Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
So many of the lessons in Yoga are about surrender, letting go, going with the flow. It is interesting to explore the Solar Plexus Chakra, where our will resides-- our call to action! The Solar Plexus Chakra is home to our internal fire, our personal power, our ego, and our self-esteem. It is located two finger widths above your belly button, and includes your abs, lumbar spine, obliques, stomach, liver, spleen, and pancreas.
As you recall, when we added the Second Chakra to our studies, we created a line which ushered in polarities and the balance of opposites. Now, with the Third Chakra, we have three points which creates an area-- a room in your inner temple to build a fire in your belly. It is not surprising that the element of this chakra is fire! Your internal fire, or “Tapas”, governs your discipline, focused activity and personal will. It is a spiritual fire that burns through blockages, just as our physical fire digests our food and turns it into energy to fuel our body.
So how do we maintain our Yogic sense of “going with the flow” while at the same time harnessing our internal fire to make things happen? The sacral chakra was the first part of manifestation, in that it was all about creativity and birth ideas. But in addition to the desire of the sacral chakra, we need the will and determination of the solar plexus chakra to make things happen.
8 Steps to Make Things Happen using your Personal Power (Much of this is taken from the book You are a Badass by Jen Sincero… check it out!)
Connect with your Superhero Self. This is the part of you that is connected to the Divine, operates out of love, gets validation from within, and gets things done. You choose how you perceive yourself, so why not choose to perceive yourself as a powerful being with limitless potential? You are totally unique and have been given special gifts and talents to share with the world. To connect with this best, most powerful version of yourself, establish habits that support you. Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. Accept compliments when they are offered to you, but remember not to let your self-esteem hinge on the opinions of others. It doesn’t matter what other people think, or what they are doing. Comparisons can be damaging.
Keep the focus on yourself, and build your power by doing the things that you love. Figure out what makes you feel powerful (music that motivates you, clothes that make you feel strong, smart and sexy, activities that inspire you) and do that as often as possible. Practice gratitude. “You cannot exercise much power without gratitude; for it is gratitude that keeps you connected with power.” (Wallace Wattle, The Science of Getting Rich) As you embody your superhero self, you must be willing to get uncomfortable. Part of learning and expansion is the experience of growing pain. To be successful, you have to be willing to push through new challenges, with the help of your will and the solar plexus chakra.
Set Goals. Getting clear on what you want and setting goals is like casting a magic spell. It sets things in motion and puts you on a path towards your dreams. (Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go). The key is to keep goal setting fun! Turn everything into a goal: solving a problem, acquiring something, changing something or improving relationships. Don’t question whether you deserve it or how it will all unfold. Don’t obsess about what you “should” be doing. Just write down your goal (writing it down is part of the magic) and then release your tight grip. Take the next steps, one day at a time, and let the rest unfold naturally. Check things off as you accomplish them to reinforce your belief in making things happen, but be patient. Most steps take time, and your happiness is not contingent on attaining your goals-- happiness is in the now.
Commit. “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.” (W.H. Murray, explorer, mountain climber). Once you make the decision, be all in. Otherwise, when the moment gets hard, or unexpected hurdles or expenses arise, you will give up. As Winston Churchill says “Success consists of going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.”
Embody it now. If you allow yourself to get excited, to imagine the attainment of your goal, then your chances of success go up. If you believe something is possible, your energy and actions are in alignment, and your actions will be effective and help will appear from unexpected places! Even if it unfolds in a different way than you originally anticipated, you will experience the feelings of success with every step along the way. “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” (Joseph Campbell) You can say yes to your adventure by nurturing a sense of gratitude in advance. Say thank you for what is coming your way.
Act as if. Fake it till you make it. If you behave as if you already have it, you will be more likely to manifest it, and you will be able to experience the benefits of having it now, regardless of your circumstances. For example, if you want professional success, you could have fun developing a professional wardrobe, from second hand stores if need be. If you are seeking a regular spiritual practice, get creative designing a special sacred space in your home. Like energy attracts like energy, so the habits you establish now will determine what you invite into your life.
Stay connected to source. This is where your superhero powers come from. This is the source of our magic. We need to foster this connection in our daily lives so that when temporary setbacks come, we will remember we are divine beings living in an abundant universe and keep on keeping on!
Take Action. “In order to kick ass, you must first lift up your foot.” (Jen Sincero) You may feel overwhelmed trying to figure out the entire path and timetable to your goal. Just start with one small action, that is just outside your comfort zone. Surround yourself with people who make things happen in their lives. They will inspire and support you. You may come across some self-limiting beliefs, telling you that you can’t. You may experience hurdles in the real world as well. It can sometimes feel like the universe is conspiring against us, but it isn’t! The ego is just creating chaos in an attempt to self-sabotage and keep everything as it is, instead of moving into the unknown. If I reflect on my past, there were times when I felt like roadblock after roadblock was keeping me from my goal. In a couple of instances those roadblocks were keeping me safe because I was making a decision that was not in alignment with my highest and best. However more often, roadblocks are simply providing the resistance to test your will, helping you fine tune your path and grow your internal fire! So if your goal is in alignment with your values and the kind of life you want to create, don’t be afraid to persevere, look for creative solutions and ask for help!
Surrender - after you make the decision, commit and begin to take steps in that direction, remember you are not the only one in control. You don’t have to do it all on your own, so loosen your grip on the reins and have some faith. It may all work out in ways you can’t imagine on your own.
Before we move on to the Solar Plexus in and out of balance, a brief word about our relationship to money. Jen Sincero defines “Rich” simply-- “that you have everything you need to share your gifts fully with the world and stay at the highest vibration while you do it, whatever this looks like for you.” We hold a belief that focusing on money is distasteful or superficial or greedy, which influences the money we are able to attract. Most of us habitually undercharge for our products or services. We are scared that if we raise our prices we will lose all our clients, or that we’ll seem greedy, or like a fraud who has no right to charge that much. In order to bring money joyfully into our lives, we have to understand that we are in a relationship with it, and then treat it like any other important and meaningful relationship: we need to pay attention to it, want it, nurture it, put effort into it, respect it and cherish it. Sometimes we even have to spend it, in order to get the things we need to attract more. Instead of being controlled by money, and taking what we can get, we need to take this relationship with money in-hand through budgeting, planning, spending responsibly when needed, and honoring what it brings into our lives.
Your Solar Plexus Chakra, the source of all this goal-setting and manifestation, can be in balance or out of balance. If it is in balance, you are confident and know who you are. You can share your energy without depleting it. You know your limits, and can challenge yourself without going too far. You are comfortable experimenting with what works for you and take calculated risks. You have follow-through and discipline. You know who you are and don’t need anyone to validate you.
When your Solar Plexus energy is depleted, you have low self-esteem. You are passive and identify as a victim of circumstance. You take things personally and are sensitive to criticism. You feel powerless and out of control. You fear rejection in all areas, but especially with appearance issues such as aging and weight changes. You may avoid social situations and close relationships. You feel unable to change your habits. If your Solar Plexus Chakra is underactive, as it may be for many women in our culture who are told to stay small, you can bring balance by taking steps to flex your power muscles. A great first step is to stop saying you are “sorry.” Learn to claim your physical space. Practice embracing your “super powers” as we discussed above.
If the Solar Plexus Chakra is overstimulated, you are the typical “type A” personality. The ego takes over and you are power-hungry, conceited, critical and domineering. You are very active, but when you expend energy physically and metnally, you are depleted. You have a constant craving for recognition and praise. If your chakra is overactive, practice humility. Keep a sense of humor and be able to laugh at yourself.
Gemstones for balancing the Solar Plexus Chakra are often golden yellow, which is the signature color of this chakra. These include Honey Calcite, Amber, Tiger’s Eye, Citrine, Pyrite, Golden Labradorite and Yellow Onyx. Herbs and Essential Oils for this chakra are Lily of the Valley, Lemon, Juniper, Grapefruit, Neroli, Tea Tree, Turmeric, Cumin, Cinnamon and Anise.
As you might expect, yoga postures that strengthen your core and use isometric contraction will awaken the Solar Plexus Chakra. These include Plank, Warrior Poses, Side Bends, Half Moon, Triangle, Crab, Reverse Plank, Side Plank, Gate Pose, Floor Bow and the Uddiyana Bandha. To calm this chakra, turn to postures involving twisting or contraction of the mid-section, such as Prayer Twist, Revolved Crescent Lunge, Revolved Triangle, Side Crow, and Half Lord of the Fishes.
The Solar Plexus Chakra is about “mastery.” To master energy in your yoga practice, you need to find just the right combination of resistance and freedom, solidity and fluidity, lengthening and contraction, holding and letting go. These same principles apply off of our mats. As we find the right combination of action and surrender in our lives we will manifest with ease. So have fun getting in touch with your superhero self, and consciously creating the life you want. The sky’s the limit!
* (For further reading, check out “The Ultimate Guide to Chakras” by Athena Perrakis, Ph.D., “Chakra Yoga” by Anodea Judith, “The Yoga Book: A Practical Guide of Self-Realization” by Stephen Sturgess and “The Yoga Mind” by Rina Jakubowicz, “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero, and “The Language of Letting Go” by Melody Beattie. Much of the content of this essay was taken from or inspired by these insightful works.)