The chakra system is a heavyweight when it comes to finding balance of mind, body and soul.
Think of them as energetic wheels, if you will, which connect and balance our three bodies—physical, emotional/intellectual and spiritual.
Not very long ago, I had no idea what a chakra was, or that serious imbalances and energetic blockages within me where at the root of most of my behavioral, emotional and physical disorders/dis-eases. Since diving deep into the ancient Sanskrit teachings on balancing and healing these energetic centers, I have become a different person, free from many of the limitations that I lived under for many years.
These benefits are waiting for anyone who has the motivation to step up and work for it, and it is my goal to present a beginner’s practice, chakra by chakra, to help anyone who is seeking change.
Here, we will explore and discuss the second major chakra—the Swadhisthana, or the Sacral Chakra. This is the center of fluidity, adaptability, boundaries and sexual energy.
“Meditation on the pure lotus, which is named the Swadhisthana, frees you from the control of your enemies, such as egoism, ignorance, lust and greed.” ~ Sat-Cakra-Nirupana, verse 18
When to work with Swadhisthana: you struggle with guilt or shame; you struggle with hateful jealousy; you fear change or feel stuck in life; you feel apathetic, empty, or devoid of joy; you struggle with respecting the boundaries of others, your behavior is selfish and destructive in your pursuit to satisfy your needs; you struggle with self-control, or creativity, or you feel disconnected from life and those around you.
This chakra is located a few inches below your navel, around the area of your reproductive organs. Imagine that it encompasses your tailbone and lower abdomen. It’s color is orange. It is our link to water and the ability to go with the flow. It is important to work with this energy in order to grow spiritually, as rigid and egoic thinking holds us back from growth.
This is your center for creativity, emotions and intelligence. The ability to think outside the box and find creative solutions to the challenges you face comes from this chakra.
Positive aspects of Swadhisthana manifest in your ability to enjoy life and all its pleasures, without being a glutton or a slave to pleasure, i.e. being able to indulge in a healthy manner. Too much indulgence and no self-discipline may indicate excessive Swadhisthana energy. Negative aspects include suicidal depression and heavy emotional disorders. If you struggle to find joy in life, this may indicate deficiencies or blockages here. Do you find yourself unable to let loose, relax, and have fun, especially around others? Do you constantly judge yourself and everyone around you? Energy gets stuck here and we feel flat, apathetic, and as though we are outside looking in. An excessive need for methodical, by the book living, compulsive behaviors, and dualistic thinking become an issue when Swadhisthana energy is deficient.
Swadhisthana strongly relates to “I, me, mine.” It is about our personal needs. When this chakra is unbalanced, it manifests as needy and selfish clinging, and self-gratifying demands, behaviors and consumption at other people’s expense. (Kind of like an example of all that is wrong with society now, isn’t it? Like we are all suffering from deficient Swadhisthana energy.) It governs how we relate to other people—especially to how we go about attempting to fulfill our needs. Do we respect other’s boundaries when seeking to fulfill our needs, or do we bulldoze our way over everyone else to selfishly take care of ourselves at any expense to others? This is a question only you can answer.
Swadhisthana governs sex, sexuality and the genitals, all reproductive organs and the endocrine gland. It governs all liquid elements of the body—blood, lymph, tears, saliva, and urine. It helps with kidney function. Imbalances here may manifest as physical issues relating to reproduction issues, arousal or performance dysfunction, shame or anxiety around sex, eating disorders, addictions, or urinary tract problems.
I have found that deep, emotional and intelligent yoga practices are one of the most healing activities for Swadhisthana issues. Incorporating yoga breath work into healthy sexual activity can be highly therapeutic, while expanding our capacity for pleasure and joy.
This chakra’s element is Water, its color orange, its sense taste, its organ is the tongue, and its planet Mercury.
The mudra (I use the water mudra) joins the pinky finger with the thumb, in an “O” shape, with the other three fingers pointing out. The top of the hands should be turned toward the floor.
To begin a chakra meditation practice, start simple:
- Sit down cross-legged, or lie down.
- Start your breath work to become still and present. If you use stones, orange calcite, brown or red aventurine or ruby are great for opening Swadhisthana. Any orange colored or very light, watery blue stones will resonate here.
- Begin to focus and visualize your breath traveling to the lower abdomen and tailbone, as you picture the color orange.
- Take at least five deep, cleaning breaths that you send to your chakra. Breathe in slowly to 10, hold for 10, breathe out slowly for 10. (Start with five seconds if needed.)
- As you breathe, picture the breath cleansing your chakra. Picture the spinning disc of orange energy, glowing cleaner and brighter with each breath you take. See it. Let it show its shape to you. Imagine orange water flowing through and cleansing.
- Use a mantra as you breathe in and out. “I am perfect. I love myself and my body. I am not my body, my body is a beautiful temple. I have healthy boundaries” “I find flexibility in the waters.” “I am creative, inspired and capable.” “I embrace my fluid and sexual nature. I am safe in my willingness to compromise.”
- Picture a beautiful flowing stream, creek or body of water. Feel how the water refreshes and cleanses, giving vitality and life to all things. Play water sounds in the background with Tibetan singing bowls. (You will find a link at the bottom for one I enjoy.)
- Flow through yoga asanas geared towards this chakra—Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold—directly activates Swadhisthana), Janu Sirshasana (Head to Knee Pose), Ushtrasana (Camel Pose), Malasana (Goddess Squat Pose), Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II), Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose), and Sethu-bandhasana (Bridge Pose).
- Don’t rush through, but rather practice the asanas, to build your feelings of stability and strength in them. It’s all about finding the best version of the pose for you, at any given moment. Holding and breathing into the asanas is where the magic happens.
So much of our neurosis and compulsions arise from imbalances in Swadhisthana. When we suppress or try to ignore the problems just grow. Suppression is like Miracle-Gro for destructive behavior. We must face what lies here in order to be free of the issues our imbalances may be creating. When I finally shined the light on Swadhsithana, it allowed me to empower myself—to take charge of my life again, and to stop being a victim of circumstance.
The goal of working with Swadhisthana is all about tapping into the flow of creativity, flexibility and balance. We connect to water, which we are mostly made up of. We embrace all aspects of ourself, and find a place of healthy respect for our self and others. We tap into our inherent adaptability and ability to create and change. We no longer fear change, or have need to cling to rigid thought patters that do nothing more than serve the ego, keeping us divided.
Keep in mind, this is meant to be a beginner practice. Chakra work is something that goes deep within, tapping into an infinite source of ancient connectivity. If you quiet yourself, your chakra will tell you what it needs. Believe it or not, they will work to heal themselves once you start giving them the energy and attention to do so.
Many of our problems occur because, like a wheel, one spoke out of alignment results in a flat tire. When all chakras are open and running in a balanced state we find harmony within our mind, body and soul. Remember—have fun!
I would love to answer any questions or comments below! I look forward to hearing about your chakra work.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Daniela Vladimirova/Flickr