Swadhisthana : Own base
An emotional place :
To go to for recuperation, recreation, and regeneration.
Primarily concerned with:
- Personal pleasure and well being, renewal (and pre-creation) and growth.
Connects to :
- The flesh and the sensations of the flesh and, thus, to pleasure and enjoyment.
- Things around one, particularly those that give personal pleasure – this includes things one considers as personal possessions.
Water / liquid
- Strongly associated with reproductive organs, lower abdomen,
sacrum and lower part of lumbar spine, hips and pelvic girdle and the lymphatic and blood circulatory systems.
- Flesh and blood : Water-based aspects of one’s body and those with
moist / water components. (Three quarters of a person’s body weight is water).
- Mobile, flexible, smooth movements, sensual.
- Sensory experiences (perhaps especially sensual experiences).
- Movement, especially “instinctive” movements and reactions.
- Desire, enjoyment, pleasure, happy, relaxed, playful, nurturing of (one) self, affectionate.
- Enjoyment of self.
- Exploring within one’s own area and at the boundaries of what is already familiar/known to oneself.
- Sensory feelings and experiences – “What do I feel?”
- In the form of putting together or recombining what already exists or is already known.
- Syntheses of understanding producing cohesive mutually supporting body of thought / knowledge / understanding.
- In the form of “trial and error” and observation.
- Testing, as in “getting a flavour of” or getting a “feel of”.
- Collecting and storing information / ideas / examples / experiences.
- Categorizing, classifying and grouping (for example, most simply in terms of “this is pleasant” and “this is unpleasant”.)
Activity / doing
- “Instinctive” movements and reactions.
- Passive, in the sense of allowing – for example, allowing oneself to have sensory experiences rather than actively reaching out for them.
- Doing things for fun, just for the pleasure of the activity. (i.e. undirected or directionless)
- Assimilation and integration (into one’s self / one’s own understanding).
- Aided by play and pleasure.
- May be amorphous – unstructured and undirected.
- The attitude is one of “What do I make of this?” and “What can I make with this”.
When acting skillfully from this place:
- One acts with a sense of pleasure, enjoyment in action (fun) and playfulness.
- One is willing and able to adapt according to the circumstances and needs of the moment.
- One is likely to be perceived to be : - attractive, loveable, good company, resilient, affectionate,
graceful, happy, companionable, accommodating, appreciative …. And so on.
Issues that may occur when acting unskillfully from, or when stuck in, this chakra or when it is too dominant :-
Self-Abandon / Acting or living with abandon
This is when one gets so caught up in the (sensory) experiences of the moment that they fill all one’s awareness (to the exclusion of all else).
This leads to one acting (or reacting) without thought of the appropriateness or potential consequences of one’s behavior. This can make one
appear to be : wild, naïve, foolish, impulsive and impetuous. But it can also make one appear to be : lively, innocent, natural, charming and
spontaneous. Although potentially hazardous, when in truly safe circumstances there are times when self-abandon is not inappropriate –
for example, when in the bedroom with one’s lover. When self-abandon is an issue, working with Ajna (to develop a tendency to think
through the potential consequences of one’s actions or behaviour) and Vishuddha (to develop more self-control) is likely to be helpful.
Stagnation (of or in oneself)
When life feels good and pleasurable, where does the impetus come from to learn more, to experience and generally to risk change?
Maybe it shouldn’t and doesn’t – this I think is something for each individual to take their own philosophical view on. But if it should
and does, it is likely to come from Anahata (developing motivation and aspirations) or from Ajna (from being inquisitive and curious
about things). So, if stagnation is something you wish to avoid, working on Anahata and Ajna is likely to be helpful – but be warned that
doing so can lead to uncomfortable restlessness or feelings that there is something one needs or should attend to.
This is being quick to notice and be upset by slights, discomforts and so on. This can be unpleasant both for oneself and those around
one. Working with Vishuddha (to help regulate one’s degree of sensitivity) is likely to be helpful
Greediness / Being Overly Acquisitive
This may take the form of being greedy (overly desiring) for sensory pleasures (or pleasurable experiences) or overly acquisitive for
possessions (and pleasure). Wealth may or may not accumulate as a consequence since being wealthy is pleasurable - but so too is using
wealth to obtain pleasurable experiences and nice things. One of the potential problems with this is that it diverts energy, efforts and
awareness away from attending to other things that might also be desirable (like friendships, achieving something and evolving oneself).
Where this is an issue, working with Anahata (to develop a balance in one’s desires and between one’s desires) is likely to be helpful.
Aversion and Attraction
This is chasing after pleasure and enjoyment and running away from discomfort and the unpleasant. Some degree of this is sensible
and is part of taking good care of oneself. Also, responding to basic desires like thirst and hunger is part of attending to one’s basic
needs for sustaining life. But, taken to excess, it can mean one is constantly chasing after pleasure, but never enjoying anything or
always running away in fear. Where this is an issue, working with Muladhara (to help one become more settled) and Vishuddha (to
help one regulate one’s degree of feeling aversion and attraction) is likely to be helpful.
Self-Indulgence / Sense Gratification
Doing things for the pleasure and fun of it or to enjoy sensory pleasure. Some degree of this is sensible – it helps one feel nurtured and
that life is worth living. But it can be taken to a point where one neglects to attend to other things or where one does things (like eat, drink,
engage in sexual activities) to an excess, damaging one’s (physical) health or other aspects of one’s being. Where this is an issue,
working with Vishuddha (to help one become more moderate) is likely to be helpful.
Narcissism / Excessive Self-Love
Loving oneself and nurturing oneself is healthy and important for ensuring one attends to basic life needs. However, it can be taken to excess
where self-love and care is at the neglect or expense of caring for other than self (e.g. people, things, ideas). Where this is an issue, working
with Anahata (to develop one’s sense of caring for “non-self” alongside caring for “self”) and Vishuddha (to develop in moderation) is likely
to be helpful.
Issues that may occur when one inadequately accesses this chakra or when it is weak :-
Mis-satisfaction (of senses or self)
This is where one is aware of desire or hunger, but incorrectly identifies it and so attempts to satisfy it with the wrong type of thing. For
example, mistaking thirst for hunger and so eating instead of drinking water. Or chasing after sex when what one really wants is to be loved
and nurtured. This leads to one being excessive in whatever one thinks will satisfy one’s hunger / desire – but the problem is that hunger / desire
never seems to get satisfied. As a result, there is a constant feeling of emptiness or “hunger” or yearning or craving. To others this looks like
compulsive or addictive behaviour – but, if the real desire was actually satisfied, things would be close to being resolved so the apparent
compulsion would disappear. Working with Swadhisthana (to develop one’s ability to sense what one’s real desire / hunger is) and
Vishuddha (to help one become more discerning in how one attempts to satisfy one’s desires / hungers) is likely to help.
Brittle / Fragile
One may appear to be coping OK, but the slightest thing can lead to one snapping (perhaps explosively or aggressively) or collapse
(perhaps with tears) or both. In addition to working with Swadhisthana (to nurture oneself), working with Muladhara (to develop in
strength and endurance) is likely to be helpful.
Numb / Unfeeling
This is where one’s sensory awareness and ability to experience has shut down. There are many possible reasons for this, but pain,
perhaps in the emotional sense, is likely to be at least part of the cause. In other words, the shutting down of Swadhisthana is
protective – and is about protecting one from experiencing more pain than one can bear. In these circumstances, stimulating
Swadhisthana before one has resolved the source of pain is likely to lead to one experiencing pain to an excruciating degree –
clearly unhelpful. Until one has sorted out the cause of pain, working on Muladhara (to develop one’s ability to endure and persevere)
is likely to be helpful. Also, working with Anahata (specifically to be open to receiving love and nurturing from others) may be helpful.
Unresponsive / Unchanging / Frozen
This may be related to the previous section, but where one is aware of feelings and experiencing but not responding (and adapting),
working on Swadhisthana (to open one to the possibility of change) is likely to be helpful. As is working on Manipura (to help activate
one and give one energy for change and transformation).
Insufficiency of self-love and self-nurture leads to a neglecting of one’s needs (or a using-up of one’s resources), not necessarily on a
physical level. This tends to lead to a diminishment and impoverishment of oneself. There are many possible causes, but lack of, or
poor sense of, self-worth or an over focus on needs of others are likely / common causes. Working on Swadhisthana (nurturing of
oneself), is likely to help.