Working with the Chakras
This guide describes ways of using the body's functional centers (corresponding to the Chakras) to enable personal transformation through movement to music. It is important to keep in mind that these centers, although described separately, work in conjunction with each other, and that the broad, general descriptions are intended as a starting point for your personal investigations.
The excerpts below were summarized from The Silent Language of the Body, by Pablo Bobbio, © 2001, 2nd edition, TAO Press.
Location: Starting in the sacrum, it spreads downward between the thighs - in the perineum, behind the genitals. The corresponding muscles are the gluteus and the rear of the thighs and legs. The sole of the foot, especially the heel, is an essential extension of this center.
The low center represents the human being in relation to matter – our link to the planet. It provides the rest of the centers with energy. The expression of this center has a primitive rhythm – conveying self-assertion, egoism, and self-assurance.
The feet move rhythmically, hitting the floor vigorously with all the sole and especially with the heels. The trunk remains erect and strong, and the knees, half-bent in an attitude of sitting, confer an expression of strength. The arms and hands also have a vigor and firmness in readiness for self assertion or fighting. One feels the ability to face life and stand firmly on the ground, prepared to fight anyone who attacks or opposes.
Music: Marked rhythm based on percussion, African rhythms, Japanese and Chinese folkloric (percussive) music, northern Argentine folk music, Australian tribal music.
Location: Starting in the lumbar spine, it opens at the pubis in line with the genitals.
The sacral-lumbar center is related to instinctive life and sexuality. Its energy is founded in biological survival and generation, but if it receives influences from other centers, the purpose may change. We can channel this passion into any activity. Therefore, this center is one of the most powerful forces in the human being; well-directed and channeled, it gives attraction, warmth, pleasure, and union with others.
The hips and pelvic region initiate movement of the whole body. Sensually and voluptuously the lumbar zone is freed, and the groin and genital region are active. They follow an undulating, gentle rhythm, in a repetition which gradually absorbs the attention, leading it towards sexuality. The rigidity of the trunk and neck slackens, and soon the whole body participates in the pleasure of movement.
Music: Brazilian, Meso-American, Thai and Hawaiian rhythms, calypso, meringue, cumbia, lambada, Ecuadorian and Peruvian folk music.
Location: Starting point at the lower backbone (sixth vertebra), it spreads out at the level of the pit of the stomach above the navel.
With softness and ductility, this center transforms an external stimulus or experience into primal emotion, and transmits the resulting energy into a motor response. The upper abdomen and solar plexus house the enteric nervous system, or “emotional brain,” and the corresponding digestive organs are all greatly influenced by emotionality.
Fear and suffering, as well as laughter and pleasure in food, are this center’s most typical expressions. In developing the middle center, we come into contact with creative imagery and dramatic play, the archetypes of the hero and the eternal child. One experiences impulsiveness without analysis, rapid shifts through opposing states of mind, humor, irony, anger and its discharge in the body, and exaggeration and grand gestures. These movements relate advance and retreat, ascent and descent, extroversion and introversion.
When asked to move freely, a person usually starts from the middle center, unconsciously connecting with the basic emotions and the stage of infancy when the emotional and affective language has not yet been replaced by words. One can jump very easily from one feeling to another, or one can choose to stay in one emotional state, generating frustration and anguish. Repetition of facial expressions and emotional postures allows us to repeatedly relive a blocked experience, actively discovering fresh outlets to channel the accumulated feelings and sensations. We can also moan, sing, cry, or laugh.
Music: symphonic music, Pink Floyd, slow (bluesy or expressive) jazz.
Location: Starting in the upper part of the backbone, it opens onto the breast over the heart. The arms and the palms of the hands are included.
Love, compassion, and the affirmation of oneself are the symbols of the cardiac center, and they also represent the ideals we must strive to attain. The heart symbolizes self-denying love, the submission of one’s own self to the loved person. Yet the breast also symbolizes the affirmation of personality. The ribs are located in this area – a physical reminder of the defense mechanisms that can develop around this center. Expansive arm and hand movements help to stretch and expose these defenses, rendering us more vulnerable. Little by little we get inside the cage of stiff ribs and connect with a deep loneliness, and the need for self-affirmation. Then, from this place, the movement widens to slowly developing love and connection with others through authentic freedom.
Within the movements of the cardiac center, we can include caring, respectful touch and physical support of others. To hold or shake someone’s hand indicates friendship and trust: the hand is the extension of the breast. Developing strength in the arms helps us to gesture and express with creative strength, showing the integration of the passion and emotion of the lower centers with the determination of the upper centers. The shoulder blades are also active in this demonstration, spreading open the chest, moving invitingly, or completing a self-assertive stance.
Music: deeply contrasting and with expressionist contents. Examples include: Tchaikovsky, Peter Gabriel, Andreas Wollenveider, Vangelis, Kitaro.
Location: Starting in the cervical spine, it opens onto the larynx.
This center is related to intellectual (learned) expression and performs the intellect’s controlling function over the life of the psyche. It governs the activity, and the repression, of the free flow of energy. In this center we find all of the sensory organs – eyes, nose, tongue, ears, and fingertips – the doorways to the intellect. Here also resides intellectual communication such as voice, mime, and writing.
This center invites extension up through the body and out through the extremities. In an elongated posture, joined feet and straight knees permit greater elevation; the effort to maintain balance on this minimum base of support requires concentration, the energy ascends to the higher centers, and the body’s center of gravity rises. The exercises with fingers, mimicry, gestures, language, voice, neck, balance, and words have an infinite variety of expressive possibilities, tending towards leadership, dexterity, control, and precision. Practice in this center helps us to be more direct and decisive, helps us to concentrate, and connects us with our aspirations. The object is to transform the intellectual “controller” in this center, from a repressive jailer into a useful instrument for the fully expressive person.
Music: tangos, Piazzola, Susana Rinaldi, flamenco, military marches, some operas, traditional (peppy, swing) jazz.
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