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Granthis - Psychic knots

Granthis – Psychic knots
In the yoga literature one can read the odd reference to three Granthis, referred to as
  1. Brahma Granthi
  2. Vishnu Granthi
  3. Rudra Granthi 
The concept of psychic knots appealed to me since I felt that I knew them to be real within my sense of my Self. It is always reassuring to find that the experience of others, even the ancients, confirms ones own. 
As yet I have not discovered the significance of the identification of the relevant gods. The books I have say little, and Google reveals a little more.
Most of us experience deeply stuck feelings in distinct parts of the physical body
  1. A locked sense in the hips and the area below the waist – first granthi
  2. A numb feeling that there is a concrete block between the shoulders &/or caught in the front of the chest at the pectorals – second granthi
  3. Distress of diverse kinds as the wild horses of the mind drive us in a dozen different directions – third granthi 
Research comparing the many energetic traditions comfortingly conform to the yogic identification the psychic energies (Chakras) – humans seem to be the same wherever they find themselves. It is easy to see how these felt-senses can be the source of psychic distress (vasana) be it from current life experience, or archetypal (karmic) residues (samskaras).
First Granthi associated with Muladhara Bandha (root valve)
  • Muladhara Chakra; Root; Cervix or Perineum; family / ancestral and cultural / gender roots including connections to group identities
  • Swadhistana Chakra; Ones own abode; in Yoga located at the tail bone – in New Age between First and Second chakra; the separation of the individual from received assumptions and conditioning, everything that we create in life from the food we eat to personal appearance / home 
  • Manipura Chakra; City of Treasures; navel; this carries the psychic energy of everything we value, stuff, family, creativity  
Second Granthi associated with Uddiyana Bandha (Abdominal valve)
  • Surya Chakra; Sun; between Third and Fourth Chakras to the right side of the spine
  • Chandra Chakra; Moon; between 3rd and 4th Chakra to the left of the spine
  • Anahat Chakra; Noiseless / Unstruck sound; heart space; compassion, devotion, attachments
  • Vishuddi Chakra; Purification; Throat; communication 
Third Granthi associated with Jalandhara Bandha (Throat valve)
  • Ajna Chakra; store; centre of the head; the everyday mind constrained by memory and conditioning
  • Bindu; point; back of the head; passageway to infinite wisdom (Maha Prajna); all that can be known, beyond time
  • Third eye; between the eyes; insight; mostly ignored 
If enlightenment means compassionate acceptance of the reality of impermanence and equanimity in the face of change, we can see that all the psychic knots have untangled, the energetic valves are put to good purpose so that prana is made available appropriate to the task.
The opposite of this is a life lived with varying levels of suffering, where prana is dissipated, the everyday mind gets bogged down with conditioned duality, of judgement, attachment and a host of fears, where ‘Peace of Mind’ is a fleeting visitor and a search for happiness generates grasping and aversion.
What to do? Becoming overwhelmed by suffering is not a good feeling.
The sutras teach that there are actions to purify (Tapas) and dissolve these knots.
Tapas can be in any of the forms of yoga, when experienced with complete focus and attention; Karma, Bhakti, Gyana, Raja, Hatha etc.
Bhastrika is often mentioned as effective as it strengthens the tone of the bandhas which can make the asana more potent
This is a link to an extensive paper on the Bandhas as energy valves, I find it fascinating.
[1]Granthis or Knots
The ida and the pingala go up spirally, alternating from left to right and from right to left, forming a loop around each chakra. They originate from the common center of muladhara at the base of the spine, but at the top their ends are free. However, there are three points called granthis or knots where they seem to anastamose or conjoin. These knots, which act as barriers to the free flow of prana, represent three levels of psychophysical life. The first knot is below the navel and is called brahma-granthi. When the flow of energy is restricted to this region, instinctive drives like hunger, thirst and sense pleasure dominate the mind. The second knot is below the heart and is called vishnu-granthi. This is the region of the emotional life of man. The third knot is below the eyebrows and is called rudra-granthi. This is the area of intellectual activity.
When lower desires and appetites become strong, prana gets as it were short-circuited at the first knot, and very little energy reaches the higher centers. When the mind becomes restless it usually activates the lower centers first. Even when a person does not consciously indulge in sensual pleasures, a restless mind is enough to rouse the lower centers, especially the sex-center. If one wants to be freed from the attack of lower thoughts, the first step is to attain a deep calmness of mind. A calm mind is the best safeguard against evil thoughts. The second step is to activate the higher centers. Deep studies and thinking stimulate the higher centers. Intense prayer and meditation lift up more psychic energy through the ida and the pingala to higher centers, and thus make the lower centers less active.
The three granthis restrict human life to instinctive, emotional and intellectual levels. Spiritual life lies beyond these three levels. Therefore, an important task before the spiritual aspirant is to loosen these knots and make the ida and the pingala function smoothly. When instinctive drives, emotional conflicts and intellectual obsessions are overcome, the two side channels become clear for the free flow of prana. Only then can the aspirant detect and deal with the susumna.
 To read feedback from a class Adrienne taught on this topic see IYA residential 09

[1] Concentration and Meditation By Swami Bhajanananda

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