Painting the Chakras by Leah Fanning Mebane
As I stapled seven large sheets of raw canvas to my studio walls to create a series of chakra paintings, I had no idea what would emerge. The main colors were a given: red for the root, orange for the sacral/ womb, yellow the solar plexus, green the heart, blue the throat, indigo the third eye, and violet the crown. But what images? I had set a simple goal: to study each chakra’s interpretations by different cultures, and then to experience meditations, yoga poses, essential oils and visualizations for each chakra. Finally, I would stand before the canvas with an open heart, holding out my brush for whatever would come. Priming their surfaces to begin, I could not foresee that immersing myself into these seven swirling energy centers would not only reveal life-changing personal insight but also uncover a plan for global healing.
Beginning with the root chakra, located in the area of the perineum, I one-by-one moved upwards through the spectrum to the crown chakra at the top of the head. Moving from the root on to the sacral/womb chakra was invigorating and the painting came out fast and freely. Energy healers say this is our center for creativity, child-like playfulness, imagination, joy and sexuality among other wonderful things, and I immediately resonated with this color.
When this painting finished itself and I looked ahead to the solar plexus (yellow). Unexpectedly, I was caught off guard by a strong resistance to painting it. I skipped ahead to the next paintings, wondering why I felt such utter discomfort.
Over the next four months, I painted the heart, throat, third eye, and crown chakras. The process of each painting brought endless insights into compassion, self-expression, communication, and spiritual connection. As the series neared completion, the dreaded “yellow painting” loomed. Curious about my procrastination, I researched the solar plexus chakra extensively—until one day a flood gate of tears broke open.
The solar plexus, I learned, is where our individual identity, personal ego, power and self-esteem are formed and maintained. It says, “This is who I am. This is who I want to be. This is how I want to be seen.” Authoritative and parental judgments are stored here. Cultural messages and criticisms greatly impact the third chakra. Out of all the chakras, our western culture has unfortunately chosen to glorify this one. We’re obsessed with individuality rather than community. I learned that if this chakra is unbalanced it can commonly block the innocent and child-like sacral orange chakra that I so enjoyed painting. Most artistic people have an extraordinary but incredibly delicate sacral chakra that is susceptible to judgment and manipulation, especially in childhood, which can cause low self-esteem, self-doubt and stress, amongst other issues. But if the solar plexus chakra is clear and healthy and strong, it can give us a profound personal power that’s not ego or aggression-driven and actually supports the sacral chakra—the power to be a unique individual while celebrating our continuing connection with all of humanity.
As I studied this chakra, which is developed between ages 11-18, images of my overly strict pre-professional ballet school (and later, professional ballet companies) flooded my head. My ballet instructors drilled their values into me for four hours a day, seven days a week, from the ages of 8 to 18: the only path to becoming a successful, worthwhile person is a professional ballet career, which requires an anorexic body, perfect technical ability, and a competitive drive. Any enjoyment of play, creative expression and imagination that had developed in my sacral chakra must have withered as my solar plexus took over in these developmental years.
As I painted this final large yellow image, I felt a subtle shift inside as this color filled me with a sense of strength and comfort. The canvas turned into an earthy golden yellow world with swirling browns and coppers that at once soothed and empowered me. After dreading going into this chakra I realized that by strengthening and stimulating it, you can reach a state in which you shake off the fears of rejection, criticism, and standing apart from the group to create your own unique identity. One that is founded on self-acceptance, self-respect, and the ability to take risks in the knowledge that you can handle any situation you face. And by then clearing the connection between this personal power and the creative, playful sacral chakra, you become balanced, whole, joyful.
As I delved even deeper, these personal insights brought to light a more universal truth. What would shift if everyone on this planet worked with their solar plexus—to clear it and redefine what power means? Would building communities and working for the good of the planet and humanity become a priority over our personal concerns? What would happen if every person released all parental, authoritarian and societal judgments, and felt strength and personal power only from the inside? Would fear dissipate and connectedness spread? What would happen to a world without fear? Dozens of possibilities and questions filled me with hope and the drive to spread the word about this little ball of energy above the navel that I had always planned to ignore.
Leah Fanning Mebane, originally from New Orleans, is a local Ashland artist, represented by galleries in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Oregon. Her vibrant, abstract expressionist paintings recall her past career as a professional ballet and modern dancer. Leah has also been commissioned nationally and internationally for over 500 portraits and murals. Contact Leah at: 720-470-0697 www.fanningart.com; [email protected]