How The Root Chakra's Shadow Could Be Keeping You From Authenticity
Though chakras are not physical structures, they can be the source of wounds and dysfunction in the body. Each of the main seven chakras is a point of highly concentrated energy, and that energy relates to a unique set of themes.
When the energy of a particular chakra is out of balance, it can affect one's physical, mental, and emotional experiences associated with the corresponding theme of that chakra. Energetic wounds are simply chaotic fields in the subtle, or energetic, body, and this is often where illness and dysfunction begin.
Chakra healing is a process of moving from the "shadow" frequency into the "gift" of that particular chakra. (The shadow state fuels illness, dysfunction, and dissatisfaction, while the gift frequency creates health and harmony.) This primer covers the wounds of the first chakra, the root chakra, as well as how to get from the root's shadow to its gift.
The shadow of the root chakra is repression.
This is the oldest wound there is. It usually forms at a very young age as we repress parts of ourselves in an attempt to secure love and acceptance. In the early years of life, being loved and accepted by our primary caregivers is critical to survival because we actually do need them to care for us to keep us alive. So when we feel as if that love is threatened, the primitive fight-or-flight response kicks in and we fear for our survival.
We quickly and instinctively learn to repress the parts of ourselves that we believe are unlovable, and we selectively express the characteristics and behaviors that our caregivers respond lovingly to.
These moments in early life when we feel unloved are often simple misunderstandings. But whether we are truly loved or not is irrelevant. What drives the wound of repression is the perception that expressing ourselves may result in rejection or abandonment and threaten our security. The ways we respond to this belief begin to shape our personalities and the rest of our lives.
Though this wound forms in the first seven years of life, it plants the seed for a lifetime of inauthentic and incomplete expression of oneself. As we mature we know that human survival is not dependent on the love or acceptance of others, but on a cellular level, it feels that way, and we remain deathly afraid to fully express ourselves. Until we become conscious of this wound, we cannot heal it.
Physical signs of the root chakra's shadow.
Many of my clients with root chakra issues are very unhappy in their corporate jobs. They desperately want to pursue another career path, but they are terrified of losing the stable paycheck and benefits, and they're equally fearful of what their friends and family will think. When we explore their dissatisfaction, we always find dysfunction in the root chakra. We discover that they didn't choose their current career path because it's what they truly wanted. They chose it because it made their parents proud, or it paid well or provided job security or social prestige. We discover that they have been repressing parts of themselves for so long, they cannot even remember who they authentically are and haven't a clue what will actually make them happy.
To heal the wound of repression, one must move from the state of fear to a state of trust. This is the healing path of the root chakra.
The gift of the root chakra is trust.
Healing the shadow of the root chakra is about cultivating a sense of safety in an unsafe world. We cannot fully express ourselves if we don't feel safe to do so—so learning to trust life is essential. One must trust that whatever happens is in service of their unique path, and even if it's the worst thing imaginable, it will still be OK. Trust is essential to creating a strong foundation in the root chakra, and that gives us the stability to rise into the higher frequencies of the upper chakras.
The shift from fear to trust is not an easy path since it requires trusting that it is safe to be who you really are. It is safe to express all parts of oneself, even the ones that we believe to be unlovable. This is where true authenticity emerges, and we discover what we really want.
Three exercises to support healing from the shadow of the root chakra:
1. Develop awareness.
The first step of healing the wound of repression is to become aware of it. Begin to notice where you hide parts of yourself. Do you show up differently with your friends or colleagues than you do with your family? Without changing anything, just become aware of what characteristics or behaviors you share with the different people in your life. What and where are you hiding?
2. Confront your fear.
Identify something you want to do in your life that you haven't yet because you're afraid. Don't try to talk yourself out of the fear. Allow yourself to be afraid but challenge yourself to do that thing you want to do. Tell yourself that it will be scary AND you will be OK. No matter what, you will be OK.
3. Use your imagination.
Close your eyes and imagine what your life would look like if love, acceptance, safety, and security were guaranteed. What would be different if you had no fear at all? What you envision in this exercise is exactly where healing your root chakra will take you.
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Erica Matluck, N.D., N.P. is an NYC-based naturopathic doctor, nurse practitioner, and holistic coach. She was trained as a Reiki master at 20 years old and began studying yoga as a teenager. She obtained her master's in nursing from Seattle University and doctorate of naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University.
Eastern philosophy threads through all of Matluck’s work. Combining over a decade of experience working in conventional and alternative medicine, she brings a truly holistic lens to medicine, addressing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual obstacles to health.
Prior to opening a private practice in New York City, Matluck spent eight years at One Medical Group and has delivered onsite wellness workshops at countless prominent companies. She is also the founder of Seven Senses, where she leads transformational wellness experiences throughout the world.