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  • Manju Sadarangani



12” x 36”

Acrylic & Gold Leaf on Canvas

(August, 2021)

When I first started to meditate, focusing my gaze on my Ajna chakra, my third eye (in between my eyebrows) was painful. A lot of the dhristis hurt. At best it felt a little cross side, at worst, holding the Shambhavi mudra longer than a few seconds gave me a splitting headache.

A few weeks ago I was struck with a realization. Sometimes, when I close my eyes and focus on my third eye, I am flooded with a rush of pleasure. It is a feeling unlike anything else. It is subtle, sweet, but also very physical. Ambrosia.

Focus on the third is supposed to activate the optic nerve, which crosses the pituitary gland, and the hypothalamus. Since those anatomical structure impact oxytocin and attachment behaviors, I wondered if that calm flow of pure bliss was being stimulated by my eye gaze.

The lines in this piece represent theta waves, the lucid-state brain waves that you aspire to in deep meditative states. Theta waves are connected to daydreaming, creativity, intuition, a repository for memories, emotions, sensations. Theta waves are strong during internal focus, meditation, prayer, and spiritual awareness.

I used different gold leafing techniques in this piece, flat and reflective for the primary wave, and kinetic and refractive for the blooming lotuses, a visual play on the energy, movement, and evolution of ideas during meditation.

The colors in this piece are a nod to the lavenders, violets and purples of the Ajna chakra. You know my fascination with the deep symbolism of the lotus, the national flower of India, the Hindu/Buddhist symbol of purity, self-regeneration, enlightenment, growth, rebirth. The bloom of the lotus is an analogy of the human condition – submerged in the murkiest waters, the lotus produces a flower of unparalleled beauty.

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