Maria Skinner

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Archive for January, 2013

Body Temple: Altar Chakra Explored

Picture 012Never knowing what will emerge but opening anyway; this has been my mode in the past few years when I dance and when I bring a theme into class. Sometimes I am surprised by having something I knew intellectually suddenly meet me as a sensation. It is the difference between having the map and finally arriving at the destination. It is that clear and the potential for this kind of transformation, from concept to reality, is what I bow down to.

So I read that there is a chakra at the knees. It is called the Altar Chakra and its color is gold. Intrigued I began doing what I do whenever I hear something like this. I began exploring the relationship between this information and my actual knees. The knee is an amazing joint; a hinge joint connected by strong criss-crossing ligaments and muscles the reach from the iliac crest of the pelvis and intersect around the knee joint with muscles that reach up from the feet. All in all, a pretty amazing structure. I love my knees.

That there is a chakra called the Altar here was a very moving discovery for me.  I do not spend a lot of time on my knees and when I got down on my knees, I felt like getting back up right away. Can’t move too quickly here, or reach as high as I want to, fight nor flight is easy on my knees.  I am not a church goer, I do not kneel to pray on a regular schedule, however, there have been several experiences in the past that have literally brought me to my knees, in prayer, in supplication, in surrender, crying, screaming, and sometimes laughing very hard. And then on my knees, I met the Altar. The Altar is the experience, yet the Altar is also within myself.  Playing with getting on my knees to explore the chakra brought back so many of the feelings that brought me down. I wanted to get up, but I stayed and prayed and played and something happened.

Ruminating on the knee, there are so many symbolic and real images around coming to my knees. Other knee images are feeling weak in the knees or like my knees are made out of rubber.  Those are real for me. The sexual connotation around getting on my knees can be good or bad depending on whether I am choosing to get down on my knees, and this becomes a metaphor once again for bowing down. Am I bowing down by choice or by force? Am I bowing down in reverence or in humiliation?

The questions I posed to my class before dancing were: what brings you down to your knees? What is the altar you kneel down to? What softens your knees into pure devotion? As we went around the circle around I heard again and again surrender, humility, supplication, respect, gratitude and also humiliation, powerlessness, capitulation.

There is a sensation to this kind of folding down and giving in and giving up that I wanted us to dance with. What are the real Altars, the ones that we want to bow down to? Can any Altar, any experience that brings us to our knees, potentially be a true Altar?  When am I bowing down in devotion and when am I bowing down in fear? And how can I keep my relationship to my knees, this joint of structural integrity and stability so healthy that I can fold and unfold from a place of reverence with ease? When we danced, we stayed aware of the knee joint, spring loaded, alive and in relationship as the portal between the feet and the core of the body. Ending in Child’s Pose I offered the prayer: May what you want to bow down to always be in your life…

And then it came to me, the embodiment of bowing down to my life. I felt it for the first time, the sensation that I could love whatever is bringing me to my knees, the Altar, in the moment rather than resist it or whine about it. And in this moment of devotion, I can choose to be with all the feelings I have about this without hating myself or my knees or those who inhabit my Altar.