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Manipura Chakra: The Will to Thrive

Welcome to the third week of The Chakra Series. This week we’ve moved up from the root chakra (Muladhara) and the sacral chakra (Svadhisthana) to the third chakra, Manipura where we discover how to interact with the world as individuals and bring a unique sense of presence and purpose. The Chakra Series is an introduction to each of the chakras, the themes and elements associated with each, in addition to the imbalances, blockages, and what the chakras are like in-harmony in body and mind. 

Manipura, known as our power center, is located at the solar plexus. It represents our will, our purpose in life, and our ability to execute our passion. The element is fire, capturing the essence of this chakra with its heat, intensity, and ability to transform. When manipura is in balance, we’re able to assert ourselves without becoming too aggressive or overbearing. There is a sense of fluidity and ease within our power, as we’re able to ride the wave of momentum and opportunities that arise with a sense of pragmatism in how we execute our will. Imbalances in manipura chakra result in digestive issues and discomforts, as well as a feeling of powerlessness and lack of control. Misalignment in this chakra could appear as being overly-ridgid, demanding, egotistical, dogmatic, challenging, or on the other end, needy, clingy, and an utter lack of confidence and self-esteem.

This week, we sat down with Shiv Derek Oss, Clara’s father, to discuss the will to power, passion, and purpose. Shiv is a teacher and photographer whose passion for mythology, mysticism, and music has influenced his discourse and direction in life. Below are the highlights from our discussion where Clara and Shiv give advice on how to harness the power of the third chakra by taking risks, sitting in discomfort, and discovering your gift. Feel free to watch the full episode or listen on Spotify.

Manipura In Action: The Flame and Fluidity

Clara: Purpose is such a big part of the third chakra. The idea is to find and connect to our purpose. In the yoga practice, for the third chakra, manipura, we would do kapalabhati breath, also known as skull shining breath, or Agni Saraj to stimulate the inner fire. Other ways we’d work with the third chakra would be around the solar plexus through  lots of core work.

Shiv: I like thinking of the third chakra as the connecting to our collective unconscious and instinct. And so when you are living in your purpose, you need to connect to that core or that base of the fire, the ember quality, the undercurrent. And then from that undercurrent, the undercurrent supports the turbulence which is the fire and the flame. Above the turbulence you have the blue heat, which is the serenity. So you have all three parts: the embers at the base, the fire turbulence in the middle, and then the blue halo of light which is the serenity. And that’s what I feel power is about: being connected to those three aspects of the self. 

Clara: And also being balanced in all three. When I think of power, it’s something that can be aggressive. So I like to think of all three aspects, with the idea of the blue. I love this imagery of serenity. So when I connect to my power, I also connect to all three aspects versus letting one dominate. 

Shiv: Balance is crucial because that’s the distinction between force and assertion. Force is to impose the self on another, but assertion comes down from the harmony of those three elements, those three levels of awareness that you bring to your purpose. Otherwise you become inflated. 

Clara: And dogmatic. I feel like sometimes within that idea of power there can be rigidity. So I would ask: can I still be fluid in my power? 

Embrace Spontaneity and Idle Time

Clara: So much of the experience like art and the practice and yoga is spontaneous. It’s this idea of this feeling that’s kind of arising through the action of doing Asana or the action of reading poetry or listening to music or looking at art. I feel like any expression if you have the space to play and allow it to be experienced inside of you, then it hasn’t been contained. It isn’t dogmatic in a sense, which I feel is very important. 

Shiv: Then comes in a very interesting dynamic where let’s say you feel that you need to do yoga, but some part of you doesn’t want to, or there’s some part of you that wants to make art, but yet another part says, why don’t we go have a coffee somewhere? So how do you work with that? 

Clara: This is where the idea of tapas or discipline in terms of the spiritual practice. And I would ask, when is it appropriate to let it go to surrender to what’s happening, or when do you dig deep and do what needs to get done?

I’d say it all depends on my intention. If I’m not showing up to shy away from the work and avoid, that’s one thing. Or am I doing it because I need a break and I’m overloaded and I should be naval-gazing and enjoying idle time. 

In doing nothing, we’re healing and we’re reflecting so that when we go back to doing what we need to do, we’re rejuvenated.  

Shiv: Bob Dylan says it in a really interesting way, he says it comes down to how to hold and to release in a Holy way. Meaning wholeness, so you’re entering into a sense of wholeness and you’re coming out of that wholeness.

Now, how do you, because I think yoga has to do with that unity and maintaining that wholeness between those three levels. We were talking about. How do we go about doing that in our daily lives? Because what we’re doing in essence is where we’re using our power upon ourselves. We’re regulating ourselves.

And so where does that come from? You know, where does that, where does that knowing this come from? Is it coming from the discipline? Does it come from the practice itself or where does it come from?

Sit in Discomfort: Advice On How To Persevere

Stephanie: I’m getting the sense that part of honoring the third chakra is to be uncomfortable… 

Shiv: Yes. 

Clara: And the idea of that, is that through the fire, whatever it is that we’re uncomfortable with transforms. It’s not the fire that is uncomfortable. It’s what we’re bringing to the fire that has discomfort.

Stephanie: There’s a lot of risk involved in going alone on your path, which is what both of you have done at some point in your work or art. The ability to follow your purpose and go out on your own, to have the will and confidence to go against the norm, these are all themes of the third chakra. Do you have any advice for people who are struggling to launch their own business or pursue their art, or do whatever it is that takes them to the next level? 

Clara: A lot of it, I feel, is perseverance. 

Shiv: Being an artist, you don’t have a choice after awhile. You know there is no choice because the other way of living is not amicable to your being.

Clara: It’s in really following the momentum. And I think that that’s like in terms of stepping out of the village compound, meaning the nine to five, the typical milestones that we’re supposed to go through in life. Instead, you need to kind of follow your nose and also ride the wave of momentum. So you need to be conscious of what’s happening and what’s coming towards you and moving towards what you think is going to feed you.

I literally stumbled upon working for myself. I was working at a restaurant and I was in university and I stumbled upon doing a yoga teacher training through a friend of mine, and I decided to join her. I thought I would just learn more about yoga, but I followed it and it felt like the right thing to do. And then I realized how I really enjoyed it. And then from there, a friend of mine was working at managing a studio and somebody had just left and so he was offered me all of these classes. And so the key is, you need to follow your nose. Go with instinct and also ride the wave. And they’ll definitely be points of discomfort where you’re like, am I going to be able to make a living? Trust in your gut and what you do, but also be pragmatic. Feel the current is as it’s coming towards you, meaning as opportunities are coming towards you, you want to kind of observe, am I going to ride this opportunity, or am I going to step this one out? In that, in that sense, you know, you’re always like just treading water. You’re just kind of allowing yourself to be there and observing like what’s coming towards me and how is that going to feed me? But the other thing that I love that she has said is, is that you need to be fed by it.

Discover Your Gift and Give It Away

Shiv: This brings me to the notion that we carry gifts, that we are here and we are a gift. We are a gift from creation to creation. And that a lot of what we are for me, meaning is about, is getting in touch with my gift. Now the thing then is who will accept this gift and who will reject it. It’s been my experience that it’s difficult when you come, when you bring your gift, because your gift is unique, each person has a unique gift and that unique uniqueness threatens the status quo. It unsettles people they want to know. 

And then what you do with the gift then is you give the gift away. And only when you give the gift away, that cycle is complete because you pass it on.  

Clara: We talked about this before in terms of when we’re in a relationship or when we’re in dialogue with somebody other than ourselves, and we are triggered by them. We talked about this before in terms of when we’re in a relationship or when we’re in dialogue with somebody other than ourselves, and we are triggered by them. It’s an opportunity. When we feel an agitation, the anger illuminates that there’s something there that we need to work out. The irritation is fodder to chew on and ask, what does this mean for me? How can I grow from this? So you can progress or you can move beyond your irritation and anger, and where you currently are. What we consider the comfort zone of where we are right now, it’s time to go to the next level of whatever that means.