Light my fire

Energetically, physically, emotionally and mentally, we are all powerful, radiant beings. However, we may not always be living from a place where we accept and radiate our own power. Sometimes we may feel like it would be easier not to have to interact and bargain and state our worth to people at all. Sometimes we may give in and accept less than we’re worth. These are all symptoms of an under-active solar plexus chakra. Natalie Southgate

When I left my marriage seven years ago, I was a shivering mess of a woman. In fact, I should say shivering mess of a girl rather than a woman, even though I was well into my thirties.

All my life I had given my power to others, thinking everyone else knew better for me than I did, mostly because they told me that, but also I had never outgrown that childish irresponsibility of happily letting others take control.

Avoiding conflict seemed the peaceful path, and so I would give in to the needs and demands of others. It was just easier.

I had never stepped into my own power, never fully embraced my own authenticity or sense of integrity. Although I had some degree of a spiritual life, it could never fully come to fruition while I continued to place human powers ahead of my own connection with the divine.

Life is the sum of all your choices. Albert Camus

For years I was fuelled by fear and anxiety, as I forged through those hideous early months and years of separation and divorce. Trying not to take on my ex’s bitter rage, trying to sort out parenting arrangements, trying to mend bridges with my step-sons who rightly felt abandoned by me leaving them behind.

Then just as the sun seemed to finally peek back through the clouds, and life seemed to settle into a more mellow pace, my body completely crashed. It sounds dramatic I know, but that’s really what happened. The official diagnoses included depression, anaemia, low blood pressure, adrenal fatigue, leaky gut… Not to mention a whole lot of head-scratching by doctors who really couldn’t understand what was going on in my body, never mind why.

In retrospect I can see all those symptoms had one root cause, power loss. After years of giving my power away, I was bankrupt, and was running dangerously low on life force.

One of the greatest struggles of the healing process is to forgive both yourself and others and to stop expending valuable energy on the past hurts. Caroline Myss


It was during this time, researching my first blog, that I discovered Chakradance. Although I knew of the chakras and had always felt drawn to Indian mysticism, I can’t recall exactly how I found myself at the website.

Something drew me there and something about the name, the Sanskrit-inspired lettering, the colours and description of the practice set off bells and whistles in my gut. Before I even knew what I was responding to, my spirit was shouting “Yes! For Gods sake, YES!”

Thus began my Chakradance journey, which started with me dancing along to a DVD in my lounge room and has grown into a beautiful practice, a way of life and a spiritual business.

While I would never want to single out one chakra as being more fundamental than another, I think all newcomers to Chakradance identify pretty quickly where they are blocked or deficient. For me it was primarily the solar plexus.

When facilitating a class, I always explain to participants that they may encounter a chakra where the music doesn’t resonate, or where their dance feels stilted, or they just disconnect and their mind wanders off. For me the solar plexus was the triple whammy.

The tribal, warrior dance-inspired music – that I have since grown to love – was initially abrasive. My dancing, so smooth and graceful in the sacral chakra became jerky and off-beat. I often joke to people who have a similar experience with this chakra – it’s very common – that I danced like Peter Garrett, from Midnight Oil.

The Chakradance facilitator training involves a deep-dive into each chakra through dance, Jungian archetypes, energetic practices and journal writing. When I reached the solar plexus, I had little expectations because of my previous experiences.

Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know. Pema Chodron 

The dance of Manipura (the solar plexus chakra) begins with a flame, and as the music intensifies, the fire increases, I danced like wildfire. I became one with the fire, I was fire, flickering and wild. It felt incredibly liberating and powerful, and then all of a sudden my perception shifted dramatically.

The experience transformed from being elemental fire, to being ON fire – being burned, encased in flames – and all the powerful emotions that came with it. Horror, fear, panic.

During the dance I became angry, outraged, I found myself growling and shouting, I was defending myself against people who had abused me, punished me, shamed me, or taken my power away. It was a stream of vitriol that started as a very young child and worked its way through to the more recent relationships in my life. Doctors, teachers, partners, family, friends, one after another I got very angry about all the times I had disempowered myself or been disempowered in these relationships.

Even knowing it was just in the dance, the emotional reaction was profound. Recovering in child’s pose, I found myself saying to myself, “that was then, this is now, it is safe to be powerful now.”

As I incanted this affirmation, there came a vision of a fiery cauldron burning away the hurts of the past, all those experiences where I was persecuted, shamed, or abused for expressing my power. An image came to me of a golden cauldron on a large fire, and I poured all this emotion into the pot, to be transformed by the fire.

That night I dreamt that a golden pot exploded – flipping its lid – with such a force it woke me up. Manipura had been activated!

Meditate there on the region of Fire, triangular in form and shining like the rising sun. Purnananda

The image of the cauldron is meaningful. In both Taoist and Celtic traditions, the three cauldrons are the energy centres which are roughly equivalent to the seven chakras in the yoga tradition. The first cauldron in the Celtic system is the cauldron of heat, or Coire Goiraith, and in the Taoist tradition, is known as “the golden stove” representing the refining and vitality of the life force into the Ching energy, which is basically a highly refined, super potent form of chi, or life force energy.

Since then I continue to connect deeply in this chakra. After my last few months of immersion in the waters of Svadisthana, I knew I needed to wake this fire up again. I needed energy, motivation, will to power. All the aspects of Manipura.

Manipura is the seat of personal power and will. It is the fire that fuels our metabolism, and if it’s activated it increases our energy, drive, and sense of purpose. Who couldn’t use some of that?

According to tantric texts, it is in manipura that the spiritual activation of the kundalini takes place, as it is the junction of two vital forces, prana and apana. As we breathe prana rises from the navel to the throat and apana rises from Muladhara – the root chakra – to the navel. Manipura is considered the activation point for these subtle energies. In the sacred alchemy described in Taoist texts, this corresponding dantien is the furnace.

From Manipura chakra emanate ten nadis appearing like the petals of a lotus. The lotus is yellow and the petals depict the ten pranas, vital forces, which control and nourish all the functions of the body. On each petal is inscribed a letter in blue, giving the sound vibrations produced by the ten nadis. Inside the yellow lotus is an inverted red triangle-shaped yantra, representing the fire element, the spreading of energy. The inverted triangle also suggests the movement of energy downward. On its three sides the triangle has svastika signs shaped like a ‘T’, representing the formative force of fire (tejas tattva). At the lower end of the inverted triangle is a symbolic animal, a ram, representing dynamism and endurance. The ram is the vehicle of Agni (the fire God) and on it is inscribed the bija mantra ‘ram’, which lies latent. This is the symbol of the Divine Intelligence presiding over fire. Arthur Avalon, The Serpent Power

So let’s start with the Sanskrit meaning of Manipura – which is city of jewels, mani means city and pura jewels.What are these jewels? The jewels of Manipura are self-confidence, self-assurance, clarity, wisdom and knowledge. Unlike the higher centres where this knowledge may be more subtle, in Manipura the gift of knowledge is translated into will and action. It is the knowledge that enables us to make authentic and empowered decisions for ourselves. The solar plexus chakra is where our mental intentions become manifest. Here our will is fired by passion, purpose and energy.

This centres awakens our sense of individuality. Where as the first and second centres activates our awareness of our physical and sensory natures respectively, it is in Manipura that we begin to individuate, we experience our sense of self as a distinct identity.

This chakra is our autonomy, our sovereignty, our authenticity. As Shakespeare said “to thine own self be true,” Manipura is where we can find this truth. Manipura is thought of as the centre of willpower, vitality, achievement. It is the force that makes us act in the world.

It has a corresponding centre in the physical body, the solar plexus, which governs our digestive fires and heat regulation in the body. Manipura regulates our pranic – or life force – energy throughout our body, controlling our energy balance, vitality and strength.

This chakra helps develop the ego, creating our self-identity. Concerned with assertiveness and personal power, it is easy to see where this chakra can be out of balance. Either in excess feeling a desire for material power and control over people, or deficient in allowing ourselves to be dominated by others.

The archetype of the warrior epitomises the energy of this chakra.

The archetypes that we live out reflect the psychological patterning of self-care and worthiness, demonstrating the degree to which we love and cherish ourselves. The archetypes are also a metaphor for the strength of our vital energy, and the degree of creativity and pleasure we enjoy. Ambika Wauters

I wrote in my last post of becoming immersed in the watery, emotional world of the unconscious. My mandala drawings were full of water serpents chasing their tails, and I see how easy it might be to sink into those waters. What I needed was the sun rise to call me up and out, to again experience the heat and fiery passion of the dawn.

While we can dive into our unconscious and dance in our sensory waters, we cannot live there, there is no momentum.The unconscious is rendered conscious in the light of Manipura. Rising from sacral depths our emotions are digested and processed in the solar plexus chakra.

Here in Manipura, we have to contend with both the fire of desire and the power of the emotions. Without the fire in our bellies we could be stuck in the mud, or stay in the dark oceanic depths. Here in this energy centre we rise like the sun and the will to action is engaged.

You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand. Irene C. Kassorla

As much as our shadow side is unconscious and hidden, it does want to be seen. Those parts of ourselves that are underdeveloped, or we turn a blind eye to, will project themselves onto other people and life circumstances to force us to see the things we try to avoid in ourselves. All this owning of our truth, our authenticity and our power comes to light in the solar plexus.

Here we experience the light bulb moment, as the light illuminates the dark and we see what we have been wrestling with in the murky depths of the sacral waters. Unconscious becomes conscious awareness.

Dancing the solar plexus chakra was the catalyst for this process, allowing me to release all the ways I had been disempowered.

Our fiery natures gets dampened through our way of life in the west, through societal conformity and a focus on relating to others, which is all very base and sacral chakra stuff. The epidemic of depression and anxiety in modern westernised cultures could reflect a generalised loss of connection to the vital core of spiritual power, based in the solar plexus.

Above the inverted triangle is the storm-God Rudra (Shiva), portrayed as an old Shiva, daubed with white ashes, who represents the power of destruction. Presiding over the subtle body, seated beside Rudra, is his consort, the three-headed, four-armed goddess of fire, Lakini. Arthur Avalon, The Serpent Power

The solar plexus Chakradance is a journey with the Warrior archetype, with our relationship to masculinity. What does ‘warrior’ mean in our world? Integrity, perhaps? Not being silenced by ideals of correctness?

Servitude, the opposite archetypal energy means following the party line, subsuming ones own needs and desires beneath the needs and desires of others.

In an age of rampant political correctness, it is a fine line between respect for difference and being silenced from speaking our thoughts because they might offend someone.

There’s certainly plenty of anti-masculine rhetoric that goes around, as if the feminine alone could save the world. What will save humanity, if indeed it even needs saving, is balance. I’m not talking homogenisation here, I mean true balance, where all aspects of our selves can be healthily expressed. Where masculine traits are not derided.

We give away our power all the time, in our choice of lifestyle, where we spend our money, what we choose to do with our time. If the power of Manipura is considered masculine, if the warrior archetype is considered masculine, if authenticity, autonomy, the will to power is masculine, I say we all need plenty of that.

Every time you don’t follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness. Shakti Gawain

For women, it may help to think of this archetype as sovereignty, as the warrior queens who stood their ground under all kinds of difficult circumstances, who prized integrity and autonomy as the highest goals.

As we move into the heart chakra, we begin to balance and integrate these masculine and feminine energies, but before integration comes activation, and I feel that this chakra is so out of whack in our culture. Most of us are just living in the box we were provided with, enjoying our small illusions of freedom and autonomy. While a few are overactive in the chakra wielding tyrannical control and destruction over the world.

Until we activate, acknowledge and integrate our inner warriors, the shadow warrior will continue to rage in the collective unconscious of humankind.

Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war, for a lead role in a cage? Pink Floyd

Like all archetypes, the warrior is a stage we must develop through, taking the lessons and integrating them as we move into the next phase of development. Archetypes are two dimensional aspects, as such we try them on, act them out, but they are rites of passage, stages we move through to differentiate and ultimately integrate the various aspects of self.

As teenagers when the energy of Manipura really fires up, we may find ourselves butting heads with the world, but at some point we have to turn all that passion and will power within to foster our own integrity and personal authenticity. This inner warrior needs discipline equal to its fiery passion.

Many people misunderstand Tantra as being about sex. What Tantra really does is provide a system for engaging with, managing and ultimately uniting our inner masculine and feminine energies. The tantric practitioner seeks union of the shakti and shiva within their subtle body, by encouraging the upward movement of the feminine kundalini energy to unite in Sahasrara – the crown chakra – with the masculine shiva energy. As in Jungian psychological terms, the goal is an inner union, an integration of forces, that he called individuation.

By meditating on the navel centre one attains knowledge of the whole body. Patanjali

5 top tips for balancing your solar plexus chakra by Chakradance founder Natalie Southgate:

  1. Take responsibility for your life; avoid blaming others, circumstances, or fate.
  2. Develop a strong sense of self and keep sight of your own unique direction, ambitions and goals. Take the right action to achieve these goals.
  3. Find appropriate self-discipline in your life.
  4. Create good boundaries.
  5. Call to mind and celebrate your achievements and successes.

Expressing power need not be an act of overpowering. It is an act of being in touch with who you truly are and having your actions follow that belief. It is being able to commit, have integrity, keep your word and deal honourably. A balanced and healthy solar plexus chakra allows us to live lives of dignity and self-respect. Natalie Southgate

Blessings!

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