How to Create a Relationship with Kundalini Energy

I recently gave a talk at the SAND conference in San Jose that was focused on relationships, and spoke of how to have a positive relationship with kundalini energy.  Here is a copy of the handout I gave attendees, a part of my speech I did not have time for but wanted to elaborate on.

 You are energy and consciousness flowing through a molecular structure, made of  billions of atoms that are primarily empty space.  Much of your history, beliefs, and patterns are entangled in this energy field and when kundalini activates it is attempting to create a transformation by clearing out all these identifications and reactive patterns, freeing you to live in a more spontaneous and natural way. This is a support for awakening to your true nature, or Self-realization, and for the potential of living from this realization.

images-4 You cannot stop or control the flow of energy in your body but you can get in a cooperative relationship with it so that your conscious mind and your deepest Self work together to transform your life. 

It is akin to the difference between a competitive and hostile marriage and a loving and respectful partnership in marriage.Like any relationship it is improved by listening, understanding, cooperating and seeing that each partner gets what it needs.

Your conscious mind, awareness and energy field need to meet this challenge as a team.

You need to allow time for the energy to release, for the body to relax and be nourished, and make adjustments in your lifestyle to reduce stress and toxicity.

I believe marriages  last because the partners have learned flexibility, mutual respect, loving attention and facing challenges as a team. Navigating a kundalini arising or spiritual awakening process needs the same kind of attitudes.

So I have identified four characteristics useful in marriage, life and spiritual awakening to help you finda better way to live with Kundalini.

FLEXIBILITY – to look within and be honest about any changes you need to make to support this process

MUTUAL RESPECT – for the needs of the body and the spirit and the energy

LOVING ATTENTION – If you can trust and fall in love with the grace of awakening the process will unfold much more gently.  Open your heart to the energy and the changes it is bringing, be curious about what this experience is showing you, love the fact you are human and able to be part of this.

FACING CHALLENGES AS A TEAM – using your mind to understand what is happening and find creative ways to express the intense energy and the changes you are facing

I call these the foundations of creating a thriving relationship with life and with yourself.

 Flexibility:This intensified energy brings changes into your life – you will likely lose your drive and you may lose interest in the kinds of socializing you used to do or in the work you are in.  It’s like getting a reading on yourself – what is authentic, what comes from the heart versus what was something the mind thought you ought to think or do. You may feel very inwardly drawn, or find you only feel good in nature, and you may find the news depressing, and crowds energetically overwhelming.  You need to notice and make adjustments to all of these things. You have to open to change.

Often people who contact me have a history of physical or sexual abuse. After a great sense of Oneness or unity consciousness they fall into intense anxiety. Suppressed memories may arise.For them, flexibility may mean taking time to do the psychotherapy they need and to face pain they have not had the strength to address before.

For someone else flexibility may mean taking time off work or taking breaks during the day to go and sit alone in nature. Many people have told me of spontaneously making major career changes, realizing they were never really happy with their work.

In my own life I was getting a transpersonal psychology degree, and primarily interested in Jungian psychology when kundalini awakened.  It seemed obvious I would focus on my dissertation on this, and then doors kept opening to organizations that wanted to know more about it and I was pulled without any intention into my work with kundalini experiencers. I was exposed to stories of experiences I had never imagined before – and needed to stay flexible in my thinking and response to non-ordinary experiencers.

MUTUAL RESPECT You are spirit, energy, consciousness — but your vehicle is your body.  If you jump completely into mystical states or detachment from life you may damage the biochemistry your body relies upon for good health, and become weakened, depressed , or cause damage to your nervous system. If you do not sleep you will appear psychotic. If you do not eat you will become malnourished. Your hormonal system can he thrown off by the excess energy – you need to be sure your body is functioning as well as it can, under the circumstances.

Several people have told me stories of being found wandering on a beach or on a street in India, not eating or sleeping for several days and being taken to a hospital by friends or by the police. Usually once they have caught up with sleep they are functional enough to be released, often with a heavy psychotic medication that they do not need, but still worrying about their sanity.  I have known people who became so ill in India from not being conscious of their diet that they had to fly home and be hospitalized until their body recovered.

It is very helpful to respect the need of your awakening consciousness to have adequate time for silence and inner peace, respect the need of your body for healthy food and rest, and respect your need to work enough for financial stability.

This is not an easy balance and it is unique for each person, just as each marriage has its own unique conditions.  One person may be financially and emotionally able to follow an impulse to travel or live off the grid for awhile, while another may have a family dependent on them.

One person may have done years of therapy to resolve early childhood issues, and another finds that past traumas are erupting and they need to find a way to resolve their wounds. So it is very helpful to look objectively at what is arising in the moment, identify if you need psychological or physical support, changes in lifestyle, more balance and open time in your daily life, –a major shift in values or perspective, changes in your practice and diet to better support your body, and to value all aspects of your life.

This is obviously not easy, especially if your energy is overwhelming, but to the extent you really listen to your body and intuition you can gradually find the right rhythm through each stage of this process, and it will be unique to you.

LOVING ATTENTION  If you can trust and fall in love with the grace of awakening the process will unfold much more gently.  Open your heart to the energy and the changes it is bringing, be curious about what this experience is showing you, love the fact you are human and able to be part of this transformation, and when your thoughts are dark look instead to the felt sense of awareness that has seen those thoughts, and be willing to suspend belief in thought and ask your heart what does it really want.  What could you have been asking for when the process began for you – did you want the meaning of life, or to know if there was a God, or to understand what was true, or to find lasting internal peace? This process is bringing your answer.

FACING CHALLENGES AS A TEAM  You may have heard that you are not the separate self that you have been identified with. That is afalse image you are maintaining, an illusion. While there is truth to this,holding such a perspective may cause you to undermine the thinking mind and its potential for being an ally in this process. The mind loses its dominance during and after an awakening but it can eventually be refocused as a useful tool instead of a stern and over-talkative director.

You may be someone who wants to be in control or wants integration, and this feels impossible when heat and energy and emotions erupt without any seeming cause. And it is true that you are not in control.  When you contract and try to control this energy you will feel miserable in this process.You need to allow time for the releasing your body needs and find creative ways to express or work through the unconscious material that may arise.

If you try to integrate your old way of being with some new insights you are likely to stay in the division you already experience. – This is about transformation not integration -ultimately you will need to release the desire to hold on to your past –You need to let go – it is not as if nothing you know will survive – but your attachment to it will go –  rather like taking apart a lego structure and seeing someone else reorganize it into something new, leaving many parts behind and adding new pieces you never knew you had available. You will be less attached to the new structure but you can enjoy using it.

Here are a few  ways to work in a loving way to meet the challenges in this process

1. Be willing to let the energy release out of your body – it is clearing out tensions and stresses and beliefs no longer relevant or needed in your life – trying to make you feel very open and free. Lay down on your bed and let it shake you out when needed.

2.  Listen to any intuitive hunches about what you need to eat or stop eating, where you want to go and where you do not want to go. Allow the body to move, dance, sing, draw, write — when it feels like it.

3. Be honest in your relationship –not with random feelings, but with the deeper knowing of the heart about what you need and want and if it is fleeting and changing like the weather, acknowledge that too. Notice how your desires make you unhappy and how the release of any demand or desire for things to be a certain way is a great relief. Accept life as it is and move in response to love

As you learn to listen to your intuitive self, and sit in silence to meet any questions or conflicts that arise, over time your mind will become more clear and your emotional reactivitywill fade away. You will live more in the moment – in the now, as Eckhart Tolle has defined it. There is a no sense of resistance to what is happening, although there can be a movement of response, but it comes from loving care rather than angry pain.

It is as if the deeper consciousness becomes the guide and the remains of the separate self is happy to follow its direction because that is how you feel in the flow in life, at peace.

So by getting in right relationship with your energy, remembering yourself as the awareness that is primordial and changeless, cultivating flexibility and love whether facing energy rushes or emptiness, unbearable bliss or disorienting challenges, you will find yourself awakening into a new way of perceiving and functioning in the world. And you will find the answer to the deepest questions of your heart.

I encourage you to meditate by becoming curious about this awareness that you are, discovering the silence already within you  and resting as that.

Kundalini Phenomena and Solutions

I am planning to speak at the EUROTAS conference near Paris Sept. 25-30 and may also do a program the weekend before in London. EUROTAS is the European Transpersonal Association so you may want to check out this event if you live in Europe.  Let me know also if you would be interested in a London program, as I may arrange a workshop there. You can contact me through my websites www.kundaliniguide and www.awakeningguide, or send a message with your email through Shanti River Center on FB.

images-1Here is a second meeting from my recent webinar. I discussed in the last installment how kundalini is your own life force, and that it awakens from the base of the spine, although it may also first be activated at the 3rd chakra, the heart or as a downward flow of energy.

Imagine yourself for a moment as an electric grid – yogis say there are 72,000 lines of energy flow in the body, moving out in all directions from the center of the spine.  Part of this process is the clearing out of anything held in this grid of energy.  So there can be spontaneous movements, vibrations, heat, even bliss as various area are trying to clear out, or just as releases.

It is helpful when you have a lot of releasing happening to notice what you were doing that day – were you under stress, what did you eat or drink, did you have a difficult encounter with someone, were you sad or upset about something or with someone else from whom you picked up energy, or in a big crowd – this way you may find some patterns that tell you the activities your body is most reactive too.

The more calm your life is, and the more you are open to releases when they happen, the more manageable this process becomes.

Here are some of the phenomena that arise when energy is heightened

Heat, involuntary movement

A yogic remedy for excess heat is to drink warm milk, with a little melted ghee and sugar in it.  Some find that lukewarm baths with epson salts are soothing. A little alternate nostril breathing can help because sometimes the heat rises because energy is arising up pingala, a nadi or energy flow moving up one side of the spine ,and alternate nostril breathing is a method of balancing energy between both sides to bring it up the center. But do not overdo it or you may rise too much energy.

Insomnia

If you go 2 nights without sleep you will begin to appear disoriented and possibly even psychotic. So try to catch up during the day, try melatonin, do deep relaxation practices or guided meditations that relax you, be sure you are in a dark room and do not use any electronic devices for two hours before sleep. These are a few of general guidelines for insomnia. I also found some tapes by a British group called The Honest Guys (on youtube) to be helpful and there are probably other helpful apps as well.

Hormonal imbalance

Intense energy can overwork the nervous system and cause hormonal issues — Do you need a workup with thyroid, adrenals? If exhausted, depressed – do you need diet changes, lifestyle changes, supplements.

Head Problems

If you have headaches or feel disoriented and spacey,  have a fuzzy brain and are unable to concentrate, this is a common phenomena during this process.  Try bringing energy down below the neck and avoid meditations concentrated on the third eye like mantra and visualization. Get out in nature more and practice walking as presence. Evaluate if you need dietary changes. Move energy into your feet and dance. Learn to move more from the center of your body — called the hara. Avoid situations that distress or overstimulate you. Be honest — do not hold on to conflicts if you can find a way to work them through either within yourself or with others.

Issues with the Heart

Often people feel tightness or heaviness in the heart, or they have an explosive experience as some of the holding breaks open.  Most people have what Wilhem Reich, (an early developer of body therapy known as Reichian therapy), called armoring around the heart.  He developed body work as a way of releasing this holding.

When we come into the world we are wide open and available to life (unless we experienced trauma in the womb). The birth process itself can be traumatic and suddenly being thrust into the cold expansiveness of the delivery room.  But generally a baby is open and sensitive to what is happening around it.  As we develop we experience many disappointments and losses and we tend to shut ourselves down, becoming more protective of our feelings and trying to avoid pain.  Depending on our experiences and our need for defense mechanisms we all have varying degrees of armoring. This is what is trying to release out of our system during this awakening process.

Some forms of meditation, (e.g. mantra meditation) focus on awakening from the  third eye or crown as a way to still thoughts and eventually enter samadhi – an expansiveness and connection or merging that feels like unbounded consciousness connected to everything. ( I know — a poor description of something indescribable!) . It is easy to get attached to this kind of opening, and to be drawn to spend your time alone meditating in hopes of re-experiencing this over and over. But sometimes with this kind of opening we do not bring awakening down into the body or the heart, especially if we are reluctant to feel old feelings of loss or pain or grief or anger that we believe could be there.  It feels easier to avoid.

Some of you may have felt your heart opening anyway, without any practice focused there, but most spiritual traditions have practices for opening the heart in preparation for awakening.  Chanting, singing bowls, prayer, metta or developing compassion, and some yoga and Qigong practices are focused on the heart center.  Sufi turning practices are heart-centered.  In non-duality Ramana Maharshi once said the center of the I thought is in the chest, on the right side parallel to the heart and 3 finger widths from the sternum.  He suggested we put attention in this area when we use the inquiry “Who am I” or What am I?

Sometimes a life event such as a death in the family or a great loss seems to break open the heart and this can initiate an awakening, or deepen it into the body. After the heart becomes more open or the heart chakra more awakened you may feel sudden and inexplicable love for someone irrationally, or for no reason at all; or for the world; or  you may feel more vulnerable to the pain of others you see on the world news or on the streets.You may feel joy or awe more spontaneously and compassion, and have feelings with less self-referencing – that is, it is not about you or not personal but it is arising.

In fact as kundalini arises and disturbs all the familiar conditions of the body and psyche you will eventually discover nothing is really personal — you are a form going through a transformation not for your own benefit or because you deserved it or to give you a greater purpose in the world — it the simply the deconstruction of the illusion of “I” so that the knowing of true human nature can infuse the life you lead. You’ve been called into this, and it can be difficult at times, but it can also be ecstatic and it is leading to freedom.

You can learn more about awakening and the kundalini process in my book When Spirit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening, published by New Harbinger – Non-Duality Press division)

 

 

 

 

 

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The Blessing of Impermanence

An advantage in seeing impermanence as the nature of existence is in the knowing that all things pass. lightning While we often grieve over this passing, there are many blessings to knowing that we are in movement, life is in movement, so even the difficult problems of our culture are in movement.

Many people are stressed by the choices being made by the US, and especially the President, at this time in history.  They seem to be permanently destructive to the future of our country and the world environment.  And yet there have been many dark turning points in this country – beginning with the Indian massacres, forcing Mexico out of California, slavery, the civil war, the depression and the dust bowl, two world wars, Vietnam– to name just a few. Our ancestors have all been through events similar to those that cause us fear.  Nothing has ever been permanent.

 

As a country we are often in turmoil because of the push for power, greed, and the division of minds. Yet there have been gradual improvements in human care and responsibility – freeing slaves, laws against child labor, allowing women the vote, social security, education,  easier transportation and communication,  etc. etc.  Historically, most other countries have known the same or worse turmoil  over centuries (e.g. Germany, Japan, China), but experienced gradual movement to support their people.

It is paradoxical that most of the individuals we know personally long for peace and love within themselves and the world, and are generally kind to one another. They value families and friends. And yet as a collective this is rarely reflected, and positive change seems to be so slow.

We live in a world of opposites, continually shifting and emerging with new perspectives.  An awakened mind can see a larger picture – an expansive, never-ending but always changing movement through time.  We are the movement, the life that brings transformation.  Our pain forces us to see what is needed, and brings many into positive action.  Just as when we are wounded physically we must seek help for the body, when we are a wounded culture we must seek solutions.  It does not serve us when our minds only bring us to despair, and our thinking is clouded with anger and fear.  It does not serve us personally or serve our culture when our hearts close down with bitterness.

Negative thoughts are rarely real and true – they are based on emotional reactions and our accumulated convictions of what ought to be.  They are neurons firing stored information interwoven with our discomfort.  Our awareness becomes entangled with thought, and limited by it.

This is why awakened people often stress living in the now. Now is what is in front of you this moment, and is always present as Now. It may be a beautiful garden. Today for me it is a smoky sky in Oregon hovering over a pond and garden. It is difficulty breathing outdoors. It is the computer before me.  It is also good neighbors and a safe house and good health. Tomorrow it may change.

For you today it may be work that needs to be done, or a child that needs to be fed and dressed, or a piece of art you are inclined to create, or a desire to help in a political campaign. We each stand in a unique place in the Now.  Look around and define what is here for you in this moment. Your presence is part of this Now. Your True Nature is always Now!

We are always in motion in this Now-ness.  The question to ask yourself is will you move from your own center and for the greatest good (either your own inner peace or to assist another) or be contracted by a fearful mind? Will you be what you are fully in this moment, or be entangled by thoughts that bring you down? Yes, you are impermanent, but change can be positive and where you are Now has a big impact on what happens next..

We cannot afford to let the world issues, even those created by our own government, block our freedom to love, enjoy and create a meaningful life.  In our choices and movement we can respond in a way that feels authentic to us, and trust that slowly, since all is impermanent, change will come. When there is smoke in the skies remember that it will be clear again. Be like those firefighters who meet it in service to all of us.

Spiritual Aging

I was talking with a friend today about aging and vitality, and reflecting on what is it that allows some of us to feel contented and vital as we move through our 70’s and beyond, while others seem reclusive and distant and unhappy with their lives.IMG_0734

When I was young a spiritual teacher in her 80’s once warned  me “If you are not spiritual, all you will  think of in old age is your health”  and I think to some extent this is true. There is no point in thinking of ambition or raising children or more accumulation. All of that feels long past. So your need to be attentive to the body can become all-consuming. But what if spirituality can keep your spirits up, and your life rich with depth and meaning, no matter your age and even despite health challenges and limitations?

From what I see among friends who seem contented, peaceful and engaged in life no matter their age, is that there is a spirit – a touchpoint within them that nudges them to awaken with curiosity each day, value the simple beauty in the world around them, and follow a creative or social expression that offers the simple satisfaction of connecting with life.  These movements may feel meaningful or they may be pleasurable, but they are not pursued with the intention of enhancing an image, or adding an accomplishment to a resume, the way they are done when we are young.  This is movement without attachment to results, without hurrying or cramming in more than can be managed in the moment.  It is engagement for the simple pleasure of it.  Sometimes it is being generative —  passing along something you have learned to another, sharing what is meaningful in living a satisfying life.

If you have seriously pursued spiritual awakening you have learned  it is ultimately an inside job – it is an interior search to clear away any life debris that keeps you from knowing who you are, what is true beneath the accumulated beliefs, hurts, complaints and conditioned patterns of your psyche. How did you begin? Who have you always been? Knowing this helps you know who you will always be.  It offers a return to a faith in simply being, like a small child but with breadth and wisdom about the human condition.  It is a trust in the unfolding of life and death. a trust in the flow of our life as part of the whole.

Many people feel they have known so much pain and confusion that they cannot get free – the weight of life has overwhelmed them.  But this simple being, the in-the-moment present experience, when it is free of thought, is always here, just waiting underneath to be re-discovered.  Our lives are movement within a great stillness.  We are energy and consciousness in a continual flow, following the river of creation and culture and life experience.  Every day our very cells are changing, our bodies and minds respond to something new. Our possibilities are immense.  We are part of a great mystery and it is healing to know that this mystery and the movement of our lives within it, are the natural and unavoidable way of the human condition in our time and history. Realizing or remembering we are not this brief passage but the essence of life expressing itself,  will free us from the past, help us live harmoniously into older ages, and keep the adventure of life ever-present.

The mind tries to hold on to the past, as if this would somehow stop the movement, the growth, the every-unfolding movement.  We pretend when we are young that it is possible to have control over what happens next., and mistakenly feel inadequate when we fail.  Aging has taught me about the illusion of control in two ways: the discovery that here I am being elderly, and I cannot image how I got here so fast, because inside I am very much younger; and in looking back I see how all of the significant events in my life were not a result of control but only a random happenstance.  Our birth itself is random. There is an apt saying that “You have no control over when you are born and when you die, so why do you think you are in control of everything inbetween?”

IMG_4186Through some grace a compilation of my life’s work was released this month under the title “When Sprit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening”.  Where it goes and who it will touch is beyond my knowing, clearly beyond my control.  The early chapters speak of our experience of being both consciousness and energy – these are the components of life that exist before, during and after our dance in human form.  They are the real essence of life, propelling our physical forms through the many experiences we enjoy or endure.  They are aspects of the spirit that reveals itself when we deeply seek Truth, or to know God, or to know what we are.  The book is about the journey of an awakening spirit – how it happens, what it brings forth, and where it is going.  In awakening, we also discover we are paradoxically the stillness in which this moment of life happens.

Waking up is knowing the answer to the deepest questions and letting our life relax into its natural course. If you are so fortunate as to know this, then aging does not seem much of an issue – just another way of experiencing and engaging and living. – and you know you are fortunate to be given this extra time.  A deep knowing of our own spirit allows us to relax into life just as it is.

 

Awakening and Evolution

spiritual-awakening

It is helpful for some people to think of an awakening process as a biophysical and evolutionary shift rather than pigeon-holing the experience into a spiritual framework. While many spiritual traditions have an understanding and even a procedure for awakening to our True Nature, the possibility can emerge from many factors, not only from a meditation, prayer or energy-based practice,

The Renewal of Spirit

The outcome of a true awakening can be labeled spiritual, because it is a renewal of spirit, a shift of perception into an inclusive and more loving relationship with self and others. It may include occasional ecstasy, visions or mystical experiences, or it may not. These are side effects and not the point. Awakening is clear seeing in this moment of the underlying nature of existence. It becomes a relaxation into life. It is a continual unfolding of deeper perception.

It is paradoxical that as identification with a separate self falls away, we see not only the unity of all but the unique gift of its many expressions. When ego stops struggling for self-improvement and to be more compassionate or loving, our natural nature brings forward compassion and love spontaneously when least expected..

Consciousness Shifts Identification

Awakening shifts the locus of identification from “me” to “this”, from past and future to here and now. It is biophysical because such a radical change in perception must include a reorienting of our energy field and the way it holds our past and focuses our attention. So the energies of our life force often arise that bring up insight and stimulate a clearing away of old patterns.. There can be shaking, vibration, heat and inner intuitive guidance. Never let anyone tell you this is an outside force or any kind of foreign intervention. The messages of awakening are never threatening or fear-based, the way the unconscious voices of a troubled soul can be. They say things like “Be still” or “Stop thinking” or “Peace be With you” or “This is needed now”.

Awakening is the way of transformation and it begins inside of us. Certain practices may activate it but it can also arise spontaneously, Often people ask “Why me?” Whatever pulled you toward this awakenng process was meant to be – your number is up! In this life you are invited to wake up to what is real and to a new perception of the nature of life and humanity that will not be so “me” focused, so fearful of life and death, or so trapped by the beliefs that arose from your conditioning. This is what liberation is,

Letting Go of Resistance

You may feel fear or anger as this new energy or shifts of consciousness begin to undermine your sense of being in control in your life. Contraction makes the process more difficult to navigate. Imagine your body was orgasmic and you were trying not to feel it! Your body is trying to clear out stale beliefs and energies and open you to bliss and peace – contraction only increases discomfort. Let go.

Be Careful Who You Listen to

I hear many stories as I mentor people in the awakening process, or who have felt the arising of kundalini energy. Some experiencers have been told they are in danger, or that some kind of entity or evil is interfering with their life. These are the fantasies of unhealthy minds, and they are passing on beliefs (not truths) that arose out of the dark ages, or that are aimed at gaining power over your mind. If you are awakening seek genuine understanding from people who are joyfully awake and compassionately real. Look for purveyers of peace and wisdom.   If you are having a difficult time with old memories and emotions seek a caring therapist because the human you is as important as the free spirit of consciousness now arising. This consciousness will not leap over your personal challenges, but requires you to meet them and heal. Be willing to grow into the fullness of an awakened life and trust the energies and the understanding that unfolds.

Many people are entering this new territory of awakening today. Perhaps the world needs you to become open and free and your consciousness has invited itself to bring forward something new. It may get labeled spiritual at times, but it is actually an evolution in humanity.

 

Wisdom Without Dogma

Wisdom Without Dogma

Here is an opportunity to receive a free e-book “Wisdom Without Dogma” that includes an excerpt from my upcoming book “When Spirit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening”, to be released in April  My publisher, New Harbinger and Nonduality Press, is offering this collection of selected excerpts from several of their authors.

As New Harbinger writes “With these essential teachings, insights, reflections, practices, and real-life examples—written by renowned spiritual teachers and authors who speak from direct experience—you’re sure to find the guidance and support you seek on your own spiritual journey.”

I am honored and  excited to be part of this wonderful collection and encourage you to go to www.newharbinger.com where you can download for free this remarkable collection, and join their email list to get the first announcements when my book is released.  The sampling includes selections from:

  • Being Aware of Being Aware by Rupert Spira
  • White Fire by Mooji
  • Shakti Rising by Kavitha M. Chinnaiyan
  • The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
  • Yoga and the Pursuit of Happiness by Sam Chase
  • Kabalah Yoga by Audi Gozlan
  • The Kindness Cure by Tara Cousineau
  • Boundless Awareness by Michael A. Rodriguez
  • The Courage Habit by Kate Swoboda
  • When Spirit Leaps by Bonnie L. Greenwell
  • Suffering Is Optional by Gail Brenner
  • The Heartfulness Way by Kamlesh D. Patel and Joshua Pollock
  • Undivided Love by Lynn Marie Lumiere
  • Living the Life That You Are by Nic Higham

We invite you to explore all of these books, and wish you true well-being, peace, and joy.

How Consciousness Becomes Blocked

It’s not uncommon to find you have a block in your body, a place that feels tight and inflexible, where perhaps breath or movement is limited, but have you ever considered you may also experience blocks in your consciousness?hs-1998-13-c-thumb

People who have had energetic awakenings often feel they must unblock a chakra or a stuck place in their belly, chest, or throat before their energy will flow smoothly, enabling them to reach another degree of expanded consciousness. But this is only addressing the relative level of physical form. What I am seeing is that it is blocks in our consciousness, even more so than our body, that keep us from awakening and living from our true nature. Consciousness gets stuck!

How we Become Stuck

How does this happen? It is the nature of mind to create an identity, collecting data points that help us form a framework for what we are. So experiences and lessons learned are organized and programmed into our subtle body structure, our patterns of thought and emotion. When we awaken in the morning this programming reasserts itself and we remember me. Do you ever lie in bed when you first wake up and recall what day it is, and what you have to do today, before you move ahead? At a more subtle level you have first remembered me. This me holds your history and beliefs and an underlying assumption that everything that ever happened to you is true. And it is stuck.

This stickiness is like liquid cement forming blocks where you are not free because you are glued to an old memory, event or feeling that colors every aspect of your life.

These stuck places keep you from the freedom you are seeking. They were built at moments of great intensity – perhaps because of trauma, loss, fear or grief. I have seen them in people who cannot release the intensity of a past love, or the grief of a childhood loss, or the sense of a major failure. The intensity of a great love or a sacred experience that expands you beyond the boundaries of the personal self can also create a stuck place. The mind returns to it over and over again, or interprets the world through this lens and finds ordinary life insufficient, lacking the light and magic once experienced briefly. Anything felt intensely or believed thoroughly becomes a stopping place. It can create a sense of limitation, of failure, even of completion that inhibits further depth of understanding.

A block in consciousness can be as ordinary as believing in money as the proof of success (or conversely, as evil), or that a soul mate exists that must be found (or is lost), or the world is collapsing or that a new age is coming. It can be a strong belief in a spiritual tradition or a traumatic event lived over and over. It does not matter if it is negative or a positive stopping point: consciousness colors your awareness in the lens that became stuck in that moment of intensity. We see the world and experience our emotions through this distortion, and our lives are colored by it. It can be a personal lens, such as a belief you are seriously flawed, or a collective lens, such as the world is dangerous.

One example is the many ways our American political structure influences us. We are bombarded with perspectives designed to distort our perception, based on the perspectives of politicians. Our media carries continual reminders of the possibility of disaster and this information flows into our stuck places amplifying anxiety and keeping our attention focused on what can go wrong. Our brains can be spinning with concepts that support our stuck places.

It is an incredible breakthrough for anyone who can drop these heavy and dark influences long enough for consciousness to awaken itself.

How Consciousness Awakens

 I have known many blocks in consciousness, as all of us have. My perspective is clearly limited to that which is known through my own direct experience, included what is colored by the input of my family, culture and media. My parents, and then my partner in life had a strong influence on how and where I live, the children I have birthed, my lifestyle and perspectives (and I on him). One example — the loss of my mother at an early age colored how I felt about the stability of family and the anxiety I projected onto my children. When that block broke, a new perspective emerged. As I began exploring transpersonal experiences in graduate school many of the blocks of religious and cultural conditioning cracked or dissolved. But still, as a human, conditioning and outside influences shape my life. Spiritual freedom may open me to new ways of interaction with this, but does not end the encounters of my unique destiny in time and place.

I believe that every person and new experience we allow into our life adds a point of view, an opportunity for consciousness to become more inclusive, but our blocks limit who and what we let in. When blocks crack open, consciousness awakens more expansively, that is, out of the boundaries of the personal me.  This may happen through an encounter with an awakened person, through the deep silence beyond the mind discovered in meditation, and in some cases, spontaneously during moments when mind slips out of identity with our personal collection of beliefs about who we are.  The blocks

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may break suddenly like a dam that has burst. This can be felt as a shock or a blessing. We each adjust to the shift uniquely in line with our background, understanding and openness to change.

Can there be a limit?

The consciousness that has been stuck in the patterns of our belief system is originally unbounded – it permeates all the universe. It allows itself to be limited in order to have the experience of me. Who can say why, other than its inclination was to move toward creating and expressing in form, to know itself in billions of variations. We are aware that forms will arise and fall, live briefly and pass away. Underneath we believe we should never pass away, that life is too short, that we lose those we dare to love. We are afraid to lose our separate sense of me. When there is fear in an awakening process it is generally because of this attachment – the same as in the fear of death. But in fact we are only losing the limitations, the stuck places that happened in the process of living as a human, because we cannot lose the consciousness itself, the essence we are. In awakening moments we glimpse this possibility. We know it thoroughly, however briefly. We feel freedom or liberation from our stuck places. It is an openness beyond imagination. We rarely stay in this place because unfinished business recalls us to our old identities, but it is never the same again, because many of the blocks to perception cannot be rebuilt. And yet, unless we are vigilent, over time new stuck places arise. We need to meet these intensities with compassion and inclusion and then they gradually lose their capacity to create blockages in the free flow of consciousness. We need openness to what consciousness might explore, know more fully, expand into next. We need to allow this with curiousity and gratitude, rather than the drive and greed for experience characteristic of our separate self, and then we can realize more and more of what we truly are.

 

 

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.

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.

The Transformative Power of Mind

Awakened living happens when we have the courage to live in the present moment, and give up our attraction to the divisive thoughts of our minds. It is the freedom to try something new here and now – look at our lives from a fresh perspective, unburdened by our history or old habits. It is greeting the unknown without the weight of anxiety.

All of us have baggage from our past – it is carried in our emotional and thought patterns and spills out whenever we have to face a problem or a challenge in our life. Whenever we fall into a rage, or a depressive perspective about our future, or self-criticism or judgment about the actions of someone else it is as if this baggage has tumbled down at our feet and is slowing us down, blocking us from clarity about our next obvious move.

Neuroscientists are now telling us that when anything negative happens to us it stays entangled in the neuronal pathways much more readily than a positive event. Then when something similar happens we respond with all the intensity of the backed-up emotion from earlier events. This is why you can feel overwhelmed when a colleague yells at you the way your dad once did, or you feel crushed by losingan argument, or fall into fear and depression when you hear negative political news.

How do we find a way to enjoy the vitality of living despite the negative energies so easy to encounter in our world? We cannot live an awakened life if we are dragged down by conflict, depression, anger or confusion. Awakeness requires holding a fidelity to the awakening we have glimpsed, remembering that underneath the surface of human contradiction is an innate happiness and pleasure that the incarnated spirit knows, even when the mind is doing its characteristic division and worry. These self-defeating tendencies are the reason that thought is disparaged in non-dual teachings – we must get liberated from the fear and catastrophic patterns of thinking humans are so prone to. We must learn our thoughts are rarely true.

IMG_1868Imagine for a moment you could erase all thought – all influences of the outside world, and all doubts in your inner world. Take a deep breath and look up at the sky. What if mind was as vast and clear and open as this? What if mind has the depth and expansive potential of the boundless skies above us?

 

 

Living awakened is not about transcending or pretending there is no darkness in our world; it is acknowledging the world is not only darkness, but is also infused with great light, great potential and great love. It is bringing balance into the overly negative mind, and recognizing that we personally each can bring in some light, some new consciousness, some love even if only to our small corner of the world. We can refuse to indulge in watching programs or hanging out in systems (external or internal) that promote anger, conflict , suffering and isolation. We can seek time in nature where the ions bathe us in a calming presence. We can be present and take note of our immediate surroundings, recognize that we are likely ok here and now.   We know if we move into the middle of an emergency we can simply respond and do what is obvious. It is not the rare physical emergencies that get us down so much as the thoughts about past and future. Rarely are we, in this moment, in a crisis. When we are, then courage and action arises. It is the psychological and imaginative crisis that most debilitate us. These are promoted by thoughts that stir our emotions and cloud our capacitiy for clarity and freedom. Like smoke hovering over us after a fire, they must be cleared away if we are to know our true nature.

Being awake is standing free of limiting thoughts and being present in the moment, doing what is obvious in the moment, listening to the intuition of heart or gut or spirit, and taking care of ourselves and others in a loving way. It is the natural state of Being, bringing us the potential to redesign the way we live based on our authentic moment-to-moment understanding of what is needed now.