Have you ever heard somebody talk about their third eye, opening and closing it, or even the third eye chakra and wondered what they were referring to? Maybe the Greek Cyclops came to mind, or Stuart the minion – but then you remember that’s only one eye.
The third eye isn’t a physical eyeball. Instead, it’s a symbolic eye that may or may not correspond to an actual body part. And although the concept of a third eye may sounds a little woo-woo to some, the more you know about it, the more you realize the powers of the third eye are very real.
In this article, you’ll learn all about the third eye, how to activate it, and how you can work with it.
Table of Contents
- What is the third eye?
- Third Eye in Historical and Religious Contexts
- The Third Eye in Ancient Egypt
- Third Eye in Hinduism
- Third Eye in Buddhism
- Third Eye in Christianity
- Third Eye Chakra
- Signs of a Balanced Third Eye
- The Third Eye Symbol
- How to Open Your Third Eye
- Yoga for the Sixth Chakra
- Ajna Meditations, Mudras, and Mantras
- Other Ways to Stimulate the Third Eye
- How to Close Your Third Eye
- Further Support for Your Third Eye
What is the third eye?
“Third eye” is another name for a familiar concept: that of extrasensory perception, or ESP. Between these extremely mystical and scientific terms lie many other names: pineal gland, intuition, insight, all-seeing eye, mind’s eye, inner eye, sixth sense, psychic ability, brow chakra, and sixth chakra.
Whereas many of these terms for the third eye refer to an abstract thing, the gland reference denotes a specific structure of the human brain from where ESP is thought to originate.
The most significant connection between science and spirituality where the third eye is concerned came from the French philosopher Rene Descartes. He believed that the pineal gland is where the human soul resides.
Third Eye in Historical and Religious Contexts
The third eye is primarily an Eastern concept with roots in African and Asian religions. In the West, the third eye may not come up in everyday conversation but is known to Christian mystics and theosophists.
The Third Eye in Ancient Egypt
One of the most popular symbols of Ancient Egypt is the Eye of Horus. This elongated, single eye resembles a pinecone in shape, which you can read more about below in “The Third Eye Symbol.”
It’s almost impossible to look at ancient Egyptian artifacts without being reminded of the third eye. That’s how important the concept was to this advanced culture!
Third Eye in Hinduism
Today, the concept of the third eye is most prominent in Hinduism and the yogic tradition, as you’ll read below in “The Third Eye Chakra.” Meditation is central to Hinduism, and the third eye is a representation of this practice of focus and reflection.
Third Eye in Buddhism
Some Buddhist sects also place an emphasis on the third eye as a symbol of contemplation, consciousness, and nirvana. Many statues and images of Buddha and Shiva (the latter being a Hindu god) depict a third eye.
Third Eye in Christianity
Do Christians believe in the third eye? Maybe not expressly, but Jesus may have referred to it in one Bible verse. In Matthew 6:22, we read, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light” (English Standard Version).
The idea of a third eye may not be objectionable to Christian mystics – many of whom claim to have visions – or other spiritual people who associate with Christianity. Conservative Christians, on the other hand, eschew the idea that humans have that kind of spiritual power on their own. Still others might agree that when one is filled with the Holy Spirit, such energy could indeed be stored in the pineal gland.
Third Eye Chakra
The concept of chakras comes from the philosophies of India. In traditional Indian medicine and yoga, it’s believed that the human body houses an additional, unseen system known as the energy body.
To be clear, it isn’t just humans that have chakras. For instance, some animal experts believe dogs have eight or nine chakras, while the human body contains seven.
The seven chakras of the human body run in a vertical line up the center of the body. These chakras correspond to the seven colors of the rainbow, starting with the red root chakra at the bottom. Each chakra governs specific physical, mental, and emotional aspects.
The third eye is the sixth chakra when counting upward from the base of the spine. In Sanskrit, the third eye has yet another name: ajna.
Here are some characteristics of the sixth chakra, which rules the third eye:
- Color: indigo
- Element: light
- Location: midline of the forehead, just slightly above the eyebrows
- Body: endocrine system, especially the pineal gland
The pineal gland is located inside the brain, between the two hemispheres. It lines up with the eyebrow ridge. This light-sensitive gland regulates the sleep/wake cycles through the production of the hormone melatonin.
Because its role in the body remains a bit mysterious, some believe that the pineal gland may govern metaphysical aptitudes that we often think of as being “out there” and not actual human functions. Could it be that there is, in fact, an organ responsible for the sixth sense?
Signs of a Balanced Third Eye
When your third eye is well balanced, you’ll experience the following:
- Clarity and insight
- Empathy and compassion for others
- Expanded awareness
- Faith in the future
Here are some signs of a closed or blocked third eye:
- Poor intuition
- Lack of motivation
- Emotional imbalances
- Gravitation towards sensory pleasures and addictions vs. spiritual development
- Feeling separate from others
- Lack of empathy
- Greed or a sense of entitlement
The Third Eye Symbol
Is there a symbol for the third eye? Yes. As with all chakras, the sixth chakra has a symbol.
The ajna symbol consists of a few elements. A circle is flanked by two lotus petals. Within the circle is an inverted triangle and the symbol for “om.” Altogether, these elements stand for divine wisdom and enlightenment.
Another symbol related to the third eye is the pine cone. This comes from the shape of the pineal gland. In fact, the word “pineal” means “of pine.”
Some Hindus wear “tilaka,” or marks, on the forehead in the area of the third eye. The tilak indicates one’s sect, of which there are four. Bindi, the often-red dots worn in the same spot, correspond more to marital status and fashion.
It’s important to note that the third eye is not the same as the evil eye. The evil eye is a protective talisman based on a superstition. So those evil eye bracelets you see don’t have any effect on your third eye.
How to Open Your Third Eye
If you feel your third eye isn’t working as it should be, you can take several steps to balance it. All the chakras can be balanced through yoga, meditation, sound vibrations, alternative therapies, and lifestyle factors such as nutrition.
Yoga for the Sixth Chakra
There are many ways to open the third eye. One of the most direct ways to do this is to practice kundalini yoga. This form of yoga is less about physical fitness and more about increasing spiritual awareness.
Kundalini yoga involves chanting, breathing, physical movements, and meditation. For example, a kundalini yoga practice focused on clearing the sixth chakra might include eye exercises rather than full-body poses.
Although kundalini yoga is the type of yoga most closely related to chakra balancing, you can also use hatha yoga poses to balance the third eye:
- Prone poses such as child’s pose (balasana) and crocodile (makarasana) let you stimulate the third eye as you massage your forehead against your mat.
- Forward bends such as downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) and standing forward fold (uttanasana) stimulate circulation in the head, thereby activating the upper chakras including ajna.
- Inversions such as supported shoulder stand (salamba sarvangasana) are another way to bring blood to the third eye and stimulate the third eye chakra.
- Because the sixth and seventh chakras relate directly to meditation, any meditative poses, such as hero pose or lotus pose, can be used to work on the third eye.
Ajna Meditations, Mudras, and Mantras
To balance the third eye with meditation, you can simply focus your attention on the forehead where the third eye is said to be located. Picture a wheel spinning inside your head behind the forehead. You might also focus on the color indigo.
A more advanced third eye meditation is gazing, or “trataka.” Probably the most common kind of gazing is candle gazing. Sit before a lit candle with your eyes open. Stare directly into the flame as long as you can without blinking – usually one to three minutes. When you can’t keep your eyes open any longer, close them and focus on the image of the flame behind your eyelids.
It’s important not to overdo candle gazing, as the intensity of the bright flame can adversely affect some people. There are many alternatives, such as gazing at your finger, a spot on the wall, the tip of your nose, a crystal – almost anything.
Instead of a candle, some people like to focus on a mandala or yantra such as sri yantra. Mandalas and yantras are sacred diagrams that are believed to have a spiritual effect on those who behold them. As with candle gazing, you can stare at the design for a few minutes and then close your eyes as you continue your meditation.
You can use a mudra, or hand position, to enhance third eye meditation. A good mudra to try is Kaleshwar mudra. To form Kaleshwar mudra, hold your two hands together in the popular “heart” sign, with the knuckles of the four fingers touching as well as the tips of the thumbs. Then, simply extend the middle fingers to form a sort of church steeple, keeping the middle fingertips touching. You can maintain this hand position while you meditate.
Another mudra for the third eye is Hakini mudra. To form this mudra, simply tent your hands and touch all your fingertips together. Picture an executive sitting at his desk in a power pose! This hand pose seems to be an instinctive way of gaining insight.
You can also use a mantra, or sound, to activate your third eye. Repeat “om” or “aum” during your meditation. This is the “bija” mantra, or the mantra directly connected to the third eye.
You can use other mantras for the third eye too. You can pick a word that correlates to a positive quality you’d like to build. “Intuition” is a good mantra that matches the rhythm of the breath–two syllables on the inhale and two syllables on the exhale.
A mantra can also be a phrase or sentence. When you’re focusing on the third eye in your meditation practice, you might repeat, “I see the light.”
Other Ways to Stimulate the Third Eye
During your meditation practice or any time of day, you can support the third eye with alternative therapies such as aromatherapy and crystals.
There are many good essential oils for the third eye. They include frankincense, patchouli, sandalwood, jasmine, rosemary, vanilla, helichrysum, myrrh, mint, grapefruit, anise, juniper, nutmeg, and clary sage. You can look for some of these same scents in incense if you prefer.
The oils can be used in different ways, but two of the simplest aromatherapy techniques are to use an oil diffuser or an aromatherapy pendant. A low-budget option is to place a few drops of oil on a cotton ball and tuck it into your cleavage or shirt pocket.
Another oil therapy for opening the third eye is “shirodhara.” In this Ayurvedic medicine practice, a steady stream of warm oil pours out of a funnel or spout and onto your forehead. This is a relaxing therapy that can help clear third eye blockages. You can do a similar method of self-care at home by gently massaging oil onto your third eye before you meditate or sleep.
Whether or not crystals work in a therapeutic way on the body, they are beautiful to behold and pleasurable to hold. You can use a third eye crystal as a focal point during your gazing meditation. You might also keep a crystal nearby simply to remind you to maintain awareness on whatever chakra you want to open.
Certain sounds can also help to open your third eye. For example, practitioners of chakra toning will listen to a series of notes, such as those on a musical scale. Then they will hum, sing, or chant along to the notes using different vowel sounds. There are a number of YouTube videos that can walk you through the steps on how to do this.
Crystals for the third eye are usually close to indigo in color. Examples include amethyst, sodalite, celestite, labradorite, and fluorite. Any blue or purple crystal you feel drawn to can work for the third eye. Some black crystals, such as obsidian and arfvedsonite, can also be helpful for opening the third eye.
Like third-eye crystals, foods that balance this chakra tend to be similar in color to the chakra itself. To balance your third eye through eating, incorporate more blue and purple produce such as blueberries, plums, prunes, blackberries, grapes, raisins, eggplant, and other purple veggies such as cabbage, onions, and potatoes.
More good foods for the third eye are those foods that are generally good for the brain. Reach for dark chocolate (yum!) and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as nuts.
How to Close Your Third Eye
Many people are familiar with the idea of blocked chakras and stagnant energy. But a chakra can be overactive too, like a dervish spinning wildly out of control. An overactive third eye, or a third eye that is open too far, can have some unsettling effects. It’s a bit like being “too” psychic.
Imagine having extrasensory perception that leaks into your everyday life when you don’t want it to. In short, that’s the manifestation of an overactive third eye.
Other spiritual symptoms of an overly open third eye include vivid dreams, feeling spaced-out, seeing auras around living things, precognition… In other words, a general increase in supernatural powers.
Don’t worry too much about this though. Few people have psychic gifts so strong that they need to be tempered. Especially in the West, diet, culture, and other lifestyle factors tend to squash any attunement to other planes. Most of us would be more concerned with opening the third eye.
Although ajna is more of a spiritual chakra than a physical one, an overactive third eye can also cause physical symptoms such as:
- Ear, nose, and throat complaints
So, can the third eye be closed? Yes. Just as the seven chakras of the human body can be opened and activated, they all can be closed and muted.
One of the many ways to close the third eye is to picture your third eye as a window. Spend a few minutes sitting quietly. Once you’ve entered a light meditative state, focus on the third eye. Imagine that it’s a bright window letting all of life pass through it, like a current of water entering your mind and body. But instead of letting all this stay lodged in your psyche, direct the stream of life downward along the other chakras and out through your feet.
Simply let all of this overabundance of information continue to flow. After a few minutes, you’ll feel the current becoming calmer and slower. Eventually, you’ll feel called to close the window and darken the room of your mind. Wait a few more minutes for your mind to come back to balance.
Further Support for Your Third Eye
If you feel you need help with a blocked or overactive third eye, you can consult several resources. A kundalini yoga instructor may offer either personalized attention or more affordable group classes.
It’s common to work on one chakra at a time in a kundalini yoga class. But, as most kundalini instructors will tell you, the best way to balance the connected chakras is to work through all seven from the bottom up. So be prepared to attend at least seven classes even if you only want to work on your third eye.
Another expert you might consult for help with the third eye is an energy healer such as a Reiki practitioner.
If you don’t have access to an in-person kundalini class or Reiki session, there are a number of free resources, including YouTube videos, online.