I was listening to the Freakonomics podcast today, and they were discussing the strange way that humans, more often than not, tend not to behave in their own best interest. That is to say, we make decisions based on short-term satisfaction (with the mantra “fuck it” usually in there somewhere) over long-term benefit.
At first it made me feel a little self-congratulatory. Like so many seekers, I feel like I’m making a daily effort aimed at long-term growth and sustainable happiness. But then I thought to myself, you haven’t done much of that self-investment lately. And the other me said, “well, yeah I’ve been sick for over a week.”
And that got me to thinking – sure – we all overindulge and experience consequences. But when it comes to the pursuit of our higher selves, are we overlooking the value of our most basic needs in favor of a much shinier, more glamorous lure of enlightenment?
Don’t get me wrong, a step towards mindfulness in your everyday life is always a step in the right direction. But while we’re filling our glasses with Moon Dust and manifesting our wildest dreams, sometimes we forget the importance of the basics.
The Chakras are stacked in an intuitive way, a taxonomy: The root corresponds to our bodies’ basic needs, and it’s at the bottom because nothing else can happen without getting it in alignment first. Those sparkly third eye and crown chakras are very appealing, but there’s no reward for skipping to the end.
So what are the fundamentals of keeping your root healthy and happy?
- Sleep. I harp on the importance of sleep a lot on my YouTube channel and my blog. It’s called “beauty rest” for a reason! Try not to fall into the trap of being a sleep deprivation martyr. The tales of CEOs who sleep 3 hours a night and the caché of being a “caffeine addict” are not sustainable ideals. Let’s be real: We want to look and feel healthy and well-rested. Caffeine can’t do that. “Hacking” your circadian rhythm can’t do that. Sleep does that.
- Stabilize your mood. This means regulating anything that’s artificially throwing your energy levels out of whack. It could be something as small as dialing back your drinking and sugar intake; it might be something as big as talking to your doctor about hormone levels, getting off the pill, or talking to a therapist. Our mood is the strongest influence on our “million tiny decisions” in our day that construct our reality in the long term. Getting in control of it will change your life.
- Get in nature. Nothing is more effective at grounding us than forgetting about screens and work, and rejoining the beautiful chaos of nature. The outdoors are awesome because they don’t care what you’re going through. They’re doing the root chakra all day, every day; just concentrating on their own basic needs, living, existing, thriving. This can be a quick fix to lift your mood and a long-term fix if you make it a new habit. It’s all around us – use it!
- Listen to your body. When you’re sick, your body gives you no choice but to listen, but that’s an extreme. If we listen closely, we can sense much quieter needs that are just as important. Your fundamental physical wellness is the fertile ground for all the growth you envision for yourself. Are the foods you eat digesting well? Are you doing the wrong type of exercise, too little, or too much? Every human is gloriously different, and we should embrace that. Find your groove by listening to the only one who knows what you need – you.
You’ll notice that these fundamentals don’t make mention of “eating more red foods” (the color of the root chakra) or “getting a pedicure” (a very literal attentiveness to the part of you that meets the ground) or other common wisdom associated with healing the root chakra. I don’t want to call these nonsense, but I don’t think they’re any more effective than any other action you’re applying mindfulness to. If you want to eat asparagus and think about how to heal your root chakra, you’re not breaking any rules in my book. Bottom line, you do you! Let’s all find joy in our unique paths.
Want to learn more about the chakras? Watch here!