The yogic chakra system is one of our oldest and most sophisticated maps of consciousness that we have. It’s a cartography of being that gives the evolving soul a roadmap for where it is going in its evolutionary unfolding. Imported from the East, but now well assimilated into our mainstream culture, the chakras outline the dimensions of who we are as frequencies localized in our bodies.
Chakra means wheel or vortex, and traditionally depicts a locus or node of subtle energy found along the axis of our spine. Seven main centers have been discovered (although many claim that more may exist) which act as the main nexus points of energy that define what yogis see as planes or levels of consciousness.
If the human nervous system is visualized to be an antenna, each of the seven centers is conceptualized as a receiver and transmitter for a spectrum of frequencies. Each frequency carrying discrete information that corresponds to a plane or level of consciousness and reality.
The Base or Root Chakra
The first chakra is called muladhara, and is localized in the perineum as the root of the entire sequence. Deeply associated with the Earth element, it is the frequency that grounds us into our human incarnation. Managed by the reptilian brain stem to keep the physical vessel alive, it is home to our deepest survival instincts. When we feel fear, or are caught by the fight-flight stress response of the sympathetic nervous system, we are transceiving through our base chakra.
Although highly tuned to all sensory input, it works seamlessly to keep the body alive. The reality is the sensory-motor world of the material universe, and its sole program is to maintain the integrity of the physical body. The self-preservation programs that are imprinted as infants, whether secure and trustful or insecure and distrustful, generally set the stage for all future life interactions.
When energy gets blocked or fixated in this chakra, whether through trauma or other adverse life situations, the organism tends to develop anxieties, fears, and phobias. The world becomes threatening, and survival a constant preoccupation. The sense of needing to control life arises as the separate sense of self is well guarded from the “others.”
Grounding the Energy
Grounding the energy of the first chakra occurs through the body, as its main form of awareness is identity to the physical organism. Bodywork, along with a wide spectrum of mind-body practices, allows the release of emotional knots that get stored in the body. The knots are the imprints of trauma, showing up as cognitive filters that distort life into despair and suffering.
Within the chakra system, these blocks may be conceptualized as incongruous and out of balance energy, theoretically putting a ‘wobble’ on the spinning earthy root chakra. The key is to bring the base of our existence into a steady and balanced hum.
In honoring this first chakra, we first honor our bodies and their interconnection to the living earth. We take off our shoes, walk barefoot on the variety of terrains of “PachaMama,” and use all our senses to deeply ground to the matrix that gave us birth. With a deep breath we sense the gravity of our planet as we allow it to ground us to this moment. All senses open, we resonate to the energies of trust as we send deep roots into the fertile soil beneath our feet.
As we tune to our body and its basic biological needs, we also come face to face with our most primitive programing. Fear, the stress response, anger, possessiveness, and basic greed may be all consequent to an “uprooted” first chakra: ungrounded from the security of being deeply rooted to the soil of Mother Earth.
This basic human insecurity that manifests itself as wars and other atrocities may be (un)grounded in the historical trauma of the biblical “fall from the garden;” the archetype of when we literally lost our connection to the Mother, initiating the distraught human his-tory that is culminating in the tumultuous times we find ourselves in.
Reconnecting with the Root Chakra
To heal and bring our first chakra into radiant health we must therefore reconnect with the material matrix that houses our indwelling being. We honor our physicality by feeding it nutritious organic whole foods, engaging it in an active lifestyle, and hydrating it with fresh water. We bring awareness to our livelihood, harmonizing that which supports our ability to survive in this world with a recognition that all we do affects the rest of life.
At a deeper level, the root chakra houses our deepest existential fears, shadows, and insecurities as it is the cord that binds our awareness to an earthly existence, things like physical death–the thing our organism is programmed to avoid at all costs. We honor and find peace in the root chakra’s essential autonomic role in keeping this life going. Sitting with this material incarnation’s primordial umbilical cord, we learn to trust our body-wisdom and its knowing instincts. This deep trust brings peace, as we allow the evolutionary journey recoded in every one of our cells to guide us through the hills and valleys of our life.
Rooted deeply into the earth, grounded in a healthy and wholesome body, the kundalini energy coiled at the base of your spine is now ready to ascend to the next level. Each chakra opening like a budding flower to new possibilities, new depths, new dimensions as they become ignited by the force of awareness.
The spinning subtle energies of prana beginning to harmonize, awareness expands and is once again reborn into a new world.
Eugene A. Alliende has been practicing meditation and yoga for twenty years and facilitates weekly meditation groups and classes at his healing center. His passion is the exploration of consciousness, and how a deeper understanding of our true nature can help heal the individual and the world. Read his book Dimensions of Being here