Chakras, Life and The Balancing Act - Part 1 - The Root Chakra
Energy is dynamic, and since chakras are subtle energy centers moving prana through the nadis, it is easy to understand that the different energy centers can be out of balance i.e. they can be excessive or depleted depending on the circumstances. To understand the balance or imbalance of these centers it's important to get a glimpse of their development stages and the area of development.
Area of development
42 – 49
“I am divine”
35 - 42
“I am connected”
28 – 35
“I am expressive”
21 - 28
“I am loved”
14 - 21
“I am strong”
7 - 14
“I am creative”
0 - 7
“I am safe” “I am stable” “I belong”
While these chakras develop with time, age and experience, there is no guarantee that they will develop in a balanced way and remain in that state for the rest of our lives.
A yogic lifestyle helps us nurture each chakra at its stage of development. Most of us haven’t led and don’t even know what a yogic lifestyle is; which means an imbalanced chakra system would be a fairly common occurrence.
I am not asking you to become a yogi, I certainly haven’t ? ,but as you read on you will understand the root chakra in layman's terms, what causes the imbalance and easy doable ways to bring your chakras into balance. This blog is about the root chakra or the mooladhara chakra.
Root chakra / Mooladhara Chakra.
The sanskrit name of this chakra, Mooladhara, comes from the words Moola, which means root and Dhara, which means support. This is considered the foundational chakra, located at the base of the spine. The Root Chakra resonates with groundedness, stability, and security. This is the chakra to focus on when you looking at redesigning your legacy or answering the question “who am I?”
The age 0 -7 is an important age in both psychology and in this ancient science of the chakra system. They both say that our sense of stability, belonging and security take shape at this stage in our life. It determines how we see and believe in ourselves. It shapes our defense mechanisms and how we respond to people and situations in our environment, which would impact our stability and sense of belonging.
A child growing up amidst arguments and fights, or growing up with nannies and overworked parents, develops coping mechanisms and limiting beliefs of how life is going to be. Our coping mechanism blocks the chakra, throwing it out of balance. Examples of coping strategies would be seeking comfort from food or suppressing emotions. This sets up our system for stress related diseases in our future years. All coping mechanisms affect our physical and emotional body.
“Our brains are wired for connection, but trauma rewires them for protection. That’s why healthy relationships are difficult for wounded people.” – Ryan North
What are the various causes and traumas that would affect the root chakra?
The Root Chakra is the first to form at conception. From the minute we are born we start seeking the answer to a question “Do I belong here?”; be it on this Earth and in this tribe or family. This question and seeking its answer is our first step in the journey of life and at this early stage it is not a conceptual question based on our ability to think, it is instinctual and governed by our limbic brain.
Looking at this from the lens of Erik Erickson’s stages of development, the first stage — trust versus mistrust — is closely related to the Root chakra development. As an infant, if your caregivers consistently provided you what you needed to survive (food, water, love, affection, and emotional calm), then you felt secure in the world. You felt that the world was a place that could be trusted to provide your basic needs. However, if your environment was chaotic and/or caregivers were emotionally unavailable to you and/or if your caregivers withheld, delayed, or were inconsistent in giving you what you needed, then you will lack trust and security, and may find yourself with Root chakra imbalance or blockages. Whether or not you feel secure now is significantly impacted by how safe you felt as a child.
0 – 7 is the age during which the root chakra energies take shape to help us to feel grounded and connected to this Earth, giving us a place for our life to ‘take root’ and for the flow of energies to propel us forward on our life journey. However these energies can go out of balance or get blocked impacting our vitality and zest for life at any stage of our life. This can happen when our sense of belonging in the world is threatened in some way, or is experienced as traumatic, leaving us feeling a deep sense of insecurity.
I was born during the 1971 war, my father (a fighter pilot with the Indian air force) was away protecting the country and my mother, I would imagine, was emotionally unavailable to me (understandably so, now in retrospect). My dad got posted every two years, my grandfather told my dad that he had ruined the family’s reputation by giving birth to a girl child (I obviously never heard him say it, but it has been narrated to me so many times that I believe it is one of my earliest memories of my grandfather). I studied in a boarding school for a few years, I had a new set of friends every few years. My childhood ticks most boxes leading to a root chakra imbalance.
I am not alone or unique to have these experiences. Children brought up in the armed forces do share my experience of changing locations and friends. I am sure their root chakra is out of balance, but not necessarily to the same extent as mine. So what makes my experience different?
The root chakra connects us with the energy of our parents and the spiritual energies of our ancestors. It carries our ancestral memories. My mom was an only child whose parents divorced when she was about 6. My grandmother left for the UK and my grandfather continued to fly UN missions. Leaving mom to be brought up by aunts and uncles. My mother had a very unstable childhood and my father gave her her first sense of stability and belonging when they married at the age of 19 in 1968. The war followed in 1971 threatening her sense of stability, security and belonging with two children in tow. Thankfully India went on to win the war and my dad was awarded the coveted Vir Chakra for bringing down enemy planes.
A sense of belonging doesn’t only come from your parents or a place; family and friends play a huge role in it too. The frequent relocations, small and physically distant family made it impossible for me and my brother to form meaningful relationships with our tribe and friends. My system learnt to cope. It learnt to put roots down that could be easily moved from one place to another and one friend to another.
Fast forward to 21 years of age, like my mother, I met a man, who made me feel loved and made me feel wanted. I married him at the age of 24, putting my roots down once and for all, or so I thought. My marriage was an abusive one, packed with lies, adultery and abuse.
War, famine, natural disasters, and any events like I have described even in our adult life that threaten our basic survival and our sense of belonging are all recorded within energies of the Root chakra. These memories are imprinted in the subtle body (i.e life energy) and are passed down from generations creating unconscious generational patterns, as you can see from the short description of my life.
The journey of life is full of experiences, both good and bad. Most of us think of the bad ones as a nuisance and misfortune and there is no growth in that perspective. Another perspective is to regard them as valuable and beneficial experiences. When we learn from them and begin to work on ourselves, we progress in our holistic development. If we don't do this, we remain stuck and continue to replay the painful lessons unconsciously. It is our work to take responsibility for our own lives and bring ourselves into balance.
We can do this in a number of ways. The food we eat, meditation, specific yoga asanas, chants, musical notes and essential oils can all help get the chakra energies unstuck and moving, bringing it into balance.
Root Chakra cures
Color: red and brown
Meditating with affirmations, like “ I belong”, “I am safe”, “I am secure” , I” am stable”, “I am grounded”, “I am connected”.
Yoga asanas in sequence
- Tad asana — mountain pose
- Veerbhadrasna I — Warrior I
- Malasana - squatting pose
- Pavanmuktasana – knee to chest pose
- Jaanu shirshasana – head to knee pose
- Padmasana - lotus flexion
- Shavasana — corpse pose
We are born whole and complete. Our job in life is to keep striving for balance consciously and remain whole and complete.
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