Our Thymus Seems to Die as We Age. Can We Put a Stop to it?
Our physio-energetic body is supplied with life energy through a number of major and minor chakras. Each of them nourishes and regulates a specific area of our being. One chakra less often spoken of than the commonly referenced seven major ones is the thymus or higher heart chakra. It is located halfway between the heart and the throat chakras, behind the breast bone. In literature, you will find it depicted in soft pink, teal or white.
The physical thymus
On a physical level, the higher heart chakra, also called the ascended heart chakra, is connected with an intriguing organ: the thymus gland. The latter forms part of our lymphatic system and sits wedged between the heart and the sternum. Its prominent job is to support our immune response by producing T-leukocytes. These white blood cells perform two major tasks. Firstly, they distinguish inoffensive body cells from intruding pathogens.
Secondly, they fend the pathogens off. The thymus is most active during childhood and adolescence, which is when it supplies the young organism with the full repertoire of T-leukocytes it will need in life. The T-cells are then distributed throughout the lymphatic system, where they await their future use. Towards the end of puberty, the thymus reaches its maximum size and weight.
During adulthood, it pares back its production of T-cells and goes into atrophy. After it stops working, usually around the age of fifty, we have to make do with whatever T-cells are still surviving in our body to combat illness. By the time we reach old age, the thymus gland has virtually disintegrated into the surrounding tissues.
Overcoming cellular dementia
This decay is called thymic involution. We humans experience it along with all other vertebrates on the planet: mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, and reptiles. As a result, our immune response slacks as we get older. We become more susceptible to infections, cancer and autoimmune disease, which occurs when insufficiently discerning leukocytes destroy our own body cells because they mistook them for pathogenic attackers.
Our T-cells seem to experience some sort of cellular dementia. Apparently, the productivity of the thymus depends greatly on its hormonal environment. Research suggests that the hormonal ecosystem of the adult human organism, which is different from the one generated by the infantile body, causes the gradual degeneration of the thymus gland. External stressors such as malnutrition, psychological crises or sudden trauma can precipitate thymic involution, probably through the hormonal turmoil these situations provoke.
Given the sensitivity of the thymus gland to hormonal changes, some lines of medical research are inquiring whether thymic involution could be halted or even reversed through hormone therapy. However, little is known about the long term effects and biochemical ramifications of such interventions. Possibly, they would summon more devils than they get rid of.
Maintaining our thymus
The internet is sprinkled with articles claiming euphorically that controlling the thymus gland equals possessing the fountain of youth. Authoritative proof is still missing. Why the thymus gland quits its service in the first place, when seemingly it would be best if it remained fully active throughout life, is under discussion.
On the one hand, it could be argued that, if thymic involution has been positively selected in so many different species across the animal kingdom, there must be a trade-off advantage science simply has not identified yet. On the other hand, it would not be the first time human beings tweak biology and extend their lifespan through artificial means. Could our thymus gland survive and benefit us for longer if we found out how to give it better maintenance?
The energetic thymus
From a holistic perspective, there is more to human health than just biological interactions. We are energy, our physical bodies included. Energetically, the thymus is linked to the higher heart chakra, which is often described as “seat of the soul”. It represents the transpersonal aspect of the heart, that is, unconditional divine love.
Unconditional love is free of ego, therefore a healthy higher heart facilitates spiritual growth and deep inner transformation.
Opening our thymus chakra enhances our willingness to forgive and to show compassion. Unlocking it corresponds to flinging open a window for your soul to work through in the material world. Often, people who get in touch with their ascended heart will desire to hand its gifts on to others because, as receptacles of divine love, they also feel it flowing from them like water from a spring.
In fact, the act of giving always originates in the heart. Our language demonstrates we know this intuitively, as phrases such as “I give this to you with all my heart” indicate. Thus, healing work and other means of giving love are naturally pursued by those with an open ascended heart. Materially, we give with our hands, which are energetically associated with the heart. We use our hands to provide for our loved ones, craft presents for them, feed them, comfort and caress them.
Across different times and cultures, numerous methods of laying on of hands have been devised for healing, and the hand has been considered a symbol of divine protection and blessing. Our hands are our most used tool for spreading the many expressions of love coming through our hearts from the Source.
Some say the thymus chakra responds especially well to sound therapy, given its proximity to the sternum, which acts as a sound board and amplifier of acoustic vibrations. If we look back at the tens of thousands of years during which bone has been a preferred material for the manufacture of musical instruments thanks to its resonance characteristics, we can see the idea has its raison d’être.
It is also reflected in a variety of folk tales that seem to have evolved from the same basic plot: the breast bone of a youth who was drowned by their sibling in competition for a lover is carved into a harp which later sings the truth about the committed fratricide. Interpreting the tale from a metaphysical viewpoint, we could say: “Heart is a messenger of Truth capable of transcending the machinations of ego.”
Interestingly, the higher heart chakra is said to hold a record of traumatic or painful events, which adds yet another fascinating dimension to the subliminal content of this ancestral narration. Our everyday lives, too, reflect the relationship between heart and sound. Who has not noticed a certain piece of music touch their heart or influence their mood?
Awakening our thymus
Both listening to and making music are cathartic to our emotional state. It awakens dormant feelings from hibernation, helping to process, to externalize and to clear them. Worldwide, medical facilities offer music therapy to make their patients get back in touch with themselves and open up to their surroundings through playful acoustic interaction. So, for a thriving thymus chakra, listen to music, sing like nobody is hearing, dance like nobody is watching or play a musical instrument.
Other than musical activity or sound therapy, there is a vast range of energetically nourishing practices to choose from. Methods combining movement, breath and meditation, like yoga, qi gong or tai chi, stimulate the flow of energy in general, but can also be focused on specific chakras. The same goes for energy healing work like reiki, where a practitioner directs life energy into the recipient´s body – through their hands, mind you – in order to dissolve blockages and recharge depleted energy resources.
Reiki can be applied to the client’s entire energetic network or concentrated on selected chakras in spot treatments. The list of energy healing methods could be continued ad infinitum. Which one you choose depends on your personal preferences and on practical considerations such as availability in your area and affordability.
The physio-energetic link
How do energy healing practices relate to the physical thymus? Will any of them preserve it from declining with age? The most educated suggestion to make is that, at least, they should help keep our organism functioning to the best of its capacities for as long as biology allows. It is important to remember that humanity´s longing for eternal life on earth is not always constructive, but can deviate into a desperate ego rampage.
The soul has other values and a broader perception than our incarnated self, so remaining eternally earthbound might not be what it needs or desires. For all we can know at this point in time, we eventually have to return to the Source, and our biology is responding to this necessity by helping us let go gradually through the process of aging. Learning to understand biological death as a natural transition, rather than as a sentence of doom, is a cultural task we are facing on a personal and on a societal level.
Accomplishing it would bring us closer to inner peace than any chemical or surgical intervention ever could. Metaphorically, our thymus is teaching us that embracing impermanence is a vital part of growing and progressing through the cycles of our existence. Growth only comes with change, and change is letting go instead of clinging on. We need to discern when we are fighting a fair battle, and when we are seizing forcefully what is not ours to take. This is the challenge of free will.
Health on all levels
On this note, the highest service we can render to ourselves is to take responsibility for our health on all levels. Nourish and protect your physical body, your emotional being, your mind and your spirit. Strive for optimization instead of perfection. Doing so may neither afford you eternal youth nor guarantee you to become the proud owner of a teenager’s thymus gland in a seventy-year-old body, but you will achieve the most fulfilled life you are capable of. That’s not a bad deal.