Today's Practice: Closed Eyes
Today's Thought: Identity
As we continue to travel through the chakras, it will become clear that each chakra associates itself with one part of the complex matrix of who we are. The root finds its identity in the physical. This chakra thrives on the experience of the senses because it is through the physical that we nurture the rest of the body and it is through the physical that our safety is secured. Each of the senses provides information to the body about the physical environment to ensure those two facets. Through the eyes and ears, we are alerted to potential dangers as well as the possibility of food. Through the nose and mouth, we confirm the quality of the food (example: the eyes see milk but the smell says it is rotten. The nose prevented you from consuming an abundance of bacteria in this case). Finally, the touch organs build tools and add a further confirmation to the conclusions drawn by the other stimuli.
The great paradox of our society is how we choose to be deficient and excessive in the same chakra. Each and every chakra has male and female properties, which can also be described as left-brained and right-brained tendencies. As a culture, we tend to over emphasize left brained/male qualities and discredit the opposite. In order to balance this out, it can be extremely beneficial to let the brain practice in various ways. For this reason, the yoga practice today will incorporate the puzzle of occasionally trying poses or flows with the eyes closed!
Today's Thought: Orientation
Today's Thought: Developmental Stage
The orientation of a chakra is what it will ask you to do if you do absolutely nothing else. In the case of the root chakra, you will be asked to ensure self-preservation. Any desires of self destructive tendencies from self-mutilation to starvation to flagellation to suicidal tendencies give you a cue that the root needs some healing.
In a state of crisis, it is particularly difficult to feel one's own roots. At these difficult moments of life, it is important to know that you can lean on the strength of others. This amazing TED talk describes how researcher Stefano Mancuso learned that trees actually communicate with one another through their roots. When we apply this as a metaphor to ourselves, this amazing discovery changes everything. It helps us know that we are never alone. When we are in a state of abundance, we can reach out and share our carbon. When we are low, there are roots around us ever willing to lend what is available. Believe this is true.
Each chakra really begins to develop for the first time at a certain stage in life. The root chakra begins to develop in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy for the baby and it continues until the baby is about 12 months old. During this entire time, the baby begins to receive certain stimuli from the environment. In fact, as Annie Murphy Paul describes in her TED talk here, it is important to know that babies begin learning about the world well before we enter it. The baby learns from the hormones present (stress or otherwise), it learns the sound of the mother's voice, it learns the tastes and smells that the mother ingests, and much more. This teaches the fetus about the family, the culture, the language, and the foods which will be safe for it upon being born.
As explained in this talk, the baby in utero even begins to learn whether it will be born into a world of abundance or starvation. People gestated during a time of a siege during World War 2 had higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease later in life than people born to mothers with plenty. This shows that the root chakra holds on to the information it gains in its development throughout the life whether or not the life conditions actually change. However, you may be relieved to know that trapped emotions like this can be released through healing modalities such as yoga, meditation, and even programs like the Body Code (see here to learn more).
Interestingly, after the chakras each develop in our youth, the process repeats again in our adulthood. This stage is apparent as the young adult leaves the parent's home and learns how to find a job and a place to live to survive on their own. If insecurities were stored in the root chakra early in life, they may arise again during this second development. You can choose to think of these feelings as gifts. The body wasn't able to address them when you were 2 months old because you had no tools and you were largely helpless. But you can choose to address them now and let them hold you back no longer.
Today's Thought: Basic Right
The basic rights of the root chakra are the right to be here and the right to have. This means that along with the miraculous events of conception and labor comes the truth that you are allowed to take up space in this world. You are allowed to feel welcome in this world. The world has plenty of resources to keep you fed and well. You have the right to have your basic needs met in this life. This right expands to the family group as well. You have the right to a family unit. If your natural family is dysfunctional, you can create your own family where love is central.
Along with these right is the right to self care. You can and should take time for yourself. At a minimal, you deserve a few minutes to yourself to study and think of things that inspire you every day. Find a self care routine to make you feel clean and pleasant. Perhaps this routine includes self massage, yoga, and meditation. I recommend making two lists: the first list is a minimum of 10 things that bring you joy which don't cost money and the second is a list of at least 10 things which bring you joy and do cost money. Make sure that you're daily doing something small off of the small list and that at least weekly you're doing something on your money list. My free list may include items such as yoga, meditation, spending time in nature, running, sitting in the sun, playing board games, reading a book, and watching inspiring messages on YouTube. My money side may include items such as going to dance performances, going to the movies, getting frozen yogurt or ice cream, traveling, and essential oils.
Lastly, I'd like to remind you that enjoying abundance is part of the rights of this chakra. Along with this is the law of attraction. I'll spend more time on this law later, but for an amazing overview of this law, view the movie called The Secret.
Today's Thought: Element
It should not be surprising to learn that the earth is the element of the root chakra. After all, despite all the differences among plants , every single root needs some sort of earth nutrients to survive. The more we connect with nature, the more nature will recharge us. Especially as our lives become increasingly immersed in technology and if our jobs bring us indoors during the majority of the day, we need nature to bring the energy within us back into balance.
Many studies have been done demonstrating the stress reducing benefits of increased interactions with nature. As one example, Pennsylvania researchers found that patients in rooms with tree views had shorter hospitalizations, experienced less need for pain medications and had fewer negative comments noted in their records, compared to patients with views of brick.
In recent visits to the Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Mesa Verde National Park, I was extremely impressed with how intimately connected to nature these ancient pueblo people lived. At Chaco Canyon, certain doors and windows were built such that the rising sun on the day of the solstice will make the shadows align perfectly. Likewise, the rangers gave talks explaining how the doors of certain ruins were exactly aligned with landmarks in the distance marking the spot where the sun rises at the widest and narrowest spot. Over a period of about a dozen years, the sun will rise in increasingly wider ranges over the horizon and then return back to a narrow range. In order to establish a pattern, they would have needed to observe the cycle happen at least 3 times (observing for more than 30 years). To see such attention to detail found all over the park was inspiring, to say the least. As I then journeyed to Mesa Verde to view the houses built directly into the cliff walls, I can't help but imagine how connected these people must have been to the earth. They were in the earth as they arose in the mornings, as they went about their chores, and as they slept at night. I truly believe such a strong connection with earth strengths our DNA and heals our bodies. Experience the benefits for yourself by taking a walk in nature each day this week!
Today's Thought: Demon
Today's Meditation: Fear
Fear is the demon of the root chakra. Fear arises when something threatens our survival. It creates a release of certain chemicals in the body (especially adrenaline) which heighten our senses and leave us with the best possible reaction in the body for the purposes of fighting or running away. Mental acquity is pristine and blood is drawn away from the digestive organs so that blood pressure can increase the delivery of oxygen to the muscles and lungs. Fear brings our attention to the here and now so that we can address the threat, but it leaves us in a stressful state which prevents us from feeling secure, focused, and calm. As stress becomes the way of life, the body begins to develop the chronic symptoms of high blood pressure, heart disease, stomach troubles, immue system depletion, weak adrenal glands, insomia, or chronic fatigue. Our body, our very foundation, becomes shaky and cracked.
Among the other symptoms, fear also creates hyper-vigilance, which forces energy into the upper chakras. We decide that the only way to survive is to work even harder. In so doing, a negative feedback loop is created making the body ever more disconnected from the brain. In this disconnect, we fail to find the comfort of gaining the nutrients we need from our roots.
In our meditation today, we'll address the concept of fear. Know that even though the experience of fear in the body is very real, the concept of fear can be overcome with mental training. Remember that you create your reality and fear doesn't have to be a part of it.
Today's Thought: Body Character
Today's Art Activity
When the 1st chakra is deficient, a person may take on the body character of the "schizoid/creative/lover" as described by Anodea Judith in the book Eastern Body, Western MInd. This type of a character may begin to develop early in life. If the expectant mother is fearful or doesn't want the unborn child, her womb will tighten, leaving the fetus with little freedom and the baby will have a hard time learning to ground down to the earth. In early life, experiences may continue to fuel this disconnect such as the mother not touching the baby enough (out of exhaustion or otherwise).
Split between mind and body begins to form because of first chakra alienation. As energy transfers to the upper chakras, these may overdevelop, creating a person highly creative and intelligent with a strong disconnect from the body. issues persist around right to exist and the person may find it difficult to listen to the body and its hunger, fatigue, and thirst. This type of a person may be constantly nervous, fidgety, and chatty, constantly changing the conversation. The body may be very thin and pale with an obvious collapse around the heart area.
Each of the healing habits presented at week 1, day 2 will help the schizoid/creative/lover body type. Take time out for yourself for massages, long baths, barefoot walks, and enjoy your favorite treat!
Drawing the body