kelley Palmer centers her work as a writer, yoga teacher, race equity educator and all around badass, around creating and inspiring meaningful reflection and connection. She sent out a beautiful post to her supporters on Patreon (an independent artist platform for building sustainable progress on creative endeavors) a couple of months ago about wholeness. In her words, she shared:
I am whole...
Complete. Divine. I am all I am supposed to be in this moment. I lack nothing. My existence is full of peace, love and joy. When I truly accept myself I am able to see myself as a whole being.
I know that I am everything I need to be in this moment.
In embracing wholeness we can begin to feel a new set of expectations that we set for ourselves based on our needs, desires, values, and beliefs. Life is a constant process of re-balancing, re-convincing, and re-feeling into all the parts that make up who we are. Starting with a balanced root chakra as a source of embodiment, a strong and solid base is built to support the remaining chakras’ flow with grounded energy.
Balance in the first chakra has a lot to do with answering to the needs of your body and finding connection with the Earth. The Muladhara chakra is associated with the element, Earth. Spending time in nature; gardening, sitting, appreciating, hiking, listening to, or whatever you are drawn to can be a great way to move towards more balance and grounding. A couple years ago, a sad reachout text to a friend became a new self check-in routine. Instead of pitying or quick affirmations, he sent these questions back to me:
Have you drank plenty of water today?
Have you eaten healthy food today?
Have you showered recently?
Have you exercised recently?
Have you taken a break to do something you enjoy?
Have you been outside today?
This list of questions could go on and can be personalized to you. When thinking about the root chakra, often basic needs are what need to be satisfied; fulfilling basic needs builds your strong base. Sometimes that is something as simple as brushing your teeth or making your bed; something to honor stability and routine as a part of your life. When the root chakra is balanced a sense of trust is built towards the world, self, and others. Feelings of safety and security are strong and stability feels natural. Good health, vitality, prosperity, livelihood, and ability to relax and be still are side effects of a balanced root chakra. Being comfortable in your body is a good sign your root chakra is balanced.
In Anodea Judith’s book Eastern Body Western Mind, she dives into the psychology of the chakra system and offers an affirmation for each chakra. I have a right to be here is the affirmation she suggests for healing (or balancing) the first chakra. This can be embodied by reclaiming the space you take up in your body and the space your body takes up in this world. Movement is a beautiful way to connect with the body and put this affirmation into action. Repetitive movement, especially, can be particularly grounding like walking, hiking, running, or practicing a familiar yoga sequence regularly. Letting intention guide your movement and choices will warp your energy towards or away from embodiment. Intending to take care of your body, as simple as it sounds, can go a long way for mind, body and spirit connection and health.
We can move beyond this false narrative of what’s right and wrong about our bodies and come to genuinely care for the shape we take as we are in this moment, no matter the rough ground we might be standing on. Rooting in affirmation, awareness, and stability that supports us can keep the top spinning and momentum going to continue the journey to knowing one-self as whole, as everything we need to be in this moment.
In her book Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach says it well, too, “... coming home to our body can be our rite of passage. As we bring a gentle attention to the ground of sensations, we free ourselves from the reactive stories and emotions that have kept us bound in fear. By inhabiting our body with awareness, we reclaim our life and spirit.”
This is the first of a seven blog post series about the chakras. Check out (stay tuned) posts about the other chakras coming soon!