An early springtime Meditation
This last week has brought the tremulous but discernible buds of Spring around Dublin; a little more light in the mornings & evenings, the green-shoots of daffodils & crocuses bursting through the ground & some early Cherry Blossom trees beginning to show their pretty blooms.
That emphasis on light has been much on my mind this last week; prompted by the small but definite extra light in our days but also by the want of & want for light within us generally; literal & metaphysical.
Coming out of Winter hibernation mode, our bodies may be beginning to crave lighter food like Spring vegetables & craving warmth & sunshine (for that vital Vitamin D hit that helps keep us well in body & mind).
Thoughts for many of us turn to booking Easter or Summer sunshine breaks.
But so too do our minds & hearts, our full beings, need the light. And that can harder to ‘book’.
Meditation can help. In particular, focussing in our Meditation on something that is ‘light-filled’, that is, in its’ essence, all about assisting us with light, with clarity.
What better meditative method to use than to focus on what is called our ‘Third Eye, our Ajna Chakra? This Chakra is associated with insight, wisdom, awareness & vision - qualities that we would innately associate with ‘light’. We talk about that ‘lightbulb’ moment when something suddenly makes sense to us; we speak of ‘seeing the light’ when we realise that we were wrong about someone or something; we even tell ourselves & each other to ‘lighten up’!
On an emotional level, our Third Eye (along with the Heart Chakra, a.k.a. Anahata Chakra) is indirectly associated with forgiveness & compassion. As above, when we see the ‘light’, we see others, & maybe even ourselves & situations, in a different, more helpful way. So that casual diktat to ‘lighten up’ is not so offhand after all. When we consider that forgiveness is the power to let go of anger, of hatred & resentment, then we may well discover a sense of lightness in our being, with the ‘letting go’ of those fears, that anger, those misjudgements.
Even if we are pretty much in the dark (pun intended) about Chakras, even if the cynic or rationalist within us thinks that those ‘Chakras things’ are a bit well ‘woo-woo’, they can still help us, still guide us. Before we get to that, a little more information on our Third Eye.
The ‘science-y’ bit
Our Ajna Chakra is said to reside in the ‘mid-brain’; in the space between & just above the eyebrows. The word ‘Ajna’ literally means ‘command’; it is regarded as our ‘command centre’. On a physiological level, this Chakra is strongly associated with both the pituitary & pineal glands. Not so big a coincidence when we consider that these incredibly important glands, both part of our endocrine system, are the command centres for regulating our hormones.
The pineal gland helps regulate our sleep patterns; it stimulates the production of a hormone called melatonin in the evening to induce sleep & lowers melatonin levels in the early morning to help wake us up, very much a ‘light-associated’ function. If we get too much artificial light from light pollution externally or even internally at night, by looking at TV/laptop/mobile phone screens for too long & too late, not only do we get ‘text-neck’ & eye-strain, but those devices with their ‘blue light’ have a knock-on & detrimental affect on our melatonin levels. Once our normal melatonin production is disturbed, then sleep disruption can occur, with all the resulting issues that lack of sleep brings in its wake.
If we also consider that the pituitary gland is medically regarded as the ‘master’ gland due to its role in controlling several other hormone glands in our bodies, including the thyroid (which regulates the body's metabolism, energy balance, growth, & nervous system) & our adrenals (so important with regard to us managing our stress loads), the ovaries & testicles (their importance needs no explanation!), then we can only wonder at the wisdom of the Yogis millennia ago. Science has only recently with its ‘splice & dice’ anatomical approach attained the knowledge that on a different but no less real level the Yogis somehow had grasped, written about & taught so long ago.
When our Ajna Chakra is thought to be out-of-balance, in excess, that disruption is associated with a flitting & not reality-bound mind, a mind unable to concentrate, one that is impractical & almost disassociated from reality & oneself.
In the opposite case, if we have an under-active Ajna Chakra, we may not trust our inner voice, not listen to our intuition, distrust our choices. This can result in us feeling unable to choose between options presented to us, being either easily led by others, paralysing ourselves in ‘limbo’ and/or resulting in needless procrastination. The overall feeling is one of being unmoored, off-kilter & utterly lacking the ability to trust our decisions.
Even if we don’t feel we strongly match the above two descriptions, we all have moments when we doubt ourselves, when we pay heed too much to outside influence or voices or even just times when we feel like we could really benefit from better clarity of mind & deeper self-awareness.
This is where an Ajna-centred meditation can help us. So, why not see what meditating on this Chakra can do for you?
Concentration… Light… Awareness… Perception
Sit in a relaxed & upright position. Soften & relax your belly, let your shoulders release gently & rest your hands with palms facing up on your lap. Relax the muscles of your face & close your eyes. Turn your attention inwards, to your breath.
To begin with, just notice the sensation of the breath as you gently, slowly & deeply breathe in through your nose. You encourage the journey of that inhale to reach all the way down to the belly. When you have inhaled to a comfortable limit, you pause.
Then begin to gently exhale, noticing the journey of the breath as it leaves your body, starting from the belly, working its way up along your torso & finally leaving your body again gently though your nose. Do this for a full minute or so.
Now see in your minds-eye a beautiful indigo-purple colour right at your Third Eye (that space between the eyebrows & slightly above); imagine that your breathe has awakened this light; that now, the breath is beginning at that very spot between your eyebrows. That the breath is not just a physical event that begins at the nose but begins as a light-filled thought that first originates at your Ajna Chakra.
Imagine that this vibrant purple hue burns more brightly with each inhale, expanding in & all around your head & your being, slowly filling you with light, with inner clarity, with inspiration.
With each exhale, allow your mind to release any thoughts or sensation of darkness or confusion that do not serve you right now. Keep focussing on the power of the pulsating indigo light; if your mind starts to wander, that's ok. The more you visualise that indigo light, the less the wandering mind will interfere.
See if you can stay with this practice, both your Third Eye visualisation & the accompanying slow, gentle wave of breath, for 5 minutes; not trying to achieve anything other than relaxed, deep breathing & peace of mind.
Remain aware of the process; stay with the breath; try & watch as if from outside yourself. See if you sense any release of tension - whether physical, mental, emotional or all three.
When you finish, gently release the Third Eye indigo imagery & return to easy, natural breathing for another few moments. Use these quiet last few moments to check in with yourself & see how you feel after this short but nourishing & light-filled mediative practice.
Remember you can return to this practice any time, anywhere.
Breath & mind in harmony.