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  • Writer's pictureRev. Ani

Crafting the Life You Want (part three)

Musings of an Alonester



Chakra Two: Attuning to Emotions and Self-Gratification


Historically, I have been out-of-touch with my emotions, seeing them as inconvenient distractions from achievement. My preference was to focus on getting a job done, rather than delving into the murky waters of feelings. Consequently, it has taken a lot of investment in self-reflection to develop the skill of identifying actually what it is that I am feeling in any given moment. Emotions were not valuable to me, indicating a pattern of self-negation that has contributed to my suffering.


However, over the last decades of dawning self-awareness and conscious self-validation, I have learned to treasure my emotions as a precious gift of my personhood. The invitation of the second chakra, then, is to revel in sensuality, passion, and pleasure, embracing the full scope of what it means to be human. Significantly, Judith (2011) noted,

When primary, healthy pleasures are denied, secondary pleasures take over, such as the pleasure of drinking, drugs, avoiding responsibility, sexually acting out, or overeating. Since secondary pleasures cannot really satisfy our longing for primary pleasures, our lack of satisfaction makes us crave more, forming a basis for addictions.” (pgs. 112–113)

By our visceral and emotional reaction to things and ideas, we are drawn toward or repelled. In this way, we can locate our true desire and what generates enthusiasm in the very marrow of our being. Without this body-based data, it is difficult to take decisive action (the purview of the third chakra). When we repress or deny our feelings, our heartfelt longings remain unclaimed, the notes of our soul song lost in the noise.


Besides desires, our feelings help us to locate and erect necessary boundaries, a critical part of creating safety (first chakra). Anger can help us identify when our boundaries have been tested (second chakra). This mighty emotion is a strong motivator inspiring us to take critical action on our own behalf. When our anger is denied or repressed, we leave this valuable gift unopened, depriving ourselves of the resource that it offers toward positive change.


The second chakra is also the seat of our rejected self or shadow. David Richo, author of Shadow Dance: Liberating the Power & Creativity of Your Dark Side, explained,

Our personal shadow is the dark side of our healthy ego. It is our neurotic, inflated ego, of which we are mostly unaware. The neurotic ego is the part of us that is caught in fear and in attachment to control and entitlement. (p. 36)

When this part of ourselves remains unintegrated, we tend to project what we have denied onto other people. Our strong judgments are indicators of that which we have resisted accepting in ourselves. Conversely, when we welcome our shadow self into conscious awareness, we are able to acknowledge the need that this part represents. This type of integration allows us to progress as fully human, embracing what it means to be capable of both great darkness and great light.


Questions that Facilitate Attunement to Emotions and Self-Gratification


What makes me feel alive? What are my emotions communicating about my needs? What are my emotions telling me about my desires?


When pondering the answers to these questions, I am reminded of the lovely adaptation by Daniel Ladinsky (2002) of a poem by Teresa of Avila entitled Enjoy Me. It ends with the line, “After a night of prayer, God changed my life when He sang, ‘Enjoy Me’” (p. 276).


Teresa is calling us to remembrance that the Earth is a place of awe-provoking wonders, and we have five senses that allow us to partake in the luscious offerings it supplies. How might my experience of life change if my intent was to enjoy each activity in which I engaged? Granted, going to the dentist may not be fun, but I know that I can find joy in the attitude I might bring to the dentist’s office. I can be a joy-finder and joy-spreader. It is all a matter of intent, and intent is something over which I have agency.


Inherent in enjoyment is the allurement of eros, the passionate, life-promoting impulse. Brian Swimme (1984), cosmologist and author of The Universe is a Green Dragon: A Cosmic Creation Story, asserted,

The attracting activity is a stupendous and mysterious fact of existence. Primal. We awake and discover that this alluring activity is the basic reality of the macrocosmic universe. . . Destiny unfolds in the pursuit of individual fascinations and interests.” (pgs. 45 & 47)

If this dazzling sentiment is to be embodied, then responding to our passions is of paramount relevance in the unfoldment of the grand adventure of our lives. Swimme goes so far as to say that the invisible is made visible through this very process.


If the invitation of the first chakra was to fully come home to myself, then the opportunity of the second chakra seems to be to affirm my life through delighting in what is good and holy to me. I use the term holy in the way that Collins online dictionary defines it, “regarded with or deserving deep respect, awe, reverence, or adoration.” Simple presence and gratitude are the doorways, and the little rituals of breathing and relaxing into the moment, smelling the fragrances, feeling the sensations, hearing the sounds, and letting a prayer of thanksgiving arise are the path.


There are so many things that make me feel alive — writing, dancing, singing, playing piano, camping, playing games, hiking, biking, gardening, attending plays and musical performance, and traveling, to name a few — and I plan to indulge myself fully in these activities. Those represent the primary pleasures to which Judith was referring, and the more I revel in these wholesome activities, the less I will feel the sense of deprivation that sparks preoccupation with secondary pleasures that have the potential to harm my sense of wellbeing. Presence, gratitude, and saying, “Yes!” to life-giving pleasure are the constituents of my grand, “Amen!”


Likewise, fully engaging the wisdom of my emotions requires not only my response to my passion, but setting aside quiet time each day to distinguish how I am feeling. This is especially cogent in times when I feel activated/triggered/flooded. Being able to name my emotions can assist me in recognizing my own needs, detaching from unsupportive mental narratives related to these feelings, integrating unclaimed aspects of myself, and then being proactive in addressing my needs. I want to demonstrate to myself that I have my own back, so to speak, and affirm for myself that my needs, wants, and emotions are valid and worth honoring. This requires active listening to myself and my body’s cues as if I were the person I cared most for in the world.


Along with this focused attention, noticing what emotions are evoked during my interaction with the world can guide me into locating and acting upon my heart’s desires. Paul of Tarsus, the attributed writer of the book of Galatians in the Christian scriptures, discussed what he called the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit in relation to the consequences we observe in our lives. He suggested that one of the results of self-centered (the flesh) action is strife, whereas a product of benevolent (the Spirit) behavior is peace. I have found this principle of fruit inspection to be an accurate pointer toward what is true for me.


Reveling in my healthy pleasures makes me feel alive and engaged. Listening deeply to my emotions and heeding the effects of my actions helps me to discern what I want. Taking action in that direction is the business of the third chakra.


In part four of this series, I examine what it means to attune to will and self-definition.


 

Dear friend,


May your mind be peaceful and calm,

may your body be relaxed and comfortable,

and may your heart be filled with love.

Thank you for reading.


Blessings and gratitude,

Ani


 

References


Judith, A. (2011). Eastern body, western mind: Psychology and the chakra system as a path to the self. Celestial Arts.


Ladinsky, D. (2002). Love poems from God: Twelve sacred voices from the East and West. Penguin.


Richo, D. (1999). Shadow dance: Liberating the power & creativity of your dark side. Shambhala Publications.


Swimme, B. (1984). The universe is a green dragon: A cosmic creation story. Bear & Company.

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