Rumors are that during the Vietnam War, American Indian scouts known for their incredible tracking abilities were recruited by the US military. Once they were sent through boot camp, their abilities were critically diminished. In an effort to discover why they could no longer sense the enemy or prepare for danger, investigators eventually narrowed their research down to their need for long hair as a sensing device.
Apparently hair is not just for endless primping and fashion. Human hair may function similarly to cat whiskers, a type of feeler or antennae that transmits information to the limbic system, brainstem and neocortex. This includes head hair, body hair and facial hair in men. Cutting your hair may actually numb the senses and reduce awareness of the environment.
Long hair and beards have been part of many religious traditions. Ancient peoples cut their hair only as an extreme sign of mourning, or a way to increase hygiene in armies. Long hair was usually cut when people were enslaved as an outward sign of their loss of power.
In the Ayurvedic system, hair is seen as an extension of the etheric spine, taking in life force or prana to increase our vitality and intuition. When left to grow without cutting, the length of hair will be different for each individual. Like the skin, the hair is said to absorb vitamin D as well as phosphorus and calcium. The natural oils in hair assist in this process. Ideally, washed hair will be dried in the sun.
In India, wise men or Rishis coiled their long hair at the crown of their head to energize the pineal gland and mental faculties. This coil helped channel the energy of the sun during the day. At night, the hair is down or loosely braided. Wooden combs (which do not create static electricity) were recommended to keep the hair healthy.
Another interesting aspect of hair is the idea that long hair is associated with maturity and with accepting the order of the universe. Children are generally born with very little hair. As they grow, their hair is part of the record of their life experiences. Some believe that hair holds emotional energy. As an adult, long hair may be a way to take our place sensitively in our environment. It may be a sign of humility to accept that their is a reason for our hair even if we do not fully understand its significance. As Yogi Bhahan said: “Your hair is not there by mistake. It has a definite purpose, which saints will discover and other men will laugh at.”