BY MANTAK CHIA & JOYCE THOM
Balancing and activating the pineal gland is a fundamental practice for expanding consciousness and restoring the pineal health and vitality of the physical body.
The Basics of Activating the Pineal Gland: Balancing the Endocrine System
In craniosacral work and Daoist practice, the endocrine system is a critical gateway that connects physical function with spiritual experience. The endocrine system includes the following glands: pituitary, pineal, hypothalamus, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, pancreas, and ovaries/testes.
These glands use hormones (rather than the electrical impulses used by the nervous system) to bring about changes in our bodies, emotions, cognition, and energy. Hormones are chemical messengers that circulate throughout the body in the bloodstream and coordinate critical bodily functions. They increase or decrease nerve impulses and can also act as neurotransmitters.
The hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal glands play a particularly important role in spiritual experience and will be discussed in more detail in the sections that follow.
The hypothalamus/pituitary relationship
Having access to both the nervous and endocrine systems, the hypothalamus plays a central role in connecting the two and activating the pineal gland. It is also connected to the limbic system, a center for our feelings and emotions. Therefore, when the hypothalamus is entrained by the pituitary gland, it can affect most major systems and organ functions in the body, as well as our emotions. Together, the hypothalamus and pituitary regulate all of our basic survival processes, including body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, growth, sleep, weight, sexual function, pain relief, blood pressure, circadian rhythms, and stress responses such as fight or flight.
The hypothalamus is about the size of an almond and is located just behind the optic chiasm. It secretes neurohormones that communicate with the pituitary gland and signals the release or inhibition of key pituitary hormones, which in turn harmonize and activate pineal gland function.
The pituitary gland has two main lobes that are embryologically, anatomically, and functionally distinct. Overall, the pituitary is about the size of a pea; it sits under the hypothalamus, which lies in the sella turcica of the sphenoid bone.
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Because the pituitary is enclosed by the sphenoid bone, it is very sensitive to misalignment or restriction of movement of this bone. When you push your tongue against the roof of your mouth on the soft palate, you are pushing on the underside of the pituitary gland.
The hypothalamus communicates with the anterior pituitary via blood vessels and connects directly to the posterior lobe through the pituitary stalk or infundibulum. Although the pituitary has often been referred to as the master gland because it appears to control the endocrine system, the hypothalamus plays a more important role in this system than previously thought. The hypothalamus receives and integrates information from the rest of the body and then secretes the neurohormones that release or inhibit important pituitary hormones. Through signaling and controlling the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus plays a crucial role in the endocrine system and, in a larger sense, is important in activating the pineal gland.
Functions of the pituitary in physical health and mental awakening
The anterior pituitary lobe secretes seven key hormones related to lactation, the release of testosterone, and the production of sex, thyroid, and human growth hormones. The posterior lobe does not produce hormones, but instead stores and releases two important ones made in the brain: oxytocin and vasopressin. Oxytocin promotes maternal instinct, bonding between partners, trust and sexual pleasure. Vasopressin affects the circadian rhythm, the reabsorption of water into the bloodstream and also stimulates the paternal protective and caring instinct.
The pituitary gland is related to our growth and its health is also important for the activation of the pineal gland. When it begins to vibrate in sync with the pineal gland, we are inspired to grow and renew both physically and spiritually.
The pineal gland
The pineal gland is located in the center of the brain, behind and above the pituitary gland. Because the pineal gland is bathed in highly charged cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and flows more blood per cubic volume than any other organ, it is perhaps the most energetically concentrated gland in the body. In addition to the high concentrations of CSF and blood, the pineal gland is also the dominant source of the body’s melatonin.
Melatonin and the Pineal Gland
Melatonin is important for its effects on our mood, immune function, circadian rhythms, and the quality and quantity of our sleep. Melatonin is known as an anti-aging and anti-stress agent as it both suppresses cortisol and is a powerful antioxidant.
The production of melatonin by the pineal gland is activated by darkness and inhibited by light. Once released, melatonin circulates through the brain via the CSF and into nearby blood vessels for distribution to the rest of the body. When melatonin levels are disrupted, mood swings, depression, and seasonal disorders can occur.
Serotonin and other consciousness-promoting neurochemicals secreted by the pineal gland
In addition to producing melatonin, a healthy, activated pineal gland also metabolizes other neurochemicals that coordinate physical and emotional processes at a cellular level. These neurochemicals, including pinoline and DMT, are thought to connect the mind and body. The pineal gland plays a key role in the production of these neurochemicals as it has one of the highest concentrations of serotonin in the body and serotonin is a critical precursor to them.
Spiritual Aspects of the Pineal Gland
Given its important role, it’s not surprising that a healthy, activated pineal gland has been associated with spirituality for millennia. Its pinecone shape is found in art and artifacts of many ancient traditions, where it is associated with enlightenment and immortality. The ancient Egyptians revered this tiny gland and even kept it separate during the mummification process.
With its spikes and spirals, the pinecone displays a perfect Fibonacci sequence, symbolizing growth and the unifying force underlying creation, all embodied in an activated pineal gland.
The Pineal Gland: Key to Opening the Third Eye
Spiritual traditions connect and activate the pineal gland with the opening of the third eye of inner vision, insight and wisdom. Scientific research begins to validate the relationship between the pineal gland and vision: Comparative studies of the anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry of the pineal gland and retina across a wide range of animal species suggest that the two organs share evolutionary and developmental paths. Modern living fossils like the tuatara have a light-sensitive pineal eye with a rudimentary lens, cornea, and retina. Other species such as frogs and lampreys also have pineal eyes. In humans, pineal cells are similar to retinal cells in composition and in the presence of proteins not found elsewhere in the body. Sensitivity to pineal light is common in various species and is associated with the opening of the third eye in humans.
Melatonin and the Ghost Molecules
In relation to the spiritual experience, melatonin calms the body and mind and allows access to higher consciousness. Both pinoline and DMT, secreted by a healthy, activated pineal gland, are psychoactive and cause changes in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior. Pinoline enables visions and dream states in consciousness and was used by ancient Egyptians and Zoroastrians in their rituals. It supports DNA replication and is said to resonate with the pulse of life at ~8 cycles per second.
DMT is produced in the pineal gland during deep meditation and extraordinary sexual birth conditions, ecstasy, extreme physical exertion and near-death experiences. It also alters our dream consciousness when released into the bloodstream during the rapid eye movement phase of sleep. DMT connects body and mind because of its relationship to visionary experiences and extraordinary states of transcending consciousness. dr Rick Strassman calls DMT the Spirit Molecule.
The pineal gland and vibration
The activated pineal gland can also affect our experience through vibrations. As we saw earlier with the heart, rhythmic vibrations can have a powerful impact on our perception, emotions, and physical state. We know this intuitively and experience it directly when we feel the effects that music has on our mood, memory and physiology. In the early 1980s, French musician Fabien Maman studied the effects of sound vibrations on cells. He found that noise can destroy cancer cells and revitalize healthy ones. Nowadays it is common for parents to play classical music to stimulate their children’s brain development before and after birth.
Rhythm entrainment, also called resonance, occurs when two waveforms start oscillating together at exactly the same speed. When the hypothalamus and pituitary gland are carried away by the pulsing vibration of the pineal gland, our entire system can shift towards harmony.
Daoists believe that the North Star is the source of the primordial pulse. The vibrations of this star were crucial for the development of the first forms of life on earth. Earth’s ability to support life is said to be related to the planet’s tilt toward the North Star (rather than being directly aligned with the Sun). This orientation maximizes the habitable surface area and optimizes the environment for plant and animal life. Due to the strong power and…
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