I really like it when this happens; I am working (maybe just mentally) on an idea and then someone randomly asks me a question which relates to the idea, prompting me to write it and get it out there faster. Last week a student asked me after class why the back of his head felt “tingly” after practice. I had been collecting images and starting to write about the “doorway”…
Gates of consciousness
The back of the head, specifically the base of the skull is seen in many spiritual traditions as a doorway or as a gateway of consciousness; a place where we take in spiritual understanding, as opposed to information. During attunements for Reiki practitioners, symbols are brought over the crown of the head and placed at this spot to be absorbed or integrated.
Link between individual & cosmic consciousness
The base of the skull is considered to be the site where the individual consciousness links with the cosmic consciousness. This is also the spot where the brain connects with the spinal cord and information is exchanged between the body and brain.
Traditionally Hindus wear a Shikha (which I know as a “choti”), a lock or knot of hair at the back of a shaven head which ‘allows God to easily pull you to paradise’. Today a brahmachari or priest will be more likely to have this lock. The Shikha is commonly seen within Vaishnavism, and the Hare Krishna movement. It is an external symbol of Hinduism, which signifies one-pointed focus on a spiritual goal, or second birth as a ‘brahmana’, or reborn spiritually upon gaining knowledge of Brahman.
Being ‘twice-born’ is a desirable state in yoga. Some of the more interesting practices within hatha yoga, hand balances (where we put all of our ‘skills’ together to achieve) are generally named after birds. Here are a few words on that from Maya Tiwari in “Path of Practice”:
“Birds have been perceived for thousands of years as messengers of the Divine Mother. The Inuit people of the Arctic believe that shamans take the spirits of birds during their journeys into trance. Twice-born, first from the mother and then from the egg, birds symbolize a spiritual rebirth within one’s own lifetime. This, then, was the day of rebirth”.
Long hair seems to act as antennae, helping us know where we are. The hair, tied at this spot may serve a subtle protective function as well. Having had long hair most of my life, and recently cut it off, I can say that I felt quite vulnerable at first and found myself placing my hand over that spot quite often. Now the hair has grown a bit and I don’t have that feeling. When I meditate I prefer to keep my hair loose in order to pick up on more subtle energies. A lot has been written about hair as ‘antennae’, why it is kept long in so many spiritual traditions, but also how Native North Americans’ tracking abilities are connected to keeping the hair long. You can read a little more here: http://www.quantumbalancing.com/spiritualhair.htm
Hair tied in a knot at the crown-point (right above the suture) on the central top of the head (called a ‘Rishi knot’ is thought to stimulate the pineal gland, our master gland and an important spiritual centre. This point is given distinctive importance in the science of yoga and spirituality as the point of contact with the brain-centre of intellectual and emotional sensitivity. It also indicates the body as a temple.
At any rate, a few thoughts on opening doors and making connections…and waiting for my hair to grow again!