How understanding the root chakra will improve your writing

One of the first steps in creating a character is to understand their backstory. Whether we use the details about each character’s past in the actual story or not, we need to have a clear and compassionate understanding of our characters’ histories.

Oftentimes, we have an inkling of our characters – even when writing from real life experience in a memoir – and our tendency is to write and write until we stumble across their desires and the motivations for those desires. In fact, it is likely even more difficult to get to the core of characters in memoir because we’re so very close to it all – so emotionally attached to our version of the story.

Whether we’re writing fiction or memoir – or something in between – we need a way to approach characters’ emotional inner workings, and an effective method to accomplish this is to explore the Root Chakra because this chakra is about our origins. It will take you to your characters’ emotional underpinnings.

What do you know about your characters’ family of origin, and how does it inform her/his desires, motivations, and behaviors?

How understanding the Heart Chakra can help your writing

Recently, I wrote about how understanding the Root, Sacral, and Power chakras can help your writing. This week, I’m writing about how understanding the Heart Chakra can help.

indexBut first, remember, we always want to begin with a framework of a character. In this case, let’s say a 35-year-old man.

Now, from a generative standpoint, we can begin with one of the primary fears or negative manifestations of the heart chakra (because we want to give our character something to struggle with, consider, or transform): inability to forgive oneself or others.

What might he have done that he can’t forgive himself for? Imagine all possible scenarios and pick the one that resonates most with you. Get him thinking about it. Get him moving around in a space. Start to write.

From a corrective standpoint, let’s imagine that we already have the 35-year-old man who we know is racked with guilt and can’t forgive himself for some act or decision he’s made. We can begin to look deeper at the Heart Chakra and ask these questions:

  • Who does he love?
  • What makes him happy?

Even better if he’s done the very thing that makes him happy but is not able to forgive himself for it because it will hurt the person he loves. That will create some good tension, which is just what we want.


Where did this lead you?

Leave an excerpt here.




How understanding the Root Chakra can help your writing

The Writing Through the Body™ process is both generative and corrective. It’s generative in that it can help you build a character or a story from nothing, and it’s corrective in that it can move you forward if you’re stuck. Here’s how.

Oftentimes with writing we’re faced with a chicken-or-egg scenario. Maybe we want to write but we’re coming up blank. Or maybe we’ve started a story but it just isn’t going anywhere.


To clear that block and generate story, we can simply begin by imagining a character (think simply at first: gender and age – woman, 35 years old).

"Migrant Mother"  by Dorothea Lange

“Migrant Mother”
by Dorothea Lange

Then, give her a Root Chakra (located in the area just in front of the tailbone) problem: survival fears or fear of abandonment. This can take the form of her literally not having enough money to buy food and shelter for herself and her kids. It can be an irrational fear of not being able to provide even if she does have the resources. Or it can be her fear of her husband leaving her, which makes her suspicious and on edge. The fear doesn’t have to be founded on any evidence. It just has to be present.

Next, pick a setting, the writing element I pair with the Root Chakra, because setting plays significantly into the shaping of our identities. (Think of your childhood home.) If we put her in her kitchen (a logical space for someone struggling with survival fears… food, sustenance, or lack thereof) and get her to move around, we’ll bring her to life. What’s she making for dinner? Can she make dinner? What are her kids doing in the background?


image credit:

image credit:

On the other hand, if we’re already well into a story and we have a character who is already struggling with basic survival needs (sometimes these things just come to us organically), we can consult the chakras and know that she’s struggling with a Root Chakra problem.

The Root Chakra governs our Tribal Power. Generally, we think of this as our family of origin. So when our character is struggling to put food on the table at home (or fearing that she won’t be able to) or fearing she’s going to be left, we can begin to look back into her family constellation and dynamics (her back story) to understand her relationship with money, “having enough,” or “being enough.” We can then begin to know why she has this fear and let that information inform the story. We might even try bringing a family member into the story to see how it helps character development and storyline unfold.

We don’t always have to tell our readers every detail about our characters’ back stories, but we, as the writer, have to know them.

Who’s your character and what’s your setting?

First Chakra – The Root Chakra – Tribal Power

Yesterday, I wrote about how, if we follow the flow of ideas that come from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s theories on achieving flow and Candace Pert’s findings about how our emotions originate in the exact locations of the seven main chakras and that our bodies are our subconscious minds, we can utilize the chakras to banish writer’s block, achieve flow, and tell our untold stories.

For example, the First Chakra rules our Tribal Power and Tribal Consciousness, which is about our identity in relationship to our Tribe, which could relate to our family of origin or to some other group or community that’s present in our lives. Deep down, the Root Chakra has to do with identity and a feeling of security and connection to others and to the world.

In our writing, by considering our characters’ place within his or her tribe, or by considering our own, we can begin to uncover important information about human behaviors and motivations.

Below is a brief explanation of the Root Chakra and some ways we might integrate its attributes into our writing.

First Chakra – Root ChakraRed Sphere1
Deep in the pelvis, between the tip of the tailbone and the genitals

Primary strengths
Tribal/family identity, bonding, support and loyalty that create a feeling of security and connection to the world

Primary fears
Physical survival, abandonment, loss of order

Positive manifestations and qualities
Abundance, good health, connection with body, willpower, determination, leadership, independence

Negative manifestations and qualities
Vanity, self-importance, inability to make decisions

Accepting that we cannot be in control

Aspects we might consider for our characters or ourselves
Quality of family ties, sense of security and abundance, fears around abandonment and survival

When we take the time to sit quietly, think about the aspects of the Root Chakra, and do a meditation to clear it, imagining its corresponding color in the form of a pulsating orb, we can open ourselves up to not just a deeper examination and understanding of our characters, but ourselves, as well.

Try the following meditation and exercise, and let me know what you come up with.
Feel free to post it below this post, or email me at:


Close your eyes and do a short visualization of the Root Chakra: A red, pulsating orb just in front of your tailbone. Imagine it expanding and contracting and spreading out to each hip. Sit with this pulsating, strong and powerful energy for as long as you can, breathing deeply, for 5-10 breaths. Count to ten slowly on both the inhale and the exhale for each one. When you’re ready, let the energy begin to recede and return to its original size. Maintain its presence in your body as you open your eyes and begin the following writing exercise.

Writing Exercise
Fiction Writers
Think of a character you’ve created, maybe one you’ve been working with recently. Now, put that character on a train, heading to see his/her family for the holidays. Think about the character’s relationship with this space: Is this a regular occurrence – to be on a train heading to his/her childhood home? Or is this the first time? Whoh will the character see once she reaches her destination? How long will he be there? Who will this character see, and what feelings does she/he have around each person? Your character can be sitting quietly or moving around in the space. She/he can be contemplating the impending meeting or thinking about something else entirely. Show your character’s experience in the space, what happens in the waiting, and how this reflects in his/her thoughts and behaviors. It’s up to you whether or not you write to the actual arrival and meeting of family members.

Creative Non-fiction Writers / Memoirists
Pick a tribe. This can be your family of origin, or it can be another community that has a strong presence in your life. Consider the following questions:
What’s your reality within this tribe right now?
Are you in harmony or conflict with this tribal reality?
What, or who, within this tribe, created your reality?
Do you have any unfinished business in relation to this tribe? (If so, what prevents you from healing it, either within yourself or with the person or people involved?)

Sending you mad writing mojo…