You have a third eye.
Yep, even if you don't wear a bindi between your eyebrows or believe in the presence of the sixth chakra, you still have one.
I'll prove it to you: Just take out your brain. Slice it in half-lengthwise. Push aside the thalamus and there it is, nestled in behind the third cerebral ventricle and sitting right above the superior colliculus. Your third eye, also known as the pineal gland. It is the only structure of the brain that doesn't exist as a pair.
The pineal gland first sparked my interest as I sat in a neuroscience lab class at UCLA. I listened to the professor explain the function of certain areas as he poked a sheep's brain with a toothpick. When he got to the pineal gland, he started by saying it has an endocrine function--like most areas in the brain, it is in charge of producing hormones. It regulates circadian rhythms (wake/sleep patterns) by producing melatonin. Then, under his breath he said, "The pineal gland is an enigma." And the subject was dropped.
So, naturally, I googled it. And lo and behold, the pineal gland is a pine cone sized controversy! Depending on whom you ask, here's what you might get:
The pineal gland is:
1. The seat of the soul
2. A portal to another existence
3. A connection to divine guidance
4. The telepathic power point
5. A gate that leads to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness
Some say the Egyptian Eye of Horus is a symbol for the third eye. Or that the sixth chakra ajna is the center of higher intellect and by tapping into it, one transcends earthly delusion and awakens the true self.
So, how do we open our third eye? Thank Shiva, the answer's simple: Yoga and meditation. In fact there are studies proving that meditation triggers the pineal gland to produce melatonin, creating the relaxed state of sleep in an awake brain. Blood pressure lowers, the heart rate decreases, breathing slows. In our chaotic and hyperactive world, this seems like a necessary coping mechanism.
Try this: Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit. Align the spine without force. Be tall, not stiff. Engaged with purpose and with ease. Close the eyes. Open up a special pocket in the mind for thoughts about the past and future. Take those thoughts and put them away for now. There is no worry about what has happened or anxiety about what is to come. You are fully present in the now. You are whole.
Become aware of the breath. The sensation of air moving into your nostrils, filling the lungs. Feel the belly rise and fall. Notice the breath getting deeper and more full. Warmer and more healing.
As a thought pops by to say hello, be unattached. Let it go. Use the breath as an anchor.
Stay with the breath for as long as you can, need, want. And when it's time to come back, open the eyes slowly. Let the light trickle back into the gaze, unfocused, soft. Become aware of your surroundings without looking around and stay grounded as you stand up or lie all the way down to rest.
Welcome to your third eye. Whether it helps you access your inner psychic, takes you to a secret world, or connects you to a great consciousness, enjoy the calm, appreciate the quiet, and visit it whenever you need a break from the hoopla.
For a recorded version of this mindfulness meditation, visit www.lillyyoga.com and click on the podcast page.