root chakra

Root Chakra: Red, Tribal, Survival

In the first post in this series, I introduced the concept of the chakras, the seven “wheels of energy” (in ancient Sanskrit) that manifest health or dis-ease in our physical and energetic bodies.

This second post, it’s all about the first chakra — the Root Chakra — which is located at the base of your spine, at your tailbone. Might you have any Root Chakra issues on occasion?

root chakra

Symptoms Indicating Root Chakra Imbalance

Do you have any of these emotional symptoms?

  • Nervousness, insecurity
  • Inability to stand up for yourself
  • Fear for your safety
  • Strong, stifling need for stability or security

Do you have any of these physical symptoms?

  • Chronic lower back pain
  • Varicose veins
  • Colon polyps or cancer
  • Kidney problems
  • Leg or foot pain
  • Depression
  • Immune disorders

Elements of the Root Chakra

The Root Chakra is where we hold tribal issues. To help explain what that means, let’s go through some specifics.

  • The color is red. As in blood (blood ties, blood vengeance, blood brothers, bloodlines)
  • The element is Earth. As in where roots go.
  • The seed sound is “lum.”
  • The verb is “I have.”
  • The sense is smell, our most primitive of senses.
  • The endocrine gland most affected are the adrenals (“fight or flight”).
  • The root chakra has to do with survival, grounding, security, and safety.
  • Christian Sacrament: Baptism. The symbolic meaning is to welcome you into the community — the tribe — of Christ.
  • Jewish Sefirot: Shikhinah, the mystical community of Israel. Its symbolic meaning is similar: to welcome you into the community of humanity and the spirit of Earth.
  • Healing thought: All is one.

And lest you think this is just an ancient thought with no relevance in the modern world, the same idea occurred to Abraham Maslow in 1943 when he put First Chakra issues on the first step of his hierarchy of needs.

Welcome to YourTribe

We pick up our tribal thought patterns by osmosis — they are practically in the air we breathe. These beliefs are questioned only as we begin to live more mindfully and consciously, choosing thoughts and beliefs that serve us and discarding the ones that don’t.

And tribal messages DO serve us — or at least they did at one time. We NEED to know certain things to live in the harsh world of separation, where strangers bring harm and our ways are best. Think Cro-Magnon man. Think tribes in the bible. Think Native Americans and Europeans. Think Palestinians and Jews, Tutsis and Hutus, Croats-Serbs-Bosnians, Sunnis and Shiites.

Think Republicans and Democrats.

Here are a couple of messages I’ve picked up from my tribe. Do you carry any of them?

  • Save for a rainy day
  • Family is everything
  • It’s too bad we have to age
  • To be a teenager is to be rebellious
  • You can never be too rich or too thin
  • If you can’t have children, what’s the point of living?
  • I would die if he/she ever left me
  • Justice is the cornerstone of our society

Are these beliefs absolutely true, or just tribally true?

And do they serve me now? Actually, it would be quite freeing to release some of these thoughts. Maybe I already AM rich enough and thin enough. Maybe I could choose NOT to dread my children’s teenage years. I’d like to think compassion is equally important as justice, and that all people have value, not just those who procreate. Since the only alternative to age is death, maybe I’ll embrace age, wrinkles and spider veins and all.

I’m a grown-up now. I wish to live in connection and harmony. I can choose which old beliefs to hold and honor. I’m thankful to my tribe for guiding me as I learn to survive on my own, but I no longer need it to control me.

Releasing a Root Chakra Belief

Individuals can outgrow a belief, and so can an entire tribe. Dr Caroline Myss has a dramatic example of the The Tribe outgrowing a belief. I’ll arc the decades-long experience into just a few story boards:

In October, 1929, the American economy crashed and the Great Depression began.

Americans described themselves as being “crippled” economically. With the double whammy of a drought and bad farming practices, we also became agriculturally “crippled.”

There was a polio epidemic in the 1930s and 1940s. Children absorbed the tribe’s energy and were susceptible to the viral disease as well as the economic dis-ease.

We elected to the Presidency FDR, “a living symbol of both physical weakness and indomitable resilience” — and also a survivor of polio.

A tribal event, WWII, brought pride and power back to the country. We were “on our feet” again . We had shifted from feeling powerless to feeling powerful. Soon after, Jonas Salk discovered the vaccine for polio.

So. What tribal beliefs do you carry that no longer serve you? What would you like to shift in your life?

More in The Rainbow Within Chakra Series

1st: Root chakra
2nd: Sacral chakra
3rd: Solar plexus chakra
4th: Heart chakra
5th: Throat chakra
6th: Third-eye chakra
7th: Crown chakra


This post researched, in part, from Anatomy of the Spirit , by Caroline Myss, PhD.

The paintings for this series were created by Lisa Brown-Olsen. Her work is featured at Maitri Yoga, included with permission.

5 thoughts on “Root Chakra: Red, Tribal, Survival”

  1. Apparently root chakra is NOT where I have issues – woohoo! But keep posting, I need to find them somewhere, cuz me, and issues, we go very very well together;-)

  2. Lori, thanks for this post. The symptom sound awfully familiar to me. But what to do about it? I look forward to learning more.

  3. I have started exploring your chakra series, and have found it really resonates with me. I may even blog about some of it…I may have some more questions, though. I’ll let you know.

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