The tantras describe 72,000 nadis (energy channels) that weave their way through the subtle body, supplying it with life-force. All of those nadis converge in one place — manipura chakra.
When the mind rests in manipura it becomes still, calm, and poised. Intuition comes online, and passion and willpower are enhanced.
Manipura is located just below the navel, and slightly inward toward the spine. Chinese Taoists refer to this point as the tan tien (or dantian). Zen Buddhists and Japanese Taoists call it the hara. This vital energy center is core to many of the yogic traditions in India and Tibet.
Known as the fire chakra, manipura is the seat of agni (the digestive fire). From here energy radiates outward to all parts of the body. Not only the energy produced from the digestion of your food, but from the breaking down and assimilation of all of your life experiences.
Trust Your Gut
The common phrases “gut intuition” and “trust your gut” have found validation in modern science. More than 100 million nerve cells line your gastrointestinal tract (John Hopkins Medicine – The Brain-Gut Connection). Scientists have named this network the enteric nervous system, and refer to it as your “second brain”, or “little brain”.
Signals are sent to and from the ENS and the brain, affecting your moods, health, and ways of thinking. Researchers are currently carrying out many studies on the functioning of the ENS. One surprising finding made by scientists at UCLA revealed that within the vagus nerve — the longest cranial nerve in the body — 90 percent of the fibers provided information from gut-to-brain, rather than from brain-to-gut (Scientific American – Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being).
In the West, we train and condition ourselves to function from the intellect. Clarity of thought is important. But over-intellectualizing leaves us stuck in our heads and disconnected from our intuition, bodies, and the world around us. In other words, we’re top-heavy and off-center.
It doesn’t take much for us to lose balance. Throw a little drama and stress at us and we get swept up in a whirlwind of thought and emotion.
Fragmented and disconnected, we feel the flutter of butterfly wings in the stomach. Then the clenching of abdominal muscles and a tightening in the chest.
Our bodies are trying to signal us to return to center, to find poise, equanimity, and calm. But we’ve trained our attention to remain fixed on the tumbling of thoughts.
We need better training. We need to learn to drop our mind into manipura and let our intuition take over.
The wisdom of our Spirit is whispering to us through our bodies. If we wish to break free of old habits, and of all the limiting thought patterns that hold us in place, all we need to do is begin to listen and then follow Its guidance.
It really is that simple.
Above All, Trust the Mystery
The next time you’re outside in the country night during a new moon, far removed from artificial lights, find a comfortable place to lay down to gaze up at the stars. My wife and I have foldable 8 foot tables we’ve used for this. We set them up in the yard, put sleeping bags and pillows on top, climb in, and look up at the light show.
It’s more like looking in than looking up. You’re looking into this unspeakably vast expanse of intelligence. There’s the sliver of moon, the red glow of Mars and bright dot of Venus, and the endless network of fairy lights, the stars.
Then you remember that you’re lying on a table, on a planet that’s about 94 million miles away from the sun — a distance you can’t even wrap your head around — and that the sun is just another of these tiny points of light. You recall that if you were to somehow be able to travel at the speed of light, it When the mind rests in manipura it becomes still, calm, and poised. Intuition comes online, and passion and willpower become enhanced. take you over four years to reach the very closest star out there.
For me, it’s at that point that my mind finally implodes. It stops trying to figure things out, and it caves in on the nothingness of itself. All that’s left are the stars. And the Great Mystery.
The Mystery that is in the continual process of manifesting the universe, is the same Mystery that is pumping over 5 liters of blood through your vascular system each minute. That’s simultaneously digesting your food, growing your hair, converting oxygen into carbon dioxide, and thinking your 6,200 thoughts per day.
It knows what It’s doing.
Dropping the Mind into Manipura
If you want peace, if you want harmony, trust in the Power of the Mystery. Know that you are not separate from It. You’re body/mind/personality is a miniscule part of the immensity of existence. Instead of trying to control infinity from the confines of the finite, let go and let the Infinite do what It knows how to do.
Aside from star-gazing, the best way I know to do this is to drop the mind into manipura.
Whenever you are flooded with emotion, or blown around inside a whirlwind of thoughts, take a breath. Take a deep, easeful breath and gently guide your attention down from the head, through the throat and heart centers, and into manipura. Pause briefly, offering all of your troubles to the inner fire.
In the beginning, you may be able to rest in the stillpoint for a brief moment or two before being sucked back up into your self-created drama. But as time goes on, and your practice deepens, your attention will gravitate toward its rightful center.
Rather than being thrown off balance by the behavior and opinions of others, by the latest news, or by your own fears and desires, you will remain even-minded and in harmony with the impulses of your Higher Self. You will abide in the present moment and become responsive to the new energies of that moment, capable of dealing with each situation as it arises.
How Centering in Manipura Helps You Access Higher States of Awareness
On an energetic level, centering your attention in manipura chakra activates the balancing force known as samana vayu. Thoughts and emotions slow down. Your breath deepens and grows more even and calm. And then out of that still-point energy begins to rise.
Prana (the energy flowing in) and apana (the energy flowing out) merge with each other and climb upward through the central channel and into the higher chakras. Your consciousness expands, and you enter into elevated states of joy and well-being.
Feeding Your Ego and all its Troubles to the Inner-Fire
In manipura, the will of the ego can be offered up to the will of the Self. Think of this as an internal fire offering.
You gather all the energy of your desires, and you place them in the center of manipura where they will be burned and transformed. They transmute into a higher form of desire, the desire to grow spiritually and to become a vehicle for the expression of Higher Creative Energy.
This alchemy takes place over time as you continue to stoke the fire with the drives and ambitions of the ego-mind, along with all of its stories, identities, likes and dislikes.
Eventually, you will become unshakable. Only your pure essence will remain. And as that Presence you will move freely through the world.