Chakras are the sacred centers within that carry us on our journey toward greater awareness and aliveness. As the architecture of the soul, they provide an important map for our wholeness and transformation, both personally and globally. As an ancient spiritual system, they show the path to enlightenment and integration.
The word chakra is Sanskrit for wheel or disk and signifies one of seven basic energy centers in the body that correspond to nerve ganglia branching out from the spinal column, as well as states of consciousness, developmental stages of life, archetypal elements, body functions, colors, sounds, and much, much more. Together they form a profound formula for wholeness and a template for transformation.
Understanding Chakras can provide a profound mirror to the stages of child development. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am very much influenced by Rudolph Steiner and his theories on child development along with attachment parenting and gentle/peaceful parenting practices. Looking at child development through a lens of the Chakra system can provide parents with some rather important insight…insight that most parents are not exposed to. You might be surprised how closely related the Chakra is to attachment parenting and gentle/peaceful parenting. There are also a lot of Steiner undertones.
Interestingly enough, understanding the Chakras can help if your child has any sensory processing issues or a myriad of other health (emotional and physical) issues. Based on your child’s age and “issue” you should easily be able to tap into the effected Chaka to bring about better balance, awareness, and healing.
This is a looooong post. At first I did not want to break this up in the event that you wanted to be able to keep all of the information in one place or to print it out with ease. However, I have decided to make this a series so as not to overwhelm the masses.
What I have created is a three part series which includes a basic introduction to the chakras and how they factor into child developmental stages and a narrative on how parents can support the unfolding of these important areas in a child’s life. Part 1 will look at the 1st and 2nd Chakra. Part 2 will look at the 3rd and 4th Chakra. Part 4 will look at the 5th, 6th, and 7th Chakra.
Chakra One: Muladhara (earth, physical identity/roots, oriented to self-preservation)
Child Developmental Stage: In Utero to 1 year
The Basics: Located at the base of the spine, this chakra forms a child’s foundation. It represents the element earth, and is therefore related to survival instincts, and to a child’s sense of grounding and connection to their bodies and the physical plane. Ideally this chakra brings health, prosperity, security, and dynamic presence.
Signs of Deficiency in the First Chakra
- Difficulty maintaining a healthy weight (underweight)
- Feelings of fear, anxiety and difficulty settling
- Difficulty focusing
- Poor boundaries
Signs of Excess in the First Chakra
- Overeating and obesity
- Overly tired
- Fear of change (beyond normal separation anxiety/fear of strangers found in this age)
- High need for security
- Rigid Boundaries
Emotional issues related to the First Chakra
- Inability to feel safe, secure and trust
- Inability to feel settled, to nest and feel safe and connected to home
- Lack of connection with family rhythm and norm
Health issues that may arise from First Chakra imbalances
- Immune related disorders
- Frequent illness
- Disorders of the bones and teeth
- Disorders of the bowel, anus, large intestine
- Problems with the legs
- Lower back pain and sciatica
- Problems with the base of the spine, buttocks, legs, knees and feet
How Parents Can Support the First Chakra in their Child
1. Promote Embodiment
The most important thing you can do at this stage is to help your child come fully into her body. Frequent touch, holding, carrying, nurturing, and attendance to physical needs cannot be stressed enough. Your touch affirms your child’s physicality. Your holding teaches her to hold herself. Playing with your child helps her develop motor coordination. Playing with her feet and hands, supplying toys she can grasp, playing when she’s in the bath, all help stimulate motor development. Setting up an appropriate environment that is safe and comfortable, with age-appropriate toys helps the child relate to the outer world in a positive way.
2. Establish Trust by Allowing Attachment and Bonding
The child’s only source of safety is through attachment to the primary caregiver. It is important for the mother (or father if he is primary parent) to be there as consistently as possible during the first year as a ground for the child. This means picking her up when she cries, frequently holding and cuddling her, talking to her, protecting her from loud noises, hunger, cold, or discomfort, and feeding her when she’s hungry, rather than by a schedule. Some parents have difficulty allowing this attachment to form, because the child’s natural neediness feels too demanding. Allowing this attachment to occur helps the child become more independent later.
Consistency of presence during infancy helps to reconcile the dilemma of trust vs. mistrust in a way that brings hope and confidence. Knowing that the parent is always there allows the child to relax into the development that needs to occur, rather than rise into tension and hypervigilance.
3. Appropriate Day Care
If the mother needs to work during the first year and can’t be there with her child, she leaves her child at a disadvantage. Unfortunately, financial circumstances often make this the only option. The best parents can do is provide the healthiest child care possible, acting as advocates to make sure the child gets the care she needs. Making sure the child is touched frequently and appropriately, fed on demand, and cared for by competent adults in an age- appropriate environment are a few things the parents can look into when finding day care. Spending time at the day care with her child until she gets used to it is also helpful. Family day care and in-home babysitting are more likely to offer continuity and consistency, when possible. In addition, the mother needs to understand that the child may need extra nurturing, touch, and mother-child bonding in the evening at home. This is especially demanding on single and/or working mothers who are often exhausted at the end of the day. Yet, time taken for nurturing during the first year pays off in the long run with a calmer and healthier child who makes less demands later.
A feeling of safety comes from a safe environment. Peace in the home, protection from loud noises, sharp objects, falling, cold, and violence of adults or siblings is essential. Remember, environment is self to the infant. What they are embedded in is the first influence on who they are.
When a child is in an unfamiliar environment, such as a store, a park, a doctor’s office, or a friend’s house, the parent is an island of safety for the child. Understand that your child will be more insecure, and need to come to you again and again for reassurance.
4. Healthy Nourishment.
Feeding schedules, though convenient for the parent, do not allow the child to establish her own rhythms, nor do they teach her that the world will respond to her needs. Breast feeding has been proven to be healthier emotionally and physically, as breast milk contains important antibodies, and the experience of breast feeding promotes mother child bonding, through physical closeness. But studies have shown that the emotional state of the mother while feeding is actually more important than whether it comes from a breast or a bottle. A bottle given lovingly is better than a breast given resentfully. Healthy nutrition on the part of the mother, refraining from harmful substances that flow into the milk and healthy nutrition when the child begins eating food are also essential to building a healthy body.
If you successfully handle this stage, you will give your child a healthy foundation from which to meet the many challenges that life will bring. She will have a sense of her own body and aliveness, and a sense of hope and optimism that the world can and will meet her needs.
Chakra Two: Svadhisthana (water, emotional identity, oriented to self-gratification)
Child Developmental Stage: 6 to 18 months
The Basics: The second chakra, located in the abdomen, lower back, and sexual organs, is related to the element water and to emotions and sexuality. It connects children to others through feeling, desire, sensation, and movement. Ideally this chakra brings fluidity and grace, depth of feeling, and the ability to accept change.
Signs of Deficiency in the Second Chakra
- Holding the body rigid
- Abnormal fear of change
- Lack of excitement and enthusiasm
Signs of Excess in the Second Chakra
- Addiction to food
- Overwhelmed and ruled by emotions (hysteria and wild tantrums)
- motionally sensitive
- Obsessive attachment
Emotional and mental issues related to the Second Chakra
- Issues of control
- Not functioning in daily needs
Health issues that may arise from Second Chakra imbalances
- Health issues related to the reproductive organs
- Disorders of the spleen and urinary system
- Chronic lower back pain, sciatica
- Inflexibility of joints
- Loss of interest in food
How Parents Can Support the Second Chakra in their Child
1. Allow separation and attachment.
Your child will now be in the hatching stage, beginning to separate from you as a parent as his body development allows him more and more movement. Because this is scary to him, he will go back and forth – moving away and coming back to see if everything’s OK. In some ways he will seem even more attached, and this is natural. It is important to support both these movements – to encourage the separation by offering safe opportunities to explore, and by being warm and loving when reassurance is needed.
2. Provide sensate environment.
Your child is exploring the world through his senses. This is his main mode of experience right now. It is important to provide colors and sounds, interesting toys, touch and pleasure through play, and a safe environment to explore. Your voice and attention are a major part of the sensate experience.
3. Support exploration through movement.
Your child wants to move about right now. This is not the time for a playpen, and if you must use one, use it only for short periods of time. Instead, find places where he can crawl and walk about safely, where he can run in the park, roll around in the yard, and learn to use his body in its new found joy of movement.
4. Reflect emotions
Your child is learning his emotional language. If you want to teach emotional literacy, it’s important to mirror his feelings. Be responsive to his cries and expressions of rage, fear, need or confusion. Don’t negate or punish him for his emotions — he can’t help what he feels. Reflect words to show him you understand: “How sad you look right now!” “Are you scared? Do you want Mommy to hold your hand?” Though he can’t speak very well yet, he is beginning to understand words by listening. He will understand that his feelings have a name and that even without language he can communicate to someone what he needs or wants.
Be aware of your own emotional needs and states, as well as the emotional “field” in the household. Children pick up our rage and fear, anxiety and joy. Take care of your needs as much as possible so your unresolved emotions are not projected onto the innocent child. Create a positive environment.
I will leave you to digest this information and will see you back here next week for Part 2.