Advanced Yoga Practices
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Lesson 189 - Where is the Third Eye?
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, “Why This Discussion?”
Date: Sun May 16, 2004 3:50pm
Q1: You said the 3rd eye was between the eye brows but many say it is the pineal gland area and some say the 3rd eye is actually the medulla. Could you clarify?
A1: It is all of those, and more. The third eye is the spinal nerve (sushumna) going from the medulla oblongata through the general areas of the pineal and pituitary glands, and out the front at the center of the brow. It is more of a functioning zone in and around the spinal nerve than a specific organ. It could even be considered to extend down the spinal nerve below the medulla, because inner seeing is there also, but that is stretching it. Traditionally it is looking outward, as an eye would be, so that is why the external point between the eyebrows gets labeled as the third eye most often. The ecstatic relationship between the pineal gland, pituitary gland, and brow is probably the most common esoteric labeling. The medulla often gets labeled as part (or all) of the third eye too. It is pretty fuzzy yoga because labeling physical counterparts for the spiritual neuro-biology is not precise.
There’s nothing fuzzy about the experience of the ecstatically awakened third eye though. When it happens there is no doubt about what it is, or where it is inside. It is just a little difficult to describe it in physical terms.
The awakening of the third eye is an awakening of the entire spinal nerve all the way down to the root. As mentioned in the previous lesson on mantra design, the awakening third eye also is awakening the crown. So, awakening the third eye is ecstatically awakening the entire nervous system. That is why the sanskrit word for the third eye, “ajna,” means “command” or “control.”
Q2: So are you saying it is just as correct to put your attention on the medulla where you say attention in between eyes?
A2: No, the eyes go to the point between the eyebrows (gently favored), with a slight furrow of the brow in the middle. This is a physical positioning of the eyes to create a particular stimulating effect in the brain, which reaches instantly down the spinal nerve all the way to the root. At the same time, our attention goes with our practice, up and down the sushumna with spinal breathing. See lesson #131 – “Coordinating Sambhavi and Spinal Breathing” for a detailed discussion on this separation of the physical eyes from attention.
There are no instructions anywhere in the lessons to fix the focus of our attention in the medulla oblongata. The medulla is a “pass through” during spinal breathing, and is also stimulated by the resonating effect of the mantra in deep meditation, without deliberately focusing the mantra there. So the medulla is constantly being stimulated, but not by a sustained focus of attention on it in practices. The medulla is part of the greater whole of the awakening nervous system, and that is why it is addressed the way it is in practices.
We have been discussing the several ways how the third eye has been labeled in relation to the physical body. No particular techniques are intended in the labeling. The lessons themselves are very specific on techniques. Pardon me for any confusion on that point.
The guru is in you.
Note: For detailed instructions on spinal breathing, see the AYP Spinal Breathing Pranayama book. For detailed instructions on sambhavi mudra, see the AYP Asanas, Mudras and Bandhas book. Also see AYP Plus.