The Pineal Gland
In the very center of the human skull is a tiny but miraculous little gland called the pineal gland. It influences learning, retention, intuition and creativity, and is associated with spiritual and psychic experiences.
Pineal means pinecone and the gland is named such because of its pinecone shape. Interestingly, spanning various religions and cultures, the pinecone has been the symbolic representation of human enlightenment since ancient times. In Hinduism, the Ajna chakra, or “third eye” chakra, aligns to the pineal gland and has long been said to provide “perception beyond ordinary sight”. It is considered the bridge between the individual and the unseen world.
What is further interesting about the pineal gland is that this ancient “third eye” has retinal tissue composed of rods and cones (photoreceptors), just like an eye does. No other gland in the body has these. It also has vitreous fluid in it like an eye does, and is wired into the visual cortex in the brain. The pineal gland secretes DMT while dreaming, while having spiritual and mystical experiences, and at the time of death. Those who are more prone to psychic experiences tend to have higher levels of DMT and a healthy pineal gland to produce it. (DMT is the same substance found in ayahuasca, a shamanic brew that activates a visionary state of consciousness.)
So both the ancients and science agree, the pineal gland is a gateway to visionary experiences. Those interested in living with insight beyond the usual five sense will want to keep this precious gland healthy.
Before technology, and before we moved so far out of sync with the rest of nature (and remember, we too are nature), our glands, our minds, our nervous system, the whole of our being functioned harmoniously with the rhythms of nature. We slept when it was dark, we woke with the sun, we ate only the foods that were in season. We were more attuned to the complex web of life, including our instincts and intuition. Now that technology allows us to so easily step outside of these rhythms, we have to put more conscious effort into staying connected if we wish to experience the true capacity of being human. The more we override the laws of nature, the less capable we are of using our inherent gifts. As we continue to rely on external sources for guidance, our internal compass atrophies and our very bodies fall out of balance. Simply put, the more we separate, the most disconnected we become from all that we are.
The most common enemies to the pineal gland include modern stress, poor diet, flouride in tap water, unhealthy sleep cycles, and a lack of exposure to nature. These things cause the pineal gland to calcify or slip out of its natural rhythm. The good news is, some simple changes can keep it healthy and keep you connected to this important center.
DARKNESS, QUIET, & NATURE
A regular good night’s sleep, quiet environments, relaxing activities, and being in nature keep the pineal gland in balance. Unhealthy sleep patterns and excessive light will set it out of balance and cause it to atrophy. The pineal gland is activated by the bioelectric signals of light and dark. It regulates some of the body’s most important chemicals, including serotonin (the “happiness chemical”) and the antioxidant chemical melatonin.
The pineal gland becomes calcified with the consumption of unhealthy foods and the accumulation of metal toxins. One of the most important steps in bringing the pineal gland back to a natural, healthy state is to eliminate fluoride, soda, and heavily processed foods from your diet. The second step is to add foods that reverse calcification and remove metal toxins. Examples include:
- Chlorophyll-dense superfoods, such as chlorella, spirulina, and wheatgrass. These green superfoods remove metal toxins from the body, increase oxygen levels, repair damaged tissue, and boost the immune system. Boosting oxygen and immune function will help your body reverse pineal gland calcification.
- Foods rich in iodine, such as spinach, broccoli, and seaweed. Iodine rich foods reduce the ability of fluoride to settle into the pineal gland and calcify there.
- Raw apple cider vinegar is a metal detoxifier and general acidity reducer.
- Beets help balance calcium intake and remove metals and other compounds, including fluoride. Beets are also loaded with B vitamins to help sustain energy and encourage cellular health.
The yoga practice brings us back home to ourselves and reminds us to listen within. It also balances the endocrine system, and the pineal gland is part of that system. The pineal gland is stimulated and cleansed by forward bending actions and inversions, and by tapping the eyebrow center or touching it to the earth to awaken the energy stored there. Balasana, uttanasana, janusirsasana, ardha pinchamayurasana, and sirsasana are amongst the poses that are especially good for the pineal gland.
Meditation activates the bioelectric energy that activates the pineal gland.