Ajna Chakra

here are the notes from the sessions we did on Ajna chakra , the “third eye” xxx Michelle

Ajna Chakra

Yoga is a process of refining our awareness by disconnecting from limited sensory perception and opening to the higher and more powerful awareness beyond the senses.
Yoga teaches us how to develop the dormant parts of ourselves, to develop skills and abilities that lie within the brain and the subtle bodies. When these dormant areas are developed, they allow us to explore this amazing body-mind in which our consciousness resides. Without conscious self-development, we are unable to see past the veil of matter,  caught in a very limited existence.  By working on subtle structures such as the third eye, Ajna Chakra, we are able to refine our perception and expand our awareness so as to see and experience more and more of life. We begin to develop a sense of purpose and understanding of our place in the scheme of existence. Ajna chakra is known as the ‘third eye’ because of its link to the quality of intuition. Intuition is often misunderstood as a mysterious extrasensory ability, but it is more than that. It is seeing with the soul instead of the ego.  Ajna means ‘one who commands’ and is linked physiologically to the pineal gland, the command centre that maintains cycles of activity and rest, and the pituitary, the master gland of the endocrine system, that translates the ideas and emotions of the brains cortex into the chemicals that control mood, muscle and metabolism.

Ajna location: between and just above the physical eyes, creating the spiritual third eye.
Associated element: light /ether
Colour: a deep indigo blue, the colour of a midnight sky, the colour of deep silence and stillness, of emptiness, of solitude.
Symbol: a two petalled lotus flower, symbolising the meeting of ida and pingala before they ascend to the crown chakra. A white circle with one petal either side, in the centre of the circle a downward pointing triangle, inscribed on the triangle a lingam, or pillar and the symbol of ohm. Above the triangle a crescent moon and above the moon a dot or bindu
Seed sound: ohm

Drishti Tips

When you look at an object during your practice, don’t focus on it with a hard gaze. Instead, use a soft gaze, soften your focus to send your attention beyond outer appearances.You should never force yourself to gaze in a way that strains your eyes, brain, or body.

Internal focus: with the eyes closed we use the antara (internal) gaze to enhance contemplative and meditative practices. (gaze is directed in and up toward the light of the third eye.) Temporarily depriving ourselves of sight, the provider of such a huge percentage of our sensory input, that in its absence we may have a very different experience of yoga. We can’t be distracted by the room, by other students, or by looking critically at our own bodies. Instead, we begin to experience pratyahara, the drawing inward of the senses. Create positive images and visualizations as you practice to help create a healthy sixth chakra. Such affirmative visions act as natural magnets, drawing the imagined situation into your life.

External focus: In our active practice, to keep attention on ajna we use bahya (external) gazing points.  By fixing the gaze on an unmoving point, we assume the characteristics of that point, becoming stable and balanced. More importantly, constant application of drishti develops ekagraha, single-pointed focus. When you restrict your visual focus to one point, your attention isn’t dragged from object to object. In addition, without these distractions, it’s much easier for you to notice the internal wanderings of your attention and maintain balance in mind as well as body.

If you find yourself closing the eyes during any practice and focusing on the dramas or perplexities of life instead of being able to maintain a neutral, detached focus, re-establish an outer gaze. On the other hand, if the outer gaze becomes a distraction to your concentration, perhaps an inner-directed correction is necessary.

While our two eyes see the material world, our sixth chakra sees beyond the physical. This vision includes intuition, dreaming, imagination, and visualization.

Our everyday awareness is located at the brow chakra: from here our higher functions scan the world around us. The consciousness of self, of the unique personality of the mind, is felt to be seated here, like a commander at a control post.  We are very much in our heads, more so than in our heart or in our solar plexus (gut) The physical body belongs to us, but we do not think of it being ‘us’ in the same way as our mind.

We relate to our thoughts, our interpretations and our inner conversations, continually assessing the information that feeds in through the senses. We relate to others by focusing on the face – the eyes and the subtle changes of expression, feeling that the ‘real’ person is somewhere in there.

In fact we do not ‘see’ with our eyes. The eyes send data to the brain, and the brain interprets this data,  recognising familiar shapes and relationships between things, and filling in any gaps and creating patterns based on memories. Once the brain has organised the data sent by the eyes then we can understand, we can see, we can perceive. Perception is the art of creating order out of chaos, and is the main function of the brow chakra. And what we see has a powerful impact on us. Even if we are not aware of it, we’re all sensitive to the images we find in our environment.

The brow chakra gives us a certain degree of detachment from emotional concerns. In order to see clearly a certain distance must be maintained between subject and object, too close or too far away blurs the picture. Our emotions need to be calm for us to be able to perceive clearly at ajna chakra. Because the process of seeing involves so much ‘filling in’ by the brain, any strong emotions that we are experiencing at any given moment can distort the picture that we receive, and our eyes ‘deceive us’. The remedy for this is to seek silence, stillness, so that we can ‘detach’ regain a broader perspective, and see clearly.

Jumping to conclusions and making assumptions are signs that ajna is becoming confused by too much emotional noise. When ajna is out of balance the mind-body link can become severely compromised, our intuition is hampered, we can experience agitation, anxiety, depression, impaired libido, insomnia, poor memory. There are specific signs that will help you recognise whether your sixth chakra is excessively charged, or deficient in energy…..

Overactive: headaches, hallucinations, nightmares, and difficulty concentrating.

Deficient: poor memory, eye problems, difficulties recognising patterns, and an inability to access positive visualisation.

In balance: removes confusion caused by an inability to distinguish important things from insignificant ones. Clear vision, clear understanding and a clear perspective on life. Able to see the bigger picture.

Developing the art of detached and passive watching of the self and of others is a skill fostered by a yoga practice. During our practice we observe the body and the mind as we work, criticising nothing judging nothing just witnessing what arises. This gives rise to a sense of inner spaciousness, and it is from this space that intuition arises: sudden flashes of ‘knowing’ that seem to come out of the blue. Our ajna chakra helps us to be receptive and open to new possibilities, and gives us the necessary clarity for accurate perception. We will find that we start to use this detachment to allow us to ‘see’ more clearly perhaps within the constellations of our families and friends, to spot patterns both helpful and unhelpful, and instigate positive and compassionate changes to create harmony in our relationships with others.

Ajna uses light to carry messages in the form of visual symbols and pictures, and this inner world of dreams, daydreams and imaginations is not limited by the rules of the physical universe. Anything can appear, the impossible beside the mundane, the fantastic rubbing shoulders with the ordinary, and the logic of time and matter can be ignored. This ‘language of light’ is how our ajna chakra communicates with us, a communication of energy that directly affects the electrical impulses in the brain. The brow chakra, resting in its state of quiet observation, can build up, interpret and change the very nature of our reality. The new medical discipline of psycho-neuro-immunology uses the visualisation techniques from approaches such as yoga to harness the power of the mind to construct positive images that directly affect the health of the body.

Pineal gland: The pineal body, a tiny glandular treasure nestled in the centre of the head,  is not only capable of perceiving external light much like our pair of lateral eyes, but its actual structure is also similar to the common eye in a more primitive state.

For thousands of years, the pineal gland was recognized as the human body’s connection to deeper realms of thought—a window into other dimensions. While this notion has faded with the passing of time, science has begun to focus its efforts toward understanding the secret functions of the “hidden eye.”

The pineal gland performs a host of important bodily functions, such as sexual development, metabolism, and the production of the hormone melatonin. Yet scientists have found features present in the pineal gland that elude a simple explanation. According to science’s evolutionary understanding of the pineal body, this organ once existed as a disordered system of nerve fibers located outside the surface of the skull. It specialized in capturing changes in light, providing its owner with more escape possibilities in the event of a predator’s attack. This understanding sees the pineal gland performing functions similar to the eyes, the only difference being in its curious insistence on receding inside the skull.

The pineal gland  is also responsible for emitting N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), known by some as the “spirit molecule.” The liberation of this molecule is considered to be one of the most powerful hallucinogenic neurotransmitters known to man. It increases during sleep, in certain meditative states, during near-death experiences, as well as with the ingestion of hallucinogenic plants. Skeptics question the validity of these supposed episodes of heightened awareness into other dimensional planes, preferring instead to believe such experiences to be merely chemically induced phenomena limited to the brain. But they have trouble offering a reasonable explanation for the relationship of the liberation of with near-death experiences. The debate continues: is the  pineal gland no more than a vestigial eye and a producer of hormones, or is it a window into other planes of existence.

This interest and debate surrounding the pineal gland is not new. It represents the sixth chakra of ajna spoken of in the Vedic tradition, the window of Brahma as it is known in Hinduism, the Celestial Eye as the ancient Chinese call it, the Niwan Palace as it is known by Taoists, or the “Seat of the Soul” according to Descartes. Could this tiny cone hidden at the center of the brain embody the potential to peer into realms that science is simply unable to grasp?

A word about Knots or ‘Granthi’s’
Within sushumna, there are three particularly difficult constructions or knots (granthis).  A knot generally indicates ‘desire’, or perhaps ‘doubt’, which must be removed before realisation can occur.  Some commentators assert that granthis are junctions where sushumna is crossed by ida and pingala, a claim that favours the ‘intertwining’ representation of the three main nadis.

The situation and name of the knots are:

  • Brahma granthi – situated at muladhara.
  • Vishnu granthi – situated at anahata.
  • Rudra granthi – situated at ajna.

Asana:  supported forward bends, adding an extra bolster or blanket to press upon and stimulate the third eye area.

Focus: Internal seeing, imagining energy moving, visualizing the chakra during posture

    • Bridge pose, (Setu Bandhasana) pushing up from earth
    • Butterfly, opening groin
    • Knee down twists (Supta Matsyendrasana)
    • Seated straight leg (Dandasana)
    • Sukhasana: hands clasped behind back, exhale fold forwards head to floor lift arms
    • Head to knee poses Janu Sirsasana and Paschimottanasana
    • Front stretch (inclined plane) (Purvottanasana)
    • Fish (Matsyasana)
    • Plow (Halasana)
    • Shoulder stand or half shoulder stand (Sarvangasana or Viparita Karani)
    • Swan (Kapotasana)
    • Cat to Sunbird (Chakravakasana)
    • Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
    • Standing forward bend (Uttanasana)
    • Balance poses:
    • Tree (Vrkasana)
    • Eagle (Garudasana)
    • Warrior poses (Virabhadrasana)
    • Dancer (Natarajasana)

Seated:

  • Spinal twist
  • Neck stretches
  • Eye exercises

Pranayama:

  • Alternate nostril(Nadi Shodana)

Ajna Chakra Meditation: Gently, with full awareness, transition awareness to the seat of mind at the space between the eyebrows, ajna chakra. Allow the mantra OM to arise and repeat itself, over and over, as slow waves of mantra, the sound of ohm merging into a continuous vibration. Be aware of how mind has no elements, but is the source out of which space, air, fire, water, and earth emerge. Be aware of how this space, this mind, itself, does no actions, but is the driving force of all actions. Be aware of how this chakra, this mind, has no senses itself, but is the recipient of all of the information coming from hearing, touching, seeing, tasting, and smelling, whether the source of this input is the sensations from the external world, coming through the physical instruments, or coming from the inner world of memories or subtle experience, presenting on the mental screen through the subtle senses. Many senses, images, or impressions may come and go, but they are let go, as attention rests in the knowing beyond all senses, in the ajna chakra and the vibration of OM.

Gifts: When the sixth chakra is balanced, our perspective is from the soul not the ego.  We make decisions, naturally and effortlessly, that favour the soul over the ego, and are able to act on these decisions. We become able to see, to perceive what is truly important, and are no longer mired in the confusion of not being able to distinguish what requires our attention. Ajna chakra will help us to recognise the unconditional truth. A balanced sixth chakra can help the whole body to heal, and can play a major role in controlling and eliminating pain

Allowing the spaciousness of detached  and passive watching,  increases the possibility that intuition – that sudden flash of knowing that seems to come from nowhere- will arise in the mind. This makes us aware of  our inner divinity or cosmic spark,  enhancing our understanding that we are all divine, all connected.

References

References

“Seventh Heaven” by Barabara Kaplan Herring

“Healing Yoga” by Swami Ambikananda Saraswati

“The Power of Chakras and Chakra Healing” by Sue and Simon Lilly

“The Chakra Bible” by Patricia Mercier.

www.swamij.com/chakra-meditation.htm

Additional material from BWY foundation course notes with Julia Wheatley, and from Yoga Campus Diploma course notes.

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