The Root of Life — The Root Chakra is all about groundedness and stability, as opposed to dependence and fear.
The Zen of Letting Go
This is the fifth of our new series of articles on The Zen of Letting Go, with side references to bodywork, breathwork, and energy (especially sexual energy) work.
Introduction to Eastern Energy Medicine
I suspect this point should be obvious, but energy systems like Qi Gong, or structures like the Meridians or Chakras are sort of like ghosts. Some people sense them, most don’t. Actually, it doesn’t matter much, so long as you approach the whole thing with an open mind. Feel it or not, letting go allows the Qi to bring about quite interesting results.
I’ve talked about Chakras and energy systems a lot since I began writing in 1999 (originally an e-zine, now a blog,) and yet I keep coming back to these systems of understanding, and I work hard at combining Western and Eastern approaches.
I want to talk a bit about these Eastern systems in general.
Medicine East and West developed different ways of describing the body, yet did so in similar ways. It’s clear, for instance, that both systems developed from examining bodies, both living and dead. For example, 11 of the 12 Meridians are named after actual organs, which they run through or influence, including one called the “Heart Protector,” which is the pericardium, or heart sac. Pretty sophisticated. The “Odd one out” is the Triple Burner, which are three centres for energy metabolism. Obviously, the Meridians were linked to organs the Chinese had actually seen—they didn’t imagine a heart—they’d actually examined the heart.
In the West, there were tight restrictions (moral and ethical) against autopsies, and the medical profession was hampered by such restrictions. This also led to the invention of grave robbers. Nonetheless, as medicine advanced, the surgical theater and working on actual bodies became the norm.
Other developments are unique to one culture or another. For example. In China, the royalty could not be seen nude, nor touched, except on the hands and feet. Thus the invention of “pulse diagnosis”—wrists were fair game. Because the wrist was all the physician had access to, a sophisticated diagnosis system came to be—this was not required in the West, so all pulses were used for was to get a count of the heart’s beats per minute.
Anyway, Western medicine is direct observation based. “Look! There’s a heart! Lungs! Vessels! Nerves! Quick! Make a drawing!”
In the East, there was less an emphasis on the organs per se, and more emphasis on this elusive thing called Qi, or Ki, or Chi, or Prana.
In India, the flow of Prana had to do with the health and “direction of spin” of the Chakras. In China, the Taoists spoke of Dan Tians — storehouses and purification centres for different flavours of Qi. The physicians of China looked to Meridians and acupuncture points. In Thailand, the Meridians expanded exponentially, into Sen lines.
Here’s the odd piece: you slice open a body, and no Meridians, no acupuncture points, no Dan Tians, no Chakras. Just “meat.” (My brother-in-law calls people “meat puppets,” but that’s another story…) Yet, think. A slab of meat differs from living flesh in what way? It lacks “essence,” or life.
And that is what the Eastern doctors focussed on–the energy flow, as opposed to what the energy flows through.
Back in the 90s I got my certificate in Jin Shin Acupressure. The legend goes that the founder was quite sick, and decided to treat himself. He discovered 26 key acupuncture points, and began to create patterns. He’s hold two points and wait for the energy to balance. When it did, he felt better. So, in class you learn the 26 points, how to do a modified form of pulse diagnosis, and you use the diagnosis to look up a pattern. You follow the guide, which says, for example, right hand on crown of head, left hand on third eye.
The key was to be open to what happens next.
Jin Shin uses illustrations. Here’s a quote from one of the main sites:
“There are 26 bilateral energy release points which act like circuit breakers. When they are open the energy flows freely, and when obstructed, the energy flow stops. A blockage in the flow of energy results in an energy imbalance and leads to dis-ease.
A High Touch Jin Shin treatment is a way to open the body’s energy flow by gently touching and holding certain points on a person’s body. The process is much like a jumper cable’s “jump start”. The energy from the hands sparks the body’s energy system opening the blockage. Once the congested point is opened, the nourishing and cleansing bodily energy can flow along its designated path. The practitioner holds specific sequences of points depending upon which is needed. The person receiving the treatment is encouraged and supported to subconsciously direct how the energy is used. This loving partnership enables the energy to circulate to whatever depth the person needs, resulting in a deep level of relaxation and healing.” “http://www.hightouchnet.com/index.html
In other words, you hold the points and wait.
For what? For the energy to balance. You are using your fingers, which do not have pulses of their own (which is why the doctor checks your pulse with her fingers, not her thumb, which has a pulse.) What you discover is that you feel a pulsation or tingling at one hand, and “pretty soon” you feel it at the other hand. You are feeling the recipient’s Qi.
Your body has connected the two points, and the recipient’s body says, “Oh! I get it! You want me to move energy from point a to point b. OK!” And it takes as long as it takes– the more blocked the path, the longer it takes.
Except, again, whatever is “connecting” is not measurable to a scientific certainly.
To which I say, “So What?”
OK. I wasn’t initially convinced. When I did Phase 3 at The Haven, Jock McKeen taught us Meridian source points. He’d show us approximately where the point was, and turn us loose on each other to find the point, then he’d come around and check. My mind went,
“Oh sure. These points are supposedly smaller than the diameter of a hair. How can I feel such a small thing with something so large as a finger?”
And I couldn’t feel the points. I dicked around for a day or two, then went whining to Jock, who told me to get over myself and just feel them. Most of the therapy I’ve received over the years has been exactly like this, a therapist telling me to get over myself, and me saying, “Oh. Right.”
So, I gave my head a shake, walked over to another participant, slid my finger along his arm, and poof, my finger fell right into the point, like it was being sucked in. (Acupuncture points are often pictured as whirlpools, as that’s what they feel like!)
Anyway again, same thing with Jin Shin. You hold the points and stay open, and you feel the energy move.
I’ve mentioned my friend who is graciously posing for the videos for the new website, and how she does this “connecting” better than anyone I’ve met. I work on a blockage, and she’s grabbing other points where she feels the block extending to. Boom. It’s just her nature. As opposed to the norm, which is to either choose not to feel the energy, or to feel it and quickly shut down, lest “something weird happens.”
OK, so over the next while we’ll look at the flow of energy in the body, mostly thinking Chakras, but also tossing in other things.
The Root Chakra
The Root Chakra is our groundedness and safety Chakra. Interestingly (to me at least!) the male sexual organs are connected to the Root, or 1st Chakra (base-line needs, security, continuation of the species) and the female sexual organs are a part of the Belly or 2nd Chakra (relationships, passion, sexual energy.) As we all know, men and women are decidedly different in most ways, and this is one explanation about sexual differences. For men, sex is connected to the primordial ooze, having kids, the survival of the species—no emotions, really, except the rush of release and success. For women, it’s about relating, mating, finding a guy who will stick around, passion, connection.
The Root Chakra is located at the tip of the tailbone. It’s the least exposed and best protected of the Chakras. Because it’s all about life itself. The dimple in the butt and the legs are also a part of the Root Chakra — the dimple is the start of the sciatic nerve, which extends like tree roots down the legs. In Chinese medicine, the Root Chakra corresponds with Conception Vessel 1, Hui Yin (meeting of yin).
Blocked Energy — Feelings of instability, insecurity. Sense of purposelessness, powerlessness, inability to “take a stand.”
Excessive Energy — Anality, clinging, demanding more, rigidity, inflexibility, excessive focus on security.
Ignoring the Chakra — As this is the main link to being human (our connection to the mud we came from) many people just “won’t go there.” They live in their heads, or focus on spirituality without reference to their humanity. We call such people flighty or “having their head in the clouds.”
The Root Chakra responds, as all Chakras do, to direct, deep, penetrative stimulation. I suggest clients simply add perineum massage to their morning shower routine — a minute or two of circular massage. Alternatively, add in some bodywork!
The key to strengthening The Root Chakra for the maintenance of healthy Qi is to learn to flex the perineum. One way to learn this is to do Kegel Exercises. In other words, to isolate this muscle, practice stopping the flow of urine. That’s the PC muscle. Alternatively, visualize the Root Chakra as being a tennis ball sized red sphere, inside the body at the perineum. As you clearly visualize this, you ought to begin to actually feel it, typically as a feeling of “fullness” in the area. Now, just flex the area, up and down, up and down.
Finally, and I’ll refer back to this throughout, use Jin Shin pattern called the Main Central Vertical.
Place your right hand (index and middle fingers) at the Crown (7th) Chakra. The right hand stays at the crown until the end.
Left hand (index and middle fingers) to the 3rd Eye (6th) Chakra. Feel for the pulse in one hand or the other, then wait until the two balance.
Move the left hand to the tip of the nose, and hold as above.
Left hand to the “v” of the throat Throat (5th) Chakra, and hold as above.
Left hand to the Heart (4th) Chakra in the centre of the sternum, hold as above.
Left hand to the Solar Plexus (3rd) Chakra, above the tummy below the point where the ribs meet, hold as above.
Left hand to the Belly Chakra (2nd), located 2 inches beneath the navel (and 2 inches in). Hold as above.
Left hand to the top of the pubic bone. Hold as above.
RIGHT hand leaves the Crown Chakra and goes to the Root (1st) Chakra. Hold as above.
Well, groundedness is actually in short supply these days. What we have a lot of is entitlement. Superficially, they are similar, as entitlement is all about stomping up and down and making demands. It’s almost as if the “stomper” knows there is something blocked in their base energy, and are hoping, by being obnoxious, to jar something loose. This is best captured by a client who said, “Here is what I think… now I’ll tell you what my partner thinks, and then it’s your job to fix him.”
Western minds kind of lock up at the idea of working the body to change the mind, spirit, way of being, and, well, the body. Many go to yoga to learn to stretch and be more flexible. Many come to meditate to get calm or to get their mind to stop. Precious few do either in order to ground themselves, so that they might deeply and intimately land in their bodies, totally aware of their energy.
Others resist groundedness by thinking too much. They want praise, attention, “specialness,” and can’t imagine for one moment being ordinary. And yet, groundedness is all about being “attached to your body, attached to the earth.
Or, some resist groundedness because they think they are beholden to others. I see this one a lot —adults defaulting to parents, or defaulting to their partner, rather than “standing their ground.” Interestingly, it’s often connected to not being able to support themselves—or they are afraid of being alone, so they behave like children seeking an allowance and approval.
We encourage you to ground yourself in reality. Reality is all about being balanced, focussed, and self-sufficient. From this place, you can step into the Relationships Chakra as a equal, secure in yourself and in your skill set, ready to engage with depth, passion and curiosity.
More next week!