Editor’s note: The Chakra Series, by Todd Mangum, MD, first appeared in CATALYST in 1995 and was repeated in 2009 and 2013. These stories remain among the most read in our online library. In 2020 we are bringing you an updated version, which began with January’s Introduction to the Chakras.
This concludes the series. You may find all of them at catalystmagazine.net/
Location: the crown or top of the head.
Governs: the integration of the central nervous system with that of endocrine glands.
Main issue: understanding.
Externalizes: as the pituitary and hypothalamus glands.
When balanced: we know.
Color: a harmonic of VIOLET.
Key words: awareness, intelligence, memory, cosmic consciousness, universal mind, unity, oneness, silence, spirituality, soul and celestial.
Influences: the central nervous system including the cerebrum, cerebellum, brain stem spinal cord and the skull.
Deficiencies: manifest as memory loss, personality changes, cognitive impairment, confusion, alienation and a loss of meaning in one’s life.
Excesses: appear as feelings of spiritual superiority, ungrounded and spacey behavior, feeling as if one’s head were in the clouds, or in being overly intellectual.
Imbalances: manifest as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stunted or excessive growth, attention deficit disorder, multiple sclerosis, seizures, dementia, depression, learning disabilities or multiple endocrine abnormalities.
The Sanskrit name of the seventh center, sahasrara, translates roughly as the thousand-petaled lotus. The first chakra anchors the roots of our being within the Earth; from the crown chakra flowers our consciousness with which we can become aware of and begin to comprehend the cosmos.
On crystal clear nights with my feet planted firmly on the ground and looking toward the heavens I often contemplate our place between the atoms and the stars. The magnitude of both boggle my mind. On rare and special nights I really understand how we identify ourselves; our individuality is only a matter of perspective. Where does the autonomy of each of our individual cells end and where do we as humans begin?
We are the omnipresent energy fields we call subatomic particles. We are the atoms which form the molecules which link to become the cells we identify as life. We are also the single-celled organisms that coalesce to become the organs and structures we call our bodies.
The body of every single organism, within our priceless biosphere, each becomes one individual cell within the body of the being Gaia, our Earth. We, the living Earth, are one of eight electrons encircling our radiant Sun. Our solar system is just one of the innumerable atoms composing the body of our galaxy, the Milky Way. This magnificent spiral galactic being, which the Mayans named Hunab Ku, is but one among many diverse universal citizens.
I am always amused when I hear of our valiant search for intelligent life in other parts of the Universe. With millions of starry eyes, the heavens blink back at us, wondering how we can be so blind. The Universe itself is intelligent life. Life is everywhere permeating everything. There is nowhere life is not.
Material and pattern
The words matter and maternal share a common root as do the words pattern and paternal. For millennia we have glorified Heaven and the power and pattern of the Father and denigrated Earth and the forces within matter of the Mother. We have forgotten that all Matter is alive and that all Life matters. The consequences have been catastrophic.
Our purpose as humans precariously perched between heaven and earth is to materialize spirit and spiritualize matter. The balance point between these two realms is within the heart chakra. It is from here that the next level of creation will unfold. This momentous event will occur when this beautiful blue-green jewel of a planet awakens to the awareness of itself as a single conscious entity in the same way we now perceive our own human individuality. We are all a part of and active participants in this ongoing transformation. From our crown center we can perceive all this, but it is through our heart center that we will manifest it.
Orchestrating the hormonal symphony of the body
The endocrine glands which interface with the seventh chakra are the pituitary and the hypothalamus. These two glands, together with the pineal, the gland of the sixth chakra, orchestrate the hormonal symphony of the human body. The hypothalamus could be considered the composer, the pituitary the conductor and the pineal the metronome.
The hypothalamus acts as the central command center receiving, transmitting and integrating complex communications between multiple centers in the brain and the rest of the body. It coordinates our thoughts and emotions with our endocrine, cardiovascular, digestive and immune systems. Its messengers influence our appetite, thirst, sexual behavior, emotional responses and much more. The hypothalamus is connected to the pituitary by a thin stalk through which it transmits messages and transports “hormone-releasing factors” which control the stimulation or inhibition of all hormones secreted by the pituitary gland.
The majority of hormones the pituitary produces each specifically regulate only one or a pair of endocrine glands. Other hormones influence very specific functions, such as the production of breast milk, uterine contractions during labor and keeping the body’s water in balance.
Growth hormone: powerful and profound
The pituitary’s preeminent hormone, however, is growth hormone (GH). Unlike the other pituitary hormones, which act only at specific sites, GH exerts profound and powerful effects throughout the entire body. The major action of GH is the stimulation of bodily growth from infancy into late puberty. GH production declines steadily each decade thereafter until, at very old age, it nearly vanishes. GH, however, is still very active in adults and protects nerve cells against degenerative disease and death, maintains bone density, counters fatigue, boosts immunity, increases lean muscle mass, reduces fat, improves skin tone and integrity, and enhances many aspects of psychological well being. It is easy to see why GH replacement is gaining popularity as a rejuvenation therapy and is being promoted as the fountain of youth.
GH is released predominantly during anaerobic exercise and deep stage IV sleep. Even though GH levels wax and wane quickly, its profound and powerful effects are enhanced by a very potent hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which is produced by the liver in response to GH. IGF-1 levels can be measured by a simple blood test and are one dependable way to determine accurate GH levels in the body. IGF-1 levels can be used to determine the need for, or to monitor, GH replacement and enhancing therapies. Excessive GH and IGF-1 have been associated with an increased risk for breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer in addition to causing carpal tunnel syndrome, excessive muscle mass, and joint and muscle pain.
Synthetic GH has recently become widely available and is being used for a variety of medical conditions. It is currently indicated for adults and children with documented GH deficiencies and in the treatment of AIDS wasting disease. It is active only in the injectable form. The price, however, is exorbitant, making it an option only for the well-insured and the wealthy.
Beware of products claiming to contain GH in an oral or “homeopathic” form or those that promise to effortlessly stimulate its release. Most will have infinitesimally little or no GH at all. GH taken orally is immediately digested and inactivated. Although there are specific nutrients that can enhance GH release, they need to be used at appropriate times and in adequate doses. These include specifically the amino acids arginine, ornithine and leucine.
For GH to function optimally, however, there also needs to be a harmonious balance of all the other endocrine hormones. Quality protein, carbohydrates and fats and a host of other supporting nutrients including vitamin C, pantothenic acid and potassium are also needed for optimal GH output.
To balance your seventh chakra and ensure optimal GH release requires both movement and motivation as well as sitting in stillness and silence, doing nothing.
Tao abides in non-action,
Yet nothing is left undone
Tao Te Ching, excerpt # 37
Todd Mangum, MD, of the Web of Life Wellness Center in Salt Lake City, is a holistically oriented physician in practice for 30 years.