The chakras are psycho-spiritual centers located throughout our body. They are similar to old CD-ROMs because they are said to be spinning disks that record our life experiences. This post is the third in our Chakra 101 series. To learn more about the chakras, please visit this post.
The third chakra is the solar plexus chakra. Its name is Manipura chakra. Manipura means “lustrous gem”. The solar plexus, also called the celiac plexus, is located in the center of the abdomen above the navel near where the lowest ribs meet. This chakra encompasses the entire solar plexus region and includes the stomach, digestive tract, and middle back. Manipura chakra is associated with power and identity.
Manipura chakra and the ego.
Our psyche is composed of three primary components: the conscious self, the unconscious self, and the higher self. Manipura chakra is primarily concerned with our conscious self, otherwise known as our ego. Unfortunately, the ego has a bit of a bad reputation. Many see it as an obstacle to enlightenment and seek to overcome the ego. Yoga takes a different perspective. The ego itself is neutral. We experience difficulty when we become overly attached to our ego.
We interact with the world through our ego. The ego is our sense of “I” or “me”. It is not a fixed identity, although it usually feels that way. It develops in response to our experiences. For example, when we are children and we are praised for performing a task like cleaning the chalkboard, we learn that being helpful is a good thing. Wanting to be liked and accepted by our community, in this case our teacher and fellow students, we repeat the behavior. In time the quality of helpfulness becomes part of our personality. We begin to think of ourselves as being helpful.
Most of us would agree that being helpful is an excellent quality. However, qualities we view as positive can be negative under some circumstances. When we seek to be helpful only to gain other people’s approval, our personal power diminishes. Approval-seeking behavior is often associated with power struggles, poor boundaries and manipulating or being manipulated by others.
When we have a healthy sense of self, we relate to our ego as a tool we can use to foster greater connection to ourselves, others, and the Numinous. Indeed, we are able to give an empowered and enthusiastic “Yes!”. However, we are just as able to say no without guilt or fear of what the other person will think.
Excessive and deficient third-chakra imbalances.
Many third-chakra imbalances result from our attachment to our ego. An excessive third chakra imbalance may present itself as arrogance, selfishness, and the desire and/or actions taken to manipulate and control other people. A deficient third-chakra imbalance may express itself through shyness, difficulty setting boundaries, and a reluctance to share our gifts and talents with others. We many notice third-chakra deficiencies in some areas, but excessive tendencies in others.
Physically, third-chakra imbalances present themselves in the forms of maladies that ail the entire solar-plexus region. This includes things like digestive issues and lower back problems. Psychologically, we may experience anxiety, insomnia, and excessively high or low self-esteem when there are third-chakra related difficulties.
Nourishing Manipura chakra.
In our asana (posture) practice, solar plexus chakra imbalances can be alleviated through twisting poses and poses that strengthen the core. Twists energetically wring out the ego like a sponge! Through twisting poses we let go of our false beliefs we have about our ego. We create the space needed to use our ego as a tool to serve, uplift, and inspire everyone around us.
It is empowering to have a strong core. As our physical and energetic core becomes stronger, we heal our relationship with power. We do not feel the need to control other people, nor do we allow other people to control us. When we have a healthy sense of self grounded in a strong core, we are better able to set appropriate boundaries, reduce the likelihood of burn-out, and experience less worry and anxiety about things that are out of our control.
Self-care and self-approval are the key ingredients to working with the third chakra. Self-care is a popular buzz-word these days and is usually associated with things like bubble baths and “me-time”. Those things are all good and well, but the origins of the self-care movement are fierce. Women of color actually began the self-care movement because they were not being provided with adequate healthcare. As they took to the streets to raise awareness for this societal injustice, these powerful women also took proactive measures to ensure they were as healthy as possible. Thus, the self-care movement was born!
Self-care is an act of personal empowerment. When we do not take care of ourselves, we are limited in our ability to impact the world around us. Taking care of ourselves first means we are better able to do share our gifts and talents and contribute in meaningful ways.
Finally, self-approval is a key component to cultivating a healthy third chakra. Approval-seeking behavior not only diminishes our sense of self, but also reduces our ability to hear our intuitive voice. This doesn’t mean that we do not take into consideration the feedback we receive from the people we trust and care about. However, their opinions do not govern our decision-making. When we regularly connect to our highest self through practices such as yoga, meditation, and shadow-work, we are empowered to live in alignment with our highest good, and the highest good of those around us.
Helpful mantras for Manipura chakra:
- I am powerful and I share power with others.
- I am enough.
- I trust myself.
- Even when things are out of my control, my power is my own. No one has power over me.