Muladhara or Root Chakra
The Sanskrit word 'mula' or 'moola' means root or foundation. In the Chakra System, this is the primary chakra or the Root Chakra because it initiates Kundalini Energy. In tantric symbolism, this is the "root" of our existence because it controls the sex instinct, and thus the associated impulses of life that rise through the body and blossom in the Crown Chakra or the Sahasrara.
In the order of things, this is the first chakra and also the first chakra that needs to be awakened because this primal instinct is the driving force for humankind's highest consciousness.
Many yoga poses and mudras are directed at this chakra because of its importance. The sexual instinct manifests itself in many ways: from what we think of ourselves to how we project ourselves. Not surprisingly, this energy center is the driving force in our youthful years, dominating our sexual thoughts. Even culturally, most societies kind of dictate that we acquire a mate: acquiring a mate is not for animals alone - rather it is also for animals called humans.
Controlled by the earth element, the root chakra meditation is primary to understanding not only our existence but also the nature of the existence of all humankind.
Samkhya philosophy states that muladhara dictates our primary nature: not only the need to procreate but to pursue pleasure in the act of procreation. This is the nature of all creatures and goes beyond the physical character and the entire world because objects must have some basis for their evolution and also a point into which they return after dissolution. Yoni-Lingam is not only a symbol of divine sexual pleasure but also of the procreated material - children. The union of the X and Y chromosomes is manifest as a non-dual entity within our progeny.
Tantra presents this symbolic ideology to show how higher consciousness can arise: under normal circumstances, our children are always smarter than us. In this sense, consciousness does not reside in us - it is the space within which mindscape and reality exist. This fantastic potential is believed to be lying dormant in the form of a coiled serpent which when aroused makes its way upwards through sushumna nadi in the spinal cord until it reaches sahasrara where enlightenment occurs. Therefore, the stirring of muladhara is considered to be of great importance in Kundalini yoga.
For ease of understanding and to provide a focus for asanas, mudras, and other yogic techniques, the seat of muladhara is considered to be between the scrotum and the anus and - in women - on the posterior region of the cervix. In both female and male bodies, there is a vestigial gland in muladhara chakra that's something like a knot. In Sanskrit this is known as Brahma granthi; the knot of Brahma. As long as this knot remains intact, the energy located in this region is blocked. Tantra advocates unlimited expansion of consciousness. Therefore, we need to go from the vulgar to the mundane to the ambitious to the divine and then beyond!
Most people confuse this for God which is a big mistake since Tantra and Kundalini go beyond God!
Consciousness starts to be liberated in the root chakra as the individual's aspiration awakens. Many men and women feel hesitant and shy about presuming Kundalini is in muladhara chakra and assert it to be in manipura, since they don`t want to associate this sacred Kundalini shakti together with all the unholy sexual system. However, scientiﬁc analysis shows this little gland in muladhara chakra contains inﬁnite energy and lots of psychic and spiritual experiences stem from muladhara.
Muladhara chakra is traditionally represented with a lotus flower with four deep crimson petals. Such symbols represent things that one can concentrate upon or gaze upon while meditating. In today's world, these symbols don't carry much weight simply because the Occult interpretations are no longer relevant. At some point, these symbols may have made sense to tantriks and yogis - perhaps, they still make sense to some people - but not anymore. To get completely immersed in one's own practice, you need your own symbols.
You could draw your own diagrams, use Mandelbrot images, or create your own mandalas. This would be far more helpful than some esoteric symbol from a time and culture far removed from your own!
Coming Into Being Out Of Nothingness
Often in Tantra, the coiled serpent also represents an endless instance of time. This is not time as experienced by the infinite space-time. This is one second that freezes endlessly. Effectively, we are saying the same thing but it's the perspective that matters. The infinitesimal and infinite share their endlessness but the focus is on the infinitesimal - the focus is one the point as defined in mathematics. The Kundalini lies within that point, inside the unconscious, and beyond space-time. It's akin to Being out of Nothingness.
When Kundalini starts to rise, it causes the root chakra imbalance, affecting your character and individuality, and transforming the human into his/her higher or spiritual self. This imbalance gets rid of all the delusions or misconceptions one may ave cultivated about oneself. Muladhara chakra can transform the person but it can also restrict the person in an ignorant state. It's powerful enough to act on its own in either direction. Depending on the kind of environment a person finds himself/herself socially, muladhara chakra will go to work. If the environment is conducive, it will rise upwards and lead to a balanced root chakra; if not, it will ensnare the person in vulgar and lowly activities.
Consistent yoga practice is vital to achieving any tantric ideal. When this ideal is achieved, the energy body transforms human consciousness. When spiritual awakening has commenced in the muladhara chakra, it manifests itself through smell: one's olfactory abilities increase tremendously and the person may smell odors that others can't, and taste food to a greater extent, and not be able to handle spicy, salty food or too much sweetness. This normally translates into a loss of appetite. This awakening is also accompanied by sensations around the coccyx or anus, causing a direct stirring in the ajna chakra.
Kundalini meditation revolving around the muladhara chakra also makes a person fluent with words, and therefore an expert in any kind of subject that she/he may undertake. People often attribute magical powers to those whose Kundalini has been awakened by stating that they acquire knowledge automatically. This is rubbish! Kundalini awakening makes a person more receptive to information, more disciplined in the pursuit of knowledge, and more perseverant in study. For example, such people may become faster at arithmetic, but they will not suddenly acquire formulaic knowledge of Calculus.
According to Tantra, this emanation point is highly volatile. When the positive and negative powers of ida and pingala are entirely balanced, a stirring is sparked off that arouses the dormant Kundalini. Ordinarily, this condition of balance between ida and pingala nadis can simply be achieved sporadically and for short durations. This could be sufficient to trigger an awakening but only a mild one, where Kundalini rises as far as swadhisthana (sacral chakra) or manipura, then drops back down to muladhara again. This is not a symptom of a blocked root chakra but the manifestation of unblocking. The root chakra (or any other chakra) cannot remain blocked for long if the appropriate asana, mudra, and pranayama are being practiced.
Therefore, persistent Hatha Yoga practices (especially those of pranayama), are extremely important because they purify and rebalance the psychic flow and prime the spinal column. When the state of balance between ida and pingala gets steady and continuous, the stirring engendered in muladhara becomes explosive, and Kundalini rises with fantastic force, overcoming all obstacles on its path until it reaches its final destination in sahasrara.
It should be noted that any awakening of the Kundalini is permanent in the sense that even if the awakening is not sustained, the person is transformed. She/he can never go back to being normal. The person is enlightened even if she/he chooses to stop all practices and revert back to a normal lifestyle. Even if the person chooses to willfully lead an unhealthy lifestyle, it will be decades before the Kundalini is suppressed. This is the power of the muladhara chakra awakening. Though Kundalini may fall back again, the potential will always be there.
Muladhara and Sex
Awakening of muladhara chakra is primary because it's the seat of Kundalini and also the origin of tamas. All the passions are saved at muladhara, along with guilt, shame, every unhealthy psychological complex... each has its origin in muladhara chakra. This chakra is physiologically related to the excretory, urinary, reproductive, and sexual organs. A person's existence, desires, actions, and accomplishments, are commanded by the sexual desires, and anything we do in life is an expression of that chakra.
People with severe psychological problems (especially sexual problems) are those who have great Kundalini energy that cannot be controlled or directed upwards. They have not been able to get the Shakti out of muladhara chakra. As a result of this, their lives are imbalanced. Sexual fulfillment and sexual frustrations restrain our life. If these urges find a natural outlet or are directed through tantric practices towards creative goals, then we would have fewer sex maniacs in our society. Unless muladhara chakra is puriﬁed, its corresponding center in the mind will always remain tamasic.
It's important to find a tantric partner in the practice of Kundalini so that both man and woman can synchronize their awakening. Tantra talks about entering into a relationship fully awake and with mindfulness. It states that love is too "high" an ideal for anyone to "fall" in it! Thus, finding a tantric lover will not only make your Kundalini awakening journey interesting but also take you beyond the divine into the Blesses realm of Shiva-Shakti consciousness.
Lord Shiva is the personified form of Shiva-Shakti. He is the supreme manifestation of the Shiva-Shakti principle and is considered the supreme tantric yogi.
When Kundalini awakens completely, we reach the Blessed State of Shiva; not the idol form of Lord Shiva who is still at the god level of consciousness.
With the awakening of Kundalini there's the simultaneous awakening of other aspects of your unconsciousness. Some people have documented the levitation of the astral body. Also known as Out of Body Experience (OBE), you feel as if you have left your body and are looking at your physical body. Are you really looking at your body? Perhaps not! But this is a way of looking at yourself outside of dreams. When we remember our dreams, we think of our behavior in them. Similarly, OBEs help us to look at ourselves.
For lack of a better word, one has to call these hallucinations, but these are not hallucinations at all. These are experiences that you have never had before and almost no one you know has had them so you tend to think that you're going mad. This is not the case! When you have these so-called hallucinations, you must remember that they are the result of Kundalini awakening that is giving you tremendous positive power.
During this period of muladhara awakening, there is an extreme psychic and emotional upheaval. Therefore, the guidance of a guru/teacher is absolutely essential. While some people may regard this psychological turmoil as the sign of mental instability, the guru will pacify the aspirant by informing him that it is a part of Kundalini Tantra practice.
Once muladhara is awakened there is no going back and the rest of the journey is quite easy in comparison. Combined with the guidance of a guru/teacher, this chakra can be conquered.