In our Sixty and Me community, there is grief, loss, and transition. Our loved ones pass on; we lose jobs, homes, relationships, our youthful bodies, and more; we transition from who we were at 20, 30 or 40 to an older and wiser version of ourselves.
We can meet our losses with awareness and the wisdom already in our bodies, minds, and spirits. Using the chakras as our foundation, we can witness our imbalances and move, physically and emotionally, towards harmony. Even as we grieve, we can seek and manifest a new state of balance.
Within your body are the seven main chakras, or energy centers. These chakras maintain a harmonious balance that preserves and restores our overall health, no matter our age.
Chakra is a Sanskrit word literally meaning “wheel.” These wheels have a circular or spiral shape, represent a spectrum of colors, and are located along your spine. Each energy center or chakra has a number of specific qualities and vibrational speeds. The chakras integrate the emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of our lives.
Our first chakra is our Root Chakra. This vital force of energy is the Muladhara Chakra. It is the foundation of the physical structure of the body and is located at the base of the spine between the anus and the genitals.
The word Muladhara is composed of two Sanskrit words – Mula meaning “root” and Adhara which means “base” or “support.”
The Root Chakra is based on the earth element and radiates the color red. Red is powerfully linked to our physical and emotional needs of survival, safety, and self-preservation.
Balancing the Root Chakra creates a solid foundation for opening all the other six chakras. When our Muladhara Chakra is balanced, we experience stability, confidence, energy, and strength.
Food, water, shelter, and survival are our primary needs. The main focus of Muladhara Chakra is to satisfy these basic needs.
Overeating, hoarding material items, and greed are a few negative expressions for survival. When our basic survival needs are not met, our Root Chakra becomes dysfunctional, causing a disconnection from our earthly values.
Grief, like all of our emotions, is meant to move through our bodies, not get stuck. Anything that threatens our safety or survival impacts the first chakra.
In grief, we lose trust that life can continue without our beloved. Our safety is in doubt without that person. Will my basic needs all be met? Will I have what I need for food, shelter? Did this beloved being provide my security?
In grief, our ability to enjoy basic sensory pleasures is deeply diminished. We may feel a sense of guilt when we find ourselves enjoying life, that we may somehow betray the memory of our loved one who can no longer experience these sensations or pleasures.
After a traumatic loss, our sense of stability and safety in all realms – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – can be severely compromised. Our ability to feel connected to anything or anyone can be greatly diminished.
When we are bereaved and traumatized, we often feel disconnected from our social circle or family; misunderstood, ashamed, rejected, unsupported by those whom we previously considered our most accepting and supportive network. Our root supports us and when it is shaken, we can feel unmoored.
In our grieving process, being aware of our Root Chakra opens a window into why we are feeling the way we do, the physical impact of our grief on our bodies, and how this foundation of our being is so dramatically impacted.
There is no time limit on mourning, no ‘right’ way, no easy process, no singular process. The only way is through, and the only way through is to go in, as unpleasant as that may be.
When loss occurs, a startling event or an expected ending, our bodies react, and we respond. In our Root, where we are grounded, loss can literally ‘knock us off our feet’. We might revisit our roots of religious practices that we haven’t embraced for years.
There is a good chance of finding primal comfort in the customs of our ancestors regarding grief such as funerals, wakes, shiva, and mourning rituals.
When a close relative passes, many cultures hold to outward symbols and acts such as ripped clothing, attendance at daily religious services, or wearing certain colors. All of these show the world that we are not who we were before this event.
Grief has changed us, and we need to be treated with kindness and compassion. In our current times, most people hardly take a day, much less a month or a year, to really be in their grief. Yet this is where we truly are. We are not fine. We are hurting.
By witnessing these physical and emotional manifestations of our grief in the Root Chakra, we can then attend to them with a deeper understanding. We aren’t crazy. We are grieving.
In our grief, we might experience such a loss of trust and security that we cannot physically find our balance. Our feet and legs might ache with this ‘ungroundedness’. We might experience lower back pain, digestive and elimination disorders, teeth and bone issues as they are the solid parts of our bodies.
Mindful awareness is a tool for healing the first chakra. A balanced Root Chakra can provide emotional strength like letting go of fear and anxiety. This results in feeling grounded and secure. Stabilizing the foundation of the body is important to sense completeness.
The chakras are always changing and shifting as emotions and internal and external changes occur in our very dynamic existence. We seek balance and harmony all the time. As we become more aware of a chakra out of balance, we can look inward and see our imbalances, and then we are able to bring greater harmony back to our bodies, minds, and spirits.
When the Root Chakra is functioning optimally, we feel grounded, secure, and at ease with the world. But when it is imbalanced or blocked, several signs can manifest, from constipation to back pain and fatigue.
For a person who has imbalance in the first chakra, it might be hard to feel safe in the world and everything looks like a potential risk. The desire for security dominates and can translate into concerns over the job situation, physical safety, shelter, health. A blocked Root Chakra may turn into behaviors ruled mainly by fear.
A deficient Root Chakra can manifest as excessive negativity, cynicism, eating disorders, greed, material gain, excessive feeling of insecurity, constantly living in survival mode.
Other manifestations might include behaviors that are fearful, anxious, restless, and unsettled; this along with chronic disorganization, poor boundaries, poor focus, and financial difficulties, feeling unloved, sexually inadequate, frustrated, shy, unsure.
An excessive Root chakra can manifest in obesity and overeating; bossy, domineering character; big ego, greed, violence, cunning, hoarding, sluggishness. Such people are lazy and their fear of change might turn into greed and paranoia.
Identifying and working with our chakras on the grieving journey offers insight and opportunities to move with it. There are several ways to unblock your Root Chakra.
One of the ways is a meditation that focuses on grounding. Practicing any type of very gentle yoga regularly encourages physical and mental strength of the body.
Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Let your whole body relax. Notice how it feels to be completely supported by the ground beneath you. Welcome this balance of surrender and support to carry you through your practice.
Stand tall with your weight evenly distributed side-to side, front to back, and from head to relaxed toes. Allow your feet to be grounded, your legs to be steady, your spine extended with a natural curve, your shoulders and face relaxed.
Tadasana provides strength to the spinal muscles, improves your posture, and restores the body’s natural alignment. Practicing this asana regularly expands your mental awareness by experiencing calmness and peace of mind. Balancing and relaxing in the Mountain Pose allows us to feel centered and focused.
Rest your entire body comfortably on the floor. Extend your arms and legs outward from your torso evenly and symmetrically. Mentally scan the body from head to feet, gradually releasing each body part and each muscle group.
With each exhalation, imagine each limb getting a little heavier and spreading out a little more. Let yourself be fully supported by the earth beneath you and let go of all tension in your body. Remind yourself “I am safe, I am supported” with each inhale and exhale.
Repeating positive affirmations helps set intentions to break old habits and create new ones. Some positive affirmations that can help strengthen your Root Chakra are:
Nature Therapy is one of the most effective ways of healing not only the Root Chakra but our whole being. As we spend more time indoors due to modern work culture, we lose our connection to nature and earth.
Lack of exposure to nature can be toxic and mentally draining. This creates anxiety, lack of self-confidence, and blocked Root Chakra. Sometimes, the only therapy that we need is spending time walking in rejuvenating nature.
The feel of the grass beneath your feet, the smell of the ocean breeze, the sound of the chirping birds, and a moment of solitude underneath the shade of a tree bring peace and harmony.
Grief is first felt in our Root chakra. When the Muladhara Chakra is awakened and energy is flowing freely, it brings positivity in all aspects of our lives. In grief, it is blocked.
A healthy and balanced Root Chakra creates a strong connection to our earthly instincts. It improves our overall confidence and increases our sense of self-worth. The energy of the Muladhara Chakra allows everyone to harness courage and perseverance during challenging times in aging and grief.
Yoga for Living with Loss is a practice dedicated to meeting the grieving process through gentle yoga integrated with a study of the chakras. While most grief therapy is talk, our bodies also respond and can become congested with grief.
Gently moving our grieving bodies through simple yoga practices with presence, awareness, breath, meditation, and movement can help us to navigate our losses without getting lost. Yoga for Living with Loss offers a safe and private place to find some comfort on this most sacred and heartbreaking path.
You can find more information at www.GrowingYoungerGracefully.com.
What feelings has your grief unlocked? Do you feel blocked or overwhelmed with emotions? Have you tried a meditation or movement practice to help bring you closer to a semblance of balance?