Most people have heard of the pineal gland. It is a small pea-sized gland above the top of the spine, in the centre of the head between the two ears (technically it is located between the two cerebral hemispheres and above the cerebellum). This small body has yet to be understood by modern science, and does not seem to have any specific physiological function. Yoga, on the other hand, together with various spiritual systems throughout the ages, both eastern and western, says that this gland is the link, the antenna for higher vibrations. When it is stimulated or awakened then one can start to tune in with more subtle patterns of existence.
It is significant that the eyes are connected directly with the pineal gland, via the sympathetic nervous system. This much modern physiology has determined, together with various other factors which have recently come to light. The centre of the sympathetic nervous system, as well as the parasympathetic, is the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is also the centre of wakefulness and pleasure together with sleep and pain. Therefore the eyes, the pineal gland, the sympathetic nervous system, the hypothalamus and the wakefulness of an individual are all intimately connected with each other, directly or indirectly. Mental concentration of any type will tend to bring these systems into a high level of sensitivity. This, as we have already pointed out, allows the infiltration and flow of higher consciousness through the pineal gland.
In trataka the whole system is stimulated and awakened by concentration through the eyes. This induces higher sensitivity of the pineal gland and directly - via the sympathetic nervous system - greater wakefulness in the individual. This is why trataka is such a powerful technique; it directly influences the pineal gland. Furthermore, all other disturbing thoughts, which reduce receptivity, are blocked out, at least temporarily, because of the intense concentration. All these factors help to lead the individual to higher experiences.
Other techniques perform the same function; they induce concentration and sensitivity in the human system, and in particular the pineal gland, though sometimes in a more direct manner. Pranayama, for example, directly influences the hypothalamus, which is the centre of respiration; in this way wake-fulness is induced and receptivity amplified. This is possibly the mode of operation of certain types of drugs. They somehow render the system, including the pineal gland, more sensitive to higher vibrations.
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