Illness in the physical body begins with dysfunction in the subtle body. The root chakra is the first energy center of the subtle body to develop, and therefore it becomes the foundation for all of the other chakras to build upon.
The root is about safety and survival, which is essential for any healthy, thriving life. Therefore, we must create stability in the root before we can express ourselves through the other chakras in an aligned and authentic way.
First, some background on the root chakra and its relationship to the body.
The root chakra forms from conception through age 7, and imbalances in the root typically stem from unconscious fears about safety. Eventually, this energy can manifest as physical or mental illness, particularly if there are areas in our lives where we don’t feel safe being authentic.
Exploring the root chakra in my practice helps many of my clients understand why they are prone to specific health issues. Physical conditions associated with the root usually result from confusion about what is safe and what is not. For example, when someone is complaining of anxiety with no identifiable source, their body is giving them physiological cues that they are not safe, an indication that there is work to be done in the root.
The immune system is one of the physical body’s best means of protection, so imbalances in the root chakra can also contribute to a dysfunctional immune system. Allergies and autoimmune conditions are physiological expressions of an immune system that is confused about what is harmful and what is not. Rather than limiting its efforts to attacking foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses inside the body, the immune system reacts to the environment—or in the case of autoimmune conditions, the body itself.
While all of these health issues can be improved with lifestyle changes, nutrient supplementation, and medications, exploring and supporting the root chakra is integral to sustainable healing.
How our early childhood experience affects the root chakra.
Survival in the first seven years of life requires attachment to our primary caregivers, so healthy root chakra development is supported by caregivers who are responsive to our needs. Growing up in a loving environment helps children trust their ability to survive in the world and develop secure attachment patterns. However, even the most loving and responsive parents cannot meet every one of their child’s needs all the time.
For example, an authentic desire for a toddler may be the preference for apple juice over orange. One morning, the coffee shop is sold out of apple juice, so the parent gives them orange. When the toddler throws a tantrum among a crowd full of people to express their unmet desire, the parent becomes embarrassed and frustrated. During this early phase of life, children are highly sensitive to the feelings and energy of others, so the toddler may feel the parents frustration and respond by suppressing their desire in service of secure attachment. Some version of this has happened to all of us as young children and we learned to compromise our less critical (yet authentic) needs or desires to secure attachment and survive.
The early compromises we make while the root chakra is forming can reinforce the misunderstanding that it is unsafe to be oneself.
Although these compromises seem unimportant in retrospect, the theme of sacrificing authenticity for attachment is planted in the root chakra. The early compromises we make while the root chakra is forming can reinforce the misunderstanding that it is unsafe to be oneself. As we grow up, it threads into all areas of our lives as we sacrifice our true desires, feelings, thoughts, and expressions to secure love and social acceptance.
The misunderstanding that it is not safe to express oneself authentically is the foundation for dis-ease of the physical and subtle bodies.
How to heal the root chakra and work your way back into balance.
Healing the root chakra is a process of working through fears and learning to trust that it is safe to be who you truly are. It involves (1) exploring unconscious fears about survival; (2) learning that it is safe to be authentic; (3) clearing other people’s beliefs, emotions, and energy out of your field; and (4) trusting yourself and the process of life, even in the presence of fear. Here are four practices to get you started:
Physical: Stand in mountain pose.
Set up your mountain pose barefoot on the grass (if possible). Take your time setting up the pose, focusing on the feel of your feet against the ground. Lift and spread your toes and the balls of your feet, then lay them back down. Rock back and forth on the soles of the feet, finding the point where your weight feels balanced. Then soften the knees but engage the legs, creating a strong foundation. Only once the foundation feels solid should you engage the belly, open the chest, relax the shoulder blades, and imagine the crown of your head lengthening up toward the sky. Stay in this pose for three minutes.
Mental: Make a list of your top 3 fears.
Spend some time journaling about these fears. Note where they came from and how they affect your life. What would be different in your life if you were not affected by these fears?
Emotional: Visualize yourself as a child.
Close your eyes and visualize yourself as a young child under 7 years old. Imagine your current self holding the childhood version of yourself. Silently whisper the following phrases into his/her ear:
- You are safe just as you are.
- You are loved just as you are.
- It is safe to be yourself.
- It is safe to trust yourself.
- I will always love you.
Hold your childhood self closely and then visualize his/her body merging with your current body.
Spiritual: Picture your roots.
Close your eyes and visualize the roots of a tree extending from the base of your spine into the center of the earth. Imagine all of the energy in your body and your field that is not authentically yours, draining down the roots into the earth. Don’t worry about who the energy belongs to. Simply allow it to drain out of your body. When you feel complete, visualize yourself chopping the roots of the tree off of your body.
Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.