We talked with Swami Shantimurti Saraswati about ajna chakra – the sixth major energy centre in the body also known as the Thrid Eye.
How do you pronounce “ajna”?
I say, “arg-nya.”
Where is ajna located?
It’s in the centre of the brain – down a little bit – right on top of the spine. It is associated with the pineal gland.
What is the difference between ajna chakra and bhrumadhya?
Bhrumadaya is the Eyebrow Centre and it’s just behind the eyebrows. Basically you’ve got three points up there. You’ve got the trikuti which is the eyebrow centre, you’ve got bhrumadaya which is just inside, and then you’ve got ajna on top of the spine. They’re all connected and they all relate back to ajna.
What does ajna do?
Ajna is called the command centre and it governs all of the mental abilities. Subtle psychic mental abilities like clairvoyance are attributed to ajna.
Swami Satyananda says in one of his books that we should start with ajna because it will make everything easier. Why is that?
This is true if you are trying to awaken the Kundalini and the chakras because you develop a powerful, strong mind. It gives you the ability to focus and it clears your mind considerably.
If you start with a strong mind then you won’t be overwhelmed by the instinctual energies of the lower chakras. If you activate the lower centres without much awareness, then they will affect you a lot and you won’t have the perspective to step back from it.
What is the relationship between the mind and ajna?
Ajna is the energy centre for the mind. In the same way that anahata is considered to be the chakra of the heart, ajna is the chakra of the mind. It is located in the centre of the brain so naturally this makes it the energy centre for the mind.
The yogis say that impulses emanate from ajna which activate and stimulate the brain. This raises its vibration and is the point where the individual human mind meets spiritual consciousness. Ajna emanates frequency, vibration and consciousness as waves of prakriti (energy). This is the basic function of ajna on a chakra energetic level.
What is the high side of ajna?
The high side of ajna is full self-realisation. Then a person is fully self-actualised. They are very, very clear about themselves and everything else. They have no problems with anything.
What is the low side of ajna?
The low side of ajna is blocked up thoughts. Actually, all of the chakras are a part of ajna – everything is in the brain. That means the low side of ajna is muladhara. Primal, survival, instinctual energies are attributed to the limbic brain. This is at the base of the brain and correlates to muladhara at the base of the spine.
So muladhara is like a switch which turns on the light in the brain. It turns on the energy flow in the brain.
So the low side of ajna is simply a lack of perspective?
Yes, you don’t have any real awareness or strength of mind.
So the top side of ajna is ajna. The bottom side of ajna is muladhara.
So ajna is the top out of the six chakras?
Yes, that’s right. It’s the most refined.
And sahasrara – the seventh chakra – is not on that scale?
No. To get from ajna to sahasrara to you’ve got to go through bindu which is like a junction point.
Sahasrara is in another realm. It’s in another dimension. We’re a part of it; it’s not a part of us. But ajna and bindu are basically a part of us – they relate to the human level.
Does ajna relate to communication with other beings?
Yes, ajna is the centre of telepathy and clairvoyance. All of those advanced abilities of mind relate to ajna.
What does ajna look like?
It has two silver petals, though a lot of people actually consider ajna to be purple – but I think they are mistaken.
Ajna is a really interesting energy – it is hard and sharp. If the yogi is able to focus that mental energy to a really concentrated point then it becomes like a laser. It really becomes like a real laser weapon.
What do you do with that?
Well, you can heal with it, but I think you’d have to be very clever to do that. You can hone that focus down to such a point that you go the other way and experience the infinite. And basically that’s what ajna is all about – becoming concentrated and self-realised.
So what practices would you advise for ajna?
Om chanting out loud is a really good practice. One of the stronger techniques for ajna is ujjaya breath from muladhara to ajna, contract mulabandha and then chant the exploding Om down through the spine and then release mulabandha. And that really does improve the connection between muladhara and ajna. It’s quite a strong, solid practice for helping to awaken both centres.
Shambhavi Mudra is another excellent practice and widely used to awaken ajna. It is totally ajna orientated. Trataka is good, but it deals more with the mental energy side of ajna.
Which postures do you recommend?
The Equestrian Pose, when you’ve got one leg back and one foot up between the hands. Ardha Matsyendrasana which is the sitting spinal twist is also good. There are quite a few others too.
What about inverted poses?
No, not really. The half shoulder stand and shoulder stands are more to do with vishuddhi. And headstands are more about sahasrara. Ajna is not the main chakra for those poses.
And breathing techniques?
Nadi shodhana really works the ajna. There is quite a nice way of doing the nadi shodhana – breathing in through the left nostril and feeling as though the breath is going through ajna and waking up the right side of the brain. And when you breathe in through the right nostril, you do the same thing with the left side of the brain. It’s actually quite a nice practice as it really brings in ajna as a central point for the breath and brain activity.
Moorchha pranayama – the fainting breath – is also very good for ajna.
What is the mantra for ajna?