Features and Occasionals

Chakra Series: Chakra Six

By Todd Mangum

Through the fifth chakra we experienced the vibrations of sound. Through the sixth, carried on the vibrations of light, we can transcend physical limitation and journey to other dimensions and realms. Here through meditation, visions and dreams we can summon the power of color and light. Cultures throughout history have understood this possibility. Since the beginning of time shamans have, with the aid of totem animals and psychoactive plant allies, opened their third eye seeking enlightenment.

The Sun continuously bathes the Earth with its entire living electromagnetic light spectrum. These emanations are both information and energy. This spectrum includes the intensely powerful, high frequency cosmic, gamma, X and ultraviolet rays on one side and infrared, radio, TV and electric waves on the other. Between ultraviolet and infrared, we have the colors of the rainbow, from low energy red on through orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo to high energy violet.

How is it we presently fear something so much that energizes every cell of our being, that we in fact owe our very existence to? Certainly extreme Sun exposure has its consequences, but now people shield themselves in every way from sunlight with creams, glasses, hats, clothes and staying inside. I do not believe in the inherent toxicity of the Sun but instead think we have somehow polluted the effects of its rays the same way we have polluted everything else. Natural light, fresh air, pure water and clean food are the essentials of life.

Stop and think: Do you really believe talking on your cell phone, covered in chemical sunscreens, driving 60 miles per hour is safer than a modest amount of sunlight?

The endocrine gland which interfaces with the sixth chakra is the pineal gland. It is the size of a pea and is located in the geometric center of the head in a cavity known as the third ventricle of the brain. In some animals the pineal is still located very near the surface of the forehead and is directly influenced by light radiation. In humans, the influence of light is mediated through the retina of the eyes and propagated along a complex nervous pathway to the pineal gland.

The pineal secretes the hormone melatonin which is responsible for synchronizing our internal rhythms with those of the natural world around us. Melatonin affects virtually every cell of the body. It plays a pivotal role in regulating hormonal levels, sleep-wake cycles, body temperature, immunity, reproductive capacity and longevity.

Melatonin is a potent antioxidant and has been used in numerous therapeutic regimens from treating cancers to preventing cardiovascular disease. Melatonin secretion is inhibited by light and stimulated by darkness. Levels are normally low during the day and begin to increase in the evening, reaching their peak after midnight.

Production reaches its peak during early childhood and then declines throughout one’s life.

Melatonin’s most familiar and popular usage is for the treatment of insomnia. It has been named “nature’s sleeping pill.” The amounts needed to successfully treat insomnia vary widely. Some people don’t respond at all. Recom­mendations range from 300 micrograms to 10 milligrams. There is no universally accepted dosage or schedule for its long-term use. One milligram or less, however, is generally regarded as quite safe.

Melatonin has also been used extensively to minimize the drag many experience referred to as jet lag. Three milligrams taken the first three nights one hour before bedtime at your new destination has been shown to be the best regimen.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression which was found to occur most often in late fall and throughout the winter. Melatonin was mistakenly suspected as the cause of SAD. It was assumed that the longer periods of darkness increased the production of melatonin which then caused the depression. The real problem is an insufficient exposure to bright morning light which stimulates the brain to produce the mood elevating neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.

With our increasing photon phobia, SAD may be an increasing cause of depression all year long. The cycle of production of both melatonin and the neurotransmitters can be disrupted by stress, many medications and erratic sleep schedules. Chaotic electromagnetic fields from computers, power lines, cell phones and microwaves all can be particularly problematic. Anything which requires electricity to power it will generate an electromagnetic field.

Luckily, most gizmos don’t pose any problems unless they are within inches of the body. This is why sleeping under electric blankets or very close to power cords and outlets is considered unwise. Electrical appliances with spinning motors like fans, however, can generate fields which can radiate several feet or more depending upon the size and type of the motor.

Those who are particularly prone to SAD can suffer not only from insufficient sunlight in any season but also from an unbalanced spectrum of light emitted by most indoor lighting. Regular florescent lighting is especially problematic for those who suffer from SAD. Florescent lighting has been shown to increase the incidence of problems from headaches to ADHD.

The best treatment for SAD, and a fine idea for most everyone else, is getting outside each morning for 30 minutes of bright unfiltered light exposure. If this isn’t practical or possible, there are special light boxes which are both bright enough and balanced to mimic some of the benefits sunlight provides. Both incandescent and fluorescent bulbs are available which emit a spectrum of light closer in composition to that of Sun. These bulbs are available at health food stores and through catalogues marketing earth-friendly and health-enhancing products.

All seven chakras are associated with one color of the rainbow, from red at the root to violet at the crown. It is through the sixth chakra, however, that we are able to envision the entirety of their kaleidoscopic beauty.

To activate your sixth chakra and open your third eye, hang prisms in windows to cast rainbows around your home. Practice creative visualization. Trust your intuition. Use your imagination. Keep a dream journal. Celebrate the Solstices.

We need both the light of day and the dark of night to realize our full visual capacity. With one we are able to see the beauty that surrounds us, with the other during our dreams we can see th

Location: between the eyebrows.

Governs: circadian rhythms.

Main issue: intuition.

Externalizes: as the pineal gland.

Element: light.

When balanced: we feel imaginative.

Color: is a harmonic of INDIGO.

Key words: vision, seeing, sleep, dreams, trance, clairvoyance, color, rainbow, psychedelic, holographic.

Influences: eyes, nose, sinuses, forehead, occiput.

Deficiencies: manifest as hopelessness, despair and a lack of vision and insight.

Excesses: appear as hallucinations, schizophrenia and manic behavior.

Imbalances: manifest as sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, frontal headaches, mood disorders, sleep disturbances, insomnia, blindness and eye diseases like conjunctivitis, keratitis and retinopathy.

The chakras are a meta­phy­si­cal system of the body from the yogic tradition, used in both religious and medical Hindu and Buddhist canons. The chakra energy centers are usually depicted as seven lotuses of rainbow colors arrayed along the spine and up into the head. Under­standing of this system has long been used both to heal illness and to promote spiritual enlightenment.

Todd Mangum, M.D.’s series on the chakras explains how this conceptual framework can be used to expand our understanding of how our bodies work. He covers the traditional and contemporary interpretations of the chakra system corresponding to various systems of the body.

To be healthy is to have a free and balanced flow of energy through the body. Engaging this powerful symbolic system can help us to achieve and maintain health in a far more nuanced and active way than Western medicine can by itself.

This article was originally published on August 30, 2013.