Ajna Chakra is also known as the ‘third eye’, ‘command center’ or ‘guru chakra’. All these meanings offer a huge amount of depth when we bring them into our Yoga practice, and can lead to much deeper insights into why we do the things we do.
The Command Center
We know the mind often ‘commands’ our every action; even Lao Tzu said; “Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
While Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) also said; “It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe that lures him to evil”
So we already know the mind and thoughts we hold within it are pretty powerful…
The world we experience around us – our universe – may seem pretty ‘real’, but what we see and experience is really all down to perception; how we ‘see’ it. Perception is something that can determine our whole life experience, and it can either help us live a full, abundant, and conscious life, or a fearful, small existence.
How we perceive each situation often depends upon how we feel within ourselves at the time. Maya Angelou is one of the people to have said; “You can tell a lot about a person by the way they react to a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas lights….” While this is a light hearted phrase on the surface, it’s really very true! Our whole state of being depends upon how we perceive, react, and therefore act….
Rarely do we see ‘clearly’ without any judgement, attachment or expectation, and observing life behind this veil of misperception is what is known as ‘Avidya’ which means ‘ignorance’ or ‘delusion’. It’s the opposite of ‘Vidya’ which means ‘to see clearly’, in essence; to experience reality as it is.
One of the most exciting discoveries I’ve made since delving further into the hidden codes within Sanskrit words, is the real meaning of Samadhi, which we often equate to ‘bliss’, ‘enlightenment’, or ‘realisation’. The word ‘sama’ means ‘same’ or ‘equal’, while ‘dhi’ refers to ‘seeing’, ‘intellect’ or ‘understanding’, therefore the literal meaning of ‘samadhi’ is ‘to see equally’, or ‘to understand the same’, essentially – to be aware of something that is real. Enlightenment is not about floating away and living with our heads in the clouds, it’s about understanding and ‘seeing’ reality as it is.
The Third Eye
When we name this energetic center the ‘third eye’, it refers to an eye which looks inwards rather than out. An eye concerned with introspection and svadhyaya or ‘self study’, and an eye which offers revelations about ourselves and adventures into the depths of our consciousness.
To experience ‘reality’, our physical eyes need to be fully open (instead of that ‘glazed over’ look we sometimes get when walking around the supermarket) and the third eye of inner-awareness opened. We can travel all we like, visit new places and meet new people, but if we are still ‘seeing’ things from behind eyes which are full of ‘ignorance’, ‘misperception’, ‘delusion’ or essentially – are being controlled by the ego, we never really see clearly at all. Marcel Proust puts it beautifully;
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
The Guru Chakra
Finally and fascinatingly, when we can determine Ajna as the ‘guru chakra’. The word ‘guru’ often refers to someone who you’d consider a teacher, guide, master or mentor. While the term is used loosely these days, the student-guru relationship is traditionally very sacred and strong.
The literal translation of guru is ‘dispeller of darkness’, it’s the person who leads someone from the darkness of ignorance or misperception, to the light of freedom and realisation.
A guru is traditionally someone who is really considered as way more than a ‘teacher’ to the student; they’re someone who ‘helps in the spiritual evolution of the student’ and shares valuable information with them in order to encourage great personal growth, knowledge and wisdom. They’re someone who not only ‘teaches’ the student, but helps them to discover – for themselves – their very own potential. Traditionally, a guru is treated as a master, and every word the guru says is trusted and obeyed.
The guru-student relationship is much like a master-disciple relationship or master-apprentice, otherwise known as the ‘guru-shishaya’ tradition. (shishaya means ‘disciple’). A guru embodies knowledge and wisdom, and throughout a long and close relationship with the student, the guru would impart this knowledge to them, helping the student to learn and therefore eventually embody this great wisdom too. The relationship isn’t to be taken lightly – a student would sometimes live with their guru for the whole time they were learning with them, and would repay the guru depending upon what they had – it could traditionally be as little as a handful of rice, or as much as a large amount of land depending upon the student’s own wealth.
This guru-student relationship has come under some scrutiny over the past few years, and it’s true that there have been some not-so-holy guru-shishaya relationships that turned out to be seriously detrimental to the whole perception of a ‘guru’. Click here to find out more about that….
Listening To The Voice Of Intuition
You’ve probably heard it in a Yoga class many times; “You are your own best teacher” refers to listening to your own body, and determining whether what you’re doing is actually serving you at that time or not. When we consider that Ajna chakra is also the ‘guru chakra’ though, it becomes apparent that we do actually have our very own ‘dispeller of darkness’ within us already. It’s called the voice of intuition.
We have a choice at all times to either listen to the chitta-vritti (the ‘mind stuff’) that often limits us to an existence of fear, and pushes us to act in a way that isn’t always governed by what we need, but more by what we think we want…. OR we can listen to our own inner guru – our intuition – and really actually ‘listen to the body’ as it guides us towards making decisions that will help us live a life which is far more ‘free’ and realised.
You can try this yourself in many situations;
- When practicing in a Yoga class – whether you’re new to Yoga or a seasoned practitioner – do not get caught up in blindly following instructions (no matter how much you trust the teacher). Instead, listen to your own body and determine whether the posture, movement, modification or offer of a more challenging asana is right for you in that moment.
- When you’re doing anything physical really, there is always a choice between acting with ahimsa (non violence and love for your own body), or pushing beyond the boundaries of what is safe and beneficial at that time. We’ve all been there; one moment we’re in a posture we never thought we’d get into, everything feels great…. And the next there’s a little tweak or pop and your hamstring is injured for the next 6 months…. As the Buddha also told us; “When I point to the moon, stop looking at my hand” (in other words; think for yourself).
- When making decisions, take a moment to STOP and listen to the way your body is responding to the situation. Although in modern society we do our best to numb-out any connection to the body via alcohol, stimulants, TV, and unhealthy foods, it is always trying to tell us something, and by simply listening to intuition, often our decisions are ones that do serve us and everyone around us.
Aldous Huxley wrote about the Doors of Perception in 1954, which when opened, can lead to realisation and awareness, while Max Strom lead a workshop in London on the last weekend of August 2015 called Some Doors Only Open From The Inside, which I’m pretty sure was inspired by the whole ‘doors of perception’ thing…. The title implies that we already have the power to open the doors that seem to shut us off from experiencing reality.
Although these two instances are 61 years apart, we are still learning that our ‘problems’ and the solutions to these problems lies within the mind. We each hold heaven and hell in our own minds, the reality we experience depends upon which one we choose. Listening to the inner voice of intuition and true wisdom can help guide us towards seeing reality clearly, which as we’ve learned, is otherwise known as reaching ‘Samadhi’ or ‘Bliss’….