“You are grounded. You are so firmly rooted into the Earth that you can barely move. But you’re not centered. Anytime anything comes along, it knocks you off balance. We need to work on reducing your grounding a bit and helping you find your center. You don’t know it yet, but all of the things you are doing now –the yoga, the aikido –it’s all a journey of the heart.”
--Dr. Mark Evans, L.Ac., North Woods Acupuncture
These words from a conversation with my first acupuncturist at a tiny Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic in Berlin, New Hampshire peak back out at me every few years. With each iteration, I have a more nuanced understanding of them. It’s interesting to me that at the time, I did not think this was a particularly remarkable conversation. I was present for it. I heard it. But I did not think that I would come back to it over-and-over.
The most recent iteration was triggered by my self-study around the chakra system. In the third week of each month in 2021, I am teaching all of my classes and releasing social media content with simple, actionable practices (please note that I did not say “easy”) to learn about and balance each of these chakras. In preparation for my Svadisthana (that is, sacral) Chakra on February 15th, I spent about ten days engaged in self-directed study.
The Sacral Chakra is the second chakra, and this energy center is located along the spine at a point about two inches below the belly button. Svadisthana, “the sweetness,” governs our creativity, sensuality and sexuality. The right associated with Sacral Chakra is the right to feel, and our ability (or inability) to exercise emotional intelligence is tied to this chakra.
Disconnection from our feelings is a very common challenge in western society. We have both cultural norms and individual traumas that reduce or damage our willingness and ability to maintain contact with our feelings. Boys are commonly raised with the expectations of stuffing their feelings down. Or certain specific feelings like anger and aggression are prized over equally important emotions like compassion and love. And both men and women are raised with spoken and unspoken expectations of favoring reason over emotion, logic over feeling. To truly Live in Love, Truth and Beauty, we have to restore this connection to our feelings.
I’ve had some insight into my own imbalance here through some shadow work. In Eastern Body, Western Mind. Anodea Judith discusses the integration of previously polarized or one-sided parts of our personalities as one of the adult development tasks associated with the Sacral Chakra. I’ve had some recent opportunities to look at some of these qualities in myself recently.
By way of example, I should talk about my difficulty with the anger of emotion. I find that anger makes me feel very uncomfortable –my own anger and the anger of others. That certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t feel or experience anger –anger is a natural healthy human emotion. But because I’ve tried to suppress my anger for so long, it often bubbles out in strange and unpredictable ways. These are most often responses that I would not have chosen if I had made a conscious choice. It also means that when my anger rears its head, the angry response often feels out of proportion to the stimulus that prompted it. I inevitably spend time wracked with guilt (ironically guilt is the “demon” or scar of the sacral chakra) over my response. That throws me off of my center every time.
In a coaching conversation this afternoon, I was prompted to journal on some specific questions. I’m not going to share details on how I got here, but I will offer some analysis. The questions are: “What is the persistent reaction in your life? How old is that version of you that is reacting like this? Can you sit down with him / her to reparent that [triggering] incident or age? What does that version of you need to hear or heal?”
I spent about thirty minutes pouring my thoughts into my journal in response to this question. I have a sense of the origins to my feelings about anger, but I don’t have a smoking gun. But I ended up “sitting down” with a 6 – 8-year old version of myself, and I offered the following thoughts and questions.
First of all, you get to feel angry. You are “allowed” that emotion. Anger is a natural human emotion that is trying to communicate a message to you. Listen for that message.
Second, what does that emotion feel like in your body? Can you pinpoint a specific location where you feel it? And can you allow the emotion and notice both its arising and the sensation with curiosity and kindness?
Sit with the emotion. Feel it in your body and send some breaths to it. If your body is calling for some kind of constructive movement to release the emotion, make that movement. If your body is calling for you to express this emotion respectfully to another person, initiate that communication.
I had an opportunity to practice this early this morning. I was driving to the studio to teach, and there was a snag in traffic. I reacted angrily (albeit inwardly), then experienced guilt over both the emotion and my response. But then I noticed what was happening. I invited the anger to sit back at the table, and I tried to listen for it. I breathed for it. Then I stretched my neck a few times, drawing my chin to my chest, then up to each respective shoulder.
I think I’m onto something. I would love to heal this and a couple of other Sacral Chakra scars that I’ve found through this exploration. If I am to Live in Love, Truth and Beauty, I need to consciously continue along this journey of the heart. If I find a path that works for me, I’ll share the waypoints and keep you posted.