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As a child I still remember my father used to insist that I wear a bindi. Considering I came from a traditional Tambrahm home, his insistence was not misplaced. But being the person of science that I am, I needed strong scientific proof and reasoning for following his instructions. Over time, he stopped telling me, and I stopped complying. But the question about why the tradition ever came about lingered on. So, I dug a bit deeper and here is why our ancestors used to wear the all auspicious Bindi ortilak.
The position matters:
Bindis are traditionally worn on the forehead, right between our eyebrows. Some people prefer to wear it a bit higher, but the effects remain the same. Why does the position matter you ask? Here is why:
1. Center of awakening and concentration: The point right between our eyebrows, on our forehead is the point where the major nerves of the body meet. Apart from that this point is also known as the position of the sixth, and most important chakra. Known as the 'ajna chakra', this point signifies the point of awakening and the position of the third eye. It is believed that when this spot is stimulated it helps a person in a number of ways including making you calmer and helping beat anxiety. It is also believed that this point helps a person awaken to the world that cannot be seen by the two physical eyes.
But apart from all the spiritual benefits this custom has some very amazing health benefits. Stimulating this point helps in the following ways:
2. Relieves a headache: According to the principles of acupressure, this point in the body is the key to finding instant relief from a headache. That is because it has a convergence of nerves and blood vessels that are instantly relaxed with this point is massaged. Read more about natural remedies to relieve a headache.
3. Clears up sinuses: On pressing this point a specific branch of the trigeminal nerve (the nerve supplies our entire face) that supplies the nose and the areas around it is stimulated (mainly the zygomatic, temporal and buccal arm of the trigeminal nerve). When stimulated these nerve help stimulate and increase the blood flow to the nasal passage, mucosal lining of the nose and sinuses. This In turn helps relieve a blocked nose, reduce the swelling within the sinuses and the nose and helps relieve nasal congestion and the sinusitis. Read more about home remedies to help beat sinusitis.
4. Strengthens your facial muscles and can beat wrinkles: One of the most amazing benefits of stimulating this point is that it stimulates the muscles of the face and increases blood flow (by stimulating the supratrochlear artery, and the supratrochlear vein) to all the muscles involved. This action helps retain the stiffness of the muscles, nourishes the skin and keeps wrinkles at bay. Apart from that this point is also the home of the supratrochlear nerve (a branch of a nerve which nourishes the skin), thereby helping the skin look more supple, healthy and wrinkle free for longer. Find out everything you'd want to know about anti-ageing.
5. Can help relieve the symptom of Bell's palsy: Massaging this point is also shown incredible effects on people suffering from Bell's palsy (a condition where one part of the face becomes paralysed). Massaging this point helps because a muscle known as the procerus muscle is present right between the eyebrows. This muscle is fed by the branches of the temporal nerve that contains nerve fibers of cranial muscle five (CNVII). CNVII is a key player when it comes to Bell's palsy, since it is responsible for the movement of all the facial muscles.
The massage of this point has been widely used in the Panchakarma wing of Ayurveda, where this condition is treated using a treatment modality called 'shirodhaara'. In this therapy the practitioner pours medicated oil continuously on the center of the forehead (or where you would wear a bindi/tilak) for about 40-60 minutes. This is said to provide deep stimulation to the facial nerves and can relieve the symptoms of Bell's palsy.
6. Good for the muscles of the eyes: The center point of the forehead is directly connected to the supratrochlear nerve ( a nerve that contains fibers of the nerves that feed the muscles of the eyes and the skin). This nerve is connected to all the muscles that surround your eyes, helping them move in different directions with ease. This muscles are also important to change the shape of your eyes so that you can see objects (both near and far) more clearly. Read more about what your eyes could indicate about your health.
7. Affects your hearing: One of the nerves that feed the muscles of your face also helps stimulate your cochlear (the most important part of the inner ear needed to hear). Therefore stimulating this point helps keep your ears healthy.
8. Reduces fine lines between your brows: Fine lines between the eyebrows are something that worries most people. If you want to keep those lines at bay, massage the spot between your brows once a day. This point is where the procerus muscle is placed. Massaging this muscle not only strengthens the muscle, but also helps in increasing blood flow and nervous stimulation to the skin in that area. In effect stopping the appearance of those annoying 'worry lines'.
9. Calms your mind: The ajna chakra or the point between your eyebrows is highly susceptible to damage caused by anxiety and stress. That is where wearing a bindi comes into play. Massaging this point on a daily basis helps the muscles and nerves in this area relax sending a calming effect throughout your body. It is also one of the points that you are likely to instinctively press when you are stressed. So, for a calmer more focused mind, stimulate this area once every day. Feeling anxious? Here are tips to deal with anxiety and stress.
10. Beats insomnia: The point where you would wear a bindi is also very effective in beating insomnia. It not only calms your mind but also helps relax the muscles of your face, neck, back and upper body. According to Ayurveda one of the most common reasons for insomnia is mental stress, fatigue and an overactive mind. Press this point for a few seconds on a daily basis to find relief from insomnia. If that does not help, there are treatments like 'shirodhara' that can help you get some shut eye. Read more about yoga asanas that can help beat insomnia.
The material used to make the bindi is also of great importance:
Apart from massaging the area the material that you use to apply your tilak or bindi also has a role to play. In the olden days our ancestors would apply either kumkum (a vermilion coloured powder), chandan or ash on their forehead. These material help in the following ways:
Kumkum was made by mixing turmeric and lime. The lime changes the colour of turmeric, giving kumkum its characteristic colour. This mixture is also one of the best remedies for a headache. It relaxes the muscles of the forehead and provides instant relief. Moreover this mixture is highly hygroscopic in nature (has the ability to absorb water) and therefore had the ability to absorb any 'water' or mucous logged in the head. Apart from that the mixture is antibacterial in nature and helps to keep infections at bay. On a more spiritual note, the colour red is known to help retain the positive energy of the body and it is believed that it has the capability to keep you strong, healthy and positive throughout the day.
Chandan is known for its cooling properties. This compound is known to benefit the skin and cool the nerves below it. It helps in keeping the mind calm and cooling the entire system. Moreover medical science has proved that this point on our body is probably the most sensitive area with the highest convergence of nerves. Therefore applying chandan to it helps in cooling the nerves and relieve headaches caused due to excessive exposure to the sun.
Ash is another commonly used substance to apply a tilak or bindi. While this has all the positive effects that kumkum and chandan have, the materials that are burnt to make the ash play an important role in influencing its positive effects on the body.
Apart from all the scientific reasoning, Ayurveda classifies this region as the one spot that facilitates the release of latent energy (also known as 'kundalini') as it rises from the base of the back to the top of the head. It is believed that this region is the point of expulsion of potent energy (energy that we do not need in the body and should be removed) and helps a person become more aware, calm and focused.
How to massage this point:
Using the pad (of fleshy part at the tip of finger) of your ring finger gently press this point. The pressure should be in a forward and circular motion. Using your ring finger also has a lot of significance since it is believed that this finger allows the direct flow of positive energy and aids in the release of bad or negative energies. Do this once a day for just a few seconds. Remember the point is very sensitive and needs only mild pressure.
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