Ajna Chakra : Perception centre
An emotional place :
To go to for problem solving, analytical thinking, planning, seeing possibilities and perhaps clearing perception of what is.
Primarily concerned with:
- Recognizing and perception.
- Making sense of and understanding things.
Connects to :
- Concepts, ideas, thoughts and thinking.
Time / consciousness.
- Strongly associated with the eyes and brain.
- Dispassionate, perceptive, rational, objective, impartial, equanimity.
- From an overview perspective (this is sometimes “from a distance” or “by stepping outside oneself”) – cf. concepts of objectivity.
- Things (including relationships and connections between things) without reference to oneself. Things are seen as something in their
own right without dependence on oneself.
- Conjuring thoughts out of nothing or independently of something leading to the possibility of fantasy, “day-dreaming”, imagining,
as well as abstract conceptual thinking.
- Creating “in one’s mind” models and concepts of reality – and also of “maybes”, “could bes” “might bes”.
- Helping with developing and creating theoretical framework for information / understanding and planning (i.e. supporting Vishuddha).
- Speculation – creating possible explanations or reasons for things and imagining possible future outcomes.
- “In one’s mind” – thought experiments, fantasy, mental rehearsal …..
- With abstract concepts and models.
- With different perspective (e.g. seeing things from “different angles” and overview and then focusing in on details).
- Attempting to understand things in their own context (as opposed to in relation to oneself) – cf. concepts of objectivity.
- Interpretive analysis – developing understanding of the meaning and relationships of things (which may be, though not necessarily, abstract).
- “Filling in the gaps” – inductive and deductive thinking, inference , interpolation, extrapolation, creating a “mental picture” from
fragments of information ….
Activity / doing
- The witnesser or observer of activity rather than the doer.
- Speculation of and formulating a view of possible / likely outcomes e.g. from different actions or starting points.
- Planning and designing (e.g. sequences, patterns), organizing (cf. writing the score of music).
- Motivation and interest may be (and often is) independent of reference to oneself or one’s aims and aspirations – things are interesting
(even enthralling as existing independently of oneself and so can be explored, experimented with, challenged and even attacked without sense of
threat to oneself.
- Developing an understanding of things as existing independently of oneself.
- Aided by asking questions and engaging imagination (e.g. “What if ….”).
- Often involves shifts or changes in perception.
- Developing ability to perceive things from difference perspectives.
- The attitude is of detached curiosity in things – “It is interesting that that is how things work”.
When acting skillfully from this place:
- One acts with aforethought: activities and expression are well planned and organized as one achieves one’s aims with minimal effort.
- One is likely to be perceived to be : - intelligent, clever, insightful, understanding, professional, authoritative, objective,
reasonable, adept, discerning, rational, impartial, expert …. And so on.
Issues that may occur when acting unskillfully from, or when stuck in, this chakra or when it is too dominant :-
Being able to perceive things, society etc, as existing independently of oneself opens one to the possibility of perceiving oneself as irrelevant
and thus in some sense as pointless and valueless. The question may arise of “What is the point or value in my continued existence” and, if one is
also experiencing life as painful, suicidal thoughts or urges may well arise. These sort of thoughts can arise even in those who are apparently successful
in achieving useful things – in the “scheme of things”, their successes or achievements may well be perceived to be irrelevant or insignificant. These sort
of thoughts are often classed as irrational (or even as mad or bad), especially by those who don’t have them. In addition to such classification being
unhelpful, it is somewhat ironic as these thoughts are closer to being super-rational rather than irrational – which can make trying to persuade someone
to adopt a different view of themselves after coming to this view as close to impossible. Working with Anahata (to develop a sense of self as an integral
part of society) and Swadhisthana (to develop in self nurture) may well be helpful. Depending on the person it may well be helpful to work with
Muladhara (to develop ability to endure even when things feel unpleasant or painful.)
It is not surprising that mental illnesses of “Western” medicine are strongly associated with Ajna chakra. But this is often through Ajna
being over-dominant (in relation to the other chakras) rather than mis-functioning in its own context. Thus, unless one really knows what one is
doing, it is best to avoid stimulating Ajna (and Sahasara) and work instead on developing the other chakras. Which chakras need working on depend
on the particular form of mental illness – and I hope in time to produce some separate notes on this.
Being able to perceive oneself while “stepping outside oneself”, while not identifying with oneself, opens the possibility of applying critical
analysis and perception to oneself. This can give the appearance (to others) of being extraordinarily self-critical to extremes of self-abuse or self-attachment – but remember that, while in this mode, one is not identifying with self so there is no sense of oneself being threatened or attached. And indeed being able to enter into this sort of mode can be extremely helpful in aiding learning from mistakes and guiding one’s own evolution and development. However, if the overall conclusions / evaluation that gets transmitted to the other chakras is highly negative, this can lead to or encourage a very poor sense of self-worth or self-esteem, which is likely to be felt as emotionally painful (especially in Anahata). Working with Swadhisthana (both to nurture oneself and accept nurturing from others) may help one feel worthy of being nurtured and so improve one’s sense of self-worth. Working with Vishuddha (to develop discrimination and restraint with regard to turning one’s perceptiveness on oneself) is likely to be very helpful. Working with Manipura (to develop one’s ability to be useful) may be helpful for some – but for those who are susceptible it can increase a tendency towards Manic-depression (Bi-polar disorder), so take care. Working with Anahata
may also be helpful – but it could be painful and difficult so lots of gentle care is needed here.
Anticipation / Nervousness / Worry / Anxiety
Being able to imagine different possible ways events may unfold is great – amongst other things this allows one to anticipate potential
problems and so head them off (deal with issues) before they become problems. But one can think about what could go wrong too much –
leading to, or encouraging, nervousness, worry and anxiety about how things might turn out. Where this is an issue, working with Muladhara and Manipura (to develop
in feeling one has the strength and ability to cope however things turn out) is likely to be helpful.
Dispassionate / Objectivity / Impersonal / Self-Ignoring
Being able to see and respond to things without reference to oneself and one’s own concerns is really useful especially in a professional type
situation. But amongst family and friends it can make one seem (incorrectly) uncaring, unfeeling and distant. Perhaps more seriously such
self-ignoring can encourage a neglecting or not attending to one’s own needs and concerns. Where this is an issue, working with Swadhisthana
(to develop in self-nurture) and Anahata (to develop in caring from one’s heart) is likely to be helpful.
Pre-occupied / Absent–minded / Self-forgetting
This is being absent-minded in the sense of currently being in one’s mind or mentally so involved in something to the extent that one is “absent”
from elsewhere. Such mental focus and engagement in something can lead to really useful development of thinking and understanding. But such
a state tends to lead to one forgetting and being unaware of anything other than the object of one’s thoughts – in some circumstances this can be potentially irritating to others and is potentially dangerous. Where this is an issue, working with Vishuddha (to develop in awareness of the world
around one) and Swadhisthana (to develop in awareness of one’s needs) is likely to be helpful.
Observer / Witnesser / Detached / Not-involved
“Stepping back” and observing things and how things happen to unfold can be great for developing insight. And in some religious and
spiritual texts there is the idea of being the “witnesser” rather than the “doer”, even when apparently involved in activity. But there are times
when this would be experienced by others as a “holding back of self” which can feel quite rejecting, or as if one does not care or one is not
committed. Where this is an issue, working with Anahata (to develop in personal engagement in things) is likely to be helpful.
Impractical / Unworldly / Irrelevant to Reality / “Head in clouds”
One can get so involved in something as interesting in its own right (in the abstract of any particular context) that one forgets to consider practical
issues or where the thing is relevant in any way to reality around one. This can lead to useful development of thinking, understanding and innovation
but it can also distract one away form attending to immediate needs and concerns. Where this is an issue working with Muladhara (to ground
one) and Manipura (to develop interest in practical relevance of things) is likely to be very helpful.
Deliberation / Over-Planning / Being Slow to act and decide
Thinking before one acts and reacts can save a lot of grief and misdirected effort. However one can spend too much time or effort in deliberating or
planning things to the point where one never actually gets on with things, or circumstances change to a degree that plans become “out of date”. Where
this is an issue, working with Manipura and Anahata (to develop some impetus) is likely to be helpful.
Fantasy / Daydreams / Being Dis-connected from Reality
In Ajna one can conjure up possibilities and ideas with minimal reference to reality. This can be fun and can aid innovation. But sometimes
the ideas and fantasy conjured up can distract one from engaging with the world around one. And sometimes the imagined realities begin to be
believed in more, or treated as more important than, the “concrete” world around one. Where this is an issue, working with Muladhara (to ground
one in “concrete” reality) and Vishuddha (to develop one’s connections with the world around) is likely to be helpful.
Over-interpretation / Illusion / Mis-interpretation of Information/ Mirages
In Ajna one is great at filling in the gaps of information that one has – but problems can occur where one trusts the “imagined” bits of
information to fill the gaps too much. Also, information can be, and indeed often is, misinterpreted – for example, as with optical illusions.
Where this is an issue, working with Vishuddha (to develop in double or triple checking the validity of perception) is likely to be helpful.
Issues that may occur when one inadequately accesses this chakra or when it is weak :-
Confusion / Bewilderment / Incomprehension / Perplexity / Bafflement
Ajna may be under-active or one may be trying to understand something that is beyond one’s current mental capacity. In addition to
working with Ajna, working with Vishuddha (to gather and structure information) is likely to be helpful.
Inefficiency / Ineffectiveness / Excessive Effort / Ineptitude
One’s actions are poorly planned / chosen with regard to one’s aims. One may be very clear about one’s aims and put lots of effort into
trying to achieve them, but the effort is ineffectual because they don’t move things in the direction of one’s aims. In addition to working with Ajna,
with Vishuddha (to become better at directing and regulating one’s actions) is likely to be helpful.
Delusions / (Hallucinations)
This is mistaking things conquered as part of external / concrete reality. In a sense this is a perceptional issue – misperception. But it is also an
issue with Vishuddha not sufficiently checking the validly or accuracy of one’s perceptions. It should perhaps be noted here that to some degree we are
all mistaken in our perception of reality (unless “enlightened”, if such a thing is possible) so this issue is typically decided in relation to a consensual view
of things (which can be mistaken).
Where this is an issue, working with Vishuddha is probably more important than working with Ajna.
Boredom / Distraction
Things are not felt as interesting – one’s curiosity is not engaged. Working with
Anahata (to develop a feeling of relevance to self) may well be more helpful than working with Ajna.
Shortsightedness / Lack of foresight
One is unable to predict or anticipate likely results of events around or one’s actions – leading to one taking early preventative action or positioning
oneself well to take advantage of opportunities that arise. Working with
Vishuddha (to help with gathering and organizing information) in addition to Ajna is likely to be helpful.