THE 3 GRANTHIS & POLYVAGAL THEORY COMPARED
Granthis are the energy knots, valves or blocks in our psycho spiritual pathway where the prana energy & consciousness interact & manifest in a particular way. Granthis constitute our unconscious complexes and conditioning, they are regions where experiences are retained so as to formulate, give rise and sustain the ego structure. They are central locations in the body where trauma and stress tends to get stored the most.According to the yogic tradition, there are three granthis, 3 common blockages in the central pathway (sushumna-nadi) preventing the full ascent of the serpent power. They do serve a purpose of regulating and protecting one from a sudden spontaneous release of Kundalini. Though they must eventually be cleared by the yogi, with gradual purification of the psyche and physiology, bringing the unconscious impulses under regulation of conscious will.
Anatomically , granthis could also said to be the plexus of nerves where there is transition between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, the separation of vagus nerve from sacral nerve, or changes from presynaptic to post synaptic fibres.
Congruent to the granthis, there are three diffferent divisions within the autonomous nervous system as per the Polyvagal theory. The theory explains the relationship between autonomic nervous system (ANS) and social behaviour. The ANS is the neurological architechture of the body mind connection. Through its sensory and motor componenent, it provides the physiological foundation of embodiment and the neural basis for feeling and sensing. It asses safety or threat internally, in our relationships, in our environment which includes both the external as well as the internal psychological one. This ability to detect degrees of safety is known as neuroception, which in turn selectively engages the three different neural circuits.
The polyvagal theory maps these circuits and the way they combine into neural platforms of behaviour, somewhat similar to how granthis formulate & regulate our overall personality structure. The two theories viewed parallely can grant insight into our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being.
BRAHMA GRANTHI & PARASYMPATHETIC DORSAL VAGAL
Located at the Muladhara chakra, the Brahma Ganthi knot is also represented by Swayambhu Linga, Self created phallic protrusion, (also called dhumra lingam- smokey black in appearance). This is the materially manifest force of life and creative principles.
This knot or valve functions in the base region at the genital area, the lower dantien. One’s awareness functioning in this area begets the experience of entanglement with physical pleasures, material objects and excessive selfishness or a sense of fear. It also implies the ensnaring power of tamas- negetavity, lethargy , and ignorance. Such lower qualities act as hinderance to the shakti kundalini from awakening.
Once this blockage is removed through the application of mula bandha, root lock, the energy is able to rise beyond muladhara and swadhishtana without being weighed down by ensnaring power of tamas.In the polyvagal theory this region is house for the dorsal vagal complex. A neuroception of life threat shifts the ANS into an evolutionary ancient defense strategy. It is our most primitive threat response. It drops the metabolic rate and immobilises the body, plunging our systems into a shutdown, numbness, and collapse, while releasing the bodies natural opiate painkillers to diminish the agony of anticipated death.
The states triggered by Dorsal vagal lead to a shutdown or freeze response. As a state of being overwhelmed, it induces a continuum of dissociative features ranging from absent mindedness, to de-personalisation/ de-realisation, helplessness / hopelessness, shame & guilt, disoientation, depression, split in personality, to paralysis and loss of consciousness in extreme conditions.
These involuntary responses can be compared to the kriyas expressive in the lower dantien, which often accompany fear, paralysis and all that is mentioned above.
VISHNU GRANTHI & SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
This knot spans in the region between Manipura and extends up till the vishuddha chakra. The centre of this knot is often experienced at the anahata chakra and is seen as a golden egg of light, also called bana lingam. This is the filter limiting the expanse of our zero point energy field.
Contact with this granthi marks the second stage for awareness. The raw nutrition for our maintaining our physicality as well as unconscious unformulated patterns and impulses of the psyche get consolidated and transmuted here. This region forms the structure, the basis of our bodily and personality sustenance. The food we consume is converted into energy and distributed, matter transforms to energy at manipura. Similarly unrefined emotions and thought energy is converted and transformed into the more subtle personality at anahata. The resulting energy is given balanced expression through vishuddha.
So the sustaining aspect of all our human dimensions is governed by the three chakras in this region which vitalize, feed, nurture & balance the subtle bodies. All these are known to be rajasic activities.
The Kundalini rises several times upto this point yet is pulled back to dormancy by gravity of our dense karma. Only when the Vishnu granthi is pierced, the sporadic activity becomes more stable and shakti permanently awakens. The application of Uddiyana bandha serves as a valve to hold the ascent and push it further up.
The sympathetic nervous system processes and mobilises us to respond to situations requiring defense, feeding, reproduction, via muscles. In our quest to survive, the ANS retunes promote body movements, states of high energy and mobility, and an arousal of senses. Depending on the levels of danger and distress sensed by neuroception, a heirarchy of responses begins to mobilise.
Find- Tend & befriend, looking to the herd/ pack for attachment figures, for comfort, soothing or protection.
Fawn- Appeasement behaviour to diffuse conflict and tension and decrease liklihood of harm, pain or rejection using reasoning, complying, placating, peace keeping, caretaking, codependency.
Flight- Wariness nervousness, anxiety, panic, avoidance, ignoring, moving away, running.
Fight- Irritability, frustration, anger, rage, resistance, posturing, intimidation, aggression, defensiveness, protection.
The sympathetic activation symptoms involve increase blood pressure, heat rate, adrenaline, oxygen circulation, which can also accompany kriyas manifesting in vishnu granthi region.
RUDRA GRANTHI & PARASYMPATHETIC VENTRAL VAGAL
Rudra granthi governs ajna & sahasrara chakras & represents the transformation of an existing form, idea or concept into the universal aspect. When shakti crosses the tip of the nose where this granthi is dense, personal individual pride is overcome. It is here that the dissolution of the ego awareness, the “I” Awareness takes place. The awareness finds itself as self luminous and loses the sense of being a separate entity.
A higher intuitive understanding dawns and a limitless omnipresence is revealed in the present moment of NOW. This enlightened awareness then moves to Sahasrara, where the final merger of indidvidual soul, atman with the universal, paramatma, takes place.
The ajna chakra houses a black consolidated egg shaped form called the itarakhya lingam, which unlike the other lingams is clearly a defined and perceivable form. It denotes the non dual nature of awareness. It is Here, in ajna, the awareness of ‘what I am’ is more sharply defined and various siddhis, and psychic capacities are awakened.
The ajna is a the final frontier of individuated awareness. The emergence of naadis which begins at the base in root chakra, finally confluence here in ajna. Ida and pingala unite with sushumna and are lead to the crown.Jalandhara bandha moves the energy up through this level at ajna and kechari and shambhavi mudra help to bridge it and jump to the crown.
Now according to Polyvagal theory, when we experience safety, our nervous system activates the ventral vagal pathway, which is the circuit enabling connection and co regulation, rest and digest. This pathway shifts our physiological state into a more peacful and calming state that fosters resting restoration and repair. It is conducive for connection, establishment of realtionships, while also coordinating the other sympathetic as well as parasympathetic dorsal vagal circuits to support health.
So when we surpass the karmic impressions of shame, guilt, helplessness, depression (tamsic,dorsal vagal), as well as overcome frustration, anger, anxiety, panic (rajasic, sympathetic), we are able to access states of settled groundedness, openness & compassion, mindfulness, meditation.