Feeling Your Feelings: Svadhisthana Chakra
To continue the journey of the seven chakra system, we move up the spine where Svadhisthana, the second of the seven chakras, lives. Known as the sacral chakra, Svadhisthana begins to move the energy from the root upward in the direction of the navel. With water being the element of the second chakra, this is where fluidity comes into play; flow, movement and recognition that feelings are a part of the human experience. The expression ‘ebb & flow’ comes to mind when thinking of the second chakra, like how feelings come and go or a wave rises and falls. Sometimes life feels light, primal, connected, inspiring and other times it’s dark, gloomy, heavy or even darn right frightening. The second chakra is about including all of that into the realm of what life is and embracing what arises. Extending your thinking beyond duality (right or wrong, light and dark, stillness and movement) can open the flow of energy in Svadhisthana.
Finding contentment along the ride of emotions through life is a practice. Judith Lasater, author of one of my very favorite books on yoga, Living your Yoga, says, “We can easily practice santosha (contentment) in the beautiful moments and joyous experiences in our lives. But Patanjali asks us to be equally willing to embrace the difficult moments.” Patanjali is the author of the Yoga Sutras, which are considered to be one of the main sources of yoga teachings from about fifteen hundred years ago. Through yoga teachings, Patanjali offers an opportunity to view duality in our lives not as one side versus another side, but seeing duality with space in between. In the words of Anodea Judith, “...one of the tasks of the second chakra is to integrate previously polarized or one-sided aspects of our personality into an indivisible whole.” Seeing ourselves as creative and complex beings whose experiences change and evolve from moment to moment, yet center on something universal.
The location of the second chakra hints at more qualities that reside here. Located in the bowl of the pelvis (hence the name sacral chakra) and center of the reproductive system, the second chakra relates to sensation, sexuality, pleasure, need, desire and feeling. Svadhisthana means one’s own place. It can be hard to find one’s own place when it feels like there’s no place to fit into or expectation from self or outside sources prevent you from experiencing joy, another word for pleasure, in life. A way to explore connection in the second chakra is checking in with what brings you pleasure, what makes you feel, and being open to changing sensations from moment to moment. Practicing being present through meditation, yoga practice, or really with any daily activity can be a way to build balance in the second chakra. Even experiencing moments where you touch presence briefly can translate to balance, clarity, and maybe even a greater sense of aliveness from day to day.
Jivana Heyman, founder of Accessible Yoga, shares this idea of bringing awareness to our inner dialogue as a means of practicing presence. Learning through self-reflection, known as svadhyaya, helps to see this awareness as a universal consciousness that is unchanging. He says, “This awareness was there when you were a child, a teen, an adult, and as you age - the part of you that doesn’t change even though the body and the mind are changing.” By bringing attention to your inner dialogue you can start to pick out what voices are yours and what voices are not yours. This can be helpful in the process of understanding what actually does bring you pleasure, joy and enhances the ability to name what your feelings truly are. And on top of that, that it is ok to feel what you feel. Obstacles, like guilt, can get in the way of letting feelings be felt. The more we can connect with and see feelings as a part of the human experience the easier we can reclaim the right to feel.
Identifying feelings by name can be a helpful tool in this process. A good way to indicate what you are experiencing is to notice what is happening in your body. For example, the next time you experience a strong emotion, you could ask yourself, “What does this feel like in my body?” For example, when I feel nervous, my palms sweat, my face gets red, my body shakes and my stomach turns. These are all indicators that something is happening. Overtime you can get more in tune with what bodily sensations relate to certain emotions. Like a good friend and yoga student of mine, Barbara, once said, “Work like a scientist, not a judge. It’s the science of life.” This self-reflection pays off in moments that may have felt rocky in the past. Self awareness of feeling can lead to balance in the second chakra, which, to me, feels like a refreshing flow, like a continuation of waves in the ocean, rather than a pause or a travesty to fix.
With the second chakra as a force of movement towards our values and beliefs we can start to see our feelings, desires, and emotions as a motivators towards growth. It can be a scary place to dive into and by no means is it easy work. Anxiety, guilt, and other obstacles will surely get in the way, which is where bravery comes into play, which we’ll touch on more in the third chakra. It takes courage to live with emotional depth, to look closer, to integrate, and embrace both good and bad as a part of the journey of life.