In this week's classes (Jan 16-17th) we move up through the body to the hips and pelvis where yogic understanding of energy centres in the body or 'chakras' finds svadisthana chakra. This chakra is associated with the element of water and with connecting to and following our desires.
The idea of pursuing our desire, what we alone want, as an aim, has sometimes jarred with me – something about it has seemed not only a little selfish to me, but also a little lonely....
In other wisdom traditions, for example, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and both Chinese and Japanese Martial Arts, this area (along with 'root' chakra) is called the Hara or dantian (or tanden in Japanese). Just like the concept of the chakras as energy centres in the body, the Hara is considered to be the seat of emotional and physical balance and vitality and the source of Qi or life force energy that flows through us and the world.
Interestingly the Hara is also considered to be the seat of our consciousness, and following this concept the Sanskrit name for ‘svadisthana’ translates as ‘one’s own abode.’ The place where we abide. In the culture of the Western world, we often assume that human consciousness is located in the head, skull or mind – and through this assumption, we can also get caught up in believing that our mind, with its ever-changing threads of thought and emotion, also represents the location and nature of our consciousness.
Whenever I have reflected on this idea of connecting with the second, sacral chakra to flow into desire I have sometimes felt a hesitation, a discomfort stemming from a belief that a journey of this nature was selfish, navel-gazing – an entitled and privileged pursuit – and also a little lonely.
But when I shift to the idea of consciousness being grounded in my body, the idea of flowing into and with desire takes on a different, and less self-centred perspective. When I come out of mind and into body there is an opportunity to come into connection with the present and through that into a relationship with the rest of the world.
When we stop buffering ourselves against the world and choose to drop into it we really get to go with the flow.
Yes yes, great, your mind says but wait! This is not an abstract concept! You have to do it! Right now. But how?
Try it: it will take 30 seconds:
Breath in. Notice your belly moving out as your diaphragm drops down.
Notice the corresponding releasing out and down of your pelvic floor.*
Notice the space in front of your sacrum – and up to the inside of the lumbar spine that lowest inward curve of the spine.
Let your mind linger here as you breathe out. Notice all the movements of the exhale.
The diaphragm releases and moves back up under the ribs.
The belly ways softly towards the spine.
What happens to your pelvic floor? Do you notice it drawing up slightly towards your midline? Repeat.
Entrust your mind to the breath, the belly and the pelvic bowl as you continue to be aware of the breath.
* If you can’t find this area: locate it by using the same muscles you'd use to stop yourself from going for a wee – those muscles you are squeezing will bring you into connection with the pelvic floor. Now let them go and return to the experiment - noting the sensation in that area.
From this place we come into a different relationship with the present moment – we can leave behind the preconceptions and tugging of the mind - and into the present: here we find connection and relationship with the fabric of the ever-changing moment. We can touch a wider consciousness. Vast in comparison to our mind. Desire becomes, not chasing a fleeting wish, but simply the next action we flow into in service of the whole.
Joseph Campbell observed that a tyrant is a person of "self-achieved independence" - and yes, this is the American dream and what we often aspire too! A whole culture is gathered around the fantasies of the tyrant, of control, of dominance, of making our personal dreams come true.
The hero of Campbell’s mythical ‘Hero’s Journey’ is described instead as a person of "self-achieved surrender." We often overlook the strength and courage needed for surrender - and it is through surrendering we can stop our constant buffering against the world and really get into it.
This sits easier with me: instead of imposing an idea of desire on the world, surrendering to desire by taking your place in the world. From this space loneliness is impossible.
Join me in class this Tuesday 16th Jan, 9-10am at Scout Hut 6388 and Wednesday 17th Jan, 8-9pm at Yogafurie to explore this further. Our pelvis and hip joints are the junction between our axial structure (head, spine and torso), and functionally our hips literally allow us to carry ourselves through the world – enabling locomotion walking, running, dancing to wherever we want to go. So, we’ll be working through poses that explore movement in hips, flowing movements that coordinate with breath, as well as pranayama to connect with our body.
Hope to see you there! Book online