With Chakra One we survive, with Charkra Two we reproduce, but with Chakra Three we thrive. It is the Worker, the Warrior, the Activist, the Doer and it is willing to forego comforts and pleasures in the name of change, ascension and transformation.
Here is my talk on Chakra 3 from the workshop at Prema Yoga on Sunday, 12/3/17:
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth
You owe me.
With a love like that,
It lights the
Hafiz knows. The sun doesn’t illuminate the sky for a paycheck. It doesn’t warm our bodies for praise. It doesn’t transform solid earth into living abundance for bragging rights.
The sun grants countless creatures light, heat and energy because that’s what it does.
You can think of Chakra 3 as your inner sun. Its Sanskrit name is manipura, which means “the jewel in the city.” When it functions properly this “jewel” is to the rest of the chakra system as the sun is to the solar system. It is the center of ACTION, and this big action generates a fire power that keeps the rest of the chakras functioning properly. Manipura wants to fix what appears broken, to refine what feels stagnant, to burn through what’s stuck. Without this force, everything is fine as it is. We would never run after our next meal or fight off someone looking to make a meal out of us. We would never be compelled to stand up and help others, clean up our messes, put words on a blank page or bring music into the quiet air.
This healthy urge to improve the world can slip into a hot, burning drive to raze it to the ground. Beware of this energy turning into a blind ambition or a compulsive need to act. If our actions are not connected back to a greater purpose and higher values, its flames can end up destroying the very things that they are meant to improve: our world, our selves, the beings around us. A healthy balancing effort coming from the other chakras ensures that this fiercely positive energy does not turn destructive.
When it's healthy, the third chakra encourages us to rise and shine like the sun and cheerfully attend to our work. It brightens with a healthy sense of pride when our work hits its mark and takes full responsibility without shame when we err. Seated at the core of the torso, its heat is responsible for digestion, detoxification and purification--it processes the bulk, sorting it into what is useful and what must be left behind. Think of someone who strides right into the work that must be done, consistently producing and providing without a fuss. Someone whom you admire for their charisma, confidence, courage, clarity and strength. That's someone with a bright, healthy manipura chakra.
For most of the inner sun sometimes burns way too hot, causing us to be constantly doing without meaning and without necessary rest. This leads us to feel irritable, anxious, and burnt out. We might suffer from an overly-quick metabolism, chronic muscle tension, frayed nerves and sleep issues.
Or the sun can grow cold, not generating enough activity to bring warmth, propulsion and transformation into our lives. We feel sluggish, depressed, indifferent, frigid or numb. The mind feels dull, the body slack, the metabolism weak and the nervous system undercharged. Getting out of bed? Not so much.
Most of us go back and forth between these two. Burning too hot, burning out, falling cold, then ramping ourselves up to hyper speed again as if we have fallen behind in some imagined marathon. This is not a good cycle to be stuck in. When our actions fail to excite and energize us, they take on a dry obligatoriness which easily leads to resentment. Then we become the foil for the Sun of Hafiz's poem--one who has forgotten that doing its brilliant work is actually the very source a joyful, easeful existence. One who has forgotten that it must act, connect and give to be what it is. One who sends heartbroken Earth a bitter letter and a hefty bill for back-payment.
<<< MANIPURA PRACTICES >>>
work it out physically
> Just generally bring awareness to this part of the body throughout your day. Pull the belly back to the spine and notice how it effects you, physically, emotionally, mentally.
> Do core strengthening exercises, like crunches.
> In your yoga practice bring extra awareness to the core area. Get really clear about udiyana bandha engagement. Work the bottom of the exhale.
> Do twisting poses which stimulate our inner fire and cleanse the internal organs.
> You don’t actually have to practice in a heated room, just be aware of all the ways that your yoga practice stimulates the torso region and that generates heat.
> Work with ujaii breath. A little constriction in the back of the throat so that the air that passes through there gets extra friction and heat and texture and sound.
> Sun salutations! Maybe do a few of these on your own this month. Before you begin take a moment to thank the sun and whatever it is that keeps the sun burning and keeps our bellies churning! Stay in deep contact with your core as you move through them.
> It doesn’t have to be yoga! Anything that is athletic and sweat-inducing is great for stimulating manipura. If you have resistance, do something to make it fun and enjoy the effort, like putting on a super fun playlist.
> Qi Gong Warmup: Vigorously rub your hands together, then apply your warm hands to all parts of your body methodically. Then shake out the limbs, imagining heavy energy getting released down into the earth.
work it out on the meditation cushion
> If you’re feeling under-stimulated in meditation try one of the exercises above as a way to return to an energized and enthusiastic meditation experience.
> Sit and feel into a bright yellow sun at the center of your belly. Feel how its heat radiates out in all directions, bringing warmth, goodness and light to every thing around. BE the sun. You don’t have to say anything, do anything, prove anything or protect anything. Just sitting there and BEING, you are doing your job.
> Notice the difficult emotions that arise in this place: anger, conflict, anxiety, for instance. Then ask yourself: “What is the care behind this feeling? What am I trying to protect or fix? What is the world I want to create out of this feeling?” Consider one simple, doable action you might take to make a positive step toward that bigger goal.
work with the following themes
<<< DIGESTION / PROCESSING >>>
In ayurveda the fire in the belly is called agni, and attending to it is pivitol for our health. What’s going on with your digestive fire? If there are issues here, study up on nutrition from a trusted source. Look at what you're eating and at what times of day (aka how does your inner sun relate to the outer sun?) Do you ever dump a bunch of logs on your fire, putting it out, by trying to burn up more than you could possibly need? Do you ever run on empty and create undue anxiety and exhaustion in the body?
We know that the belly is the center of detoxing, cleansing, purifying physically. But manipura can help us process more than food. Stale energies, painful emotions, immature stories and half-baked ideas must be cycled through for us to feel clean and clear. How do you process? What tools do you have for working through your bulk to sort out what’s useful and what’s not?
DIGESTIVE DETOX > Find time for a detox of some kind. It doesn’t have to be extreme. I do intermittent daily fasting, meaning I try to have 14 hours between my last meal of one day and the first meal of the next. I drink hot lemon water in the morning until I reach time for the first meal of the day.
<<< ENERGY CYCLES / STIMULATION >>>
The belly is also home to the solar plexus--a ganglia of nerve endings that report to the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for our "fight or flight" instincts. We are hooked up to be able to get great bursts of energy when the time is right: when we need to chase our next meal or escape becoming someone else's!
When stimulated, the sympathetic nervous system releases a chemical sequence that generates a sense of speed, vigilance, heightened awareness—all good things under the appropriate conditions. But humans removed fromt the rhythms of the natural world tend to have this chemical sequence firing way too often and for too long of a time, depleting our resources and stressing us out.
Start to notice the relationship between active energy and restful energy in your body. Begin to guide yourself into balancing these out and accessing the appropriate energy for a given time of day/activity.
YANG > Work with very active exercises like the ones I mentioned above when you feel like you need to get moving, or just need to “burn off” some steam.
YIN > Work with more passive exercises like the ones I mention the Chakra One blog post when you feel overstimulated and it’s time for rest.
STIMULANT SWAP > If you are not feeling genuinely pumped about something that needs to get done you might find yourself abusing stimulants—from coffee to sugar to technology to ritalin to cigarettes to cocaine, stimulants tend to give us a big boost followed by a big crash. It’s a painful cycle, whereby climbing up to a false peak energy creates a huge energy valley every time. Try substituting an energizing activity for that cup of coffee: A brisk walk, a headstand, 50 jumping jacks.
<<< PURPOSEFUL ACTION >>> Taking an action has an effect on the body, the emotions, the heart, the mind and of course, our actions ripple out and effect the whole world. Contemplate your relationship with ACTION. Do you take positive actions? Are you afraid of action, tending to hide from work? Are you constantly moving, not knowing how to sit still? Do you actually manage to both avoid real work AND never rest? Keeping yourself entertained but never actually accomplishing anything? Maybe even distracting yourself because you are afraid of doing the real work of your life? Explore
INTENTION > Practice getting clear on the WHY behind your actions. That’s your intention or your purpose. When there is purpose behind our actions then they have connection and direction, meaning that they end up being healing and transformational. When there is no purpose or the purpose is confused we end up creating clutter, harm and chaotic movement.
DEDICATION > Once you know what it is that you want to honor through taking action, make a dedication. “I dedicate this action to the removing of obstacles on my path.” Or, “To love.” Whatever resonates.
DIFFICULT CHOICES > When you are in conflict about a choice, check in with what your higher purpose is and see how both options relate to that. When you make your choice DEDICATE it. Honor the choice not made, thank it for being on offer and let it go completely. If you have lingering regret, take it into fire ceremony which is described below.
<<< CONTROL VS. CONTRIBUTION >>>
We are meant to contribute to this beautiful life—otherwise we would not have been gifted with Chakra Three. But we are NOT the controller of life. When we believe that we can control the world (or that someone else in the world can control us) we end up with a huge amount of frustration living in Chakra Three. Contemplate your relationship with control.
MEDITATION TO SEE YOU’RE NOT THE CONTROLLER > Just because we are empowered does not mean that we can or should control every aspect of reality. Sit in meditation, resting your awareness at your own strong center. Every time something arises to take you out of that center say to it: “Ok.” You don’t have to condone it or celebrate it, but neither do you have to resist it or manipulate it away. Just say, “Ok.” Give everything permission to be as it is.
AFFIRMATIONS TO ESCAPE VICTIMHOOD> I am responsible for my own actions. No one else can force me or coerce me. I am a powerful force. I reserve the right to say no. I reserve the right to say yes. I am worthy. I am strong. I am a hot burning sun.
<<< WORK + PURPOSE >>>
What is your relationship with WORK? This means our livelihood, our ability to put food on the table, yes. But it links up to something bigger than that—one’s higher purpose in this lifetime. When we are connected to this we are hooked up to the hugeness of manipura’s power while being protected from its more dangerous tendencies.
LOOK AT YOUR WORK HABITS > When do you feel the fire burning strong, allowing your work to happen almost effortlessly? When does it go cold? How do you face up to the work ahead when you know it will be difficult? Do you use stimulants to get through work? Are there better ways to inspire your fire?
IF YOU KNOW YOUR PURPOSE > We need you to live that purpose and to transform the world by it. How well your actions are aligning with that purpose? How might you bring that sense of purpose into more actions throughout your day? When you are suffering you are out of alignment with that purpose. What can you do to come back into alignment in the moment?
IF YOU ARE STILL EXPLORING YOUR PURPOSE > How exciting that you’re about to explore this for yourself and unleash the great power of your inner sun. A few questions you can ask yourself: “What do I love the most in the world, and how might I begin to serve that? What makes me feel vital and empowered? What careers of others do I most admire and why?” Book a one-on-one session with me if you want me to help you in this process.
<<< FIRE CEREMONY : to honor and let go >>>
I do one of these every new and full moon as a way to acknowledge and release my blockages. To do ceremony is to honor. To put something in the fire is to let it go.
ITEMS NEEDED: (1) a fire and (2) something to burn. The fire can be as simple as a candle in a bowl or pot. You can burn leaves or sticks or dried flower petals. You can burn little pieces of paper with writing on them. It doesn’t matter.
1. Create a sacred atmosphere.
2. Hold your burnable object. Tell it what you are ready to let go of.
3. Blow that energy into the object with your breath.
4. Then put it in the fire and watch it being transformed.
5. Burn as many things as you need to.
6. Sit for a few moments in quiet when you’re done. Feel into the heart. Let gratitude arise.
7. Close by thanking the fire and anything else that you feel grateful for.