Yesterday, I got booked to facilitate a morning yoga session for community organizers on a wellness retreat - and I wanted to create a space for them to know that self-care and organizing don't have to be mutually exclusive. I like to open up my yoga class with a breathing/grounding exercise, and if time permits, a guided chakra alignment meditation.
“Chakra” is a Sanskrit word literally meaning "wheel." These centers were named as such because of the circular shape to the spinning energy centers which exist in our subtle etheric body, the non-material energetic counterpart to our physical body. There are seven main chakras and they are located along the spine extending out the front and back of the body. Each chakra has a number of specific qualities that correspond to the refinement of energy from the base-level material-self identity, located at the first chakras, up to the higher vibration spirit-level awareness of being at our crown. These energetic centers represent our highest level of integration split, prism like, into a spectrum of colors. Our opportunity in studying them is to learn how to master each chakra’s essence and unite them all into a unified field of brilliance. As such, we re-unite our disparate parts into a radiant light of full self-awareness.
-Source: Expressions of Spirit
In short, when our chakras are misaligned, it affects so many aspects of our lives, from our external relationships to even our internal organs! I decided to experiment a chakra meditation for each center using the words of elders who have paved the way for us within the movement. What would it be like to call their spirits in so that we can recognize our personal spiritual practice is just as vital to the liberation we seek for our communities?
Here is a list I've started, beginning with our root chakra and moving up towards the crown, which will be updated as my practice evolves. As you read each line, I invite you to breathe in deeply through your nose and slowly out through your mouth, until you feel the words resonate through your body. You are welcome to use this and adapt it, and I would also love your suggestions/feedback!
1: ROOT CHAKRA (grounded)
"The most radical thing I ever did was stay put." - Grace Lee Boggs
With your intention/hands placed at the base of your spine, say:
"I AM GROUNDED."
2: SACRAL CHAKRA (creativity/sensuality)
"A revolution that is based on the people exercising their creativity in the midst of devastation is one of the great historical contributions of humankind." -Grace Lee Boggs
"I think that in order to struggle you have to be creative. In my life, creativity has been something that has sustained me; it awoke my spiritual struggle." - Assata Shakur
"The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is-it’s to imagine what is possible." - bell hooks
With your intentions/hands placed two inches below your naval, say:
"I AM CREATIVE."
3: SOLAR PLEXUS (Confidence)
"When we drop fear, we can draw nearer to people, we can draw nearer to the earth, we can draw nearer to all the heavenly creatures that surround us." - bell hooks
"We have been raised to fear the YES in ourselves... I am deliberate and afraid of nothing." -Audre Lorde
With your intentions/hands placed two inches above your naval, say:
"I AM CONFIDENT."
4: HEART (love)
"We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit. Each time you love, love as deeply as if it were forever." - Audre Lorde
"We must love in such a way that the person we love feels free." -Thich Nhat Hanh
With your intentions/hands placed at the center of your chest next to your heart, say:
"I AM LOVED."
5: THROAT (expression)
"I will have my serpent’s tongue - my woman’s voice, my sexual voice, my poet’s voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence." - Gloria E. Anzaldua
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."- Martin Luther King Jr.
With your intentions/hands placed over your throat, say:
"I AM EXPRESSIVE."
6: 3RD EYE (intuition/consciousness)
"Keep expanding your horizon, decolonize your mind and cross borders. Consciousness is power. Tomorrow's world is yours to build." - Yuri Kochiyama
"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." - Marcus Garvey
"A person who does not look back to where he came from would not be able to reach his destination (english translation of Ang hini lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makarating sa pararoonan) - Dr. Jose P Rizal, Filipino revolutionary and national hero
With your intentions/hands placed at your forehead between the eyes, say:
"I AM INTUITIVE."
7: CROWN (enlightenment/divinity)
"The only way to survive is by taking care of one another. Building community is to the collective as spiritual practice is to the individual." Grace Lee Boggs
"When 'i' is replaced with 'We', even the illness becomes wellness."-Malcolm X
With your intentions/hands placed in a lotus position at the crown of your head, say:
"I AM DIVINE."
Breathe in with these words with a smile, knowing that you are not alone on your journey toward liberation and healing. You are supported by those before you, those around you, and by so many of those to come. In the words of Audre Lorde, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." When we are able to care for our own well-being, we are able to provide that same gift for others. Self-care does not have to be a luxury and can begin with a simple acknowledgement of your breath, this vital life force that has kept us moving throughout our lives.
This will be an ongoing document, but in the meantime feel what chakra needs balancing in your body - and reflect on the words of those who came before us to help bring you back to center. What elders and their words have kept you in alignment?
I'd like to leave you with an article posted on Colorlines today quoting healers of color on self-care:
And for final kicks, being "spiritual" doesn't mean always being positive. All emotions are welcome and highly encouraged on this path!!!