Chakra 3 – Manipura (Solar Plexus)

ManipuraManipura is the Sanskrit term meaning ‘city of jewels’. It relates to the element of fire and is often depicted symbolically as a bright glowing Sun. Likewise in the same way that the Sun radiates heat and light throughout the solar system, manipura chakra radiates and distributes heat and prana throughout the entire human body and energy system.

Manipura chakra provides the fire and therefore it is the energy centre of our personal power, vitality and well-being. It provides our being with confidence, the energy to endure and the self worth and motivation to see projects through to their completion.

Anatomically it is situated just above and behind the navel and governs the solar plexus of nerves and pancreas gland, which controls the digestive fires and bodies metabolism, transforming food into energy and heat. Manipura is also responsible for the function of other related organs involved, such as the liver, gallbladder, spleen and stomach. Key processes of manipura chakra then are transformation, extraction, detoxification, digestion and metabolism.

If we look at the Liver and Gallbladder I think it best explains the underlying functions of manipura chakra on a spiritual and physical level. Chinese medicine calls the Liver the General who creates the plan of action and the Gall Bladder the decision maker who helps the Liver carry out its plan. This would mean then that our ability to organize, plan and make decisions is down to the paired relationship and well-being of the Liver and Gall bladder.

The functional nature of Manipura Chakra, the Fire element and the paired Organs are one and the same. Their health is vital for our self esteem because its energy provides us with a life plan, a sense of purpose and direction. The Liver also processes food from the stomach and intestines, extracting what is essential and discarding what is not and neutralising toxins along the way. This ability to extract what is essential operates on every level including the mind and coupled with the fundamental detoxification process produced through the Liver, it makes the Fire element and Manipura chakra an important focal point for anyone trying to seriously detox and bring back order, clarity and enthusiasm back into their life.

The organ of activity for manipura is the eyes and the sense power associated with it is sight. Manipura provides clarity and the function of sight at every level of our being, which means seeing in the form of knowing and discrimination as well as our eyesight. We can literally see the vitality of this chakra reflected through the sparkle in the eyes or lack of it.

Alongside mooladhara, manipura chakra is also linked to the function of the adrenal glands and in working with the immune system to ward off stress and maintain a healthy defense against disease. Stress is said to have quite an impact on manipura chakra and this can be felt as a tightening of the solar plexus area, especially if the ego personality feels a loss of control, as power and control are the central issues of this chakra. When the direction of our life is temporarily altered such as when we lose our Job, which also provides an identity of worth to the ego then Manipura chakra will become stressed and its associated elements will show this. Even if we have a strong faith the lower 3 chakras are earth bound and when our surival needs are threatened, safety, sexuality and identity, then we need a strong practice and deeper insight to help us control them. But this is the path of the Kundalini and its through our Kundalini practice that we can.

It is sometimes easier to identify the symptoms of a chakra when it is unbalanced because symptoms then go to polar extremes and more clearly defined. If manipura chakra becomes volatile, symptoms may show as excessive heat in the body, high blood pressure, hot flushes and sweating and our character may become more aggressive and domineering in seeking power over others and trying to control. Fortunately there is nobility to manipura chakra, which can more easily assume the responsibility that comes with power. It has the discriminative powers to recognize its own shortcomings in being pushy sometimes and also the strength to change quickly and harness their fiery drives in support of the whole. If stress causes manipura to go under active instead of overactive, we may experience the opposing symptoms in lack of body heat, low blood pressure, feeling cold all the time, apathy, lacking in self esteem and the ability to assert what we eally feel or think, or we may find it hard to commit ourselves to a project and see it through.

When manipura is strong and healthy, its natural fire will radiate confidence, warmth, well-being and friendliness throughout our being. Being related to light, fire and sight, the mind becomes clearer and our thoughts and actions become more organized. We feel in control of ourselves and our lives, being more able to make decisions quickly and extract the essential meaning from what is being said to us, or from the situations going on around us. The Sun is often symbolized as a male energy, a warm hearted natural leader and positive centre of influence and someone who has a healthy manipura chakra will noticeably demonstrate these very same qualities in their personality. They are usually well respected and well liked.

The life lesson given to this chakra and to activate its higher potential is in handling power for the betterment of humanity. Power is a quality of manipura chakra and power is the quality most easily given to (Fire) this personality. It requires strength and vision to handle power correctly and fortunately manipura chakra is blessed with both these qualities. They naturally assume the responsibility that comes with power, however it can also be abused especially with a weakened mooladhara chakra creating insecurity. This then brings out the worst in this charismatic energy and character, making them manipulative, pushy and persuasive but to their own ends yet often guised under the false pretense of altruistic causes. We can see this awful trait in some politicians who will say almost anything to obtain influence and power.

All the chakras create a connection with other people and the world around us, but whereas mooladhara chakra provides this connection in a tribal and dependent sense of belonging, and swadhisthanas emphasis on our personal relationships, manipura energy is more about the power of individuality and our unique relationship to humanity. It has a stronger defining principle than the lower two. Here the self emerges from the group mentality or ideology and becomes its own thinker. This can bring them into conflict with some groups as most groups are bound by an idea or central cause and unless this cause is all inclusive and governed by sound reason, manipura energy will instinctively resist and rebel, either quietly or loudly depending on the personality.

As we look into the world of nature we can see that the Fire element is a fast acting transformative power which changes the other elements around it very quickly, more than any other element. So Manipura chakra is fundamentally a transformative power. Its a revolutionary, a rebel and radical reformer and we can see this instinct very clearly during our teenage years between the ages of fifteen and twenty one, when manipura energy is most active and dominant. During this period we really begin to develop our individuality, our own ideas and codes of conduct separate from our parents. It is no co-incidence that the animal related to manipura is the Ram with its fiery driving energy and enduring character.

According to Swami Satyananda Saraswati who studied and practiced Chakra yoga all his life, ‘a Yogi who has had a kundalini awakening of manipura chakra, will rise above the mire of the earth and begin to see things as they really are’. All personal prejudices and complexes fall away and all the noble views, perfect ideas, beauty and greater possibilities of human consciousness are seen and experienced due to the newly found freedom attained at this level of awakening.

However he says there is still danger here for the yogi, because one has yet to achieve emptiness and surrender to the divine cosmic force. Although at this point the aspirant will have a controlled mind and a far more enlightened perspective than most, the ego still gets in the way. Past habits are still energized in latent form in the sub-conscious mind and can influence the personality and give rise to ego desire for power and control again (manipuras achilees heel). So Swami advises that this point is pivotal and requires great perseverance to not become distracted by transitory worldly attainments and to keep up our practice more than ever to cope with the sudden gifts and attentions that come so naturally to this powerful personality.

Throughout our life there is a natural awakening of chakras but a kundalini awakening of a chakra is something different. I like to use the image of a Bamboo cane which has several circular parts to it to describe the process. Bamboo canes have a juncture about every meter or so up the stem and if we equate the human life span to the bamboo cane, then these circular junctures are the pivotal moments of big change. We have them naturally such as when going through puberty and the body and psyche are spontaneously changed and evolved….So no one can escape this process of natural evolution and growth but for sure Yoga and certain other disciplined practices we can have them again and accelarate our conscious evolution and go even deeper. We naturally become more intelligent by accessing deeper aspects of the human brain and also removing the effects of traumatic experiences from our sub-conscious nervous system….For example, we turn up the dimmer switch and become brighter.

A kundalini awakening penetrates or illuminates the chakra with a cosmic burst of force (a pure and large ammount of energy) and its highest potential is activated and the karmic blocks which have been hidden can be seen, experienced, more understood and released. The impurities in them are being burnt up and it can actually feel quite traumatic at the time but eventually it stabilizes and we feel a definate sense of personal growth and achivement. We literally feel like we have been through as marathon. Our life turns upside down, we dont eat or need much sleep, we are filled with creative energy and moments of bliss are broken with moments of chaos and it can last for several weeks.

Although spiritual masters talk of Kundalini burning up all toxins within a chakra permanently, perhaps I did not have enough personal power but for my experience they only reduce them… Life continues to move in its circle like a spiral and in Yoga they tend to concentrate on 7 year cycles, so when the season returns again in a cyclic fashion the same tendencies arise but weaker each time and with each cycle allowing you to see deeper and undersand the nature of your reality and move beyond your past. Providing you with more freedom and choice…With each Kundalini experience certain powers are spontaneously absorbed into our body and mind and simultaneously this unlocks doors that were once closed in the outer world. We immediately have more influence and we feel different.

It is said in the book Kundalini Tantra written by Swami Satyananda Saraswati that a kundalini awakening in manipura chakra enables a yogi to control on the inner level of consciousness. They have the ability to perceive deep into peoples hearts and are able to help them because they have good control over energy, mind over matter. Natural laws and most people respond to this innate goodness and the world seems to bring their plans to fruition, because their will resonates with a high vibration that brings order and greater wisdom to all things and every situation and often through the most unusual and unconventional ways.

However not all beings respond favourably to your personal growth, especially in the Fire element because its increased light and power shines the light of truth on those around you. Your increase reflects and acts like a mirror and sometimes people with big ego’s (people who are not firmly rooted in their divine compassionate nature) who compair all the time dont like what they see in themselves. But like a rite of passage, the yogi, yogini or shaman must be like the Sun and learn to rise above the mire in both himself and those around him and still shine because you will be challenged. If you stand fast in your goodness this will help bring about a real transformation in them to eventually because the light of truth, love and generosity are more wanted than jealousy and fear. We learn not to take things personally and we create a compassionate space which remains open to them but unable to be manipulated by the subtle games the untethered ego plays and its projections.

It helps if you see them in their divine nature and higher potential to actually bring it about. If you relate to that part of them eventually that part of them will relate back, but if you relate and react to the lower part of them of which they are actually trying to rise above then that part will relate back with force. There is no need to fight fire with fire, but become empty and allow their fire to burn itself out. This is how we personally absorb the qualities of Fire within ourselves and begin to master them.

People are having kundalini experiences all the time and some dont even realise it. The books that exist, especially from India, make it seem so far out and magical that no normal person can relate to it and they can disempower people. People in the West dont live in seclusion without any stress or responsibility and they are faced with another challenge. Not only how to attain the kundalini breakthrough in themselves but then how to actualise it in their relationship to the world and other people. We can all attain some kind of enlightened state on a retreat in a quiet mountain ashram but the real power is maintaining that in the city surrounded by people who are not like you, dont recognise you and you have no support systems other than your own will and effort to survive.

The kundalini experiences are not so difficult to attain if you are dedicated to your practice, dont expect fantastic out of body experiences, dont waste your time on too much pointless television, and devote yourself to removing all anger, hatred and blame towards other people and circumstances. If you take responsibility, follow your heart and inner sense of truth and not the crowd you will get them….Asana / pranyama practice is only part of the process. I want the truth, to simplfy the exagerations handed down to us and to encourage everyone that they can have kundanli awakenings again and again. Its a life time process, and I dont know anybody who has a kundalini experience and over come their ego traits completely. Everything is organic and yes kundalini experiencs are evolutionary leaps but they are not so great that you leap from modern life. You are a human being on this earth plane.



Keyword Associations

Fire, Warmth, Vitality, Transformation, Discrimination, Clarity, Detoxification, Generation, Preservation, Self Esteem, Charisma, Confidence, Motivation, Individuality – Eyes, Sight, Metabolism, Digestion, Solar Plexus, Liver, Pancreas, gallbladder, Spleen and Stomach.