In our attachment to reality many of us have come to believe that we see with our eyes. While our eyes discern millions of bits of information carried through light, it is our brain that deciphers and interprets the material into images we recognize. What’s more- our brain doesn’t discriminate between images we ‘see’ and the things we imagine in our minds. In a study of brainwave activity, a volunteer was connect to an EEG machine to record the areas of the brain that were engaged while he played the piano. The volunteer was then asked to close his eyes and imagine himself playing the piano, the result was the same parts of the brain lit up with activity. This may explain why many athletes are having tremendous success with visualization as a primary part of their training.
If the brain cannot distinguish the difference between eyes open and eyes closed, what does this mean for reality? Hint- it’s all in your head.
In some traditions the third eye is associated with the pineal gland. This tiny piece of the endocrine system about the size of a grain of rice, and lives right in the middle of your brain, tucked between the two hemispheres. All animals with a back bone and spinal cord have one, and some biologists believe that pineal cells share a common evolutionary ancestor with retinal cells. Unlike much of the rest of the mammalian brain, the pineal gland is not isolated from the body by the blood-brain barrier system; it has profuse flow, second only to the kidney.
The pineal gland’s claim to fame is it’s contribution to circadian rhythm. While plants and animals have their own seasonal cycles in nature, there is also a twenty four hour rhythm present relative to the sun. Light signals are transmitted from our eyes to the pineal gland to set our individual circadian rhythm. In humans this translates to wake/sleep patterns, sexual development and hormone production, body temperature, brainwave activity, and cell regeneration. In animals (humans are animals too!) it inspires migration, hibernation, and procreation.
Homeostasis, our general state well being, is dependent upon a little pinecone shaped gland that floats in the middle of our brains.
Third eye Schmird eye, what gives? We’ve seen the jeweled dots worn between the eyebrows we even hear reference to the third eye in modern music but do we really get what its all about? Do we know how to use it? As I dug deep to answer these questions, I discovered some powerful stuff I want to share with you. Let’s start with the truth about frontal lobotomies. What!? Yes, this barbaric surgery that cuts off access to the brain’s frontal lobe. Psychiatric patients who were “hard to control” would be given frontal lobotomies as a “cure”. What happened after surgery was they became intensely habituated doing the same thing over and over everyday and freaking out if anything changed. Doctors thought the surgery was safe because the frontal lobe is an area of the brain with very little activity. It has been an enigma to neuroscientists for years. Why is this big section of brain behind the forehead so void of activity? Well, as it turns out the ancients knew the answer. The frontal lobe – third eye center – is the blank movie screen onto which we project our inner visions such that they can imprint in our tissue and call forth our future experiences. Put more simply, the third eye is where we activate our imagination and come up with the brilliant ideas that make our life interesting and evolving. This certainly explains the change in lobotomized patients.
So how do we use this third eye center? We use it by being aware that we are inner-movie producers and the more intentional, clear and positive we are in our inner-movie script writing, the more joy, success, connection, and peace we will experience. We are always creating this way. No one gets away with it. Its just that we tend to create by default. That is, we react to what is around us and think only about what is and what was. With these movies of the past replaying in our frontal lobe, we create sameness or stuckness in our lives. It is only when we spend more time playing the movie of what would be wonderful that we feel the joy of forward motion, the power of intentionally directing our experience. This is the schiggima-riggima of the third eye. Even our modern song writers are getting this. In their song “Make Believe”, the Burned sing these words, “We create the world we want to see outside, that’s the way we play the game of life, so make believe in miracles my friends.”
Today in class Amber spoke about maintaining alignment while moving from one side Vashistasana to the other. She mentioned that in keeping strength and integrity through the movement we would be saving ourselves extra work that comes from falling in and out of alignment. When we are moving from right and left, or changing postures in the flow, we find ourselves in the delicate displacement of transition.
Transition- movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change.
Regardless of whether transition happens on our mat, or in our daily lives, change is generally uncertain, exciting, and often scary. When we feel we are missing stability it is easy for the mind to panic, and our bodies react in a variety of ways. Sometimes we tense up or fall, often we choose to compromise our free flowing out of fear. In rollerskating transition means to switch from skating forward to backwards, and is totally terrifying until done often enough to become reflexive. Once we eliminate doubt, the move becomes a lighthearted dance instead of crash to the ground. The trick with transitioning on skates is to turn the gaze first to the direction we want to go, and the body will naturally follow. The same principles apply in life. If we focus on where we came from, we will have a hard time navigating the new direction in which we wish to move. Often setting our sights on the horizon and stepping forward takes a leap of faith. Letting go and floating in transition can be exhilarating, and it takes trust to make the most of uncertainty. Remaining unattached to a fixed position (whether it be a pose, a job, a home, or another person) creates endless space for new potential. Not having a steady anchor may seem unsettling at first, but a ship is not meant to live in port all of the time. What’s important is that we have the supplies we need to make a meaningful move. In yoga it is about maintaining strength and alignment to carry us through, in the outer world it is very much the same. When opportunities arise we want to be ready to make strong decisions about the future, with clarity and ease. Feeling calm and centered is the key. Treat yourself right, especially in times of change. Eat well, rest your body and mind, laugh and spend time with the people that inspire you. Life is one continuous transition, enjoy the ride.
Jennifer talks about the inception of Wisdom Flow Yoga. JLynn describes how she loved the graceful transitions between poses that bring dance and feminine flow to the practice but also how the science of optimal alignment is what makes the practice therapeutic and sustainable. Watch the interview to get a sense of Jennifer’s playful approach to this life-enhancing practice.