There are a great many blogs, books, podcasts, and videos out there (some accurate and others questionable) about the Chakra (or, cakra, meaning “wheels”) system, so I will refrain from a lengthy explanation for the time being. I will, however, say that that the concept of chakra’s is an ancient one and it is a tradition that the Western World (New Age devotees included) have only begun to explore and understand. There is, undoubtedly, much to be learned. As Westerners we tend to approach even the Eastern mystical and ancient holistic systems from a framework of logical deduction and Cartesian materialism. In essence, we, because of our conditioning by the Newtonian-Cartesian based educational system, are quick to dismiss those approaches that focus upon mysticism, intuition, interconnectedness, and spirituality. This doesn’t mean we’re flawed or wrong or ogre’s (eek), it simply means that we, as Westerner’s, must first deconstruct before we can fully open our minds to the lessons that the Eastern systems can teach us. We are all works in progress and I welcome you to the journey.
With that said, as you read the series of “Working with Chakra’s” posts that I plan to make in the coming days, please try to step away from your Western mindset and understand that chakra work, like yoga, is a several thousand year old system that speaks to the holistic body (this includes energy levels, spirit, etc.), and in order to fully appreciate it, you must be willing to free your mind. For those who are interested, a nice, albeit very brief, history of the chakra system can be found here.
For a more thorough, and accessible, overview of the chakra system, please see Ganga White’s excellent book, Yoga Beyond Belief: Insights to Awaken and Deepen Your Practice.
Root Chakra, or, Muladhara*
The chakra’s themselves are energy centers that distribute prana (life force). Both the yogi Patanjali and Siddhartha Gautama (later known as Buddha) viewed physical sensations as sources of mindfulness and, as such, pathways to understanding levels of higher consciousness. Muladhara is, perhaps, one of the more grounding and visceral elements within the chakra system.
Muladhara is considered the chakra in which kundalini resides and is associated with the Goddess’s pitha of Kamarupa. The nexus of the Root Chakra is stability and this applies to our everyday activities as well as how we approach our work with the six other chakras. Rootedness deals with Earth and, therefore, being anchored to the earth; it provides inner strength and controls our ability to position our spirit in reality. Muladhara is a visceral chakra in that it combines the fundamental qualities of basic survival, or, the flight-or-flight response.
Root chakra aligns with the base of the spine, or the perineum, and is associated with the color red.
Archetypal Aspects of Root Chakra
Positive: The Nurturer/Benevolent Mother
The positive aspect of the Root Chakra can be found in The Nurturer, or Benevolent Mother figure, and represents a Root Chakra that is balanced. I use the term “Nurturer” as a gender-neutral device because men, as well as women, have the capacity to mother, shelter, encourage, and positively affirm themselves and others. The Nurturer makes dark times bearable, indeed, s/he is a rock, or a root, or a basis from which other elements emerge and s/he can be counted on to acknowledge, uplift, and provide stability, regardless of the situation. If Nurturer could speak, she would say, “You deserve a good life because you are truly and inherently good. You love and are loved and you have every right to the life that you choose.”
Negative: The Victim
The negative side of this archetype is the Victim and represents a Root Chakra that is out of balance. The Victim is uprooted from a life they previously have enjoyed; indeed, s/he may derive some form of pleasure from playing the victim role, but this is typically evidence of deeper psychological issues. Victim fears for her/his physical survival, her identity survival, and fears for the survival of her dreams, hopes, aspirations, goals. If Victim could speak, she would say, “I do not deserve a good life and therefore I do not expect one. I am not a good person to know; I am unworthy; I will be pushed down and I will fail no matter what I do or try or say.”
If root chakra spoke she would say, “I am Earth and Saturn and I move to the drumbeat of life, firmly planted, secure, stable, and with a patience that nurtures and allows manifestation of dreams. I am the White Elephant with Seven Trunks whose skin is rubbed in cinnamon and sandalwood. I wear threaded necklaces of Ruby, Bloodstone, and Hematite and my home is found within the sacred lands of all indigenous peoples. I am the foundation of all things. Mine is the color of life force, courage, and passion.”
Root Chakra’s Message in Plain Terms: Keep your feet on the ground. Be rooted. Organize your physical needs and affairs appropriately.
Ways to work with the Root Chakra
Affirmations. You may use one of selections below or develop your own. Remember that affirmations take time, but typically people sense a shift if they work with the affirmation twice a day (usually morning and night) for a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks. It may be longer; it may be shorter, only you will know what is right.
- I affirm my right to the life I choose.
- I am courage, strength, and love and I deserve the Good.
- I love life.
- I know who I am and make choices based on what I know to be right for me.
Meditation. I suggest meditation for most things and chakra work is no exception. There are a great many Root Chakra guided meditations on YouTube, some of which are short enough to integrate into your morning routine. I urge you to find what works best for you. Even taking time to sit in a quiet space and focusing on the Root Chakra emblem may be sufficient.
Yoga. Yoga is a wonderful way to balance, attune, and ground the body. Any type of movement that integrates and activates the feet and legs is appropriate for root chakra work.
Activity. Make a list of all of your fears pertaining to a specific issue. In short, don your Victim hat. On a separate sheet of paper or in a corresponding column, play the Nurturer role and write a counter response to each of those fears.
Here is an example, but use whatever structure works best for you:
- Victim: I’m afraid that I won’t fit it at my new job.
- Nurturer: I am funny, likeable, and make friends easily; I will find like-minded people wherever I go.
Final note: I have seen several sites that discuss childhood trauma and other situations that may contribute to an unbalanced root chakra. While this may be true in some instances, I am always cautious when Western approaches are applied to Eastern systems. Using the childhood as a means to explain our present reactions is sometimes a viable technique, but we become new each day and within each moment. Focusing on childhood, when applied incorrectly, can result in stagnation or fixation on the past. Furthermore, there will always be an occasion for unbalance because nothing is consistent and life is composed of change. If, at this point in your life, you feel a need to work with Root Chakra, please do so; you may elect to approach this work through analysis of your childhood, but I have found that it is often more beneficial to meet ourselves where we are and to go from there.
As always, Be the Journey.
*List of resources used to inform this post:
Cope, Stephen. Yoga and the Quest for the True Self.
Patanjali. The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali.
White, David Gordon. The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India.
White, Ganga. Yoga Beyond Belief