The moment I began traveling in Asia, I knew there was a different vibe there than what I’d grown up with. There was a peace, a sense of community, and tranquility that I wanted to understand better.
For nearly a decade, I’ve been a humble student of Buddhism and Tantra, learning all I can about these ancient belief systems and applying them to my life. One of my favorite areas of exploration of late has been the chakras.
The concept of chakras — the name for which means, “wheel,” in Sanskrit — dates back to ancient India, around 1500 B.C., with their first mentioning in the Vedas (the first sacred texts of Hinduism). For the last several millennia, the chakra system has been an important concept in both Hinduism and Tantric Buddhism. So while chakra balancing is often labeled “New Age,” it really is anything but!
Chakras are, at their most basic definition, the major focal points through which energy flows up and down the entire physical body. Imagine them like busy intersections in the body, where dozens of nerves come together to form spinning clusters of energy. And these energy centers don’t just govern the wellbeing of the body’s physical properties; they also have powerful connections to human emotionality and spirituality.
The earth has chakra points too, located in places long held sacred by bygone civilizations.
While some believe that there could be hundreds or even thousands of chakras in the human body, it really comes down to a set of seven primary chakras that align with the spinal cord and stretch from the bottom of the spine to the top of the head. The first of the seven is the root chakra, which helps to anchor the other six chakras.
The Root Chakra at a Glance
The root chakra, or mūlādhāra chakra in Sanskrit, is known as “the root of all things.” Located at the base of the spine at about tailbone-level, it acts as the individual’s center of emotional and spiritual balance, as well as instinctual consciousness. At its most basic level, the root chakra is concerned with needs. It governs one’s senses of stability, safety, strength, and commitment and is responsible for self-preservation and feeling grounded.
While the root chakra is evolutionarily tied to those basic instincts that help us survive, modern day has connected this chakra more to the business of helping us thrive. Moving beyond just food, water, and shelter, the domain of the root chakra has come to include concepts like health, wealth, and community. Day-to-day feelings of trust, belonging, and being present are governed by the root chakra.
The root chakra is especially important to the chakra energy system because a lack of “roots” can compromise the integrity of all the other chakras, directly affecting the wellbeing of the entire body, mind, and spirit. Only when we feel that our most essential needs are met can we focus on growing.
The root chakra is also believed to be connected with Kundalini, or cosmic energy force which can be awakened and moved up the spine through the other chakras. Within the chakra system, the root chakra has a masculine energy and is symbolized by a red lotus with four petals. Elementally, it is associated with earth, and its mantra is, “I have.”
On the Earth
The chakras in the human body are mirrored on the earth, too. The earth’s root chakra is believed to be located at Mount Shasta in Northern California.
Like many energy vortexes around the world, this mountain is actually a volcano, and though it hasn’t erupted since 1786, it is still considered potentially active. Local Native American tribes have long believed that the volcano might be the center of the Universe or the birthplace of the Creator, reflecting its ability to channel energy upward just as the root chakra does in the human body.
When Blocked or Out of Balance
The root chakra may fall out of balance or become blocked due to the everyday stressors of life, as well as unexpected hardship, difficulties in relationships, fear and anxiety, and any number of the other things that life may throw at us.
When the root chakra is out of alignment, it often leads to an avoidance of conflict, a fear of basic needs going unmet, or a scarcity mindset. Feelings of disconnection, voicelessness, or powerlessness might arise, or one might become stuck, lost, stagnant, depleted, or flighty. Whenever I get troll comments on the internet, I remind myself that the person’s root chakra is wildly out of balance.
I have to care for my energy in these situations, too, as an unbalanced root chakra might also cause one to take on other people’s energies too easily, thereby damaging the connection to the self and its personal energies. It is even possible to experience physical ailments like arthritis, bladder or colon problems, or issues with the parasympathetic nervous system.
Luckily, there are plenty of things that can bring the root chakra back into alignment. For one thing, physical exercise and moving the body can have a powerful effect on the root chakra. Specifically, yoga poses and asanas like child’s pose, lotus, triangle pose, and garland pose can help. Try a yoga flow like this grounding into gratitude, 20-minute root chakra practice, or full root chakra flow.
Furthermore, deep breathing exercises and breath work can restore the chakra’s alignment, thanks to the powerful role of the breath as the bridge between the physical body and nonphysical mind. In addition, grounding exercises like visualization can realign the root chakra. (One such visualization would be imagining bright red roots reaching from the body deep down into the earth.)
Targeted meditations for the root chakra, like the ones I recommended here, can also do a great deal of good. Similarly, sound meditation can realign the chakras through vibration, and the root chakra can be targeted by verbalizing the seed syllable, “lam” (pronounced like, “lahhhm,” not, “lamb“), and drawing out the sound.
Affirmations are another powerful tool for realigning the chakras. By repeating specific mantras, affirmations can help set intentions for a more balanced chakra, reveal where there is more work to be done on that chakra, and reinforce existing alignment within that chakra. Some pertinent affirmations for the root chakra would be:
- I am centered and grounded.
- I am here and I am safe.
- With every breath, I release all anxiety and fear.
- I am at home in my body.
- I have everything I need to create the life I desire.
External influences, too, can help to realign the root chakra. For instance, essential oils and aromatherapy use grounding, earthy scents such as frankincense, cedarwood, and patchouli to bring balance back to the root chakra. Eating bright red whole foods like raspberries and utilizing red crystals like garnets and rubies can also work to help align the root chakra.
Another option is to find a location or landscape which aligns with the root chakra’s element to facilitate its rebalancing. That means: get out into nature and be with the earth! National parks like Yosemite are a fantastic place to start. Other earthy destinations include the redwood forests of California and Oregon; Kauai’s Waimea Canyon; Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park; and The Karoo in South Africa. Perhaps the quickest, simplest, and most accessible way to feel connected with the root chakra: walk barefoot on the earth in your own backyard.
All in all, the root chakra is a powerful steadying force which allows us to set ourselves up for success in other chakras and in other areas of life. All things come back to our sense of balance and self-preservation, so don’t overlook the root chakra! By keeping this first chakra in good shape, we will be better able to feel grounded in our identities, our surroundings, and our different seasons of life, thereby equipping us to be the best possible versions of ourselves.