Solar Plexus Chakra: Empowerment
Location: Solar plexus, stomach, middle back, digestive tract
Bija Mantra: Ram
Sanskrit Name: Manipura (jewel in the city)

The manipura chakra is located at the solar plexus, where the ribs join on the front of the body, and right at the center point of the spine on the back of the body. The element of this chakra is fire, and it rules our digestive fire and organs of digestion, too. This is, indeed, a fiery location as it houses our ego and how we present ourselves to the world. Some of us have too much fire in that regard, others too little. Ideally, we have enough flame to light the world (and ourselves) in a warm, caring manner.

The solar plexus chakra is correlated with the sense of sight. Through our egos, we constantly seek for new things, looking for new opportunities and seeing the world around us. Oftentimes, this looking outward puts us in a comparison mindset, and that spurs competition with others. Consider the way that social media is dominated by only positive posts. We see this and draw the conclusion that since our friends seem to be doing so well, we obviously need to step up our game in some way—make more money, more friends, more notoriety. Anytime we perceive that others have more, do more or are more, then it makes us think as if we are less.

The opposite, of course, is also true. If we compare ourselves to others and see their faults, misgivings and what they lack, then it once again puts a rift between us and them. Ultimately in yoga, we look to bridge these divides and recognize that we are all equal and awesome in our own ways. This doesn’t mean that everyone is nice or that no one does harm—some are mean and some are unkind—but it does mean that we want to get to the place that we recognize the humanness in all others around us.

This is a difficult task for everyone, but made particularly difficult by the digital world we live in. Not so long ago, our interactions with others required in-person contact, or at least a phone call that established a tone of voice and better understanding. Not so much anymore! With our constant busyness and drive for ambition and success, compounded with the age of the internet, much of our interaction is not face-to-face, but rather through the interface of a screen.

The Critical Importance of Connection

One of the most important components of connection—which is a critical thing for all of us as humans—is the ability to cultivate and feel empathy. Empathic connection, which is the ability to feel into another’s experience, is dependent on face-to-face interaction. Mirror neurons in our brain fire at the sight of another’s face, fueling in us the same reaction that we see the other experiencing. This is why it is so difficult to witness another’s painful experience, particularly if we are deeply emotionally connected to them. It is almost as if we feel it ourselves. Empathy is at the heart of all of our connections to others, but if we never see them, well, we are lost.

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Connection is how we thrive. It is how we grow, love and trust ourselves, others and the world around us. Without connection, we are isolated, and this swiftly becomes a negative cycle for the energy of the third chakra. Disconnection leads either to isolation, where without others to give us context and feedback, we spiral out of control and believe we have all the answers (egomania). Or, on the flip side, disconnection can lead one to feel so lonely that it is as if he or she is adrift on a sea with no one to see or save them.

Neither is good for us.

The ego is meant to thrive through vast connections with others. Our ego is how we interact with the world, and somehow, the fallacy that it should be “destroyed” has crept into spiritual understanding. This is definitely not the case! In fact, we need our ego to live our life. However, what we don’t need is an ego that is disconnected from its ability to see others and how we may serve them with our extraordinary skills and individuality.

Each one of us is unique, and each one of us has a specific way in which we tend to the world. Whether it be as an accountant who does the taxes for the dentist who shines the teeth of the school teacher who teaches the kids more than world history…all of us are a link in a vast network that essentially supports one another, one way or the other. This interconnectedness fosters empathic connection. It allows us to see how important we are in the lives of others, and how critical it is that we allow ourselves to shine brightly.

While we hope for the ego to shine, we don’t want it to shine so brightly that others are blinded or burned by our light. This is egotism or arrogance, where we feel we are more important than others. In this case, we stop at nothing to gain power. This sets us apart from others, and causes disconnection. But, the opposite is also true. We don’t want our ego to be so dim or dull that shyness or self-confidence prevents us from participating in life. In denying others our own light, we leave them in the dark, too.

We don’t want to be overpowered, or underpowered, we want to be empowered.

Empowerment means to be powered from within. There is a part of us that desires to participate fully in life, to engage in our own story, and to play a role in this wild world of ours. We each have something to offer, and when we offer it from an empowered state, we offer it freely. When the third chakra is balanced, our gift to the world—ourselves—becomes a perfect, wholehearted offering. And, in this way, we highlight our humanness, bridge divides, establish connections and create strong bonds of empathy with those around us.