The Pleasure Principle – Exploring Joy And The Sacral Chakra
In Classical Chinese Medicine, certain parts of the body are considered curious or extraordinary if they store a sacred substance. For example, the brain stores cerebrospinal fluid, the bones and marrow store blood, the gallbladder stores bile. And in women the uterus stores blood but also, during pregnancy, a fetus.
What is extraordinary is, by its very nature, magical. And creative. What could possibly be a more magical and creative act than making and carrying a baby for nine months? In my work helping patients with infertility, inevitably there is a blockage or a severing from sensuality and creativity. And this disconnect comes in many forms. Frequently a woman will tell me she’s forgotten what it feels like to go on a date. That sex has become this carefully timed act to coincide with basal body temp and luteinizing hormone surges, instead of a romantic urge spurred on by candlelight and a bottle of vino. Others admit they once felt creative (as in they used to dance, draw, sing, bake, write, etc.), but have turned away from such pursuits. . . often because of career demands or because a partner does not share them. At times women have confessed, “I really don’t know why we stopped kissing”. Or some will say, “I’m not creative at all”.
The truth is we humans are inherently sensual and creative. We all have the capacity to feel deeply and passionately and to produce extraordinary things, through the power of the second or sacral chakra. In Sanskrit, the sacral chakra is known as “Svadhisthana”, which means “your own place”. What better description could there be for the chakra associated with the emotional body, joy, sensuality and creativity? With birthing our own ideas and dreams and yes, actual human babies! Metaphorically speaking, we tend to need to retreat into “our own place” in order to feel and for plans to germinate. For all the juiciness in life to begin to come to us.
Sometimes, though, when we’ve been conditioned not to express ourselves or if we’ve been wounded emotionally, we shut down and our chakras get walled off. Often trauma first locks up our breath, so the ribcage stops expanding properly. We become shallow breathers, which from a Chinese medicine perspective keeps the lung from sharing energy with the kidneys. . . and the kidney meridian is what governs the second chakra. Without proper energetic nourishment from the lung, the kidney loses vitality and it’s easy for us to become unplugged from our creativity. Then the paint brushes get tossed in a drawer. The writing tablet gets shoved to the back of a desk. Spontaneously exploring the art supply aisle and trying out new recipes and making time for meditation and vision boards all go by the wayside.
Life goes on, to be sure. The mundane and responsible parts. By and large we still show up at work. . . we still tackle that to-do list. But we stop lying on the grass and looking for leprechauns and unicorns in the moving clouds above.
Why do we do that? Why do we choose feasible over fun?
Because on some level we bought what the collective consciousness has sold us about sexuality and creativity. That sex is shameful. And playing is impractical. That making a living is about getting down to brass tacks and business and not chasing windmills or pie-in-the-sky pipe dreams. That goofing off is childish and once we are tax-paying, law-abiding, credit-score-watching adults, it’s time to put all that silly stuff away and get real.
Oh yeah? Fess up now. How’s that working for ya?
For many people, it’s only when a long-term separation from joy has occurred that they start to pay attention. When that imbalance shows up as recurring UTIs or infertility or impotence or endometriosis or ovarian cysts or constipation or back pain. When they land in a western medicine doctor’s office and the diagnosis means drugs or surgery. . . or else exploring an alternative like acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Eastern philosophy and treatment principles do not separate mind and body. Acupuncturists are taught in essence what Carolyn Myss preaches. . . that your biography becomes your biology. And so in terms of healing what’s wrong physically. . . really healing it. . . we first need to reconnect and balance what’s out of harmony emotionally and spiritually. Because what’s bugging you or eating away at you about your life is what’s taking its toll on your physical vessel.
So how do we even begin to do that?
By remembering what we knew instinctively as toddlers.
Have you ever watched a two-year old? They live for fun! They feel good about themselves. They are honest about how they feel and express those feelings freely. They are spontaneous and stay in the moment. They know how to deep-belly breathe. They understand all the ways of well-being. . . until they start being groomed to be good little boys and girls.
Not that there’s anything wrong with instilling healthy boundaries. But squashing the sacral chakra by devaluing the place of joy in our lives never leads to happily ever after.
For lasting health and happiness, cultivate your inner child. Allow it to breathe and feel and express and explore. Let it feel safe and supported by making sure your first chakra is rooted and balanced as much as possible, for each successive chakra can only be as whole and harmonious as the ones before it.
By adopting the ways of a child, you will likely discover that there is only one important question to consider when faced with any decision. Does this truly light me up or does it not? If it does, do it. If it doesn’t, then what would? In all likelihood you will be amazed at the magic that unfolds in life, once you honestly allow joy to have a voice in your choices.