Swadhisthana Chakra

From Janani: Water the Sustainer of Life, Swami Prembhava Saraswati

The Sanskrit word swa means ‘one’s own’ and adhisthana means dwelling place or residence. Thus swadhisthana means ‘one’s own abode’. It is the vortex or control centre of apas tattwa, the water element. It is regarded as the basis of individual human existence. Swadhisthana is associated with the unconscious mind and with its storehouse of mental impressions and samskaras. It is the abode from which most people express themselves to the world.

The jnanendriya of this chakra is the tongue for the perception of taste and the karmendriya are the reproductive organs.

In the human body swadhisthana is located at the base of the spine in the coccyx. Sexuality is one of the main expressions of swadhisthana, as it controls the endocrine glands of reproduction, the basic drive of life.

Swadhisthana chakra represents the level of being where one is principally concerned with pursuing pleasurable sensations. One is motivated to obtain pleasure through the sense organs in the form of food, sex, pleasant environment, friendships, and the material wealth required to attain these desires. At mooladhara chakra these desires are sought in order to satisfy the need for security and safety. However, in swadhisthana pleasures are sought after to simply satisfy desires, here the whole aim of life is to attain the pleasures peculiar to the individual. Nature, all things and other people are viewed according to the amount of sensual satisfaction that they can offer, regardless of the impact or cost. It is said that most people in the world today predominantly function at this level of swadhisthana Fears and insecurities are also expressed through swadhisthana. We perceive the world and our place in it according to our samskaras. Due to our fears and insecurities, we want to live in a world that is safe and that makes us feel satisfied and content. We are unknowingly conditioned to believe that this contentment will be fulfilled by satisfying our sensual desires. If we spend our lives aiming to satisfy the senses, we will be caught in a ‘catch 22’ for our senses can never be satisfied, as it is their nature to always be in a state of agitation; and there will always be something that we crave in life.

There need not be renunciation of the level of living that we have attained, this would not work. In yoga there is no renunciation only attainment, but attainment of a different kind. It is the attainment in spiritual life that allows you to drop the unnecessary items of life and live spontaneously and naturally.

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Trying to satisfy our sensory desires has resulted in consumerism and over consumption, in particular of fossil fuels, soil, water and forests, these excesses are rapidly depleting the planet’s resources, and creating massive waste and pollution. If the consumer societies’ exploitation of these resources continues at its current rate, we threaten the very ecosystems that we and all other species are an integrated part of and depend upon.

The sexual energy of swadhisthana is one of the strongest instincts in humans. If this energy is not channelled and expressed properly it creates damage and conflict within the individual and in society. Much of our society today is based on the need to prove our worth as sexual beings. The material possessions and advertisements for such things as cars, clothes, mobile phone, are all expressions of our sexuality.

Overpopulation of the human species is one of the greatest threats to our species and the resources of the planet. We humans have the knowledge and the ability to stop reproducing at such an exponential rate. However, if we are unable to keep our population growth in check we will suffer the consequences. The choice is up to us. We know that every ecosystem has a population carrying capacity. To maintain the optimum level of population, nature employs control of numbers through disease, predators, competition, climatic changes, environmental disasters such as foods, drought, earthquakes, fires, storms, or tsunami. The more human numbers increase, the more destructive are nature’s controls. The choice is up to us.

Through yogic practices, lifestyle and awareness, a balanced state of swadhisthana chakra can be achieved. This balanced state is a deep understanding and realization that we are more than just a physical body with sensual desires that need fulfilling. We have emotional and spiritual needs that we must discover and fulfil by living in an environment that is conducive to these needs.

A balanced swadhisthana is expressed through a sense of contentment, well being, and enjoyment of life. Along with self-confidence, endurance, strength and patience, there will be a feeling of wellness, abundance, pleasure and beauty in the simple things in life.

An imbalanced swadhisthana causes emotional problems such as irritability, guilt, shyness, sexual disorders, eating disorders, laziness and oversleeping, depression and addictions.

We are never content or satisfied so we are continually trying to find happiness in material possessions. We must change our attitudes and way of living to be able to let go of the constant desire for more possessions.

Consumerism and virtual water

Nearly everything we do and everything we use in life has been possible through the presence of water. For example, it takes:

  • 9 litres of water to make 1 litre of soft drinks
  • 50 litres of water to make one tomato,
  • 255 litres of water to produce a glass of milk,
  • 170 litres of water to produce a pint of beer,
  • 1700 litres of water to produce a chocolate bar,
  • 2700 litres of water to produce a cotton shirt,
  • 2000 litres of water to produce 1 kg paper,
  • 8200 litres of water to produce leather shoes (as cows require 16,600 litres of water to produce 1 kg of leather),
  • 39,000 litres of water to produce a medium sized car.

This is called virtual water, the amount of water used to produce the product, from agriculture, to industry, transportation and packaging. The food we eat contributes to the amount of water we use daily. A natural vegetarian diet needs less water to produce it than a processed or meat diet.

The modern consumer society must make a change to their lifestyles, and be aware of the impact of everything they do on the waters of the Earth. This level of awareness will come spontaneously and naturally as the swadhisthana chakra is awakened.

Living simply with less is the best way to purify one’s life.

Clear the clutter that stops the flow and vitality in life. Flow through life with determination and resilience to achieve your goal. This is the power of apas tattwa in your life. Your desires and cravings can be observed from an understanding of need not want. When you know that you can never fulfil your desires, you can begin to manage the mind’s responses and live with less. Then life becomes less complicated and more fulfilling.