by Sheyna Haisman-Holmes
Ālochaka pitta is a subdosha within pitta dosha that is responsible for optical perception, color and light vision, 3-D vision, functioning of rods and cones, eyeball temperature, translucence and more. Our visual health has to do with how we treat our eyes, as well as our inner knowing and intuition through the third eye center. Ālochaka pitta includes healthy concentration, imagination, respecting the senses, inner and outer vision, introspection, nutrition, emotional health, etc.
Ālochaka pitta is the place from which tears come through. There are different types of tears based on the types of emotions being experienced and the correlating dosha. Kapha tears come from the outer edges of the eyes and are sweet, cool, scanty, joyous, compassionate and loving. Pitta tears come from the center of the eye and are angry, frustrated, hot, sour, salty & pungent and plentiful. Vata tears fall from the inner eye and are cold, astringent, bitter, sad, lonely, fearful, suppressed and full of grief. This can be helpful in our connecting with our own emotions and diving deep into where they are coming from.
Disorders of ālochaka pitta may be farsightedness, short sidedness, conjunctivitis, sties, burning eyes, bloodshot eyes, poor vision, color blindness, light sensitivity, glaucoma and irritation. Because the eyes are classified under pitta dosha, pitta imbalances can directly affect the eyes. The eyes can also experience kapha issues such as glaucoma, which is a clogged flow of fluid that increases pressure in the eyes. There are often other doshas out of balance that are pushing one another out of their proper seat in the body.
Dr. Lad says, “The root cause of an ālochaka pitta disorder is suppressed tears and avoidance of seeing reality”. We have been taught in our culture that crying shows weakness, vulnerability or an inability to deal with our emotions. In truth, letting tears flow is very healthy and allows all emotions to flow and release. Tears are also called crystals of emotion and crying them is an urge that shouldn’t be resisted. The avoidance of seeing reality can mean a lot of things. This could be putting up with a situation that doesn’t serve you that your inner knowing recognizes. It could be a tendency to stay stuck in a cycle of hope without taking action that creates a delusion of the reality of a situation. It could mean looking at screens too much which causes avoidance of looking at reality around you. The spirituality that comes in to play has to do with the capacity to see the truth and be open to it with curiosity rather than fear.
There are many daily occurrences that can affect our eye health such as reflections on metal and glass, screens (phones, computers, TV), stress, not enough sleep, straining the eyes to read, overexposure to blue light from screens, etc. Our eyes are experiencing more stimulation than ever before.
Practices for eye health:
~Eye exercises- focusing on things far and then near. Look side to side and up and down, then rolling the eyes around the room in a big circle.
~Energizing- rubbing the hands together and then cupping the hands over the eyes. This is great to do upon waking in the morning to transmit energy into the eyes.
~Pranayama- for the inner eye and vision. Bhramari (bee humming breath).
~Shirodhara- oil on the third eye treatment. Shirodhara has many benefits and can help to nourish the eyes with oil on the head and relax the nervous system with a steady stream of oil on the third eye.
~Tratak- flame gazing. This involves staring at a flame until the eyes water. It counters the overexposure we have to blue light and is a meditative practice as well. The type of candle matters, as the flame will put off different colors. Scented candles with artificial ingredients and wicks have lots of chemicals and may put off a flickering inconsistent flame. We want the flame to be steady so we can focus on it. A ghee lamp is what is traditionally used, but a simple beeswax candle will do.
-Start by placing a candle 2 feet away at eye level while in a comfortable seat. Stare at the base of the flame, right above the wick without blinking. The eyes may start watering which is cleansing and good! You can close the eyes after they begin to water and keep that flame in the minds eye while sitting in meditation.
-Another way to do a passive type of tratak is sitting near a fire and looking at the flames. This welcomes warm red light into our eyes and reminds us of the connection our ancestors had with fire. Replacing nighttime screen activities with a fire is a great way to connect, calm down and ready the body and mind for sleep.
~Netra basti- dough dam around the eyes with ghee. This needs to be done with assistance or by a practitioner. Some people fill goggles with melted ghee, put them on and lay back to treat the eyes.
-In place of netra basti, castor oil drops or ghee drops can be placed in the eyes at night right before falling asleep. During the night the oils are able to soak in and nourish the eyes.
~Rosewater- use eyecups or a dropper bottle to rinse the eyes with rosewater.
~Triphala- Tablets taken internally are supportive for eye health. The eyes can be washed with triphala tea made with very fine powder- avoid gritty or course powder in the eyes. A coffee filter can be used to strain this properly.
~Feet- the feet and the eyes are correlated, so take care of the feet! A simple and lovely foot care treatment is to oil the bottoms of the feet at night before bed. This induces wonderful sleep, moisturizes the skin and helps the eyes.
~Screens- limit screen time when possible. There are settings in the iPhone display center called “night shift”. This can be enabled to be on all the time, putting off more of a red light that a blue light. Once you make this change, seeing a screen without it will look so cold and bright. Ocushield makes screen protectors that block the blue light for phones, computers, glasses and more.
May we all have healthy eyesight, vision, introspection and intuition! :)