The term ‘third eye’ refers to the concept of an invisible or inner eye that acts as a way to connect to your intuition and see the world beyond what the physical eyes can see.
It is typically located in the center of the forehead, between the eyebrows and in some traditions is referred to as ‘Ajna Chakra’.
The third eye has been recognized for thousands of years in many different spiritual and religious traditions, including in the practices of yoga.
There are many yoga practices that have been specifically created to access the power of the third eye.
This article will explore the origins of the third eye in terms of religion, science, and spirituality. We will discuss its role in both mindfulness and yoga, and dive into some useful yoga practices to help develop your awareness of the third eye center:
- The Origins Of The Third Eye
- A Scientific Perspective
- The Role Of The Third Eye In Mindfulness
- The Role Of The Third Eye In The Yoga Practice
- 6 Practices To Awaken The Third Eye
The Symbolism Of The Third Eye
In Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Sufism, and in the science of Yoga, the third eye is seen as a powerful tool for achieving enlightenment and spiritual growth.
It represents the center of our spiritual power and intuitive awareness beyond the physical body and invites us to view the world with our minds.
By awakening the third eye, it is thought that spiritual seekers can access higher levels of consciousness, allowing them to see beyond the physical realm and into the spiritual realm.
This heightened level of perception can help individuals gain a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them, leading to greater peace, wisdom, and spiritual growth.
The Origins Of The Third Eye
The third eye is depicted in many religions, traditions, and practices throughout the world. Let’s dive into its origins …
What Is The Third Eye? – Hinduism
The concept of the third eye can be originally traced back thousands of years to ancient Hinduism where it is referred to as ‘Ajna Chakra’ or ‘the seat of the soul’.The Sanskrit word ‘Chakra‘ means wheel or circle and refers to the energy centers in the body. According to Hindu tradition, there are seven major chakras, each located at different points along the spine.
Ajna chakra is located in the center of the forehead, between the eyebrows, and is associated with intuition, spiritual insight, and the ability to see beyond the physical world.
Take a close look at any depiction of Lord Shiva in your yoga studio and you will see a depiction of his third eye located in the center of his forehead. Shiva’s third eye is a symbol of his innate wisdom, intuition, and spiritual insight.
What Is The Third Eye? – Buddhism
In Buddhism, the third eye is referred to as the Urna or the ‘eye of consciousness’.
The Urna is depicted as a tiny dot or small circle between the eyebrows, and is seen as a symbol of enlightenment and wisdom. It is often depicted on the forehead of Buddha statues and other figures in Buddhist art.
What Is The Third Eye? – Taoism & Sufism
The third eye is also depicted in other spiritual traditions, including Taoism and Sufism.
In Taoism, the third eye is known as the Mingmen, and is associated with the power of inner vision and spiritual perception.
In Sufism, the third eye is known as the Basirah, and is associated with spiritual knowledge and insight.
What Is The Third Eye? – Theosophy
The concept of the third eye has also been discussed in Western esoteric traditions such as Theosophy, which teaches that the third eye is the gateway to the soul.
According to Theosophy, the third eye is the center of clairvoyance, telepathy, and other psychic abilities. It is said to be the seat of intuition and spiritual insight and is often associated with the pineal gland in the brain.
A Scientific Perspective
The pineal gland is a small, pinecone-shaped gland located in the center of the brain that is responsible for regulating various bodily functions, including sleep and wake cycles.
Some researchers have suggested that the pineal gland may also produce DMT (Dimethyltryptamine), which is believed to be associated with spiritual experiences and our awareness of intuition.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the third eye is said to be connected to the liver, which is responsible for detoxifying the body and regulating emotions. By activating the third eye center, TCM believes that individuals can improve their physical health and emotional well-being.
The Role Of The Third Eye in Mindfulness
Mindfulness refers to the practice of being present and fully engaged in the current moment, without judgment or distraction. It involves paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and learning to accept them without trying to change or control them.
The third eye is often associated with the concept of mindfulness.
By cultivating mindfulness, individuals can develop a greater sense of self-awareness and learn to observe their thoughts and emotions without judgment. This can lead to greater emotional regulation and a more peaceful, centered state of mind.
In mindfulness, the third eye is often used as a focal point for concentration during meditation. By focusing on this point, practitioners can bring their attention to the present moment and cultivate greater awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and sensations.
The Role Of The Third Eye in The Yoga Practice
In the yoga practice, activating the third eye is believed to bring greater awareness, intuition, and spiritual insight. Techniques such as meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises) are often used to stimulate and activate the third eye centre.
In meditation, practitioners may use visualization or guided meditation to bring awareness to third eye centre. They then focus their attention on Ajna chakra to develop their concentration and awareness. This is an example of the practice of Dharana (one-pointed focus).
The process of balancing ‘Ajna chakra’ can involve many aspects of the yoga practice; specific yoga postures, cleansing rituals (kriyas), meditation, and breathing techniques.
Many consider third eye work to be an essential component of the spiritual path in yoga, as it helps the individual to connect with their higher selves and tap into their inner wisdom and intuition.
6 Practices To Awaken Third Eye Chakra
So how can we develop and activate the third eye?
There are several powerful practices in yoga that are believed to help activate and balance the third eye chakra, including meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), and asanas (physical postures).
These practices are designed to help clear the mind, increase focus and concentration, and enhance spiritual awareness.
One of the most common practices for awakening the third eye is meditation.
Meditation is a practice that involves focusing your attention on a single point, such as the breath or a mantra. By quieting the mind and focusing their attention, individuals can enter into a state of deep relaxation and heightened awareness.
Practicing third eye visualization techniques during meditation can be a powerful way to increase your awareness of Ajna Chakra.
Imagine softening the space between and behind the closed eyelids and taking a seat behind the physical eyes. Visualize a light flowing in and out of the center of the forehead. If the mind becomes distracted, gently draw your attention back to Ajna Chakra and begin again.
#2: Trataka (Candle Gazing Meditation)
One specific meditation technique / kriya that is designed to activate the third eye is ‘Trataka’. Trataka involves gazing at a single point, such as a candle flame with the eyes open.
This practice is said to help strengthen the eye muscles and improve concentration, leading to a more powerful and awakened third eye.
#3: Mantra Meditation
Another technique for activating the third eye is through the use of specific sounds (mantra) or vibrations.
Reciting “Om” or “Aum,” can help to balance and activate the third eye chakra as can the use of singing bowls.
These sounds are said to stimulate the pineal gland and activate the third eye, leading to a deeper level of spiritual insight and perception.
#4: Yoga Asana
Certain yoga postures can help to activate the third eye:
- Child’s Pose (Balasana)
- Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
- Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
- Lotus Pose (Padmasana)
#5: Pranayama (Breathing Techniques)
Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) is a very effective way to stimulate the third eye center. To power up the practice, gently bring the first two fingers of your right hand to the third eye and then use your thumb and ring finger to close and open the nostrils.
You can also visualize the breath traveling up via the nostrils into Ajna Chakra on the inhalation and back down towards Muladhara Chakra on the exhalation.
Mudras, or hand gestures, can also help to activate the third eye.
Gyan Mudra (commonly known as Chin Mudra) will help cultivate a sense of clarity and insight and works to open and balance the third eye chakra.
To form this mudra, bring the tips of the thumb and first finger to touch and gently rest the backs of your hands on your knees in meditation.
Although there is no concrete scientific evidence to support the existence of the third eye, many practitioners of yoga believe that stimulating and balancing Ajna Chakra can lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
The third eye is believed to be the center of our intuition and spiritual awareness and engaging in practices specifically designed for the third eye may lead to improved clarity and focus.
Working with the third eye is a personal choice and as with all yoga practices, seeking the guidance of an experienced teacher is recommended.
For more information on awakening the third eye, the work of Deepak Chopra is a wonderful resource.