I’ve been meditating on the chakras in preparation for sharing what I know, only to be reminded that there is always more to learn. What follows is a brief introduction to the root chakra, which I hope will invite you to read and reflect further.
The root chakra can be sensed in the energy at the base of the spine, and it can be activated by allowing your energy to sink gently or dive deeply into the earth. Imagine growing your own spiritual tap root. It is enlivened by walking barefoot outdoors, laying on the ground, and keeping a firm seat for meditation. It is supported by connection to nature, eating nourishing and cleansing food, cultivating a stable living environment, and knowing when to let go in life. On the physical level, healthy digestion and elimination are traits of a strong root chakra. Mentally, a sense of grounding, stability, and ability to be in the present moment are the traits to cultivate. An over-active root chakra looks and feels like: over attachment, depression, clinging, over-active bowels, inability to move on or let go, a feeling of being stuck or blocked mentally or physically.
Many people compare the chakras to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The two systems are not exactly the same, but they do have some noteworthy overlap. Maslow says a person’s wellbeing starts with meeting certain basic needs — food, shelter, safety. The root chakra is very much on that level. No plant can thrive without strong roots, and no human can thrive without meeting these needs. Whenever I have felt insecure, unsure about my future or my place in the world, I’ve often found tending to the root chakra to be the solution.
While the chakras are connected to our mental and physical well-being, they are also reflective of our emotional and spiritual state. Years ago, I developed for myself a system of aligning my values with my real life actions using the chakras as a model. It’s quite simple, although an understanding of the chakras helps quite a bit. For me, the values and priorities most related to the root chakra are: Physical health, home and family life, and relationship with nature.
To become familiar with your root chakra, start by spending some time with this part of yourself. Close your eyes and try to feel this area of your body — the base of the spine, or when seated, the place where your body meets the support beneath it. Note any sensations you experience — warmth, cold, numbness, energy — without judgement, just notice. Make space for any thoughts or emotions to arise. You may want to keep a notebook nearby to jot down anything that catches your attention, but first, try to simply be present and embody the experience of the moment.
As with all meditative practices, if you feel discomfort, anxiety, or any extreme emotion arising, step away from the practice for a moment and do something self-soothing. Many forms of trauma can cause us difficulty in the root chakra, especially things that happened when we were very young and may not have had the tools or the context to cope with them. Some things that may look minor to our adult minds may still feel intense and frightening to our inner child, so I encourage you to seek support from therapist or a trusted spiritual teacher as you engage in this level of self-work. If that kind of support is not available to you, I beseech you to move slowly and be kind to yourself. It is possible to make great progress without a personal teacher working by your side, but it is essential that you take your time and be gentle with yourself.
Once you have some familiarity with the root chakra, it’s helpful to spend time observing how it shows up in your regular life. Here are some questions for reflection that may help you cultivate a healthy root chakra:
What is your relationship with the land where you live?
When, where, and with whom can you feel rooted, relaxed, stable, and supported?
In what areas of life do you want or need to be more rooted?
Where do you feel stuck or find yourself clinging?
Where do you feel unable to hold on to goodness?
Again, I recommend using your journal to take note of these things. As you learn more about the chakras, you’ll see how they impact one another, as all systems are inter-connected. Just like a traffic accident on the corner can affect traffic all around the neighborhood, an injury at the root chakra may affect our ability to connect at the heart or to feel strong at the solar plexus. Many times, we will be working on an issue that’s related to a different chakra and find find that the issue is fed and informed by some unaddressed trauma or difficulty in the root chakra. Many people mistakenly view the lower part of the body and the lower chakras as being spiritually lower, less valuable, and maybe even unworthy of discussion or attention. I believe this is due to Western/white culture’s toxic view of the body with undermining messages such as “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Actually, the flesh is quite willing — to heal, to thrive, to be simultaneously kind and strong, and to carry this spirit of ours every damn day for our entire lives. As the Earth is to nature, the body is to the spirit. The root chakra summarizes this truth. To nurture the body and have a realistic, appreciative relationship with it is ideal, and that work takes place at the root chakra.
There’s much more to learn from and about the chakras, and I hope to share as much as I can over the next … however long it takes. If you have questions about the root chakra, I invite you to ask via the question form (yes, it’s the same as the “Weird Advice” form, but I will know the difference).
This post first appeared on my Patreon, and it will be followed by more posts about the other chakras, about yoga philosophy, and applying these lessons to support growth and learning as a student of life. If you’re interested in more of this kind of content, go there to receive it all as-it-happens. I hope to eventually release all of this material for free as a book or ebook, but that will be after much more writing and editing and learning. If you’d like to walk the path with me while I do the creative work, please do. 🙂