The Manipura Chakra
– self-confidence by letting go of self
Manipura, the third chakra, or solar plexus is the energy center associated with personal power, and is particularly sensitive to how we feel and experience life. When in a healthy, harmonious balance, it places us in a positive relationship to self and to the world around us.
Manipura may be interpreted as ‘wheel of the jeweled city’ – an apt metaphor for the positive individual in an ideal society. The word ‘mani’ in manipura is the Sanskrit for ‘brilliant as a gem’. Uncovering the true, brilliant self equates pureness of being, and self-realization occurs when a state of pure ‘beingness’ is achieved.
The goal is to shine, brilliant as the sun, radiating the universe of light that we are when we live as loving, compassionate, conscious beings. Such consciousness allows us to operate from a state of mindfulness which may manifest in the outer world as insightful balance between ‘doing’ and ‘being’, where we can strive to live our daily lives without shoving others around or being shoved around, and respond to life’s challenges with a shining inner strength.
Yoga and the Self
According to Yogic philosophy the self-realized being is a being in a state of oneness with everything that is. The practice of Yoga develops the conscious mind, and when such consciousness is integrated into ordinary living there is no ‘self’, ‘I’, or ‘me’ – the origins of competitive thinking, selfishness and conflict. Thus the personality, and the conflicts brought about by dualism, are circumvented, and the Yogi is able to return to a state of oneness.
In such oneness, the heart opens, and allows integration of body, mind and spirit – within ourselves, collectively and universally. The ego is dissolved. To bring about such transformation is to let the true inner being shine from a state of wherein there is no need to outdo or manipulate others, or to feel threatened or insecure when we cannot. In a state of oneness we know that nothing is good or bad, that no-one is superior or inferior to anyone else. With the absence of ‘us’ and ‘them’ polarisation, conflict gives away to compassion for all beings, and for ourselves. In the state of oneness we feel comfortable in everything we do because we realize that there is no competition, no winning or losing.
Thus true confidence goes beyond the concept of ‘self-confidence’ a term that indicates of ‘separateness thinking’, and replaces it with ‘beingness’. Hence true power is to exist, to be in the world and the universe without a sense of having or not having power, becoming free of comparison and competition. Such beingness springs from a deep inner knowing that everything is okay; the ‘me’ and ‘I’ loses its identity and identification with a “separateness existence”. It is a state of being associated with “being in the moment”, “in the now” and other meditative states, when the true self comes to the surface in the stream of consciousness awareness when one is at peace with life.
Manipura in our society
Manipura, the third chakra, or solar plexus, houses the second largest nerve plexus after the brain. It is the energy center associated with personal power, and is particularly sensitive to how we feel or experience life. When in a healthy, harmonious balance, it places us in a positive relationship to self and to the world around us.
In this sense the third chakra is the seat of the ego and, when in an excessive, unbalanced state, renders us either timid or domineering. Negative expression of the third chakra solar energies create a blinding brilliance and scorching strength, or cold aloofness when we shy away from the warmth of the sun’s nurturing presence.
In a society obsessed with personal power and success the ‘false self’ is highly valued. The ability to find a true ‘non power’ with personal, spiritual and cosmic forces in harmony counters the illusion of a ‘separateness’, ego-driven reality brought about by the dualism that fires the ego.
Therefore the ego strengths itself via performance, the acquisition of material objects and power over other people, transient qualities which render it essentially fickle and insubstantial. Yet in our society we are deemed unsuccessful without displaying power, material possession or excellent performance. Identification with these attributes of the ego, with ‘doing’ or achieving, leads to the sense of confidence or lack of it which defines the unbalanced manipura.
Men typically tend towards arrogance in their perceived success and attach too much importance to their kingdom, or drown in the victimhood of perceived failure. Typically, women attach too much importance to their appearances, flaunting or denying their beauty, and associate their identity and value with their vanities. Unconsciousness conspires with ego to drive the wielder of power to grab more power when threatened, and the insecure to abdicate confidence.
One of the major distinctions of Yoga is that the ego, the self-conscious or unconscious part of us that causes the unstable world of separateness, is shown up as the negative energy that it is. Yoga practices therapeutically stimulate the balance of body and mind, in order to bring the “I” or ‘little self’, and “universal consciousness”, the ‘higher self’ into harmony, to expose, curb or eliminate negative expressions of power.
This balance assists in a positive relationship with the Mars energies, the ruling planet of the manipura, and its warrior principle that drives us to change the unconscious status quo. When we attain such warrior consciousness we are inspired to act from a conscious solar plexus energy in harmony with the body, mind, heart and universe.
How we perceive the world and the way we interact with it impacts directly on the nervous system and our physical, emotional and mental health. Almost every affliction of our society may be traced, individually or globally, to misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the self that spirals into some deviation when there is a poor sense of self. Violence, hatred, intolerance and the common occurrence of physical illnesses in the solar plexus area is indicative of a society with an unbalanced solar energy, manifesting as nervous system and related endocrine disorders, for example, diabetes, adrenal imbalances, arthritis, colonic diseases, stomach ulcers, intestinal tumors, anorexia or bulimia, and low blood pressure.
Transforming our lives through consciousness
Our society is much in need of governments and institutions comprising individuals who can disengage from an excessive lack of, or an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. We need to follow loving and nurturing practices, not dependent on external flattery or band-aid style fixing. A direct, conscious connection to love, and to a universe with its own sense of order and beauty liberates us, and our societies, from playing power games.
A philosophical attitude to life based on selfless love helps us to let go of selfishness and allows spirit to connect us to the bigger picture and trust in life, and uncover our true spiritual path blessed with heart and feeling.
Feeling secure and confident, knowing that doing what is rewarding to you from this vantage point will let you experience positive interaction with
yourself and the world. When you do the things you are good at and for the love of doing them, you allow the manipura warrior inside you to guide you
and bring conscious, decisive action with a productive mental focus and behavior to your workplace, family and social life.
Listen to the FREE mp3 Podcast of “Let it shine” .
This article apeared in the Winter 2009 issue of the South African yoga quaterly, Yoga Awakening Africa.