Bodywork and Chakras, and the Root Chakra
Finding the Chakra Points, & The Root Chakra
The following ideas were introduced in Carolyn Myss' book, Anatomy of the Spirit. We've combined her work with our own theories, to present the following explanations.
The root Chakra is the seat of passion and sexuality and is the home of "basic needs" - food, shelter, nourishment, and the right to exist—like the base level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
The Root Chakra also governs the legs, and thereby our sense of "groundedness."
This area is the base area for the release of vital energy.
The colour associated with this Chakra is deep, bright red.
The root Chakra is located at the tip of the tailbone, at the perineum, the area of skin between the anus and the genitals.
Direct contact with this area is quite powerful, and there is an almost instantaneous feeling of fullness at the base of the spine. The same thing happens if you simply visualize this area of your anatomy—you should quickly be able to "feel" an area the size of a golf ball at this location.
You should be "friends," or very comfortable with your partner if you choose to have your partner work on this Chakra directly.
Instead, you may want to use what we call the "Good Enough Point." To find this spot, follow the spine down from the waist, and you'll find that the spine has a "bump" at the point it begins to curl under.
This is typically located at the top of the division between the buttocks.
That's the "Good Enough Point."
A Primer on the Root Chakra
One might say that levels 1 & 2, on the "Maslow Chart" to the left, represent the "issues" contained in the root Chakra. The location of the root Chakra, at the tip of the tailbone, is connected with
- elimination of "the crap we hold on to,"
- and what we might call the sense of "the right to be."
Now, apart from the Bodywork implications, why am I raising this? Well, the Chakra hierarchy is inescapable. As is Maslow's hierarchy of needs. In other words, as we progress along the pyramid, reaching each level in turn, we might be thought of as adding to our repertoire. Each level builds upon the level that precedes it.
Energetically, we can also understand that we proceed, as we grow, from basic human needs of food, shelter, oxygen, elimination, and safety (Chakra 1) to relationship needs being met (i.e. the infant must "latch on" to the parent or parents in order to meet physiological and safety needs,) which is Chakra 2. Chakra 3, self-esteem, while incipient in the lower 2, does not actually occur (i.e. the development of a "self") until several months to a year into the child's life (this is the first level of differentiation.)
When we come under stress, or better, when we choose to stress ourselves, we end up working down the same system. So, if a client has a setback, the first thing he'll likely do is to begin to doubt himself. (Chakra 3) Contained within this doubt is a fundamental loss of self-esteem. This, of course, assumes that he doesn't "hie himself off" to a therapist. He makes himself feel worthless (worth less—get it?) and questions his intelligence, persistence and abilities.
If he doesn't catch himself there, he'll then begin to question his relationships. (Chakra 2) He'll doubt his competence, his ability to communicate and will begin to imagine that others are rejecting him out of hand. From there, he'll begin to pull in and draw back from contact, and his choice to retreat will be taken as others rejecting him. Having lost himself, he then proceeds to lose his connection with others.
If he doesn't catch himself here, there is only one Chakra left. This is the "basic right to live" Chakra. People reaching this Chakra on the way down are prone to hurting themselves, and to suicide.
As a therapist, then, one goal I might have is to work diligently to arrest a downward spiral. Rebuilding from the "I'm too stupid to live" place is difficult. As a Bodyworker, addressing the "root" issues at the 1st Chakra is a vital exercise. We consider this work to be of such an essential area that we're working on a booklet and video on this topic.
Here's another perspective, and indicates why so many people are "defended" in the lower Chakra. When you think about it from the above perspective, the tightening is in a sense providing a muscular wall to protect the root Chakra, as, remember, it's all about security and the right to live. We're programmed to protect this last vestige of our humanity in the only way we know how to - by erecting a wall and resisting that wall being breached.
Perhaps the way out of all of this, beyond Bodywork per se, is to discuss, with some fear and trembling, your fear of death and annihilation. Find another to share this with. We are all fearful, almost unto death, of death. (Paradox of paradoxes!) The practice of letting go of the clinging to fear is the psychological equivalent of letting go of muscular tightness. To put this another way - you either deeply know and believe that you have a right to exist, or you don't. Tightening up and screaming about it or avoiding the area altogether demonstrates a holding that is not voluntary and non-attached.
Finding Stable Ground
I got to thinking about the word "stable." Now, ignoring the "home for horses" definition, stable means,
1 : not changing or fluctuating
<the patient's condition was listed as stable>
2 : not subject to insecurity or emotional illness
<a stable personality>
Source: Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc
Now, of course, the word also has to do with stability, or "the capacity of an object to return to equilibrium or to its original position after being displaced."
I find it interesting that language concerning the body is often used to describe mental or emotional states – for example, "He doesn't have a leg to stand on." Or, "She just can't stomach him."
Try this one, then: "After the accident, Joe seemed perfectly stable, but Mary became increasingly unstable."
What did you think?
I would guess that you made an assumption about Joe and Mary's mental or emotional state, not about how well they were standing. Yet, from a Bodywork perspective, how a person stands says volumes about how they "are" in the world.
No one can be "stable" if their physical core is ready to fall over.
You need to "get" that the framework I'm presenting here is not "right." It's just a way of looking at things – a perspective. And a perspective is like this – you and I are standing a few feet apart, looking at something. No matter what, our perspective (how we see the thing) will be different. If we stand in the same place, it's still different, because time is involved, and all things change over time. Also, my eyes are different from yours (obvious example – you may be colour-blind…)
My favourite perspective, then, is eastern. I describe things from a Chinese, Japanese and Indian perspective. The feet, legs, anal area, and First Chakra area are interconnected, and have to do with stability, security, sense of being entitled to occupy space, and also (at the First Chakra/anal level) the holding onto versus willingness to release past traumas and sexual confusion.
Almost everyone holds some blocked material at the First Chakra level. If I am unwilling to "let go of my crap," then my life will be about clinging to past hurts, abuse, confusion, trauma. This, in turn, leads to issues around balance and stability.
(Another Bodywork expression – "He seems to be well balanced." – where did you go with that?) Balance and stability are what we call Root issues, and are also about feeling rooted to the ground.
I think you get the drift.
Or, maybe not. This perspective takes getting used to. First of all, it's about the connection between the way our body "is", and how we carry ourselves, and our mental and emotional states. In other words, the realms are closely inter-related.
Because most people can't see their bodies, and because it's hard to see something different about ourselves (we're used to seeing the person in the mirror, so we miss the obvious physical signs) we are constantly providing illustrations.
A while back Darbella and I invented a Workshop we called "The Grid." We took pictures of people from the front, side, and back, and then imposed a Grid over the photos. In this way, people could see the way their bodies tipped off of what we call neutral. I never got permission to use those photos.
I'll just show you a couple of portraits from my days as a commercial photographer. I have releases for these. These pictures might just help you to see that how people stand on the ground is a great indicator of who they are and where they are stuck.
Also, you can go to the teaching photo a few pages back in the Bodywork section, where there's a photo I also have permission to use. It's here.
This first picture is of a dancer (I did PR photos for their dance troupe.) In every shot, she is leaning forward, ahead of her centre of balance. Rather than get into definitions (i.e. "headstrong") just feel the instability in her posture, now that you are aware of it.
Second picture, health club owner. I asker her to stand normally and turn 45 degrees to camera.
Notice: her legs are collapsed at the knees, ("weak kneed") her pelvis is thrust forward, this to compensate for her upper body falling back. ("a push-over") Again, just feel for what you sense in the picture.
There are a couple of exercises that are really good for the First Chakra.
Most of the links lead to Yoga Journal,
where you'll find descriptions and directions for the poses.
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)