The Solar Plexus

The Solar Plexus

I was thinking about the irony of some old names. A common name for the upper gut is the Solar Plexus, for example. That term can also refer to an autonomic nerve plexus behind the stomach, scientifically known as the Celiac Plexus.

Plexus come from the Latin for braid. Celiac is from the Greek for belly. They concluded that Solar comes from the radiating pattern of nerve fibers at this plexus.

Personally, I find the last explanation suspect as the plexus has little resemblance to the sun. It looks more like a highway interchange. But it does have a relationship with the 3rd chakra, the solar chakra. In Sanskrit it’s called Manipura or “jewel city.”

Different traditions have assigned different colours to the chakra but as with the others, it’s a variety of colours that shift and swirl with changes within.

For most people, the gut is experienced as the place of digestion and indigestion, perhaps of anger, control, or anxiety. Some people experience it as a place of intuition or “gut feelings.”

The 3rd chakra is mainly about powering the mind and the ego drive to feel in control. It is also home to the fire element and associated with sight, willpower, and transformation. As such, it’s about digesting not just food but all of our experiences. It is our highest chakra associated with individuality.

In an amusing coincidence, the Sanskrit seed mantra for the chakra is “ram” (the semi-vowel) and the animal associated with it is a ram, an English word.

After Self-Realization, there is a winding down of remaining mistaken ideas about self. However, we may still see old thoughts arise. We’re just no longer entangled by them. Then presence descends further, down into the heart. The energetic drivers bringing those thoughts up are then resolved, along with emotional noise.

Finally, the descent reaches the gut where we discover a core grip or identity. This grip is a grasping to a sense of small-self that began long ago when we lost our connection to the divine. Finally, it can be resolved.

For a while, I associated this gut release with the Unity shift and the end of a separate inside and outside. Adyashanti talks about this similarly with “head, heart, gut.” However, I’ve since met people who had the gut release with the Brahman shift or hadn’t had it yet post-Brahman. They still have the seed of a separate self within.

I’ve seen some references to a “solar chakra” above the 3rd but I suspect this is an experience of a higher value of the third, much as the heart has higher values.

Once we clear enough of the crud around the solar plexus, it takes on another form, that of a golden sun. It is the literal home of the sun in creation within the cosmic body. This sun is much larger than our universe and is its source. It is an embodiment of Divine power. And there it sits inside our belly.

Funny – I used to think there was just a physical body here, filled with bones, guts and blood. Turns out there’s a lot more going on than I could have imagined.

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  1. Phil

    Hi David,

    Thought I’d comment here, rather than DM you this time. This post is quite pertinent. As I spoke of to you, I have a lot of issues in this region with fear/anxiety/grief and indeed physical paralysis of the lower oesophagus which involves the myenteric plexus – overall, it is something of a medical mystery.

    As said before, but will repeat for others who may read this, it is the same condition, Achalasia, which U.G. Krishnamurti developed after his “calamity awakening”. It is well documented that U.G had a tumultuous kundalini process, noting a catalogue of physical changes with his awakening – which he then had a very nihilistic interpretation of (sounds like he was perhaps stuck at a world-denying neo-advaita stage, like Parsons et al, if you listen to him or read him).

    However, myself being evidently still identified with the ego (one always hopes to get Self-Realisation for Christmas. Ho ho ho), have had the condition for 10 yrs in Jan.

    Lately since my intense emotional upheaval or ‘dark night’ (not quite identified with the ego, but not established with any other ID (or I AM), bringing intense mumukshutva, I have have been following your advice and placing innocent attention on both physical and emotional (the distinction gets blurred) painful movements, to release what is there a la:

    A local yoga teacher once suggested to chant “Ram” whilst breathing into this 3rd chakra region. She also, like most do, told me to chant “Om” too, which of course you advise strongly against, unless you are a renunciate.

    Given what you have written in this post, would you know if including a mantra with “Ram” or “Rama” in it, whilst placing attention on the energies in this plexus region is a fruitful idea?

    Seeing how I’m in a process of surrender, as much of my fear is born of loss of control (illogical I know, as the apparent individual has no control over that which it deeply fears anyhow: transience of life etc), should not this 3rd chakra region become a key area of attention?

    Further could, if you know, a mantra such as “Ram”, “Rama”, “Mere Ram” be safe, if not conducive for effortless meditation, given my issues in this plexus region? I have been using “So Hum” recently, but given all this, a Ram-based mantra seems to be calling. Then again, I don’t want to cause unwanted consequences like as you say how “Om” can bring about for a householder.

    I don’t want to misuse sanskrit mantras, which it seems most teachers in the west really know very little of, in any deep fashion. This raises another question, but that is perhaps best commented on here for another time.

    For an amusing bit, I, here in England, live around the corner from a town called Ramsbottom…don’t know if in Canada “bottom” is used, as it is in the UK, interchangeably with…oh never mind…couldn’t possibly type that word on a site like this. 😉


  2. Hi Phil

    Personally, what I’ve found most effective is the innocent attention technique you describe. Not looking for things to purify or seeing ourselves as broken but allowing what arises to be seen and released, as best we can at that time.

    I know Rama is a householders mantra often used in devotional practice. But the trick is, you have specific a issue. Using a generic mantra for the chakra is not nessesarily the best idea. For example, it can amplify issues rather than clear them. To choose a mantra, it’s best to consult with someone qualified to give them, such as a jyotishi trained in that.

    Books like Foss’s Yoga of Planets offers much more specific mantras for your chart but again, you need the knowledge of how and when to apply them. I’ve been given advice that did the opposite, amplifying the challenge.

    A mantra properly used can be very powerful. Kind of like medicine. It needs training to determine.

    For medical issues that have an unapparent cause it can be a good idea to consult with a well-qualified energy healer. They can get a good idea of what the issue is and thus what can help it clear. A jyotishi can also give you an idea of the influence at play and when it will end.

    🙂 Yes, we use American terms for technology, like car parts, but use Brit terms and spelling for many traditional things. Arse has fallen out of use though. (laughs)

    The UK has many curious names. In this part of the world, we have names derived from First Nations, like Komox, Kitsilano, or Tsawassen mixed in with UK names like Surrey or New Westminster.

    1. Phil

      Thanks David,

      I will follow your advice and just stick to innocent attention. Just looking for a genuine, trustworthy (as I deem) jyotishi might be problematic. Some of the sites I have just visited have sent me running, making me feel very uncomfortable. I would need to trust anything I was given.

      Maybe it’s my inclination for skepticism colouring things (10 yrs ago, before all this seeking started I used to be a stern Materialist, Neo-Darwinian you know. I still appreciate Sam Harris’s work and stances though at times).

      I know not all such people are charlatans as, like you have suggested, I do already visit a local, under-the-radar energy healer. She is very genuine, but has no such Vedic insight, rather more a New-Age lens. Things are always much better after a visit however.

      My own insight, for what it’s worth, is that my ego-mind is the problem and saboteur, with it’s traumas and neurosis – worrying about worldly things it cannot control, worrying about big spiritual/existential matters even, wanting to always do the right thing etc.

      “Chalasis” is greek for “relaxation” and so with the negating ‘a’ prefix, you get “achalasia”: Greek for “failure to relax”. Given my temperament, this is ironically fitting: No relaxation, to the point of physical spasticity, in the chakra area powering the mind and the ego drive to feel in control.

      Yup, I smile as I reread what I have just written.

      As this is only my third public contribution to the internet ever and I’m not au fait with web etiquette, is it better to ask my aforementioned other mantra question on the said relevant ‘mantra effects’ post or continue here with this thread? Again, there goes that “just wanting to do the right thing” thing…

      1. Hi Phil
        Yes, I understand. I’ve gotten bad advice from a jyotishi myself. I do know a few good ones if you want to DM for suggestions. I know them personally.

        And yes, it’s a good insight. The ego is the core of many of the issues, wanting to control and resist. However, it’s not worth demonizing the ego as it is a necessary function. It just makes a poor master.

        Some suggest that the epic battles of legend are being lived out within our bodies. But yeah, it is useful to find ways to relax and bring balance. Then you’re not adding new as fast as you’re clearing. Effortless meditation, yoga, or perhaps a nice walk in nature.

        Well congrats. And yes, it would be better to keep the comments relevant and put them on the related post. Then they serve all readers.

        If the question is particularly personal, it’s better to contact me directly but asking questions here with your own background helps make them relevant too.

        Thanks for commenting.

        1. Phil

          Thanks David,

          If you would DM the good jyotishi suggestions you know personally, that would be very much appreciated. Thanks.

          No problem, I will ask my my mantra question on the related mantra post, at a later time.

          I’m finding it good connecting. Indeed, my questions and your answers may serve other readers as other comments have served me. Good stuff.

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