This Energetic Imbalance Could Be Making Your Gut Health Issues Worse
Digestive issues are among the most common complaints I see in my private practice. Getting your digestion in check can be a lengthy, complex process—one that requires dietary modifications, stress management, and lifestyle tweaks. On a more energetic level, I believe addressing the solar plexus chakra is also essential.
First, some background on the solar plexus chakra.
The subtle body follows a developmental path that begins with the root chakra, the foundation for safety and survival, and continues onto the sacral chakra, the epicenter of emotional well-being. These chakras lay the foundation for the next stop on this developmental path: the solar plexus chakra.
The solar plexus chakra is located near the abdomen, where digestion takes place in the physical body. This part of the subtle body, the energetic field that surrounds the physical body, is where we decide what information to assimilate and what to eliminate. When the solar plexus chakra is balanced, digestion runs smoothly and our thoughts do not limit our potential. We can trust and act on our gut instinct and rarely leave an emotionally charged conversation feeling sick to our stomachs.
A balanced solar plexus chakra allows us to trust that there is a whole world of possibilities for us waiting to be unlocked.
Opening the solar plexus chakra allows us to open up to the information we are unaware of—the things we don't even know we don't know. Once we open up to this information, the sky's the limit. It gives us the courage, the will, and the confidence to explore the unknown. A balanced solar plexus chakra allows us to trust that there is a whole world of possibilities for us waiting to be unlocked. It helps us feel empowered in our lives. When this chakra is closed or dysfunctional, we often feel insecure, unworthy, and physically blocked.
How blocks in the solar plexus can manifest in our lives.
The unpleasant states we experience when the solar plexus is blocked are typically rooted early in our lives. The solar plexus chakra forms from age 14 to 21, and as it does, we develop an inner critic to protect ourselves. This critical voice becomes loudest when we are at our most vulnerable, on the brink of major growth and expansion. Any emotional wounding we experience as the sacral chakra forms can lay the foundation for even more self-critical thoughts and limiting beliefs about ourselves and our self-worth. Over time, these become long-standing thought patterns that shut down our ability to imagine what's possible.
For example, one of my clients lost a parent as a child. She carried the wound of abandonment into her teens when the solar plexus chakra was forming and developed the belief that her loved ones would always leave her. This blocked her from imagining any other possibility, so when she started dating again, she chose emotionally unavailable partners. As soon as she revealed a desire to become serious, her partners would leave, validating the belief that a long-term, loving partnership was not possible for her. She could not see how her belief about being left was unconsciously running the show and keeping her in a painful pattern.
We cannot create the lives we want when we do not believe we are worthy of them. I have successful clients with severe financial anxiety, yet they are not asking for salaries or fees that match their value. I have patients on antidepressants because they are settling for partners who don't treat them the way they want to feel, yet they stay in the relationship because the type of partner they want seems impossible to find.
When we form our perception of the world solely based on the things we know, we can become stuck. True, sustainable healing requires breaking through that fear and trusting that what is on the other side is beyond our imagination. When you are ready to move from good to great, you turn to the solar plexus chakra.
If you have signs of a solar plexus imbalance, try adding the following practices to your daily routine.
Healing the solar plexus requires getting really honest about all the parts of yourself you want to change. Worthiness is not possible without bold self-acceptance. Here are a few practices to help with this embrace:
Physical: Bring on the core work.
Yeah, there's a reason core work is so difficult! I like to think that every time you do crunches or bicycle curls, you are also burning through some of your self-limiting beliefs. So set yourself up in a forearm plank, engage your core muscles, and hold it longer than you think you can. Set a timer for 90 seconds, but when the timer goes off, stay in the pose. Every time you think it's impossible to keep going, keep going! Aim for three minutes and build up to seven.
Mental: Make friends with your inner critic.
Make a list of all the ways you judge yourself. Include all the things about yourself you don't like and the typical circumstances where you judge yourself harshly. (Think physical traits, behaviors, weaknesses, etc.) Then, close your eyes and visualize yourself as a teenager. Silently tell your teen self that they are perfect as they are. Go through each item on the list and silently tell your teen self that all of these qualities are welcome. Thank your inner critic for protecting you all these years, then acknowledge that you no longer need that protection.
Emotional: Try this mirror-gazing exercise.
Stand in front of the mirror, look yourself in the eyes, and say the following words to yourself out loud over and over, getting louder each time:
I AM enough.
I AM worthy.
I AM capable.
I AM powerful.
The louder you raise your voice, the more uncomfortable the exercise becomes. Don't let the discomfort stop you. Keep raising your voice until you are screaming at yourself in the mirror. (Note: I don't recommend doing this one in public!)
Spiritual: Practice the breath of fire.
Breath of fire is a kundalini yoga practice that is powered by the solar plexus. It is a rapid, continuous breath through the nostrils with the mouth closed. The inhale and exhale are equal in length, with no pause between them (approximately two to three cycles per second).
Start by sitting up tall, lengthening the space between your navel and your heart. On the exhale, powerfully expel air through your nose by pulling the navel point back toward the spine. On the inhale, allow the upper abdominal muscles to relax, the diaphragm to extend down, and the breath to flow in effortlessly. Start with three minutes and work up to seven.
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.