Friday, June 12, 2015

The first and second chakras: foundation and pleasure

One’s body is a field of energy. Within this energy field are energy centers, referred to in ancient traditions as chakras. There are many energy points throughout the body but there are seven main centers running in a column through the center of our body. By bringing awareness to these centers, and by seeking to maintain their healthy balance, we bring greater health and balance to our lives overall.
Today I focus on the first and second chakras. While two separate chakras, I find that their issues often overlap and that they can both affect the same areas of the body such as the lower back. They also powerfully connect with our family of origin issues.
The first chakra is located at the base of the pelvic floor. I like to think of it as the “foundation” of the chakra system, much like the foundation of a house. This is why it is considered the “root” or “grounding” chakra. Here we find the earth element, with the sciatic nerve running down our legs and connecting with the earth. We feel this earth element when we are out of doors and the color associated with this chakra is red. This chakra is associated with basic survival.
When we are small children, we are most vulnerable to our basic needs. Helpless as infants, we depend upon our tribe for food, shelter, rest, hygiene. Our earliest sense of safety and security is “rooted” in the first chakra. This is the home of the survival instinct, the fight or flight reflex, centered in the first chakra. And when that fight or flight instinct kicks in, it takes over everything, we can’t think through what is happening because that instinct is overriding every thought.
This instinct overdrive is one of the reasons that our relationships can become so challenging. When a family of origin issues comes up, it can touch that survival instinct. When that happens, and the fight or flight kicks in, we can either find ourselves lashing out or retreating. Neither response is conducive to harmony in our intimate relationships. We will “survive” but intimacy pays the price.
However, when we are well grounded, when this chakra is open and flowing, we are not bound by those fight or flight fears. Rather, we know that our security is stable, grounded in the resilience and strength of who we have become. We are our own tribe, able to take care of our self. This doesn’t mean we are isolated and alone. It means we have learned to trust our own judgment, able to ask for help when appropriate.
Those chronically struggling with survival issues—financial problems or health issues, or both—are caught at the first chakra level. Look for some unresolved conflict associated with the first tribe, the family of origin. These are issues that bubble up around one’s right to be here.
The second chakra, or sacral chakra, is located between the navel and the genitals in the pelvic area. This is the center of creativity, sexuality, emotions, relationships, and the ability to generate income. This chakra is all about the pleasure principle. Beauty, taste beyond the basics, the enjoyment of others, pleasure in both body and soul.
In our culture, we are often taught to repress our need for pleasure, there is a puritanical mindset. Or a value that goes too far in the other direction, bordering on the absurd (think celebrity culture). Yet, we cannot truly connect with ourselves or others if we don’t allow ourselves to know what brings us pleasure.
Too much self-sacrifice, and there is no true relationship to self or others. Too much focus on meeting my own needs, and there is no true relationship, either. When we understand truly what brings us pleasure, we are free to authentically show up. And I find that the simplest of things, connected with both body and spirit, connect me to self in the deepest way.
I know I’ve shared this story before but it just seems so appropriate. When I was in the midst of divorce, there was a lot of confusion in my life. It had been years since I’d had a true sense of happiness. One day I went walking at Radnor Lake, and after walking I sat for a while on one of the benches that look out over the lake. As I sat, enjoying the light on the water, the breeze, the trees around me, I became aware of the sound of birds. I looked up and saw dozens of tiny, half-dollar size birds, hopping about in the trees above my head. In that moment, I felt a bubbly feeling in my chest and I thought, “I think I might be happy.” When I next saw my therapist, I told her the story and she said, “That’s joy, Janet.”
I connected with joy that day as my body and soul were both stimulated by simple natural beauty and peace. I connected richly with pleasure.
When we are cut off from what brings us joy, it is difficult to connect with others.
These chakras and their functions affect our relationships. When we are centered, empowered in these areas of our bodies, our connections with others flow. When these energy centers are blocked or drained of energy, we are reactive or protective or just shut down. This is the great disconnect. We need to bring awareness to these centers and take care of them.
One way to do that, to nurture these centers and make sure they are open and healthy is to meditate on them. I like to use an opening meditation that focuses on bringing light to these areas. You can do this by engaging the colors that correspond to each chakra. The root chakra color is red and the sacral chakra color is orange.
As you relax and breath, picture red light radiating from your root and orange light radiating from your sacrum. Work with this color and light for a few minutes for each chakra. See if you can feel the difference!

© 2015 Janet Tuck

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