BY MANTAK CHIA & JOYCE THOM
balancing and activating the pineal gland is a foundational practice for expanding consciousness and restoring the health and vibrancy of the physical body.
The Fundamentals of Pineal Gland Activation: Balancing the Endocrine System
In both Craniosacral Work and Daoist practice, the endocrine system is a critical gateway joining physical function with spiritual experience. The endocrine system includes the following glands: the pituitary, pineal, hypothalamus, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenals, pancreas, and ovaries/testes.These glands use hormones (rather than the electrical impulses used by the nervous system) to effect changes in our body, emotions, cognition, and energy. Hormones are chemical messengers that circulate through the body via the bloodstream and coordinate critical body functions. They increase or reduce nerve impulses and can also act as neurotransmitters.
The hypothalamus, pituitary, and pineal glands play particularly important roles in spiritual experience and will be explored in greater detail in the sections that follow.
The Hypothalamus/Pituitary Relationship
With access to both the nervous and endocrine systems, the hypothalamus plays a central role in linking the two and in activating the pineal gland. It is also connected with the limbic system, a center for our feelings and emotions. When entrained with the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus therefore has the ability to affect most of the 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, signaling the release or inhibition of key pituitary hormones, which in turn harmonize and activate pineal gland function.
The pituitary gland has two major lobes, which are distinctly different embryologically, anatomically, and functionally. Altogether, the pituitary is about the size of a pea; it sits below the hypothalamus, cradled in the sella turcica of the sphenoid bone.
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The hypothalamus communicates with the anterior lobe of the pituitary via blood vessels, and connects directly with the posterior lobe through the pituitary stalk or infundibulum. Although the pituitary gland has often been referred to as the master gland because it appears to control the endocrine system, the hypothalamus plays a more crucial 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 key pituitary hormones. By signaling and directing the pituitary, the hypothalamus plays a critical part in the endocrine system and is important in a larger sense for pineal gland activation.
Functions of the Pituitary in Physical Health and Spiritual Awakening
The anterior lobe of the pituitary secretes seven key hormones that are 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 stores and releases two important ones made in the brain: oxytocin and vasopressin. Oxytocin fosters maternal instincts, bonding between mates, trust, and sexual pleasure. Vasopressin influences circadian rhythms, the reabsorption of water into the bloodstream, and also stimulates paternal protective and caring instincts.
The pituitary relates to our growth and its health is also important for pineal gland activation. When it begins to vibrate in synchrony with the pineal gland, we are inspired to grow and renew ourselves 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 is bathed in highly charged cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and has more blood flow per cubic volume than any other organ, it may well be the gland with the highest concentration of energy in the body. In addition to its high concentrations of CSF and blood, the pineal gland is also the dominant source of the body’s melatonin.