When my youngest child was one and her older brother was seven years old, back in 2005, my husband accepted a new job with a startup company, the second one in a row. If you know a little bit about the startup world, it goes without saying that he would be working crazy hours.
While your partner is gone 12-hour days or traveling 12 days every month, you are the one who has to make up the work that they are no longer able to do due to their absence; unless you have a full-time live-in nanny, I call them “the third parent,” which we did not have (I used to be one though, a full-time live-in nanny in Boston, MA, for one year in 1990, but that is a blog topic for another day).
If your partner is working a busy schedule, you know firsthand that, by default, you now are too. All military family members reading this blog are going: “Oh yes, do I know!” 😆 (The military world is just one example, of course.) At some point in our nutty lives, we probably have all gone through periods in which our work life was so out of control that work-life “balance” or “integration” or “wholeness” was pretty much non-existent.
Anyways, I’m not complaining, just stating the obvious. It was a decision my husband and I made together at that time with the knowledge and life experience we had back then.
At the same time my husband began his new job, I stepped back into the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom for 3 years (going through an adoption process, then adopting, and then staying home with my new baby her first year).
I accepted a position as a part-time associate therapist for a non-profit child abuse prevention and treatment agency. With me working outside of the home 3 days a week and trying to be a hands-on parent every “free” moment the rest of the time, life very quickly became overwhelming.
I knew that most of my stress did not just come from having a hard-working traveling husband who was gone a lot, but also (and mostly) from my new job. I was serving at-risk children. Some of them had been severely abused (mental, physical, and/or sexual).
Meanwhile, I had two little ones at home. They both did not enter my life easily and effortlessly. My first child came after two failed pregnancies and my second child was adopted. Clearly, they were very much wanted and showered with love. So, as you can imagine, my new job was a lot to take in at such a vulnerable time in my own life as a young parent.
Typically, by the time I met the children and started doing play therapy with them, they were safe. But sometimes, they were still exposed to their abusive family members or other members in the household. Driving away from these kids’ homes after a session with them was brutal. Of course, I would file CPS reports, but if after an investigation, the report conclusion was “unsubstantiated,” there was nothing I could do.
When I shared my overwhelm with a friend of mine, Sally, she introduced me to the “Psychic Development Series” by Tosha Silver, which I ended up purchasing (they were still a CD set at the time!). The four-part series included chakra work: “Chakras: The Power Within.”
The power and effect of doing chakra work took shape right from the beginning, so naturally, I continued using it. I started not only incorporating it in my personal life, but also in my professional life, depending on the client, and have been doing so ever since.
What Are The Seven Chakras?
Chakras are different colored wheels or discs of flowing energy, both emotional and spiritual energy, concentrated along the spine. According to Hindu thought, chakras are responsible for circulating “prana” (life force) through our whole being. Chakras need to be open and balanced for a healthy body, mind, and soul.
There are seven chakras. Here they are in chronological order from the bottom of the spine to the top of the head.
1. Root Chakra
The first chakra is the root chakra (Muladhara in Sanskrit) and is the color red. It is located on the base of your spine. When balanced, you tend to feel abundant and safe. You have a sense of a solid inner foundation in your life – survival.
= grounding, security, stability
2. Sacral Chakra
The second chakra is the sacral chakra (Svadhisthana in Sanskrit) and is the color orange. It is located about 2 inches below your navel. When balanced, you tend to be more creative and comfortable with pleasure stimulation, including your sexuality. It is also tied to the creative process – creativity.
= emotions, pleasure, sexuality
3. Solar Plexus Chakra
The third chakra is the solar plexus chakra (Manipura in Sanskrit) and is the color yellow. It is located in the center of your chest, right below your ribcage. When balanced, you tend to feel more confident, empowered, motivated, and worthy – inner-power.
= control, self-confidence, self-worth
4. Heart Chakra
The fourth chakra is the heart chakra (Anahata in Sanskrit) and is the color green. It is located in the center of the chest, right above your heart level. When balanced you can forgive, show empathy and compassion, practice gratitude, and are capable of giving and receiving more love in and from your relationships – love.
= compassion, connection, relationships
5. Throat Chakra
The fifth chakra is the throat chakra (Vishuddha in Sanskrit) and is the color blue. It is located at the base of your throat. When balanced you tend to communicate authentically, as well as more clearly and effectively. You also know when to stay quiet and practice active listening – inner-truth.
= communication, expression, individuality
6. Third Eye Chakra
The sixth chakra is the third eye (Ajna in Sanskrit) and is the color indigo. It is located in the center of your forehead between your eyebrows. When balanced you tend to have improved insight, open-mindedness, imagination, intuition, and foresight – “sixth sense.”
= eye of the soul, imagination, wisdom
7. Crown Chakra
The seventh chakra is the crown chakra (Sahasrara in Sanskrit) and is the color purple or white. It is located at the top of your head. When balanced, it tends to lead to higher consciousness, divine connection, spirituality, and enlightenment – connection to the universe.
= connection to a higher power, the divine
What Is The Goal Of Chakra Work?
The goal of working with chakras is to keep them balanced and open. If they are blocked, you will have physical and/or mental health complaints. When you have complaints, ask yourself: “Where in my body am I feeling the pain?” Pinpoint the specific location of your discomfort.
Look at it this way: a feeling is called a feeling because we feel it in some place in our body and/or mind, right? The word emotion is derived from the Latin word “emovere” and means “to move, move out, or move through.” Essentially, our feelings are not meant to stay, yet are meant to move: move through our body and mind, and then move out – they need to be released into the universe (ideally without judgment).
If this does not happen, we develop blockages, which lead to health issues. And if you are all about holistic living, a lifestyle perspective that cherishes body, mind, and soul (as I do), then it goes without saying that issues with our body and/or mind will make connecting with our soul (our essence / our core being), more challenging (yet not impossible!).
How does a blockage develop?
Here is the chain of events leading to the development of a “blockage”:
- painful or traumatic event (real danger) ➡ fight, flight, freeze, or fawn mode ➡ rapid, short, shallow breaths
- thoughts about / conscious memories of the event (perceived danger) ➡ triggered back into survival mode ➡ return to similar anxious/panicky breathing pattern OR dissociation from traumatic event ➡ no conscious memory ➡ information/narrative (with original feelings) stored in the body and deeply buried in the mind holding the same trauma narrative as when the initial event took place ➡ no opportunity for: change to the narrative, processing, and integration
- event, conscious memory of the event, or unconscious memory deeply buried in the mind + connected feelings never fully breathed through, not initially, nor later when back to safety ➡ emotional energy around the perception of event = stuck + stagnant some place in body and mind
- energy accumulates ➡ increases in size and density over time + takes shape ➡ e.g. “gut-wrenching” (stomach pain) + “heartache” + “pain in the neck” + “weight on my shoulders” (shoulder pain) + “monkey on my back” (back pain) + “my head is exploding” (headache, migraine), and the list goes on…
- “blockage” = “issues in our tissues”
Chakra Healing: Balancing and Unblocking Chakras
My #1 healing practice at that time was:
- Guided meditation: “Psychic Development Series” by Tosha Silver
If you want some free options, YouTube is the way to go. Here are some of my favorite ones:
- “Guided Meditation – Chakra Balancing – Chakra Alignment” (31:46 min.) by The Honest Guys
- “Seven Chakra Guided Meditation Balance Aura Cleansing Sleep Guided Meditation” (31:56 min.) by Jason Stephenson
A few other practices I used back then were breathwork, yoga, aromatherapy, and sound healing. I did not use these specific links back then, but these are some I recommend you listen to or read today:
- Breathwork: “Breathing Through Discomfort and Blockages” and “4 Ways To Breathe In Feelings You Want And Breathe Out Feelings You Don’t”
- Yoga: “Chakra Yin Yoga – Energy Balance Yin Yoga Full Class” (75 min.) by Kassandra Reinhardt – Yoga with Kassandra
- Aromatherapy: “Balancing Chakras, Essential Oils, and Yoga” by Cat Weakley, writer and editor for Young Living Essential Oils blog
- Sound healing: “Unblock All 7 Chakras – Aura Cleansing – Chakra Balancing and Healing” (30:30 min.) by 5 MIN TO ZEN – Each frequency in this sound meditation corresponds to a different chakra
Other options for chakra cleansing, balancing, and healing, which I did not research, and don’t know much about (yet you may be interested in finding out more) are:
- Color therapy
How Chakra Work Helped Me
I narrowed down where I was carrying my stress: in my lower chakras (I had a lot of stomach pains). So, I started focusing on the bottom 3 chakras when practicing guided visualization meditation.
(If you don’t know which chakras to focus on, by the way, you can always choose a meditation that focuses on all seven as in the examples above.)
By lower chakras, I am referring to:
- Root: survival, which includes feeling safe and secure with your family-of-origin
- Sacral: creativity, which includes creating life and the ability to have babies
- Solar plexus: inner-power, which includes having a sense of control of the world around you
With the kind of work I was doing with these children, it’s no wonder I was holding my stress in the lower three chakras, right?!
I can’t say I ever was able to fully balance my chakras during the 5 years that I served at-risk and abused children. I continued having stomach aches, but as I became better with chakra meditation, the pain became less severe and more manageable – it turned into more of a “discomfort.” Once I stopped working with this specific child population, my stomach issues disappeared.
1. A Therapist’s Advice Healing Deck: My upcoming Healing Cards have a chakra component, and would be a lovely addition to chakra healing work. Will announce when they are available to purchase!
2. Tosha Silver: Here is a link to all of Tosha Silver’s products in case you want to take a peek. I used to give the book “Outrageous Openness” to my clients as a gift upon terminating therapy, depending on the clients I was serving, of course, and their level of openness.
No, I am not being paid for advertising. I am just a loyal fan because of how Tosha Silver’s work and her different products have drastically improved the quality of my life, including my mental and physical health, during times when I needed it the most. I am not just referring to difficult job changes as in the example above, but also to a year of chronic pain, several years of grief and loss, etc.; basically to the ups and downs of life and the human experience.
- Healing Card Deck: A Therapist’s Advice 55-Card Healing Deck by Sara Cloostermans
- Book Recommendation: Outrageous Openness: Letting The Divine Take The Lead by Tosha Silver
- Mantra: I AM BALANCE // repeat with diaphragmatic breathing
- Yin Yoga Asana: Swan Pose
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