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MULADHARA: An Exploration of Roots and Transformation

MULADHARA: An Exploration of Roots and Transformation

Muladhara: An Exploration of Roots and Transformation

In my personal practice and study of the root chakra, my intent is to revise any core belief systems I am carrying, and transform ideas or that no longer serve a purpose. To do this succinctly, it is imperative to start at the roots, at the beginning.  I am fascinated with the idea of regeneration, rebirth and transformation. These concepts are the foundation of my work as Raven Speaks Performance Artist. In addition, I have spent the last few summers teaching a basic yoga series to educators and among friends. My weekly classes consisted of working with each chakra individually during each session. I noticed after several classes that an entire series could be devoted to one chakra. An indefinite amount of time could be spent on each chakra.  In this writing I explore the root chakra, in order to better understand how the root chakra plays out in my life. This reflection documents the progressive journey as it is happening right now. As this transformation is in process, I feel more focused than ever before, surprised by some of the symptoms I’ve experienced and changes I’ve undergone.

As I progress through this writing I will share my intuitive insights that I receive directly from Muladhara, the root chakra. These insights will be shared using italics.

The basic premise of the root chakra entails safety, structure and foundations. It deals with early childhood memories and possible repressed emotions. The root chakra deals with nourishment, balancing addictions and these are concepts I relate to on a personal level.  These basic emotions and early life structures are important to open and revisit, for ongoing transformation.

Personal Food Ideology Transformation

I have been interested in creating healthy food substances for a span of many years. I’ve done juice cleanses and have learned about what nutrition feels like in my body. Nutrition feels like creative, joyful expression. Nutrition feels like energy, vitality and life force. Nutrition feels like hydration and oxygenation at the cellular level. Creating juice blends for optimum nutrition feels right. (See “Internal Cleanse for Healing”, Neena Expressions).

About this time last year I published a news post called “Internal Cleanse for Healing” at neenaexpressions.com, which described my enthusiasm for juicing as well as the health benefits of juicing.  I shared a few juice blends with friends on social media and got great feedback.

Muladhara: Juicing is a wonderful source of nutrition for the body, allowing fresh oxygen and enzymes to permeate into the cellular level.

This last summer I dove further into the root chakra, with different goals in mind, including eating food for nourishment and enjoyment. This idea has set me on a whole new course. Before, I was eating sporadically and consuming less than what my body needed calorically. Then at other times I was eating emotionally, consuming more than my system needed.

Muladhara is a time to become centered and balanced. Balancing Muladhara creates roots and enables intense physical awareness of the body. Bodily awareness allows for nourishment and enjoyment of food, not harsh restrictions or limitations.

It is very important to bridge the gap and explore the connection to body image and eating for nourishment and enjoyment. Body image becomes distorted when our relationship with food is out of balance. In a recent article I read, “Understanding Body Image Dissatisfaction…” it is suggested that women and men in midlife face problems with eating disorders as aging occurs. Women have revealed issues of body dissatisfaction in all the studies that were done in this article, however men’s results were mixed. Some studies done with men showed greater satisfaction with body image/food issues, and some studies with men revealed less satisfaction in midlife.

In either case this was a limited study, reflecting a small portion of the population of New Zealand. I can conclude that the issues of body dissatisfaction may be further distorted in the United States due to the extreme views of body image that are prevalent in the United States.  By setting my sight on the root chakra, I am able to see internally, therefore beyond viewpoints and fears.

Following is a list of suggested foods to aid exploration and openness of the root chakra.

Muladhara Grocery list:

Kale

Broccoli

Mushrooms

Carrots

Sweet potatoes

Yams

Zucchini

Ginger

Red onion

Beet

Green powder

Quinoa

Almonds

Apples

Cherries

Strawberries

Tomatoes

Avocado

Gluten free bread

Olive oil

Coconut oil

Walnuts

 

Muladhara:

I have enough.

I eat when I want.

I eat what I want.

I am safe.

I am secure.

I am prosperous.

Strength Training and Beyond

Along with new food options, I felt it would be beneficial to sculpt and tone my strong physical body. I began exploring several different exercise modalities, beyond yoga and dance. I met with a personal trainer at my gym, and he introduced me to a workout program in the weight room. Previous to this experience, I had not visited the weight room in years, always assuming I had enough muscle and bone density.

In addition, I did an instant body composition test at the gym, which broke down the exact amount of muscle, fat and water composing my body. The test suggested I have muscle and water in balance, however I was carrying 25 extra pounds of fat. Honestly this is not as much as I had thought. The body composition test suggested I consume a certain daily caloric intake to keep my metabolism strong and also burn fat.

Muladhara: Exploration of the root chakra emphasizes focus towards stability, prosperity and physicality, which includes weight balance. Do not overly emphasize weight loss as a primary issue or goal.

Immediately after starting to work with my root chakra, a couple things happened. First, I was compelled to concentrate wholeheartedly on my new habits. My abdomen begin talking to me every night before falling sleep. It said that I have an amazing amount of sexual energy stored in my abdomen. It continued to say that during this journey, this sexual energy will be used to heal me in many ways. As I’m writing this my abdomen feels self-protective and doesn’t want me to share these thoughts. I soothe my abdomen by gently caressing her and caring for myself. This self-love and care allows me to share intimate thoughts while feeling safe. This part of exploring the root chakra includes discussing the potency of life. My sexual energy is the strongest aspect of my life force. It helps me and encourages me to do everything in life. There’s no need to store and hide this energy, this life force, this prana. The practice of listening to my abdomen allowed me to release 8 pounds of weight within a week, back in February. My abdomen speaks to me when I am centered and balanced.  It speaks to me when I ask questions.

Muladhara: The abdomen has an emotional brain and provides opportunities to learn about what is best for the body, “gut feelings”. 

Food Diary Is a Numbers Game!

My trainer told me about a website called myfitnesspal.com, which is a place to track daily foods and exercise. By posting foods I’m eating on this website every day I am able to better understand the reasons I am eating, create food plans and recipes. I find it especially helpful in terms of transforming prior food habits. For me, one key component of food addiction was eating for the wrong reasons. The diary settings on this site help me pinpoint the reasons I eat. I have an open diary so my fitness pal friends can also view my diary. A major motivation for using this site relates to feelings. I can easily review the day and see why I ate certain foods, what is happening to me emotionally at that moment, and find patterns pretty quickly.

Muladhara: I always have enough, I always make the right choice and as long as I’m self-aware, I make the right decisions.

Nourishment and Enjoyment

It’s been helpful to allow myself to eat for enjoyment and nourishment. As long as I’m not eating to replace a bad feeling, everything is permissible on my food plan.  Many people may not know what it feels like to feel guilty about eating. By concentrating on the root chakra I’ve incrementally removed guilt and therefore have found it easier to stay within my means and feel satisfied with less food.

Balancing Muladhara allows me to wake up refreshed, feel emotionally stable during the day and sleep peacefully through the night. My interactions with others are clear, direct and humble.

At this moment, I eat simple foods that feel right. I consume foods that resonate positively. I am working to neutralize prior negative feelings related to foods. I am transforming my relationship with food, and most of this is about removing shaming messages about sustenance. I feel neutrality about food and nutrition. It’s taken many steps to get here, and really listening deeply to my own feelings.

Muladhara: All foods are nourishing and healing to the body. It’s the attitude about food that is either healthy and/or unhealthy. Look at food as energy and nourishment to see the value in all foods.

Accountability

There has been some interesting accountability results by being on my fitnesspal.com. It’s been great to connect with others dedicated to fitness in some way or another. Some people need to vent about their issues, while others focus on their goals relating to calories, macros or exercises. I focus on the diary and exercise. Numbers are significant to me, so focusing on calories consumed and burned gives me a positive focus. Tracking this way has become a great planning tool for me to track food quantity, quality and choice. I can figure out what to eat based on calories or based on events I’m attending along with food choice. I feel happy to have these numbers available.

Social Dining

Social dining has become a great way to eat for enjoyment and nourishment.  The feeling of social dining is usually upbeat, where everyone eats for enjoyment and pleasure. It’s fun! Social dining breaks down the root causes of food addiction and allows joy to flourish.  An example of this notion took place on a recent trip. I was surrounded by several other people and met up with many friends during mealtimes. The vibe was upbeat, and the food offerings were plentiful. Although at first I worried about portion servings being too large, I quickly realized there was so much positivity within this situation.  First, this was a great break from meal planning. Second, it was an opportunity to release guilt, enjoy the food I was given, and be thankful for all the food options provided in abundance. Over the course of 10 days, the way I felt about food became not only neutralized, but transformed and joyful! I did not fret about portion size, food servings, or number of meals I consumed. I was joyful and content. I was also exercising and enjoying the relaxed, peaceful and beautiful environment and new friendships. I let myself fully enjoy food. By the end of that trip, I transcended some shaming ideas about food that I used to experience and was eating for nourishment and enjoyment.

Muladhara: Food is nourishment, eat leisurely and joyfully.  Food tastes good, eating is a sensory experience. Please appreciate the abundance of food. Eat and be thankful for all the abundance in life.

Weight Bearing Exercises

Paying close attention to the root chakra brings about many important literal and figurative flare ups to consider. By intentionally bringing attention towards Muladhara, roots and stability, I began experiencing inflammation and trauma in certain parts of my body. This has been in part from working muscles that were out of practice for so long. Once I began incorporating weight bearing exercises into my routine, it caused my system to inflame and resist to a certain degree. I brought on an inflammatory response in certain joints and muscles, which settled eventually in my feet and ankles. At first I was not able to turn my neck – it kind of seized up on me! Then over the next several weeks and months the inflammation visited its way around my system. My shoulder, wrists, hands, knees, and most intensely the ankles and feet. At one point, the hundreds of tiny bones in my feet felt like they had shattered and it became difficult to walk for a while.

Muladhara: Neck, readjusting the ability to see around myself. Shoulders, readdressing the ability to carry my own responsibilities and let go of responsibilities that don’t belong to me. Wrists, reforming flexibility in my joints when carrying things, including ideas. Fingers, re-examining strength, knowing what to hold, how to hold things carefully, knowing when to let go. Area between neck and shoulders, warmth, recirculation of ideas and beliefs. Abdomen, listening to my true feelings, my thoughts, honoring my decisions, releasing feeling being held inside. Letting go of shiny black marbles, releasing through my navel one by one.  Each marble releases through my naval, and rolls to the ground, rolling away. Thus far 16 pounds of marbles have been released through listening, food tracking, exercise, and creative visualization. These marbles symbolically represent judgment, advice, and criticism from other people or from myself. Knees, knowing my direction, choosing my direction based on ease and simplicity. Ankles, retraining movement, flexibility, flexible thinking, ability to run, walk, move, and be free, freedom from shackled thinking. Feet, security, knowing my direction, thinking for myself, washing feet. Toes, intuitive powers, knowing where I’m going before I start walking, understanding my direction and choice before I make it.

Photo by Tracy Bigelow
Photo by Tracy Bigelow

 

Cross Training for Versatility

For many years prior to this current exercise routine, South Indian Dance/yoga were my only forms of exercise. In order for me to truly feel versatile and strong, I prefer cross training. I currently incorporate weight training, resistance training, cardiovascular exercise, yoga, dance, stretching and outdoor/indoor circuit routines. I’ve work specifically on my feet and ankles to rebuild strength, flexibility and reteach the muscles to work properly. Today I thank the pain that came for a visit and understand it was a reminder to keep stretching, lengthening and strength training in my routine.

Muladhara: Intense pain in feet. Reprogramming, growing new roots, painful uprooting of old ideas, beliefs and unwise ways of thinking. Feeling the ground, touching the ground, being OK with the ground, knowing the ground and the etheric plane work beautifully together like a symphony and enhance each other. Enhance body and mind and help to stay focused.

photo 3

I started strength training last summer, and it was right around this time I posted this picture above on social media, sharing a new juice blend. The symptomology I described above was going on. I immediately received two concerned messages from friends, within minutes of posting this picture. One friend said I looked tired, the other had quite a strong opinion about my new challenges and thought I should not put myself in any discomfort at all. I didn’t know how to respond to the sudden rush of worries. I’d rather create intention, in an effort of increasing physical fitness, than struggle later as a result of backing down or ignoring bigger goals.

Muladhara: Reprogramming from a relatively sedentary lifestyle, from formerly accepted ways of doing things, creating discomfort purposefully to aid the process of uprooting. Confidence to continue. Rest, rejuvenation and replenishment.

Current Meditation Practice

Grounding my root chakra and trusting this earth beneath my feet, while connecting to universal energy is a daily balance meditation. It was a constant, deep anxiety of mine, the ungrounded feeling. Recirculating the energy that showed up in my feet and ankles requires running energy through my energy channels. This is the most helpful way to ground and uplift simultaneously.

Muladhara: Energy runs like a circuit through the earth, through the body, through the air, through the center of the universe, through the earth, through the body, through the air, through the center of the universe.

Photo by Tracy Bigelow
Photo by Tracy Bigelow

Inside the Roots

When my energy is low I eat more and consume a variety of foods. I think this is perfectly fine and helps me feel great. I tend to my sacred body and give it what it needs and wants.

Muladhara: When I treat my body well I lose my addictions. I lose cravings and dependencies that I once used to have. I lose the need to look outside. I feel connected to the roots, to the sky, and to everything in between.

Cleaning Habits

When focusing on Muladhara chakra the urge to clean becomes a major priority.  Cleaning and Muladhara run parallel in my life.

Muladhara: Just like the urge to move the body energy, the urge to move energy around me creates confidence, breeds trust, creates harmony, breeds love, creates cleanliness, breeds higher kinesthetic awareness.

Regenerative ideas

Death of the old ways, ideas and concepts are a very real thing for me right now. Because I focus so intensely on the root chakra, old ideas and ways of doing things simply don’t work anymore.

Muladhara: Gone are the old habits that used to weigh heavily, welcome to the amazing energy of the Root Chakra. Movement, freedom, travel, security, love, peace, serenity, wonderful connections.

Going Forward…

With an implication that yes, experiences that trigger an old emotional response may come up, however my attitude doesn’t need to be the same.

Why Does This Matter?

Using the modalities I described above has shown great improvement in populations who are interested in optimizing quality of life. In a recent article I read, “Improving the Quality of Life Using Compound Mind Body Therapies”, a course involving breath therapy, guided imagery, mind/body relaxation, and mindful meditation improved the quality of life for participants who were interesting in improving quality of life, formerly didn’t feel well or suffered from depression or low health assessments.  “We assume here that simply following the course curriculum is the reason for the increased emotional QOL as this course has a strong focus on awareness of feelings during the exercises.” Springer, p 374.

Muladhara: It is my intent to uplift and inspire others. It is extremely important that I understand firsthand what I know to be true and that I take the steps in my own life before attempting to help others. This is true authenticity.  There is nothing left to heal. All is healed.

In conclusion, it has been an interesting time of learning about the root chakra. I have transformed ideas, ways of thinking about myself, and have been willing to do the necessary self-reprogramming. It started as a dream, while lying in a bed of roses, as my sensory experiences have changed tremendously. I feel more secure and safe in my body. I feel extremely focused and calm in my interactions with others. I am thankful for all the abundance that I create and enjoy in life.

Photo by Tracy Bigelow
Photo by Tracy Bigelow

Annotated Bibliography

Cherie, C. “Your Root Chakra – Survival, Trust, Safety, and Family Loyalty – Life in the Spiritual Lane.” Life in the Spiritual Lane, 6 July 2015, http://lifeinthespirituallane.com/rootchakra/.

This article describes the root chakra and how it relates to early childhood, namely survival, trust, safety and family issues. This article contains links to other websites for further information and exploration on each of the chakras.

 

Expressions, Neena. “Internal Cleanse for Healing – Neena Expressions – Neena Massey.” Neena Expressions, Neena Expressions, 11 June 2016, http://neenaexpressions.com/internal-cleanse-healing/.

This article relates to cleansing the body, mind, and spirit through juicing. It is an article that pertains to the subject that I am currently studying in this paper, nutrition and wellness. I describe the benefits of juice cleansing, the various benefits it has for body, mind and overall emotional well-being. This article relates to the root Chakra because it marks the step from juicing into using food as optimum nutrition. This movement towards the root chakra takes the idea of cleansing or bodily awareness to a much more foundational level.

 

Fernros, Lotta et al. “Improving Quality of Life Using Compound Mind-Body Therapies: Evaluation of a Course Intervention with Body Movement and Breath Therapy, Guided Imagery, Chakra Experiencing and Mindfulness Meditation.” Quality of Life Research, vol. 17, no. 3, July 2008, pp. 367–376. doi:10.1007/s11136-008-9321-x.

This article is about mind-body classes.  In this study, the participants were invited to be part of mind body classes that included visualization, chakra balancing, guided meditation, relaxation and several modalities of healing beyond Western medicine. The participants of this class all benefited and felt better overall after participating in the class. The participants who benefited the most were the ones who had a lower health assessment before taking the class. Each participant did a written survey and the participants who scored the lowest on the survey felt the greatest benefits after the class. Other participants that joined the classes were people who wanted to optimize the quality of their own life. This article did a wonderful job summarizing that wellness treatments exceed the scope of Western Medicine.

 

Fondin, @Chopracenter. “The Root Chakra: Muladhara.” The Chopra Center, Chopra Center, 13 Sept. 2016, http://www.chopra.com/articles/the-root-chakra-muladhara.

This website is about the root chakra. This is an article that comes from the Chopra Center website. This website contains many spiritual, healing and body awareness articles. This article in particular focuses on the root chakra and gives a very brief synopsis of the ideas that are explored by studying the root chakra and coming to terms with childhood fears and trauma. This article mentions the work of Erik Erikson’s stages of development, and how it relates to childhood fears and trust issues that continue into adulthood. This article briefly describes imbalances of the root chakra and how to balance this chakra. This article gives several healing modalities as aids to opening the root chakra.

 

McGuinness, Sarah, and Joanne Taylor. “Understanding Body Image Dissatisfaction and Disordered Eating in Midlife Adults.” Understanding Body Image Dissatisfaction and Disordered Eating in Midlife Adults , vol. 45, no. 1, Apr. 2016, pp. 4–12.

This article is about body dissatisfaction among midlife women and men. This article suggests that women have a higher dissatisfaction with body image as life progresses. This study that was done in New Zealand looked at a small population of New Zealand residents including the Maori nation. In this study women almost all reported body dissatisfaction. The men in the study reported mixed body dissatisfaction in midlife. Some men reported greater body satisfaction in midlife and other men reported greater dissatisfaction. The article was limited in terms of population study and the article was also limited in the types of questions asked to the subjects. This article suggests that midlife women are suffering greater body dissatisfaction as time progresses.  My thought is that studies like this tend to forget the power of inner wisdom that transcends all space and time.

 

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