The Keys to Activating and Opening the Third Eye (Ajna) Chakra
BY VICTOR DANIELS, Ph.D., KOOCH N. DANIELS & PIETER WELTEVREDE
there is an entire art and science to awakening and working with the third eye chakra, also known in sanskrit as ajna chakra, that include important practices and things to be aware of as you walk the path towards higher consciousness. photo: gabriel barletta
The Essence of the Sixth Chakra (Ajna): Clarity, Truth, and Unity
Often referred to as the abode of the “third eye,” the sixth chakra (also known as ajna chakra) is where intuition and transcendent consciousness take priority over ordinary logic. When this sixth chakra center is open, you can see clearly into another’s heart and soul—or into your own—with a knowingness that transcends the need to speak of truth or wisdom. The third eye chakra also helps you sense the vibrational currents and underlying substratum of situational forces.
Right livelihood and truth steer the soul’s rudder of a person living from the evolved awareness of the sixth chakra. For those who walk this path, universal messages of higher truths are the lens through which they view life and clarify their perceptions. Part of this state of conscious third eye chakra awakening is being able to discern what is beneficial and helpful to humanity and other beings and what is harmful—to whom or what, when, and in what specific ways. Using this ajna chakra awareness constructively is the gem of right livelihood that is often viewed as a major component of a spiritual path.
Sixth Chakra (Ajna) Correspondences
Key phrases: Intuition, meditative and self-awareness, mental and emotional clarity, truth; combines knowing, acting, and feeling; balances and integrates “masculine” and “feminine” qualities
Physical location: The point between the eyebrows, center of forehead
Endocrine gland: Pituitary or pineal gland (light-sensitive; regulates sleeping and waking)
Astrological link: Saturn
Day of the week: Saturday
Element: mahat, the essence of all other elements
Sanskrit Derivation: ajna (order, command)
Massage: Forehead, ears, sides of head between eyes and ears
Also, the third eye chakra is often called the dwelling place of the meditative faculty. It embodies the mantra hamsa, which is Sanskrit for “swan,” a revered bird that is said to be able to distinguish truth from untruth as it flies to places that ordinary people cannot reach. Just as no one can see electricity or microwaves, or just as a dog or deer can hear many sounds that no human ear can hear, the subtle internal hum of this mantra goes unheard by the many who live mostly in their lower chakras. But a master of this ajna chakra center who practices right livelihood can go beyond the limits of logical thought. By meditating on the sixth chakra and opening the third eye and mind to the universal qualities of the web of life that links all beings, a person stands on the threshold of the portal of divine oneness where he or she can become a paramahamsa—one who dwells in supreme consciousness.
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Sixth-Chakra Abilities and Possibilities
Opportunities to Awaken Ajna Chakra and Positive Use of Abilities
+ Uses intuition, third eye opens
+ Feels oneness with others
+ Hears others
+ Perceives totality of life
+ Sees, hears, and senses own inner
+ Alert and aware
+ Hears messages from own body
+ Taps into deep inner wisdom
+ Uses insights about others for
+ Deep or meaningful communications
+ Detached from pride associated
+ Evolving consciousness
Obstacles to Awakening Ajna Chakra and Negative Use of Abilities
+ Resists intuition, rigidly rational
+ Views others as completely different
+ Hears others through own concerns
+ Distracted by details
+ Has rigid internal walls, self-deceiving truths
+ Dreamy, not quite here
+ Ignores messages from own body
+ Engages in sloppy thinking, foolish action
+ Uses insights about others for their benefit/personal gain
+ Surface or trivial communications
+ Ego-attachment to powers (siddhis) with ego
+ Descending consciousness, conceited
It is said that ajna chakra qualities may also include the development of siddhis (powers) such as clairvoyance (the ability to see what is happening somewhere else), the ability to leave your body while remaining conscious and then return (astral travel), and the power to communicate with the departed who are on the other side. While such aspects of third eye chakra consciousness can seem beyond normal life, and may be or not be attractive to you, what is important is to harness the energy of this higher center. With consistent effort you can learn to use it to experience states of consciousness in which you enhance your ability to awaken direct perception of the sacred or act in ways that are helpful and healing to you and to others.
The Mental Pathway for Working with Ajna Chakra
The Bright Side of the Third Eye Chakra
Gifts and Strengths: Penetrating intuition; finds beauty in each moment; senses the infinite and responds with a vibrational sense of boundaries between self and other.
Ajna chakra consciousness can perceive and effectively use first- through fifth-chakra energies and sharpen awareness of vibrational energy. It asks, “How can I make better use of energy from a certain chakra?” Known as the commander, the third eye chakra can fine-tune energy from the other chakras: if energy from one chakra is so strong that it overpowers energy from another, the sixth chakra can provide balance between them. In that way it is like an airport control tower that keeps the other chakras working in harmony with one another.
Your third eye chakra can give you a bountiful harvest of gifts, including the ability to see through deception or see or hear in your mind’s eye an image of an event that includes details that have not been mentioned. Or you might just have a nagging sense that something more important lies below the surface of what someone says, and tease it out verbally. Since the ajna chakra makes it possible to perceive people and experiences directly, without an intervening curtain of illusions and delusions, it helps avoid problems that result from mistaken perceptions. You might hear concerns that someone is trying to conceal from you, or even that they themselves are unaware of. They may have just a vague sense of internal events that they have not learned to describe, such as certain kinds of painful feelings or physiological or muscular responses.
When functioning at a sixth chakra level, people tend to be imaginative and creative. Living at the ajna chakra level makes it easy to find beauty and wonder in each moment, and personal meanings in cosmic knowledge.
In this state “one does not know Truth, but becomes truth” writes Kedernath Swami, a disciple of the twentieth-century saint Sri Anandamayi Ma. “It is an experience ‘in silence’ of Being… In philosophy the death of the ego is the life of the soul. In psychology the falling of the ‘persona’ (mask) is the revelation of the real person. In both, the pseudo-self must disappear for the real Self to appear.”
At points of awakening in the first through the fifth chakras, you can shrink your self-centered ego so that it takes up less of your mind and feelings and exerts less power over your actions. This transformation begins in earnest in the fourth chakra. But only in the sixth and seventh chakras (ajna and sahasrara) can you fully transcend egocentrism. Not always; not everywhere; no guarantees—but at least sometimes. Others can often feel the energy field of someone in whom this third eye chakra opening has taken place, and offer their respect without a word being spoken. Communication tends to become easier and more to the point.
As you develop an ability to connect to your ajna chakra and open your third eye, whether you label it intuition, psychic awareness, or something else, you usually become better able to see and hear another’s inner truths.
The Dark Side of the Third Eye Chakra
Issues and Challenges: Clinging to mental wandering and daydreaming; attachment to “powers”; imagining and telling others that one is more enlightened than one really is.
The negative side of the ajna chakra can take the form of either deficiency or overexpression of its qualities. Third eye chakra deficiency includes being insensitive to others, blocking our awareness of their feelings and inclinations. “In most people this inner eye remains closed,” says Swami Satyananda Saraswati, “and though they see the events of the outside world, knowledge and understanding of truth cannot be gained. In this sense, we are blind to the real possibilities of the world, unable to view the deeper levels of human existence.”
It is easy to fall into misinterpretation or projection after a third eye chakra opening. Your biases, preferences, and prejudices (we all have some) may cause your intuition to be wrong, or cause you to draw mistaken conclusions about others’ meanings and motives. Sri Aurobindo Ghose reminds us that “I am… inwardly real to myself but the invisible life of others has only an indirect reality to me except in so far as it impinges on my own mind, life and senses.”
To counter these ajna chakra tendencies, consider this: When you think you perceive something, check it out. You can tell others what you think you’re seeing, hearing, or feeling from your third eye chakra in relation to them and ask whether your perceptions are right or not. If they say you’re not, accept their statement, at least on the surface. Nothing useful will be gained by insisting that you are right and they are wrong. At the least, if someone says you’re wrong but you’re fairly sure you’re right, hold it in your mind as a guess, a hypothesis. It might prove useful or even vital. However, it might not, or it might be useless or cause you to act badly.
Past Roots of Sixth-Chakra Problems
Whether their third eye chakra is open or not, everyone has at least a little intuitive capacity—even those who seem locked into their intellectual consciousness. Failing to use our intuition is dumbing ourselves down by shutting off a source of information that our mind-body organism may be able to receive and perceive.
Children and young adults are often actively discouraged from developing their intuition and ajna chakra. “Think logically,” they are often told. “Don’t be a daydreamer.” Also, children who have imaginary friends are often discouraged. People who want to use the right hemisphere of the brain (imaginative and creative) are often persuaded to overemphasize use of the left side of their brain (logical and solution-oriented) and neglect the right side. Some are advised not to develop their artistic abilities because they need to make a good living and money will be scarce if they’re not logical about career choices. When they say they have intuitive experiences that come along with activating the third eye chakra, others may suggest that they’re crazy.
Johari explains the difference between fantasy and intuition. He claims that you can use intuition after you have studied a subject thoroughly, just as an astrologer can use all his knowledge intuitively. Without study, sometimes it is intuition and sometimes it is fantasy.
The Body and Emotions Pathway: Feeling Tones in the Third Eye Chakra
Personal Transformation in the Third Eye Chakra
Awakening the ajna chakra opens unexpected realms of possibility and beauty. We discover that we are more than we knew, or even more than we ever imagined we could be. We see our experiences from fresh vistas and find ourselves in an improved state of consciousness in which we can clearly perceive how we are affecting and being affected by the people, places, and patterns around us. This is an inner rather than an outer transformation. (An observer watching us might notice no difference.) Instead of being stuck in a quagmire of words and worries, we have an opportunity to bring more grace and joy into our lives as a result of opening the third eye chakra.
In the dance of duality ever present in our daily lives, there is always a chance of getting lost in a maze of potential obstacles to attaining peace of mind. Keeping our psyche focused on the sunny side of the third eye chakra path is easier when we can fully embrace an inwardly balanced expression of witness consciousness. “Ajna chakra is the witnessing center where one becomes the detached observer of all events, including those within the body and the mind,” writes Swami Sivananda Saraswati. “When Ajna chakra is awakened, the meaning and significance of symbols flashes into one’s conscious perception, and intuitive knowledge arises effortlessly and one becomes a seer.”
“Witness consciousness implies watching without being affected, without making any judgment,” adds Swami Muktananda. “Say, for example, there are two people quarreling and one person is watching. The one watching, who does not get involved, is the witness. Similarly, the indwelling Witness is the One who observes all the activities of the waking state without getting involved in them.” Some teachers compare witness consciousness to watching a movie. You sit in the theater and are completely focused on what is happening on the screen in front of you, but do not act in the movie. It’s a nice ideal, but as with many third eye/ajna chakra capabilities it too can occur on a polarity scale from little too much. (Check out the tension in your toes during a scary scene. If they’re curling or twitching, you’re still in the realm of desires and emotions.) In total witness consciousness, self is untouched, just watching. Short of that, you can notice your toes curling.
Gurumayi Chidvilasananda suggests,
As you watch another person, give your blessings… Extend your support, your help…Be the Witness… In order to do that, keep your heart in the Witness state as well… If you practice this discipline in seeing, it will purify the way you see the world… When you look at people in this new way, you will act and speak to them differently… From this inwardly balanced state, you will be like a divining rod that intuitively knows how to… touch both the minds and hearts, and most likely, your own heart will be happy.
Also, the ajna chakra can bring a harmonious integration (yoga, or union) of masculine and feminine qualities within your inner self. You begin to have available almost all the capacities and sensitivities of both genders while feeling totally free to be true to yourself. This third eye chakra experience includes union between your gentler, nurturing side and your more forceful, assertive side. It embraces union between logic and intuition, and union among the qualities of all the chakras, as you draw on the kind of energy that fits your present situation.
Intuition, one avenue of ajna chakra perception, requires openness and trust (which paradoxically includes trust for signals and information that tell you when not to trust). It is basically a right-brain mode of responding, more akin to meditation and creative illumination than to the left-brain mode of reasoning and calculating. Balancing the energy of both hemispheres helps you get more in touch with your higher Self. Sixth chakra reality is part of a mystic realm that is logically understood only in glimpses by those of us who are more worldly by nature—that is, most of us—since it functions beyond the realm of the five senses.
Sri Aurobindo notes that:
The illumined Mind does not work primarily by thought, but by vision; thought is here only a subordinate movement expressive of sight… Our first decisive step out of our… normal mentality is an ascent into a…mind no longer of mingled light and obscurity or half-light, but a large clarity of the spirit… It… is a unitarian sense of being… capable of the formation of a multitude of aspects of knowledge, ways of action, forms and significances of becoming.
Such depth of insight from the third eye chakra can guide us to act in ways that honor our own inner spirit, to benefit others and all living beings, and to cherish the living spirit of others as one with our own. With ajna activations, our mind becomes a private temple with a simple, firm foundation and living scenes of remarkable beauty, wonder, and unfathomable mystery.
Practices for Activating and Opening the Third Eye/Ajna Chakra
Purpose: Mental focus, feeling better, altering your state of mind and feeling.
Chanting a mantra while doing japa can help fine-tune inner listening and connect you with your ability to hear inwardly. For example, you might repeat the seed sound of the ajna chakra, AUM (OM), over and over for as long as you can maintain your focus. You can also try to hear this sound as an inward primal hum that reputedly contains the energy of the sun, moon, and fire. Or you can try the following exercise.
Select from the following list a word that works for you, either in Sanskrit or English.
Then repeat it in rhythm with your breathing during your meditation, or continually chant or write it in japa fashion throughout your day.
Keep that mantra as long as you wish, letting it become part of your consciousness.
Sixth Chakra (Ajna) Mantras
Pronunciation: (rhymes with toe)-hahm
Meaning: that I am, I am that
Meaning: truth beyond that which others can see
Meaning: consciousness or intelligence
Mantra: OM (AUM)
Pronunciation:ohhhm or ahh-uuu-mmm
Meaning: primal sound of the third eye/sixth chakra (in either pronunciation the sound is drawn out at length, which may mean until you have exhaled completely)
Taking Action to Activate the Third Eye Chakra
Purpose: Visualizing your best course of action.
Close your eyes and look inward. Bring your awareness to your third eye chakra at the center of your forehead above the bridge of your nose. Imagine that you are looking into a panoramic video screen. Visualize a picture of yourself as you were in your past when you were doing something that you took pride in doing fairly well.
Once you have this picture of yourself clearly in your mind/third eye/ajna chakra area, imagine yourself in present time performing this exact same action. (If you don’t think in images, paint these pictures in words). How do you see yourself acting now compared to the way you carried out this same action in your past? Do you look or feel any different?
Next, with the focus still on the ajna chakra, project a mental picture of yourself into the future. Imagine yourself repeating the same course of action with less concern about the results and what you and others will think of you. What possibilities, if any, do you imagine or want that differ from your past and present experiences?
This article on opening your third eye chakra is excerpted with permission from Awakening the Chakras The Seven Energy Centers in Your Daily Life by Victor Daniels, Kooch N. Daniels, and Pieter Weltevrede.
About The Author
Kooch N. Daniels, MA, is a professional intuitive who uses mystical tools to enhance conscious awareness. Her goal in both her writing and life time work as a reader is to help people find the keys to unlock their highest potential for happiness and success. Her fascination with what lies hidden behind the veil has inspired a lifelong study of eastern spirituality with many teachers, most significantly Tantric scholar Harish Johari, and the hugging saint from India, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi. You can visit her on-line at cybermystic.com
Pieter Weltevrede is a painter recognized as the artistic protegé of tantric scholar and artist Harish Johari, his teacher for more than 20 years. He is the author and illustrator of several books, including How Ganesh Got His Elephant Head, he lives in the Netherlands.
Victor Daniels received his Ph.D. in Psychology from UCLA and taught for more than 40 years at Sonoma State University. He is the coauthor with Kooch N. Daniels of Matrix Meditations and other books.