The first chakra is dominant during our very early childhood and its energy is one of agreement and dependence on the beliefs of the tribe or family. The second chakra becomes more active around the age of six or seven with the advent of choice and the development of more personal relationships. Around puberty the third chakra becomes more influential as the ego and personal power begin to develop. Around this age we tend to bind our self-esteem to the boundaries of the physical body. Feelings of inadequacy stemming from being not beautiful, thin, tall, smart, etc., enough often lead to low self-esteem. Since self-respect can only be earned through challenges (such as overcoming personal shortcomings), the way we accept or resist personal shortcomings determine the adult.
For example, if a high school student feels pressure to smoke or dress a certain way and he gives in to this pressure, he is still subscribing to the energy of the first chakra and the rules of his current “tribe”. If a young girl allows what some boy says determine her-self esteem, she is now under the influence of the second chakra by allowing someone else control what she does. If the parents have planted the right seeds in the teenager, he may be strong enough to make his decisions based on his own feelings rather than on the fear of being rejected. It is through making poor choices that we learn of consequences and strength to follow through on our own feelings is something third chakra energy tries to develop in the individual.
According to Caroline Myss in Anatomy of the Spirit, there are four stages to gaining self-esteem: revolution, involution, narcissism, and evolution. In order to break away from the group, we must challenge it. Sometimes this manifests in harmless ways such as wild clothes/hair/make-up, sometimes it is a turning away from something very important to the family unit such as refusing to go to church; personal truth is sought out. Involution leads us to question how well the external world serves our needs. We ask questions of ourselves and this can lead to choice and actions that hopefully the seeker has the strength to make. While being stuck in the narcissistic phase leads to stagnation and unpleasant company, it is a necessary step on the way to healthy self-esteem. Getting a new look, one that makes us feel good about ourselves is good practice to developing inner strength. Often this type of change gets strong reactions from those around us and taking this criticism is perfect conditioning for bigger changes such as upgrading a job or a relationship. Ability to move past the ego and narcissism and see ourselves as a small part of the same organism leads finally to evolution.
The third chakra is “located” in the solar plexus and affects the surrounding area: stomach, adrenals, liver, the middle spine, etc. It is associated with the energy levels, the digestive system, and metabolism. Since each emotion affects a particular part of the body (think stress headache or upset stomach), negative emotions stemming from self-esteem issues, oversensitivity to criticism, fear of rejection, and other emotions related to self worth, will over time affect the organs and functions associated with this chakra. Digestive issues and low self-esteem, feelings of being victimized are indicative of a weak third chakra. Boat pose, leg lifts, Sun Salutations, twists, and Pranayama, are some core strengthening Yoga poses and breathing exercises to empower this chakra. Perfectionism, excessive focus on recognition or status indicate an excess of energy in this area. Practice back bends to calm this excess energy.
As production and money and production and more money are increasingly required, down time to rest, enjoy, and check in with ourselves is generally frowned upon. “Who has time to do that?” Increased measurement of self-worth by financial success leads many to chasing the dollar at the expense of actual personal development and time spent with loved ones or with the self. Frantic lifestyles and the stress that comes along with it usually manifest as digestive problems, diminished levels of energy, and disregard for the self. Slow down, set your own pace, breathe; the opportunities are there even if though you think they are not. Put down the “venti-triple-mocha-skinny-frozen-vanilla-macchiato” and go to sleep earlier, drink more water, and eat more apples. Chase inner growth. Honor the self!