Know Thy Solar Plexus: Identifying the Self
Of course, no one knows you better than yourself, although your mother or a partner may argue otherwise. But, how much of ourselves are we acknowledging on a regular basis?
After feeling some very strong sensations of losing touch with certain core parts of myself, and after a way-too-long bout (I’m talking years, ya’ll) of poor decisions, I’m moving out of my phase of intense Root & Sacral chakra nourishing. These centers that govern safety, survival, and interpersonal interactions are necessary to ground and protect the self, but what self, exactly, am I grounding and protecting? Though my safety, security, and physical interactions needed some mending (and still do), I recognize that I have not been moving from a place of my truest self. Great things have been happening in my life, but my whole authentic self hasn’t felt free enough to be involved in all of these great things.
I recognize that I’ve chosen at least 2 partners in previous years who were controlling and/or needed to be taught far too many things in order for me to feel comfortable in continuing to see them. In the instance I wasn’t teaching, I was holding my tongue and emotions for the sake of their egos or emotions. I attracted a couple more of the same characters, that fortunately, didn’t stay around long enough to get too close. Some of these choices could also be attributed to Codependency, a friend revealed. But, it also really comes down to the discernment of when and how to accept/choose people into my life that I have attracted.
I recognize that I have not been nearly as reflective or written nearly as much as I have when I’ve been myself more fully. My focus on meditation, my creativity, even my decoding of dreams have been at an extreme low. All the while, I’m leading yoga classes, catering to other folks’ mental/emotional/spiritual needs, creating art, getting paid by the city to exhibit, etc. in some strange balance of fabricated capacity. It’s kinda like being a functioning [insert word for loss of self], which is actually frighteningly normal for many of us in the world.
This is why I’m shifting my focus towards my Manipura/Solar Plexus chakra. It is the 3rd chakra, successively from the bottom of the body moving upward. In this, I’m documenting my process in hopes that some things will become clear enough to create a program as an offering through my healing work. I’d also like for this to be a public endeavor for folks who want to explore with and join in the learning process while I’m creating this program based on personal experience. Be a pioneer on the ground level nshyt and help to shape it if you’d like!
What is the Solar Plexus Chakra?
The Solar Plexus, also called the Manipura (city of jewels), is our power center. It is located just above the navel at the vertical midpoint of the body and it governs digestion, our self-identity and internal power. Anything from compromised security (including police brutality and systemic racism), constant exposure to trauma, abuse, IPV (which can very much be experienced in queer partnerships), unhealthy relationships and friendships, and even being passed over for an important opportunity can contribute to a damaged sense of self. Sometimes this can be minor and easier to heal. Sometimes it is more damaging and can cause us to lose, question, or distrust ourselves. These affect us and cause a disturbance to our power center, so we begin to overpower others or allow ourselves to be overpowered rather than empowering ourselves and others.
The solar Plexus has an element of fire and connects us to the sun.
Its color is yellow.
Characteristics of a Disturbed Manipura Chakra
Someone with an overactive Manipura chakra might experience:
-Excessive desire to control people and things around you
-Extreme criticism of others (Think the difference between a callout, which can be helpful, and a drag, which can be harmful)
-Overplanning with few results (Making plenty of grand plans or projects, and not executing them)
-Overindulgence and/or overeating
Folks with an underactive or blocked Manipura may experience:
-Lack of confidence and poor self-image
-Defensiveness (to constructive criticism or even to perceived judgement from someone else)
-Indecision and/or lack of follow-through
-Inability to focus and lack of organization
-Lack of responsibility
Physically, pay attention to digestive issues, IBS, gas pains, stomach ulcers, eating disorders, diabetes, indigestion and the like as these can also result from an unbalanced Manipura.
I’m sure you can imagine how these imbalances can pour over into all aspect of life; organizing for Black lives, liberation work, building and maintaining relationships, finding community, being efficient at your job(s), home life, maintaining healthy romantic partnerships, etc.
If you’re able to see yourself in any of these, GREAT! We’ve got work to do. We all need some Manipura love. It’s always necessary when assessing yourself to remember that you are not a culmination of any undesirable characteristics, but are simply experiencing them as human. Now you must take the steps to remedy those undesirables. They do not define you unless you see them clearly, yet willfully continue to perpetuate them. This approach also keeps us honest with ourselves. Your assessment is entirely personal; the way you see yourself and your actions, what you observe in your everyday internal dialog, what you feel about yourself and your interactions with people, without regard to how you outwardly present yourself to get around in the world (for example, if you often present characteristics of the strong, Black resilient woman trope, but you know when you go home and close the doors, your willpower is a little weak or you have bouts of helplessness, be honest about that in your self-assessment. No one is going to see that assessment but you.)
So, we’ve identified the imbalances and decided that we need some healing of our power center.
This Know Thy Solar Plexus program will lay out a variety of methods. First, we’ll start with one of the ways I know best: Breathing exercises known as pranayama.
Because the Manipura’s element is fire, we want to work with heat. One great pranayama that builds heat in the abdomen is the Kapalabhati, or Breath of Fire. This one is a little easier to demonstrate than explain, so I’ll give it a shot and also provide a good demo video I found online from a woman of color! I’ll get my own video game together one day soon.
-Sit in a comfortable position with the back straight.
-Place the hands wherever they are most comfortable.
-Take a deep inhale.
-Contracting the diaphragm and pulling the belly in towards the spine, quickly exhale in short bursts out through the nose.
-After each short exhalation, allow the inhales to be passive. Your body will inhale naturally.
-Do this for no more than 30 exhales, and no more than 3 sets at a time, taking a normal breathing break in between sets.
*Remember that your exhales are active. Your inhales are passive.
I’ve been practicing this first thing in the morning (or afternoon for the late risings) every day to bring my focus into my personal power.
On a good day, go ahead and do this practice outside with the sun shining on you. ❤
*If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, glaucoma, hernia, epilepsy, are pregnant, or have had a recent abdominal surgery, do this practice slowly and with less force or avoid entirely. Pay attention to the capacity of your body and stop if you get dizzy. Don’t worry, there are a ton of other Manipura practices coming up!