This article is part of a series of articles on Chakras. Read about the first two.
The Third Chakra is at the solar plexus, just below the Zyphoid Process.
The third Chakra is the home of self esteem. This is the place where we feel anxiety.
It’s “in the pit of your stomach.” Anxiety, then, is a self-esteem issue. It is you that is anxious, after all.
This place is also home to your good feelings about yourself. As Snoopy used to say, “Happiness is a warm tummy.” Blockages will show up as mid back problems, stomach and digestion problems, and that “queasy feeling.”
The Development of a Self
The Chakras are metaphors, in addition to being energy centres. As we work our way through the seven main Chakras, we will be returning to the developmental stages one can connect to each of them.
Back on the introductory page, there’s a chart that lists the seven Chakras, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and Carolyn Myss’ ideas of the psychological and physiological meaning of the Chakras. If you take a moment to look at the chart, you’ll see that there is a pattern of development that we ignore at our peril.
The strength of the third Chakra depends upon the successful development of the first two.
The First Chakra
As was suggested by Maslow, the first order of business for an infant is to become conscious of his environment. (Chakra 1) This is a rudimentary consciousness made up of sensory data (hunger / cold / wet / hot / sleepy /full, etc.) This is the primary state for infants for perhaps six months.
The Second Chakra
The second stage (corresponding to the second Chakra) is identification of me / not me. The infant begins to differentiate from ‘mother.’ The object that feeds me goes away and comes back. This is rudimentary relating — as the child develops social skills and begins to read facial expressions, tones of voice, etc. and to modify himself to have his needs met. This is also a primary self-exploration stage, as the child gains sufficient motor skills to explore her body, again discovering ‘me / not me.’ Not coincidentally, the genitals become objects of fascination.
The Third Chakra
The third stage, which goes on for some years, (and is the key to the third Chakra) is the birth and establishment of a personal self-concept. We’ll shorthand this to “the ego self.”
In Chakra theory, the first three Chakras are the physical Chakras, and the remaining four the spiritual Chakras. From a practical point of view, the top four deal with being and enacting, while the first three are about interacting with a physical reality.
We do not normally think about the interrelatedness of the stages of our development, because we actually do not remember much of it. Most of us only have fleeting memories of ourselves prior to age 6 or so. What is going on, however, is that parents and tribes are giving the child an ‘ego-self.’ This is done by tribal blessing of socially approved of behaviours, while condemning behaviours the tribes frown upon.
Bear in mind that such differentiations are not ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ They are beliefs held by the people in charge of the the child (in a very real sense, in charge of whether the child lives or dies.) The child has nothing to compare the tribal decision to; there is no choice but to comply.
It is from within this milieu that all of us arose as ego-selves. We learned sex-appropriate conduct (The easiest way to think about this is to contemplate the way women are raised by various cultures. There are quite blatant differences, again not right or wrong, but certainly different.)
It might be said that the emergence of an ego-self is actually a tightening down of the first two Chakras. Sexual and relationship rules replace the easy-going feeling of having a sensual body. Rigid beliefs of tribe and culture replace the wide-eyes wonder of childhood. Right/wrong, good/bad dichotomies arise, and for many, never go away.
Third Chakra Tensions
The creation of the ego-self is complete by age 12–14 or so. It is also at this time that ‘stomach troubles’ flare up — I remember being given ‘stomach medicine’ to treat a sick stomach that coincided with a rough grade six experience (I later discovered the liquid in the bottle was cherry sugar water given to me by a wise doctor…) Many are the teens who begin a life-long familiarity with queasiness related to self-esteem-busting things like speaking in public, nudity, arguing, etc.
The queasiness might be thought of as a war going on between the ego-self and the true-self. Teen rebellion is nothing more than the pervasive feeling of uneasiness that accompanies the realization that ‘something isn’t quite right here.’ Who I am told I am, and how I am expected to act, does not ‘match’ who I intuit myself to be.
For most, the battle is short-lived. Most surrender to the tribe, behave, clamp down, tighten, freeze the pelvis, and live stunted and incomplete lives, complete with tons of ‘some day I’ll change this’ lies.
Opening the Third Chakra
I’ve found that the region of the stomach, below the zyphoid process and above the navel line, contains much repressed material. It’s tricky for some clients to even let me work on this area. I find, however, that pressure under the ribs and squeezing of the stomach muscles themselves often brings about quite dramatic releases of age-old repression.
Breathwork is another tool that can help, especially if it is coordinated with a pelvic tilt.
I urge my clients to thoroughly question their presuppositions. I covered a plan for identifying these pre-suppositions in my book, “Living Life in Growing Orbits,” which is now available as a downloadable package. I’ve scanned two of the key pages for you to use to check out your beliefs!
Perhaps one of the most important self-explorations is to identify one’s core beliefs — the items that make up the ego-self. This tends to be a scary process, as letting go of long held beliefs brings up existential anxiety — will I be shunned, driven out, killed, once my tribe finds out?
One of our friends is on her 40s. She’s never had a functional relationship with her parents, yet keeps heading off to remote places, trying to “bond” with her mother. It doesn’t work, but her core, or ego-self belief is that she ‘should’ love and like her mother. The other day, she was talking about getting older and how her body is doing. She said, “I’m not as flexible as I used to be.’
I said, “And that’s your present life issue. You are not as flexible as you could be, and it’s not about your body.” Perhaps flexibility would be letting go of her belief regarding a relationship with her mother. Hmm.
Have a look at what beliefs you are holding on to. Question everything. Ask yourself what you want to be, accomplish, experiment with, and ask yourself what is holding you back.
Then, breathe, let go, and give each thing a shot.
You may amaze yourself with the results.