Direct access tp the heart center can be intimidating and scary. After heartbreak and loss in our lives we build protective barriers and shields energetically (and sometimes even physically through tight muscles in the chest) and blowing right through these can actually create more protective layers rather then letting them gently fall away. This week, we again explore a "side door" to the heart through the 4th chakra's element of air. The quality of air is lightness, movement and openness. As we explore air in the body we look for these elements and move stagnancy and heaviness out of the body through the breath. Below are some practices for accessing air and the 4th chakra in your own body.
Working with the heart is scary business for most. We've all been hurt at some point in our lives and as a result we want to protect ourselves. I see many clients for intuitive work who have shields, walls and other sorts of energetic protection around their hearts. This is natural, we've been hurt before and we want to keep from getting hurt again. Yet when we create barriers like this it also makes it harder for us to receive love and we create this feedback loop of protection and inability to open to love which often leaves us feeling more and more unloved.
The focus of this blog is digestion: how we digest things we take in on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Its just not about how we digest the food we eat, but how we take in experiences in our life and integrate them into ourselves. And when we talk about digestion, of equal importance is elimination. When I was sitting with this idea of elimination I came across a passage in Lama Surya Das' book Awakening the Buddha Within that spoke about renunciation. This was a piece in the yogic practice I always had some trouble wrapping my head around on a certain level, but he explained it this way:
“Trungpa Rinpoche said "Usually we think of renunciation as celibacy, poverty, obedience, shaving your head, going off somewhere and leaving everything behind." He then gave a wider tantric interpretation of renunciation: "Renunciation means to let go of holding back."...Renunciation refers to opening the tight fist of grasping and relinquishing our weighty burden of accumulated excess baggage. The heart of renunciation implies allowing rather than controlling. It requires letting go of that which is negative and harmful while opening up to sanity and wholeness.”
In Ayurveda we talk about the 3rd chakra as being ruled by the element of fire. When I think of fire, my mind often drifts to the blazing heat of forest fire...a force that on one hand is powerfully destructive and on the other hand brings about immeasurable change. While preparing for the practice this week, I picked up the book Five Spirits: Alchemical Acupuncture of Psychological and Spiritual Healing to see their approach to fire through the fire element system. I came across this description of fire:
“The element fire includes the spark, the flame, the light and the heat as well as the dying embers. It is the energy of summer, of relationship and blossoming creativity as well as the qualities of spiritual warmth, initiating impulse and spontaneity that give an organism that ability to expand, to express its true nature and to reach out and connect with others.
In Ayurveda, the 2nd chakra is ruled by the element of water. Which, even on a physiological level, makes sense to me. The second chakra is located in the low back/sacral region and in the low belly, below the belly button. It rules the sexual organs and the emotions. All things, very connected with flow and movement in life.
I love working with the second chakra and deeply connect to the energy of water, yet, for me it is place where I have long had holding and I feel this speaks to my tendency (and our tendency as a culture) to shut down emotion. We lock emotion up and it stays held in our bodies, taking the form of tight hips, low back issues and injury and blockages in sexual energy and our ability to release emotionally, muscularly or structurally. Connecting with water helps us find the flow once again, to find movement out of stagnancy and helps us to bring greater health and wellness to our 2nd chakra.
Here are some practices to connect you with breath, the water element and to bring you into the flow:
The 1st chakra, also known as the Muladhara chakra (or root chakra) is located at the base of the sushumna nadi. The nadis are energy lines running through the body, much as we speak of meridians as energy lines in the Chinese Medicine system. The sushumna is one of the the three most often discussed in yoga as it is the channel that runs up and down the spine and feeds all of the major chakras. The sushumna begins at the perineum and runs all the way up to the crown of the head. The 1st chakra is located at the perineum, at the beginning of the nadi.
In my study and experience of the 1st chakra, I have found to be that it is very much about grounding, stability and structure in our lives. It is our sense of being grounded into a place, and into our own bodies. It is very much about our relationship to our physical bodies and because asana is a physical practice, can be very much rooted into our asana practice.
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