The solar plexus center, or the Manipura in Sanskrit, is located in a line from the notch underneath the bottom of the sternum to the middle of the back just in front of the spine. It is the center of nourishment in all senses of the word. First, it is a major food processing point and the place where we “digest” the feelings we perceive relative to others. It is, also, the emotional center of the body where we register our “gut feeling.” In the same way we register whether we are hungry relative to our stomach being full or not, it also is where we decide whether our individual need for recognition by others is filled or not.
In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, this level corresponds to that of esteem but can be separated into two levels. The lower level corresponds to status, recognition, prestige or fame as received from or applied by others. Its locus of control is predominantly external. The higher level relates to how one relates to one’s self. That is, do we have self respect, confidence or strength as acquired from personal experience? Its locus of control is predominantly internal. Both levels operate within the realm of the solar plexus but the higher level is closer to acquiring the perspective of operating from the heart center in that its locus of control is more internal through, essentially, being less focused on the opinions of others.
Here, the concept of an inferiority complex (Adler, 1927), as outlined by Alfred Adler, finds fertile ground when acknowledgment from others is not acquired when operating on the lower level. It may also be manifested on the higher level but not with the intensity that it might be felt on the lower level due to inadequacy reinforcements perceived to be coming from external sources. It is, also, here that learned helplessness will take a dominant foothold.
In the same vein, it is the seat of the “lower mind” (separative in nature) where we acknowledge the individuality of others and compare ourselves to those whom we have acknowledged. This center is also considered to be equivalent with our “need to be special” (Ruumet, 2006). In this light, it is the major center in which we will feel the quality of pride and, of course, shame; toxic or not. Hence, our need for compensation emanates here geared toward gaining a sense of “feeling full.” Taken one step further, this will also be a major center dealing with addictions of all kinds. Both feelings and emotions are registered and dealt with here. It is very important at this point to make a distinction between them.
Feeling is a wave that moves through the body, generally, without our volition. Yet, our body is much more than just its physical constituents. In the same fashion that we emanate an electromagnetic field as explained in a previous section on empathy, that field also, to some extent and depending on our sensitivity, may extend past the boundary of our physical body. Through the vehicle of that field we are able to perceive variations in other energy fields meeting ours much like a fish would sense a change in the water currents surrounding it as another fish swims past. Call it our “seventh sense” (as the sixth is actually the mind). We can compare it in human terms to where we are in a room and someone enters quietly enough to where our physical senses register no sound, sight or scent indicating their presence but “something else” tells us that they are there. Their electromagnetic field came close enough and pressed against ours enough to where we felt a difference in the “feel” of our surrounding environment.
The more tranquil we and the environment are, the wider our “range” of awareness would have relative to their entrance. As love, anger, sadness, joy and other feelings are perceived by us, they also radiate out and around us through our electromagnetic field. As another person approaches us radiating their feelings, we not only receive a “proximity alert” but our awareness is also colored by the type of feeling that the other person is radiating. As their field contacts ours in the same way that two balloons might “bump” into each other, our familiarity with the type or “color” of the field they radiate triggers a resonant chord within us resurfacing the experiences in which we became familiar with the same type of feeling. With the resonant trigger resurfaces all the judgments, thoughts, memories and beliefs that we hold relative to our previous experiencing of that feeling. At this point, feeling becomes transformed into emotion. Feelings only occur in the moment while we are experiencing them. The moment that the mind becomes involved, they become emotions.
The word emotion comes from 12th century Latin meaning to move out or agitate; ex-, out + movere, to move. The moving out is, essentially, our separating from directly experiencing the feelings to becoming an observer and describer of them. Being separated from them through analysis and through labeling, we are no longer experiencing the feelings “first hand.” Most of the time and in most people, the act of resonating, generally, activates this separative thought process that occurred when we first felt the feelings and shifted to analyzing them. However, there are times when this does not occur as in when we are either dancing or having sex with someone so intensely that we are totally consumed by the feelings that the experience generates. Waves of energy wash over the body. The feeling of union, or reunion for the metaphysically oriented, is overwhelmingly pleasurable. It is only when we step back and start to think about the experience that the feeling morphs into emotion. The quality of union or reunion that takes place in dancing and sex is more a function of the heart center where we lose our sense of self in the experience.
There are occasions where the intensity of the immediate experience is so strong that the egoic propensities of the mind are not strong enough to break through our absorption enough to allow it the ability to regain its usual control over our life force. Our culture’s extreme preoccupation with the physical world and its standing demand for all manner of reality to be “evidence” based has left us all convinced that the “lower mind” is indeed supposed to be in control in all of our life dealings. We must remember that to have “evidence” is to simply have an agreement for and acceptance of the hypothesized truth of a belief by a large number of people. Historically, a large number of people also agreed that the earth was flat. Need I say more?
The physical senses are portals to triggering feeling and emotion but are not necessarily the only avenue. As we resurface the memory of a past experience, we also may trigger the initial feeling perceived when we first had the experience. But, like the original experience that the memory resurfaced, it quickly becomes relegated to the machinery of the mind and morphed into an emotion(s).
It is important to note that it is in this center that the majority of our population resides in. Since the solar plexus is the home of the “lower mind,” it is also the seat of possessiveness, especially, relating to things that we have strong feelings and emotions concerning. Most of our population is extremely possessive though our acknowledged ideal for social expectation demands the expression of an “ethically higher” behavior while silently ignoring the more selfish emotions that are tacitly suppressed let alone acknowledged or expressed. There is a tacit and colluded underlying attitude held by the “silent majority” that suppresses any human characteristics exposing our selfish animal nature as expressed by the id. Winning, acquiring and becoming are personal enhancements which should be striven for, yet, downplayed according to these standards. Pride should be felt but not displayed unless it is for someone other than the self. This becomes quite apparent when we see bumper stickers proclaiming that “My child is an honors student at Robot Elementary.” Any sense of competitiveness is internally striven for but externally denied. Some of the only places where open competition and display for recognition is “allowed” or tolerated is in sports and part of the corporate sector. In these areas yielding is unacceptable and seen as a weakness. Generally, the word “allowing” is not a word used relative to the solar plexus except in the capacity of the one who receives.
Adapted and excerpted from:
Maerz, John L., (2012). A Mile in Your Shoes: The Road to Self-Actualization Through Compassion. Port Charlotte, Florida. Lulu Publishers.
Adler, Alfred (1927). Understanding Human Nature: The Psychology of Personality. ISBN# 978-1-85168-667-4, One World publications, Oxford, England.
Ruumet, Hillevi, PhD., (2006). Pathways of the Soul: Exploring the Human Journey. Trafford Pub., Victoria, BC, Canada. ISBN# 1412-092-361.