The physical aspects of Ajna chakra are the pharyngeal plexus and the pineal gland. Ajna means command. It is also wrongly called Guru Chakra which is above the Ajna Chakra. Ajna is the center of the Moon The siddhis like telepathy and clairaudience are related to activating the pineal gland or Ajna chakra. Ajna Chakra activation involves curtailing sexual activities and if you can’t do it it will be difficult to find real success in pineal gland activation. The pituitary gland the master gland is on switch and the pineal gland is the Off switch of the endocrine glands. Ajna chakra is the most important of all chakras for those on the path of kundalini yoga. Kundalini Shakti rises and energises those parts of the personality we develop, and it is through the intuitive third eye that we can perceive the wisdom of renouncing fame, name, wealth and other worldly and passionate pursuits. Knowledge of the external world is gained through the external senses, however it is through the senses namely Ajna Chakra, that other knowledge is gained. There are so many things that we know to be true, yet there is no evidence for it, we just know it. Ajna chakra sadhna is tantra and tantra is about divine feminism and Shakti. Tantra is dependent on the female aspect of the consciousness. Kundalini Shakti resides in Mooladhara Chakra. Shiva, consciousness resides in Sahasrara chakra. In the tantric macrocosmic model every part of Shiva is imbued with Shakti and every part of Shakti is imbued with Shiva. Kundalini Shakti sleeps in the form of coiled serpent wound around the Shiva Lingam three and a half times.
We have managed to differentiate matter from consciousness, we have taken the spirit out of physical life and so the spirit has become dominant and an awakened Shakti becomes our potential. Our consciousness has become unconscious, it is sleeping and this is our predicament.
With awakening of the kundalini comes the dawn of our hidden power, abilities and inner knowledge and without some training we become lost in a sea of some doubts and confusions. Our own unconscious haunts us with new images and drives; guilt, fear and violence have forced us to suppress so much that it is hard to manage our own internal horrors. Such awakenings are accompanied by guilt, fear and anger. It is for this reason that we at Gems of Yoga follow the teachers who lead the student to first take up Ajna Chakra activation. Then we can see through the confusion to the way ahead. Ajna lies behind eyebrow center and sahasrarachakra lies in higher brain the metacortex. Connecting these two centers is Mahanada, which arises out of the dissolution of the three nadis, Ida, pingala and Sushumna, through which subtle current flow. When you practice the meditation with me and enter into meditation, then you can use your force of willpower to bring into motion these subtle energies and when you will connect them with the mind awareness they will appear in the form of light.
The light in meditation is first seen in a circular form and sometimes like a flame of light is a sign of you advancing on the path. It is not a significant sign as the true light of knowledge is Samadhi.
FROM 1ST-10TH OF THE MONTH
We will practice jalaneti that morning. Gems Of yoga has yoga detox on demand. Please learn the technique and continue it daily.
It massages the nerves around the eyebrow center. The nasal tracts are cleaned helping you to breath freely. We will practice padmasana, ardha padmasana , siddha asana or siddha yoni asana. We will do Om chanting in the way taught by the teacher. We will practice Ashwani mudra. We will practice Mahamudra.
- REGULAR YOGI
FROM 11th to 20th OF THE MONTH
We will practice kaya Sthiram followed by anuloma viloma pranayama followed by trikuti Nadi Shodhana and meditation on trikuti.
In kundalini yoga, pranayama is practised to purify and activate sushumna nadi so that kundalini can ascend through it and awaken the chakras. When the chakras are activated their relevant and respective centres in the brain are triggered into action.
Pranayama is not practised to increase the intake of oxygen. Whether you breathe in through the left nostril, the right, or both nostrils, the quantity of oxygen in the body does not change. But when you inhale, you are taking in a certain amount of prana. Prana is different from oxygen.
In scientific terms they refer to prana as positive and negative ions. The formation of ions begins when enough energy acts on a gaseous molecule to eject an electron (negatively charged particle). The displaced electron attaches itself to an adjacent molecule which becomes a negative ion. The original molecule then becomes a positive ion.
Inside a closed room there are only about 50 ions per square foot; outside there are about 500, and in the mountains there are about 5000. These positive and negative ions are the components of the air you breathe. When you take them in they increase the level of prana in your body, and are dispensed to the five areas for specific functions. In the practice of pranayama, kumbhaka or breath retention plays an essential part. During kumbhaka, when you hold the breath, carbon dioxide is retained in the brain, and this increases the capacity for assimilating ions.
Prana flows to each and every part of this physical body through a complex network of nadis or nerve channels. The three main nadis, ida, pingala and sushumna, can be correlated with the parasympathetic, sympathetic and autonomic nervous systems respectively. At present, sushumna is dormant, so ida and pingala are supplying energy to the whole physical body. The bodily organs and systems are directly connected with ida and pingala. If these two nadis are purified, energy will flow throughout the whole body. But when kundalini wakes up, passes through sushumna, and joins ida and pingala in ajna chakra, this lower form of energy is withdrawn. The small generators are switched off and the greater energy begins to flow through these nadis, awakening the different zones in the brain and also supplying energy to the whole physical body.
Therefore, you have to prepare the way by practising asanas and pranayama, mudras and bandhas, and the hatha yoga techniques. These are all ways of purifying the different areas of the nervous system, and this is kundalini yoga.
- COMMITTED YOGI
FROM 21st TO 30th OF THE MONTH
We will practice trataka, antar trataka and shambhavi mudra.
The practice of trataka is independent in its own way and is meant for aspirants of higher categories. Trataka is a very powerful sadhana.
Gandhari had mastered trataka. Ramana Maharshi also practised trataka. Many sadhus in the mountains have practised this sadhana. Trataka shows us that the eyes are the instruments by which the mind and the soul are reached.
Trataka is of two kinds: internal and external. Internal trataka is called dharana or concentration because in this practice the eyes are closed and the mind concentrated upon some subtle element within. External trataka means fixing the eyes on some object outside. Trataka on any object can be performed during the day or night. In this practice one has to take into account the object, the place and the time. What is the object on which the eyes are to be fixed? Where is the object to be placed? At what time should it be practised?
The word trataka means to gaze steadily. Trataka is gazing without blinking at an object placed directly in front of the eyes. At the time of practising trataka, the eyeballs should remain steady and the eyelids should not flicker. No object except the one on which trataka is to be performed should be seen, and the mind should not wander hither and thither but be merged in observation of the object.
The impression of the object falls on the optic nerves. The shadow of the object falls on the eyes and then on the retina. The optic nerves of the retina are connected by the sensory nerves with the brain. The brain has several centres which are connected with the optic nerves. These centres receive information through the optic nerves and send out commands. Many of these centres are asleep or inactive. Trataka does not merely increase the function of perception. Through the medium of perception, the centres of the brain which remain inactive in an ordinary person are awakened. Man is capable of becoming a superman if he is able to awaken and activate those glands and nerve centres which in the natural course of evolution are in an inactive state.
A number of yogis in the Himalayas perform penances and attain siddhis. What practices do they perform? They perform sadhanas through which they develop the inner centres of the body, thus their senses are fully developed. These things are not impossible; they are natural, rational and intelligible, and form part of human evolution Anyone who can devote the time can practise them under the guidance of a guru.
Trataka and sleep
Generally before going to bed people lie down and read a book. Why? By lying down on the bed, the optic nerves are pressed and this pressure makes the eyelids heavy. Due to heaviness the eyelids begin to close. The pressure on the optic nerves causes pressure on the brain too and therefore the instruments of the body, tired from the day’s activities, fall asleep in order to remove fatigue and refresh themselves with new energy.
The mind also goes within at the time of sleep, but it does not sleep. The mind which was active in the external world through the senses goes inside during sleep and sees the pictures of its inner experiences and impressions. This is also exactly what is experienced through the medium of trataka. The only difference is that the eyes remain open. There is no sleep, but all the tendencies are turned inward.
Power of the eyes
In daily life trataka has many uses related to the power of healing and clairvoyance. Trataka can be utilized for curing eye diseases, spiritual healing, acquiring knowledge of certain events, detection of thieves, murderers, etc., acquiring knowledge of the future, tracing lost individuals and so on. Clairvoyance is a mysterious faculty that can be developed by the practices of trataka. Yogis who have attained this state are able to see things with the eyes open or closed which a normal person is not able to see. Clairvoyance means psychic vision and such vision was given by Vyasa to Sanjaya. There are other great people who have developed this faculty through trataka. Ramana Maharshi had practised a sadhana related to it. C.W. Leadbeater of the Theosophical Society may also have acquired the power of clairvoyance by means of inner trataka.
Trataka plays an important role in yoga. Parvati practised shambhavi mudra, which forms an integral part if inner trataka. Trataka is practised even in hypnotism. The eyes possess the power to act as a reservoir of energy as well as a transmitter. Through the medium of the eyes, we are able to express many things. We are able to express sorrow, joy, anger, displeasure, cheerfulness, malice, etc. Through trataka we can acquire great power.
Methods of trataka
There are many methods of trataka which can be utilized by sadhakas according to choice and situation.
On a leaf: Take a large betel leaf. Prepare a collyrium (paste) with castor oil and make a black dot on the betel leaf. The dot should be the size of a pea or a little smaller. Fix this leaf onto cardboard. Place a light, a lamp or a candle behind you. Practise trataka on that dot in the morning and evening. Go on gazing at the dot continually for five or ten minutes without moving your eyelids. Do this for six months and then consult your guru.
Candle flame: Light a candle in the darkness and fix your eyes on the flame for five or ten minutes without blinking. Perform this practice in the morning and evening. There should be no break even for a day in this sadhana. It should continue as long as the eyes cannot fix themselves steadily on the flame. People with eye defects should practise this sadhana. Even children who suffer from eye defects should be encouraged to practise this technique.
Darkness: Sit by yourself in the dark and practise trataka on the darkness. The eyes should be open fully. Continue to see in the darkness without any light. Sit there daily and practise it steadily and firmly.
Blue sky: Sit in an open place or on a terrace at the end of the day and gaze at the blue sky without blinking. Try to feel that you have become like the sky or that the sky has come nearer to you. In due course the consciousness of the practitioner becomes so transformed that even though the object is in front of your eyes, you are not aware of it. The consciousness which separates the seer and the seen does not remain separate, but identifies with the object.
Photograph: Have a small photograph of your chosen deity. Take a sheet of blank paper, the size of a book, and cut out a circle two inches in diameter, so that there is a round open space in the paper. Now place the photo of your deity behind the paper, fixing it in such a manner that you can only see the face through the hole, and frame it under glass. During the day practise trataka on the photo. The photo should be straight in front of the eyes at a distance of one and a half feet. Try not to take your vision outside the round circle.
Havan: Perform havan daily and in the sacrificial fire put scented objects. When the fire has ignited and has burned steadily for some time, repeat a prayer to the fire god Jataveda and perform trataka on the flame. Try to think of the divine being in the flame while doing trataka.
Crystal: If you happen to have a crystal, practise trataka on it. This is an independent and important sadhana.
Shivalinga: Worship a shivalinga daily with great devotion. Concentrate on the water being poured on it. The shivalinga must be a black stone. If it is a really black stone, make a sandalwood mark on it and steady your eyes on the mark. Otherwise try to concentrate on the entire black linga.
Flower: Take a red, white or yellow flower. It should preferably be a dark coloured flower. If it is a red rose, keep it in the light and practise trataka on it. If it is a white or yellow flower, then practise in a dark room.
Flower on cloth: Take a black or dark green cloth, two feet wide and three feet long. Hang it on the wall in front of you and in the centre of it pin a yellow, white or pink rose. Now sit in front of the flower in a semi-dark room and practise trataka on it.
Metal object: Take any small article made of bright metal, like vessels that shine when polished. It may be of brass, copper, silver or gold, for instance, an incense burner, a small jug, or a panchapatra. It should be no more than two inches in height. Practise trataka on that bright object in half light.
Your shadow: In the morning, stand with your back to the sun and practise trataka on the shadow of your neck.
Tea: Take a glass full of tea. Practise trataka on the decoction of tea.
Elements: In order to attain mastery over the elements, draw them in their proper form and colour on paper or have them engraved on metal and perform trataka on it.
Moon: Practise trataka on the full moon or when the moon rises at night.
Water: Sit down on a riverbank or raised ground where you can see the current of water for a long distance. Practise trataka on the water. The eyes should remain steadily fixed on one spot; they should not move along the waves.
Changing scenes: While you are travelling in a train, open the window, keep the eyes open and watch distant scenes, without any emotion at all. The eyelids should not flicker, inspite of the changing scenes. The eyeballs should be completely steady and the mind devoid of any feeling. Thus you can also do spiritual practices while travelling.
Needle: Keep a needle hanging on the wall and practise trataka on it. At the time of performing trataka, ensure that no other object is visible and that no other thought comes to the mind.
Guidelines for success in trataka
Trataka is a simple practice, but in this sadhana one has to be very careful and alert as one’s vision and mental processes have to be watched. If the mind is slightly active, the vision wanders away from the object. At the time of gazing the eyes should not be opened very wide. In the first stage, trataka is practised on an object without thinking of its form, steadily and devoid of any mental changes.
Beginners should practise trataka in such a way that the eyes are not strained. If gazing is done in a natural state of mind, strain will be avoided. It is difficult to explain this, but by practice this technique can be acquired automatically. When the gaze becomes fixed in a natural manner and the aspirant has success in practising trataka continually for fifteen to twenty minutes, without any feeling of fatigue, for a few days, then another technique should be taken up.
The practice of ‘looking into’
We can divide the sadhana of trataka into two stages. The first is the elementary practice of gazing without flickering the eyelids. In the second stage it is to be practised with the eyes fixed as if they are searching for something. Here the process is as if you are carefully observing an object or trying to find something small inside something big. The eyeballs should be steady. There should be no strain, but at the same time your gazing should be with a purpose. Continual practice will lead you to this experience.
The second stage is the practice of ‘looking into’. It is current in south India. By this method crimes and thefts can be detected, but no one should practise it without the instruction of a guru because it can prove dangerous to one’s life. Nature is trying to hide many things from us, which is why these faculties are not available to all.
When an aspirant has some success in this sadhana, he first of all comes to know about certain undesirable deeds, characteristics or events. Unless he has attained complete dispassion, however, he is unable to tolerate the negative things that he sees in his loved ones and nearest relatives An ordinary person is unable to tolerate slander, sorrow and separation. How then will he bear foreknowledge of undesirable events? Often such people have nervous breakdowns and even go mad. Even if the science of trataka is practised for the sake of others, there is every possibility that the practitioner may come to harm through it. Therefore, this sadhana should not be practised in order to attain siddhis.
Even today many magic tricks are current in the villages and the practice of trataka is their basis. Often people practise trataka on a dot of ink put on the thumbnail of the hand and thus find out the whereabouts of hidden treasure, stolen goods and past or future events. This is indeed a science, but it is a subjective science, not a physical science. Its practice and attainments have no relation to external things.
The vision of purushas and dreams
When the practice of looking into is perfected, the third stage is reached in trataka. This is called the vision of the divine being. Several forms manifest themselves when one’s concentration is perfected on the rays of light which fall on the particular object, whether a crystal, decoction of tea or whatever. These forms are called purushas. They are of two types, bright and dark. The dark types are shadow figures which give knowledge of past and future events.
The mind becomes very steady while performing trataka and when it is concentrated, a person sees visions. Many have had this experience when in a state of stupor. So long as one remains awake, the mental tendencies become involved in many external objects, but at the time of sleep they turn inwards and become centrifugal. In this stage people dream, these dreams being the formations of their past impressions. During the practice of trataka the mind becomes concentrated, and the aspirant begins to see dreams which correspond to the predominant thought or mental attitude.
The dreams follow the mental patterns of the aspirant and reveal themselves as a reality or as symbols. A tamasic sadhaka has perverse dreams which indicate a different meaning. A rajasic sadhaka sees symbolic dreams, while a sattwic aspirant sees true visions. This is possible only when there is intensified awareness and concentrated consciousness.
The proper use of trataka
A little practice of trataka is of great use in removing eye disorders. Those who have weak eyesight and wear spectacles should practise trataka for five minutes daily on a dot on the wall. They should also wash the eyes with triphala every morning and evening. Practise for fifteen days or a month and then have your eyes examined by a doctor. There are other types of eye diseases. Certain people have double vision due to detachment of the retina. Some cannot focus their eyes properly. These disorders can be removed by performing trataka on the flame of a lamp.
During the practice of trataka the breathing must be slow, rhythmic and deep. This will bring steadiness to the breathing process, making the body and mind steady also. One can always control the onslaught of desire or anger by practising the elementary stage of trataka when excited. When any emotional shock is experienced, the practice of trataka is as beneficial as the practice of kumbhaka. Trataka opens up a storehouse of energy.
Trataka makes the mind steady and helps it to concentrate. Therefore, when an individual does any intellectual work, listens carefully to something or thinks about something, the eyes remain steady without a flicker, and thus a natural state of trataka is attained. This faculty can be applied consciously whenever necessary.
Trataka should definitely be practised for at least five minutes before beginning any sadhana. When one wants the mind to be concentrated, trataka should be performed on any object for some time, or inner trataka may be practised. Students especially should practise trataka. Its daily practice will help them to develop concentration and memory power as well as improve their eyesight.
Pain can be eliminated through trataka. Many diseases and afflictions are also cured. The poison of a scorpion bite can be eliminated by trataka on the affected area. In the same way trataka can be performed on a diseased part of the body. In this case, the eyes become the medium for the transmission of healing power.
The inner power can be transmitted through the eyes. The eyes and the science of trataka constitute the medium for accomplishing vashikaran, maran, uchchatan and stambhan, acquiring powers over other people. Trataka is also practised when water, flowers, linseed and cloves charged with mystic power are offered to someone. When trataka is perfected, any person can be called and given orders to do any type of work. For this end, trataka should be performed at two o’clock in the morning.
Of course, it is not proper for a sadhaka to go in for these things. One should not waste one’s inner power, time and sadhana for the achievement of such insignificant things, but should use them as an aid for self-realization. This power should be used for the benefit of mankind, otherwise the aspirant hurts himself and also others. Reactions may take place later in a person on whom trataka is practised. Moreover, one has to perform great austerities to acquire siddhis. These siddhis are automatically exhausted after a certain time. Trataka belongs to a high order of sadhana and deserves to be practised to increase one’s mental power and to attain self-realization.
Difficulties in trataka
There are certain difficulties which are encountered in the practice of trataka. It is difficult to keep the eyes steady because drooping of the eyelids is a natural tendency and it is difficult to keep them from drooping, even with effort, for a long time. It is also difficult to gaze steadily at one central point continuously in the beginning.
Another difficulty is that the eyes water every now and then. Those who are not used to sitting in one posture for a long time encounter further difficulties. Continuous gazing at one object makes the object appear as if it is two. Sometimes the black dot appears white and vice versa. Finally, the sadhaka is often overcome by uncontrollable sleep during the practice of trataka.
A sadhaka has to overcome these difficulties, but it is not difficult if one is alert and firmly fixed on one’s ideal. For people of firm determination, the difficulties are surmountable. The practice should be increased gradually and slowly. A concentrated mind is a great help to an aspirant. Everything becomes easy for one who practises with devotion, steadiness and sincerity.
Now you can practise this sadhana yourself. Select any of the above mentioned methods of trataka, according to your choice. By regular practice you will achieve knowledge of yoga through your own experience. There is nothing higher than self-experience and there is no joy greater than practising sadhana.
STUDY 1 – SHAMBHAVI MUDRA
(Shambavi is the consort of Shambhu, Lord Shiva, who represents the state of higher consciousness.)
In laya yoga shambhavi mudra is defined as a pratyahara technique, i.e. it leads to sensory withdrawal.10Shambhavi steadies the wandering mind, leading it to focus with accuracy. Wherever the eyes go the mind follows, so when the gaze is fixed on a single point, the mind also becomes single pointed and the thoughts aligned. Thus shambhavi mudra is also a form of trataka and a means to achieve dharana, the meditative state of relaxed concentration.11Therefore, shambhavi mudra forms a bridge between hatha yoga and raja yoga. It is both a technique and a state of attainment. (A pointer about the gaze being a spontaneous representative of an inner state comes from the Western and Eastern religious iconography. We will often notice the eyes looking at the eyebrow centre, depicting the ecstatic state of saints.)
Physiology of the eye
The eye, when examined using the criteria of being an optical instrument, is found to be rather imperfect. The eye provides an image on the retina but this is just the beginning of the extraordinary neural process of decoding visual perception. The flow of neuronal stimulation is not straight from retina to cortex – midway it passes through the midbrain structures which support the telencephalization process. Furthermore, from the endocrine system’s point of view, it is observed that shambhavi mudra influences the hormonal secretion of the pituitary, the master gland.
During shambhavi mudra the eyes are not kept in the primary position, but are moved to a fixed gaze at the eyebrow centre and this implies a peculiar coordination of the eyeball muscles. The motor nerves that supply the muscles of the eyes follow a different and independent path to the optic nerve, although they also travel through the midbrain to reach the occipital cortex. Here, both of the two afferent and efferent types of nerves are at work at the same time, generating a peculiar neuronal configuration.
It has been demonstrated that alpha waves arise particularly from the occipital areas of the brain and their appearance is especially associated with visual inattention. This alpha sensitivity is a matter of special interest because it is related to the hypnagogic psychological dimension where deep relaxation and archetypal imagery take place.12Alpha sensitivity thus plays an important role in the expansion of extra-sensorial awareness.
Neutral cerebral flow
Instrumental observations have been able to confirm that increased activity during visual stimulation causes striking changes in local cortical brain blood-flow and metabolism.13Having such a premise, we can reasonably expect an increased flow of prana in the activated cortical areas.
The beauty of shambhavi mudra in particular is that no actual sensorial stimulus is sent to the brain. Gazing at an internal point, no carrier of symbology comes in-between. Having no sensorial significance to be understood by the brain, the subtle pranic energy itself is first analyzed, with its ‘shapes’ arranged by midbrain structures. After that, due to the directed stimulation, a type of neutral signal is sent to the cortex. The naked process of thought itself is immediately pinpointed, and this is the first step towards thoughtlessness, the prerequisite of expanding psychic awareness. The result can be the recognition by the practitioner of new dimensions of thought – the awareness having been expanded.
Activating Ajna chakra is to be practiced regularly with other sadhnas to keep the mindfresh to direct the energy to the Ajna chakra. The awakened chakra supplements the other sadhnas, the mental power of such mind is great. The light of Ajna is powerful. By this one can take one’s consciousness to distant places and obtain knowledge of other objects. This is the divine light through which the religious seeker see vision of their ishta devata. By awakening ajna the actual form of astral bodies can be perceived.
The light arising from Ajna during meditation which arises from the power of mind is known as Prana Loka. Same time, will arises from chitta and enters the intellect and the desire for knowledge follows. Thus from Ajna, will sends its vibrations out into the cosmos and comes into contact with the required object, giving satisfaction to the desire through the Ajna. This is the power of positive thinking and the postulation of the principle that ‘thoughts createthings”- the universe will surely reward you in harmony with your own will. Those who have opened this passage by awakening ajna and combined this with a trained mind will achieve great deeds and are recognized as truly great people who can build missions or even build empires.
This power can be used destructively like in black tantric rituals or constructively like in a yogi giving blessings to humanity and sending peace messages and goodwill.