The third eye rests on the forehead, slightly above the point between eyebrows. According to many spiritual traditions, it allows perception beyond ordinary sight. An open third eye reveals a higher consciousness that the rules of the physical world can’t easily explain.
The third eye is often connected to the pineal gland. So, what does the scientific name pineal gland have to do with the mystical third eye?
The pineal gland is a structure shaped like a tiny pine cone that sits deep in the brain. In humans, the gland is about the size of a grain of rice, but it has a big impact on the body.
The gland is known for regulating sleep, but it might also influence hormone secretion, bone repair, and even psychiatric disorders.
In the 19th century, leaders of the occult movement known as theosophy associated the third eye with pineal gland functions, and this connection remains popular today.
Keep reading to learn more about the third eye, including how to awaken your own pineal gland!
Third Eye Meaning and Symbolism
Although modern medicine doesn’t recognize the third eye as a scientific fact, it is a belief in Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist spiritual traditions. The concept of a third eye also exists in Sufism as Khafi and in Ancient Egypt as the Eye of Horus.
Many religious and philosophical thinkers outside these traditions have also integrated the third eye into their understanding of the world.
Now, it is part of belief systems that incorporate Christianity, paganism, and the occult. It’s also a familiar reference in pop culture.
The third eye can symbolize any or all of the following ideas:
- Enlightenment: In Hinduism and Buddhism, opening the third eye activates the higher consciousness, making enlightenment possible. A Buddha’s enlightenment involves an awakening to greater insight and release from the cycle of rebirth. In Hinduism, this release is called moksha, or liberation from suffering.
- Wisdom: Part of enlightenment, the wisdom that comes from opening the third eye is the ability to tell truth from illusion. In Hinduism, this kind of spiritual wisdom involves understanding that the physical world (Prakrti) isn’t the only world. Realizing that the spirit world (Purusha) exists is the wisdom of enlightenment.
- Divinity: The word Buddha means “awakened one,” a title for those who access godliness by opening the third eye. The Buddha denied that he was a man, but he also denied being merely a god; he saw himself as someone who grew up in the world and grew beyond it, like a lotus flower that blooms above water.
- Intuition: The third eye is connected to intuition in the chakra system, a meditation aid central to early texts about yoga. It is an energy center that gives people insight beneath the surface of what can be physically observed.
- Psychic Powers: The third eye’s power manifests in many different ways. Clairvoyance, or the ability to perceive the future or anything beyond the senses, is a primary association. It can also provide someone with mystical visions, the ability to see auras, or out-of-body experiences.
- Soul: The philosopher René Descartes called the pineal gland the “seat of the soul” in his books published in the 1600s. He saw the gland much like the spiritual understanding of the third eye, as a place where the body and soul are joined.
- Metaphysical World: In the theosophy religion of the late 1800s, the pineal gland was thought to be the result of the evolution of an actual third eye. According to this philosophy, the spiritual function of the pineal gland is diminished but can be activated to allow spiritual journeying and exploration of the metaphysical world.
- Delirium: The French writer Georges Bataille, whose book The Pineal Eye was published in the early 1900s, thought of the pineal gland as a source of delirium. Although the philosophy of the chakras differs from Bataille’s, an imbalanced third eye chakra can similarly cause anxiety, delusions, and other psychological disturbances.
Connection to Science
Light activates the production of melatonin that occurs in the pineal gland. So, even though some scientists deny a connection between the pineal gland and the third eye, it’s notable that the idea of “enlightenment” is important to both biological and spiritual functions.
Despite the lack of research, there is some evidence that the pineal gland can produce the hallucinogen DMT. The psychiatrist Rick Strassman believes DMT could be secreted at death, explaining some of the features of near-death experiences.
If the pineal gland can produce DMT, some have also theorized that it could be involved in psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, which is associated with hallucinations.
Third Eye Chakra
Chakra means “wheel” in Sanskrit, and chakra systems exist in Hinduism and Buddhism. Chakras are the body’s energy centers, each of which controls different qualities.
In the common seven-chakra system, the third eye is the sixth chakra known as Ajna. This chakra controls the subconscious mind, intuition, and imagination.
- Translation: “command” or “perceive”
- Symbols: Lotus flower with two petals representing psychic channels; a white moon with six faces and six arms that hold a book, a skull, a drum, and a rosary
- Sense Organ: Brain (pineal gland)
- Colors: Dark blue, indigo, and purple
- Healing `Essential Oils: Frankincense, lavender
- Yoga Pose: Child’s pose
- Chakra Affirmations:
- “I am open to exploring what can’t be seen”
- “The knowledge of the universe is within me”
- “I trust my inner guide”
Using these tools, combined with other practices, can nourish the third eye. Learn about the process of balancing this chakra in the sections below.
How to Unblock the Third Eye Chakra
How can you tell if your third eye chakra is blocked? Although some symptoms of sixth chakra blockage overlap with symptoms of other blockages, here are some common signs that energy isn’t flowing through your third eye chakra:
- Low creativity
- Stubbornness or feeling stuck
- Lack of motivation or fear of success
- Repression of memories
If any of these symptoms are familiar to you, your third eye might need a little love. Try to activate it using the healing techniques below.
Concentrate on your breath and visualize the area between your brows. Imagining the color purple in the space just behind the area between your eyes can be helpful for activation.
You can also repeat the chakra affirmations listed above (or write your own!) as you breathe. Learn more about meditation below.
For the third eye, think of purple and blue foods! There aren’t as many foods of this color in nature, but red onion, blueberries, and eggplant are common examples. In general, eat foods of the color associated with a chakra to nourish that chakra.
Mint, star anise, and mugwort are excellent herbs to incorporate in your diet. These are easy to consume in the form of teas.
Calcification, or the build-up of calcium, is common on the pineal gland. Over time, this process can seriously block the third eye chakra.
To counteract this process, you can co`(like seaweed and cod) and chlorophyll-rich foods (like spinach, parsley, and broccoli).
Healing and chakra stones work wonderfully in combination with other practices, like meditation. You can place a stone on your third eye as you meditate or rest. You can also wear any of the associated stones, like amethyst or purple fluorite, as jewelry throughout your day.
To cleanse your stones, bathe them in moonlight. You can also bury your stones with herbs that nourish the eye and leave them for a moon cycle or other time period.
A regular yoga practice can nourish the third eye, especially when combined with breathing meditations and affirmations. The most helpful poses for the eye chakra are those that draw attention to the brow or the head.
In addition to child’s pose, incorporate downward dog, wide-legged forward fold, eagle pose, and headstand. To reflect the symbolism of the lotus flower, you can try lotus or half lotus pose.
How to Calm the Third Eye Chakra
Our third eye can also become overactive, which results in another set of symptoms:
- Nightmares and anxiety
- Lack of concentration
- Ego-driven religiousness
- Delusions or hallucinations
When these symptoms occur, all of the techniques that unblock your third eye can be balancing, too. However, there are some practices that are particularly helpful for calming an overactive sixth chakra.
The blue light from our screens (phones, computers, and TVs) can irritate the third eye.
Expose yourself to natural sunlight or moonlight, especially as part of your meditation practice. Put away your screens at least a couple hours before you sleep.
The hours between 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. are especially important for third eye healing and calming. Do what you can to rest during this time. Guided meditations can be helpful.
Diffuse associated essential oils, like frankincense or lavender, at bedtime.
You can also apply diluted oils to your temples during your regular day. Lavender is particularly calming.
Third Eye Awakening
Any of the strategies used to unblock the Anja chakra will help awaken your third eye. Once energy is flowing, use the practices below to further explore your eye’s energy.
How to Awaken Your Third Eye
The rituals for bringing attention to your third eye don’t need to be complicated! Touch is one of the easiest ways to awaken the energy. Try pressing or tapping a finger on your third eye while reciting your favorite affirmation.
You can also move your finger in a circular motion while imagining it opening.
Another technique involves visualization. Awakening the third eye requires focus, so anything that lengthens attention span will help cultivate it. One of the simplest object visualizations involves just three steps:
- Hold a small object (a simple household object or object from nature) in front of your face to study the object’s details. Take as much time as you need to mentally record your observations.
- Close your eyes and visualize the object as though you are still looking at it. Take 20-30 minutes to concentrate on the object you studied.
- Repeat this process daily. You can extend this exercise by practicing with more complex objects or extending concentration time. You can also add a stage during which you draw the object after a period of visualizing.
Finally, because the eye is located in the sixth chakra, balancing the lower chakras is often helpful for its activation. Therefore, exercises to strengthen the throat chakra and open the heart chakra can help awaken the eye.
Contact an energy healer, like a Reiki practitioner, for more insight!
Third Eye Exercises
Sometimes, awakening your third eye opens up a psychic ability that can be distracting or confusing until it is explore. It’s a good thing there are many exercises for exploring your psychic energy after you’ve awakened your third eye!
Practicing your intuition is the first step to clairvoyance. Start by assigning colors to your feelings. (It’s often easiest to pick strong emotions when you’re first starting out.) Maybe you associate a moment of romantic connection with the color blue.
If you practice this association every day, you’ll begin to perceive colors before you consciously understand the nature of some exchanges.
For example, when a friend tells you about a stranger they just met, your perception of the color blue will help you sense romance, even if there’s no evidence yet.
Writing, drawing, and painting can be very therapeutic for the third eye, which loves to play. The best artistic activities for the third eye are free and open prompts.
Try to follow your instincts without much planning, and don’t worry about the end result.
This type of environmental awareness prepares you for astral projection, which is the ability to choose to have an out-of-body experience. All this exercise requires is observation.
Explore a new space by noting sights, smells, sounds, and any physical sensations. What draws you? What repels you? Soon, you’ll be better able to sense energy, and you might be able to revisit memories to understand past energies, too.
The psychic ability to produce words without conscious effort, as though being guided by a spirit, is practiced by many mystics and artists. Ease your way into automatic writing.
Create an environment that won’t distract you and give yourself the tools to write, draw, or scribble without restraint. Often, focusing your eyes somewhere other than the words or your hand can generate a freer flow.
Keep a dream journal. Go to sleep with the intention of dreaming and record everything you can remember. More advanced dreamwork is possible after you’ve developed a recording ritual and regularly remember your dreams, including lucid dreams.
Signs of Third Eye Opening
When you’ve successfully opened your third eye, you might notice an enhanced memory, a deepening and slowing of thought, and clairvoyance.
It’s not uncommon to experience clairvoyance as vivid dreams, auras, flashes of light, brief mental images, or visions.
Physically, you might notice symptoms similar to those of an overactive third eye chakra, including pressure in your head or sensitivity to light.
Third Eye Meditations
The most reliable way to activate, balance, and nourish the third eye is the practice of meditation.
Benefits of Third Eye Meditation
In some cultures, the sight of the third eye is the most important sense. A balanced third eye clears and focuses the mind, which improves connection to the world.
When your mind is clear and your intuition is alive, anxiety and stress recede. You’ll also find what many people seek: purpose. Third eye meditation helps you discover the path toward a life aligned with your highest self.
Third Eye Meditations to Practice at Home
If you are new to third eye meditation, I suggest a simple third eye visualization for third eye health. Think of your third eye like a muscle that needs conditioning. For best results, practice meditation daily and drink plenty of water.
The steps below are intended as a guide to your meditation. Remember that you can stop at any step if the visualization is difficult that day.
Just like a muscle, you can overextend your third eye, so pay attention to your body’s signals. I don’t recommend third eye meditation that lasts more than 20 minutes, especially at the beginning.
- Prepare your environment. For the third eye, light is extremely important. Turn down or turn off indoor light, and make sure low light is soft and warm. Other than this, just make yourself as comfortable as possible! Think about temperature, sounds, smells, your body’s position, your clothing, healing stones, and so on.
- Ground yourself. Before immersing yourself in a third eye meditation, it can be helpful to ground yourself in the natural world. This is because grounding exercises nourish all the lower chakras, which need to be open so that the third eye can open. I recommend taking 5-10 minutes in natural sunlight or moonlight before settling in your meditation space. It might sound strange, but touching or leaning against a tree, or visualizing yourself with roots, can do wonders.
- Focus on your breath. When you are sitting or lying down comfortably, pay attention to the quality of your breath. Is your breath cycle long or short? Heavy or shallow? Focus until your regular pattern feels easy and regular.
- Close your eyes and visualize the space between your brows. If it helps, visualize a deep blue or indigo color in this space. Maybe that color is beaming constantly or pulsating. Some people notice a prickling feeling or pressure when they bring their attention to this space.
- Visualize an actual eye. This eye might appear faint or flickering at first. Try linking the eye’s action to your breath. Visualize the eye opening as you breathe in, closing as you breathe out.
- Visualize the third eye fully open with your two eyes closed. When you can see your third eye clearly, spend time (15-20 minutes, not more) imagining it fully open.
- Reflect on your experience by journaling. During the time you’re visualizing a fully open third eye, you might have visions, hear voices, or experience other sensations. Let them come and go without trying to make sense of them. Afterward, you can journal about your experiences or try responding to an unrelated creative prompt. Both are effective ways to reflect on your meditation.
The sound frequency associated with the third eye is 288 Hz. When you meditate, you can play this tone for extra nourishment. You can find an example of a gentle recording of this tone here.
As you grow in your meditative practice, add more advanced breathing exercises. For example, you can explore alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana) with an experienced guide.
Third Eye and Beyond
Not every technique will resonate with every person, so don’t worry if there’s something that doesn’t work for you in the sections above. It’s most important to listen to your instincts.
There’s still so much more to know about the third eye! Which of the exercises or techniques above would you like to try the most? Do you have a favorite meditation or visualization practice that you’d like to share? If so, I would love to hear from you!