What Does Awakening Mean To You?

Awakening, for me, means an inner peace that exists prior to any of the outer challenges that life brings. It means being present with what is and free of mental reactivity that triggers resistance and contraction. And it means a gradual unfolding of consciousness into many aspects of living. When we accept how it is, how we are, we become free and awakening continually unfolds.

Awakening does not bring a perfect life and continual bliss, nor the opposite — absence of all feeling, and a dry and passive emptiness — as some people might imagine before navigating this passage. The terms emptiness and detachment are common in the world of non-duality, and are greatly misunderstood.

As we become empty of our conditioned self we move through stillness and into a vividness of the senses that is more immediate and more appreciative than previously lived. In any moment that we are really here and now we see life with more nuance – for example, the darkness or discouragement brought on by world events is seen in relationship to the innate beauty of the earth and the inherent kind spirit of most humans, who long for love and understanding and mutuality rather than violence and suffering. We see the creativity in humankind. It is seeing the whole, and while a feeling of sadness may float through the heart at certain times, this is not held as a filter through which we view all the world. Anger may arise but along beside it is a witness wondering why it is there – what hidden belief is it unveiling, what part of us is still waiting to come awake? Feelings move through and guide us to deeper truths within our self.

Awakening unwinds gradually in our life. It may come in spurts that seem to magically open before us, in an unguarded moment in which no thoughts are arising and yet presence is there. It may come when we step back out of an old pattern and feel compassion for our self and all other humans entangled in conditioned beliefs and anxieties.

Moments of awakeness may come because of a stunning sunrise, or vast view of the world, or a sense of consciousness slipping free of the limits of one body and embracing the allness of itself. They can happen when a baby smiles, or you relax into a lover’s arms just to be there, or when you are swimming and suddenly at one with the water.

Awakening is simple in that it is prior to all the complications of mind and conditioning. It is like the sky with no objects or with the planets and stars so scattered that they present no interference with the stillness. It is the moment between thoughts that is ripe with any possibility. It is the quietude in the heart that needs nothing more to happen.

You may have thought you had to be a saint to be awake, or go through a lifetime of austerity and the abandonment of human love and pleasure. But if you are only awake when in a deep meditation, separated from all the forms of life expression, then you are only half awake. We are not just awake to ourselves when we are pure untrammeled consciousness – we become awake with eyes open to the wonder of being here momentarily in the play of a human experience, with others to meet and dance with through our lives. We are here to bring consciousness and light to our world as embodiment, if even for only a brief period of time.

As we face our contractions and resistances we become more free personally, but also collectively, and generationally. We are breaking lineages that were confused and had been passing dysfunction from one generation to the next. We may wish we could wake up all at once and stay awake and never have an issue to address. But life unfolds itself more gradually, and our awakenings bring us more and more opportunities to clear away our patterns and see our potentials. Just as maturing takes humans some time to unfold, so does the maturing of our ability to live awakened in the world.

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Kundalini and Non-Duality

 

Photo from SAND_n

Kundalini Panel at Science and Nonduality Conference 10/23/17

(Photo by Nathan Lee)

I just returned from the SAND conference, meeting an amazing group of scientists and non-dual teachers who are exploring the further reaches of human consciousness and bringing an understanding of awakening to the mainstream.  I also just put the final editing touches on my new book “When Spirit Leaps: Navigating the Spiritual Awakening Process” to be released by New Harbinger Press in June.  It includes excerpts from many descriptions of awakening experiences collected by me over the past 30 years, and reveals what I have learned about the portals, the phenomena and the challenges of awakening, and how to address them and come into the harmonious balance that self-realization ultimately brings. As the Kundalini Conference of the Spiritual Emergence Network was an introduction of my first book 30 years ago, this feels like an introduction of my new comprehensive  book into a new world today. It was great to have a chance to speak to those at this conference looking to understand the impact of awakening on their energy and their lives.

Kundalini has not often been addressed by non-dual teachers, and yet changes in energy are inevitable in any transformative process.  We are energy beings, a molecular structure, and awakening is about the reorganizing of our internal world so that our original or primal consciousness can become primary in our lives, bringing us peace, acceptance, intuitions and new depth of understanding about the human condition.  If you are in a kundalini process your own life force is inviting you to a new perspective and a clearing of old patterns and beliefs and reactivity imprinted by your conditioning.  This is what freedom means — we become free of our old ways of seeing and being — and learn to be with the moment, rather than entangled in past and future concerns and anxieties.  It is a challenging passage for many, but a grace beyond expression when it has unfolded. I have attempted in my writings to bring the  non-dual world and the understanding of  kundalini together.  Non-Duality implies a direct realization of Oneness — of the fact there is one consciousness underlying all existence, and non-dual awakenings have typically brought forth teachers who see this as a flash of realization that can happen in any moment.  They have tended to discount all the energetic changes that may precede or follow such a flash. But without some energetic change our subtle body cannot hold and live from our realization because we have been programmed or wired to live in particular human cultural and family patterns.  Awakened consciousness is free, for the most part, of these patterns.  Awakened consciousness also shifts the brain dynamics so new possibilities of perception and functioning may arise.  All of these are energetic and possibly chemical changes. So if you are in a kundalini process you are being invited by the consciousness within you to awaken to a new potential, and express in your world a new way of being.

I was happy to be able to speak at SAND about kundalini and begin the deep dialogue that will promote a better understanding of this process among people who are exploring the nature of consciousness.

Are You in an Awakening Process?

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Every week I speak with several people who have entered a process of transformation. Usually their energy has accelerated and their bodies are moving or vibrating in ways that startle, surprise or frighten them, because the energetic aspects of a spiritual awakening are not discussed or explored in most spiritual traditions. And yet, we are all facets of consciousness living within biological and molecular structures. It is natural for any significant changes in how we view our self and the world to have an impact on our energy systems, as well as the way in which our consciousness operates. As our vehicle changes, consciousness gains new ways of expression through us. Awakening brings changes in every aspect of our lives and even the functioning of our brain. Meditation slowly reconstructs us, as does energy work, long-term yoga or Qigong practice, and even serious physical or emtoional trauma.

The fact is every cell of our body is always dying and rebirthing itself as you know from the fact your body is not the same today as it was at age 1 or 10 or 20 or 40. These changes evolve slowly so we do not notice them day to day, but it is certainly clear after a few years that we no longer look the same, that our consciousness lives inside a continual state of change. In fact I have heard it said that we as humans are more like active verbs than nouns, being in continual movement. The seeking of self-realization is the seeking of that within us that never changes, while all else is in motion.

When we have longed for Truth or God or simply to know who we are, it initiates a subtle change in our direction in life, and we adapt practices we hope will offer us new revelations, outside of our traditional cultural patterns. We may imagine a change that is beautiful and expansive and that will make us a happier person than we are when we begin. What we don’t often realize is that while these new possibilities arise, they do so because old patterns are being dissolved, previous belief structures are being torn apart, and conditioned experiences that block our capacity for freedom are being exposed, so that we can see them clearly and realize they are not the Truth of who we are. Awakening is either preceded by or followed by a necessary demolition project, just as a house may be rebuilt from the ground up.

What makes this most challenging is we don’t get to see the plan before hand, or have any control over the pace and style in which it will be rebuilt. It takes a great trust in the infinite, and the goodness of the universe. I suppose this is why many people get a glimpse of the radiant love or beauty or peace of Oneness first, and then feel they have lost it when the demolition project begins. We have to trust in this glimpse, that it was valid and real, and learn to navigate the process it initiates.

My websites and current books “The Kundalini Guide and “The Awakening Guide” on amazon are designed as supports for this journey and my new book “When Spirit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening” is moving toward publication next June by New Harbinger Press. It has excerpts from many stories of the ups and downs you may experience as you awaken. It has been the unexpected direction of my life to meet many who are in this process and be part of a movement toward changing consciousness that all of us are living in. While the World has many challenges today (and when has it not?) there is a subculture seeking Truth and love and understanding of how to be more complete in our human expression of this sacred opportunity for life that we share. I see our consciousness as wanting to help us grow into a true understanding of our relationship to one another. Awakening is not about dissolution into transcendent ethers and leaving our world. It is about bringing light to one another and evolving ourselves so that we are free of the many conditions that block our natural capacity to express human kindness, wisdom and freedom.

I encourage you to join me at the 2017 Science and Nonduality Conference Oct 19 to 22 in San Jose, CA along with multiple other speakers familiar with awakening. It is a place to find your tribe, and understand the process you are part of if you are awakening or longing to awaken. You can learn more about this gathering at http://www.scienceandnonduality.org.

Energy & New Perspectives

img_4814When energy moves in your body it is a sign you are on the verge of a shift of perspective. All of your beliefs and points of view are simply perspectives, and they are conditioned by culture, family and experiences. If you have been in an awakening process and are experiencing energetic shifts you are having birthing pains, moving into a new experience of the world.

Our religion, politics and other belief systems, even beliefs about ourselves, are not real – they are all happening in the mind, as bleeps of random thought. They are transient and sometimes repetitive thought forms. The impact of what we believe is programmed into our energy field, and we often suffer because of the limitations of our beliefs about ourselves and others. As new or better things happen in our lives these thoughts change, and with disappointments and discouragement they may also change. If I believe I am inadequate or you are dangerous or life is unfair I will live accordingly, until my perspective shifts. If you have suddenly experienced  energy vibrating or releasing in your body and you believe it is dangerous you will feel afraid; if you understand it is your own vital energy trying to release old and difficult patterns so you can feel free, then you can feel relaxed and curious and you may find bliss as releasing happens. If consciousness shifts out-of-body and you think you are mentally ill you will be alarmed; if you are surprised and curious to find you are not your body but this awareness that transcends it, you may feel joy.

Spiritual awakening is all about shifting perspective. It is opening yourself to seeing the wholeness, the unity of all things, and the underlying consciousness that permeates our lives.This undermines the ego, and a new point of view arises in its place. Energy shifts happen because we are molecular structures and the ability to live from a new perspective calls for the reorganization of this structure away from division and toward wholeness and balance. It is disarming because many of us fear change and feel we are losing our world when we change our ego’s perspective of it. But the ego is only a movement of identification with the experiences of a separate “Me”.  It is not real..

Because each of us has accumulated our perspectives from differing sources we sometimes have clashing perspectives, and we tend to choose friends who share the perspective we are most comfortable with. Thus we bond with various religious, political, national or social groups and the ego tendency is to avoid, distrust or even hate those with different values and beliefs. Many people who have shifts because of spiritual or energy practices feel they no longer fit in or enjoy the groups that used to be compatible for them. They find it harder to project evil on the other side. They might feel they have become an entirely different person inside. The mind may  at times be alarmed about this, but it is an important evolutionary step for our planet. It brings us closer to recognizing our alignment with nature and our connection with all forms of life.

I attended yesterday the 3rd conference held by a group called Architects of the New Paradigm. They had a large attendance of people concerned that our culture and our world needs new paradigms if it is to survive the environmental, economic and social issues that trouble us. A paradigm is a way of seeing things, the way we construct our interpretation of the world. They questioned whether it is a revolution or an evolution that is needed in the current paradigm, where corporations focused on making profits rule the economics of our government, and our freedom as individuals is compromised by regulations and laws. I would define revolution  as an external movement and evolution as internal. From my perspective the internal needs to move first, and freedom from our old patterns needs first to be claimed within. Without these internal changes any new movements will lack appreciation for the wholeness the planet needs to come into balance.

The speakers at ANP offered a diverse exploration of new ways to view the human condition as it impacts government, economics, health and science. They offered inspiring perspectives of revolutionary change based on the impact of our recent discovery through space probes that millions of exo-planets exist in our galaxy that likely contain some varieties of more advanced life-forms, radical new potentials in technology and environmentally friendly inventions, and examples of ways to change how government and health care function through taking personal responsibility. There were no definitive answers, but questions asked with an openness to discovering new and compassionate solutions.

Ego and the thoughts generated in mind are not real (although some are useful), but what is real is the experience you have before your mind makes a decision or creates a story. Holding a flower in your hand is real. Labeling it a flower is not. Your heart opening with love is real. Labeling it love and expecting a response is only perspective. The environment is real; your relationship to it depends on how you think and feel about it and this can be changeable and varied.   Ultimately form is not “real” either, as everything, including you, is made of cells that are 99.99% space. It is a miracle of nature that we have forms that appear in relationship with one another, and can see, touch, smell, hear and taste all the beautiful aspects of our planet.  These forms of ours contain what is real – a consciousness within that is connected with everything and indestructible.

Some physicists are beginning to recognize that each of us is a microcosm of the macrocosm of our universe. The space we are is not empty but is full of all possibilities, just as the vastness of space. At AFT one of the speakers called our bodies receiving stations for consciousness.

What does this have to do with non-duality or with spiritual awakening? Why should we care about the world around us if it is all illusion, as some Advaita masters like Ramana Maharshi or Papaji have indicated? As near as I can tell we are the world!  If this is illusion we are all it together! It is a dance of molecules and particles and color and explosion and it is never-ending no matter how the forms change.  Awakening is not an escape into blissful detached alternate realities. It is a simple realization of what you are. If you are to live from this realization then you will live with a new paradigm, expressing wholeness and gratitude, aligning with an authentic deep intuitution that may be unique to each situation (instead of conditioned) and available to meeting life as it is and making choices from love rather than fear.

This is the evolution our species needs. It is not easy to accomplish in ourselves, and each day can bring a new challenge. But your willingness to allow your energy and your consciousness to shift and to be part of the movement of humans toward living in wholeness, is what will make you free.

Fear of Transformation

When the energies of spiritual awakening arise very often so do the energies of fear. Awakened living is supported by the heartfelt release of this fear.

images-4If you are a serious meditator, longing for awakening, you may someday feel odd sensations like the body quivering, or the head spinning, or the brain feeling it is being rewired.  You may have sudden out-of-body sensations, or hear an inner sound or wake in the middle of the night with the body moving into an unfamiliar yogic posture. You may have  inexplicable emotional upheavals that seem out of character, or hear a sudden psychic message or inner voice. You may be confronted by recognizing  the need for major changes in their life.  When you go deeply into inner stillness change happens. And it is not always the quiet strength, stillness and centering that meditation typically offers.

It is in these odd moments when the body feels invaded and out of conscious control that the experiences of transformation becomes real, and the illusion that we can jump out of all of our personal conditioning into a permanent stay of transcendence is shattered. Our body, mind, emotions and spirit are in a process of radical change.

Our bodies are fields of energy — living, changing and vibrating with the life force. Awareness moves through these energy flows connecting us with many experiences.Yogic science describes 72,000 lines of energy in this grid, connected by chakras. The prana or chi in this grid carries thoughts, emotions and sensate experience, and facilitates our movements and responses including breath, coughing, sneezing, blinking, digestion, elimination, the heart pumping and every other condition we experience as living beings. Without energy we are inert and lifeless.

When Kundalini energy activates it unlocks our vital energy at the source and intensifies the experiences we have, as it moves through the body and into the brain, connecting us ultimately with universal energies. What I have seen over the years of listening to many who have awakened kundalini energy is that this is essentially a clearing process, shaking loose old patterns, memories, blockages or knots in our energy field so that the body can become open and present without contraction or habitual reactivity. It makes it possible for a more impersonal quality of presence to impact how we move in the world. It opens new abilities and possibilities.

When people write about negative experiences with kundalini on the web they are describing their own challenges with letting go, either at the physical or emotional level. The “letting go” is trying to facilitate the release of identifications with our body, mind and feelings. Deep unconscious material may arise, or archetypal visions related to the collective unconscious. Kundalini is not dangerous, as some contend, but it is threatening to those unwilling to face the personal work that it demands, and who are not open to the shifting worldview that it generates. It can amplify hidden or suppressed emotions and illnesses so that they will be seen and addressed. It can trigger unfamiliar phenomena. It requires flexibility and integrity if the activation is going to facilitate spiritual realization.

There is a place of deep stillness and presence available when we are not identified with the history and beliefs stored within us, personally and collectively – rather like the deep sleep we have when we are not for the moment aware of our personal self. Awakening is awakening to this consciousness/awareness that is alive in us prior to association with all these attachments. The letting go that comes with awakening is not under our control, but is a deep transformative process that is taking us into this unknown or unremembered realization and it can be very frightening for the little “me”, the holder of a separate sense of unique perspective and history we each collect as human beings.

There are many experiences in this journey to awakened living, and discovering the deeper Self, the Oneness of consciousness shared by all. Some of them are exquisite and expansive and overflowing with love. Some of them feel invasive, out-of-control, disruptive of our lives and self-image. Many of them are unfamiliar and some feel overwhelming. To the extent you can see the fear as energy, a reaction of the little “me” who prefers control and predictability, and release yourself to explore with curiosity and openness, or become willing to just let go and let be whatever is, you will be leaning into a more awakened life and discover wonder and grace in this evolutionary process.

As awakening becomes more stable it does not mean the end of all feelings.  But as we learn acceptance of whatever arises the energies can help the feelings release more smoothly and quickly, because there is no longer a need to hold on to the stories they represent. Awareness notices the feelings with compassion, and holds them in a more broad perspective of the nature of consciousness manifest as humanity. They are just energies moving through, perhaps as a personal release, perhaps for the universal good of the species.

If you need to know more about kundalini please look for “The Kundalini Guide” on Amazon, based on the stories of many experiencers and offering practical advice. You can get on my email list for webinars through http://www.kundaliniguide.com.