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.

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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.

An Idea Worth Exploring

An idea worth exploring is the possibility of an individual evolving greater insight, creativity, longevity and compassion through shifting the level of energy in their body. In ancient Chinese and Indian cultures these gifts were clearly valued and practices like Qigong and yoga emerged to activate energetic patterns and transform human perspectives and capacities. There is also evidence that indigenous peoples used collective rituals, dance and trance states to altered their brains in ways that produced visions and insights, enabling them to jointly resolve problems and get clear direction for the needs of their tribes.            images

It is clear that great inventors, artists, musicians, spiritual masters and inspired writers had gifts believed not possible in the common person. However many gifted people did not fit the collective model of normalcy in their societies during their own lifetimes, and were only recognized by future generations. Now we call them genius. Yogis would say they have opened brain centers that are dormant in the rest of us.

Today western culture is dominated by commerce and fueled by the over-developed and narrow perspective of left-brain thinking. We train minds for analytic thinking, memorization, behavioral conformity and accomplishment. Generally, creative people who contribute to society are valued only if their inventions can be commercialized, even if they are not necessarily used for the common good. Our psychological world is dominated by stored memories from family and social conditioning, along with judgments about ourself and others when we do not fit in. We become preoccupied with our personal drives, defenses and self-image.

To change our culture we must change our minds. We recognize now that brain patterns can be manipulated through chemistry and substances. But perhaps there is a more safe and inherently natural way to transform out of old patterns, and open new creative pathways in the brain. After all, the first evolutionary movements into human form were not through chemicals, but promoted by some mysterious inner force we have yet to discover in the west.

My work for the past 30 years has been to assist people who spontaneously experience energetic change and transformation, either through meditation or energy practices, or spontaneous events such as NDE, trauma, grief or other highly concentrated moments. My research indicates that these energetic changes, usually movement in the spine or heart, happen either before or after a major shift of consciousness. I consider this as consciousness awakening itself, supported by life force energy that clears out old patterns and activates new potentials.

 

Today a few brain researchers are studying the kinds of brain patterns produced by those who have had such “awakenings”, or who report a Samadhi event, a moment in meditation when one feels connected to the vast expanse of universe and outside of time. Such research is in its infancy, and yet it is clear our species needs to develop new perspectives and insight into how to advance our own evolution, or we may not survive. (See www.andrewnewberg.com and www.bigthink.com)

Some people see outer space as the way to expand and escape the damage we have done or may do to our planet. But this is a projection of the outward-focused mind ignoring our true need, which is to open and explore inner space – to clear out limiting patterns and awaken the consciousness within. Our connection to Source – discovered through awakening energy and consciousness — can help our species to bring forth the next evolution of human expression.

When enough people commit to inner evolution it will become the basis for a future generation with a DNA that sees more clearly and creatively how to best inhabit our bodies, nurture our collective life, and support our planet. This is the ultimate value of kundalini research.

 

This blog was written for http://www.cybergod.com, a site seeking funding for the development of a kundalini research project to activate energy and consciousness under a controlled scientific observation to see if such awakenings can improve intelligence and other positive qualities in the human species. Gopi Krishna, who wrote the first book translated into English in the US about kundalini awakening, believed it was the source of genius and that such research and evidence would change human consciousness and  the world.

(Bonnie Greenwell Ph.D. has 2 websites – www.kundaliniguide.com and www.awakeningguide.com and two books of similar titles av. on amazon and kindle.)

Questions for Awakening

What does it mean to awaken spiritually? Should it be a struggle to “get there” and take years of spiritual practice? Or is it pre-existing and so obvious you will laugh hysterically when you recognize it?   These are the opposite opinions of teachers who invite you into their perspective of self-realization. Spiritual seeking invitIMG_1375es you into a world of many paradoxes. Partly it is because awakening itself happens in many ways, as unique to each of us as the varieties of our faces.

You are already what you are seeking, say many pundits. Just Stop. See what is here right now! If only our thoughts were not so full of limitations and our emotions so plugged up by a sense of inadequacy, desire, resistance and discouragement, we could notice that underneath it all is a simple awakened state of presence that has no argument with life as it is. We are what we seek. When we give up all efforts at self-improvement, and simply trust our intrinsic value, we find that underneath all this efforting is a simple beingness that enjoys the experience of living without any attempt to make us better. Like the lotus this part of us is not rooted in our stories but springs from a spontaneous universal impulse toward life.

So how can we be free and awake and enlightened already when we feel rotten much of the time! What is this mystery that no one seems able to describe? Is it something you must discipline yourself to find and make sacrifices to accomplish? Or is it a realization you just fall into through an act of grace?

Of course we, in our human incarnation, have many arguments with life – our personal life may have loss and suffering, physical and emotional pain. We sometimes feel like lost children, seeking to find our way home. Even if we are well physically and emotionally, it is clear that many other people we share the planet with are suffering because of the inhumanity of man, or the vagaries of fate. And sensing we are One, we all share the suffering of all. Minds can be obsessed and overwhelmed by the challenges of incarnation, and any thought about anyone can trigger suffering. If only we realized we are not our minds, and our thoughts are only neurons firing away to keep us preoccupied and motivated to hold on to our separation.

There are many qualities of mind. One is the working aspect of mind, useful to help us remember how to do tasks, and figure out relative solutions. There is the speculative and inventive mind that wants to know answers and helps humanity evolve. There is memory, which keeps us identified with the sense of a separate self. And there is the catastrophic mind that worries continually about the past and future. Where do you hang out most of the time? Does it serve your life?

And most importantly, are any of these tasks reflective of what you really are, or only facets of your human experience?

You did not come into the world with all these activities of mind – you grew into them. They developed the way a seed grows into a tree, and like the tree, there is a lifespan and it will eventually fade away. Like the winds that can bend a tree, your emotions flavor the way you evolve, and the view you have of yourself and the world.

What if for only a few moments you could drop all the activity of mind, and see if there is something underneath that is more eternal than the world your mind presents? What if there is a radiance in the cells of your body, or a knowing deep in the chest, or an energy that thrives on being alive – all functioning without the activities of thought? You might find all of this below the neck, in the experience of your body. You might find it in stillness. Just for a moment release all the mind from its work of holding you together and see what else is here now, having no arguments with life. You can fall now into this knowing, or you can struggle for a lifetime to touch a glimpse of it. Either way it is a great and humbling gift that will change the perspective looking out of your eyes. It will open you to understanding, compassion and expression in a new way. Nothing in the world will change, but you will relax within it and follow a new rhythm in your relationship to it.

 

Awakening As Process

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Are you one of the thousands of people who are in an awakening process and don’t know it? The light of transformation is always available, and today there are so many options in meditation, energy and healing practices, internet experiences, psychedelics and even through the basic traumas of living that can trigger the intensification of your subtle energy field, moments of vision, light or bliss, emotional releases, past-life memories, and other shifts in consciousness. We live in a time where many ancient and secret practices are available to anyone, without the normal cautions and preparations they traditionally demanded. So it is easy to enter a transformative stage of your life without knowing what is happening or realizing why it is happening to you.

What is awakening? It is a transforming of your perspective, your energy field and the way that consciousness moves within you. Ultimately, it is the consciousness within you waking up and remembering itself, free of the attachments to who you believed you were. The process that precedes awakening does not follow a predictable path because your practices, life history, emotional patterns, and probably previous life development all have an impact on how your mind and body responds to this awakening. In my research I’ve identified seven categories of phenomena that indicate a person is encountering the awakening of consciousness and with it the energies known as kundalini – pranic activity (shaking, vibration, heat rising, etc.), other involuntary yogic movements (i.e. asana, mudras or chanting), physiological problems, psychological and emotional upheavals, extrasensory experiences, parapsychological events and Samadhi. Most people experience some but not all of these phenomena, but if they experience 3 or 4 of the categories I believe they are in the unfolding of their awakening process.

We can call this spiritual awakening, but it requires no religious connotation. Many spiritual communities offer practices that can trigger these changes but this is a movement of the psyche – the deepest human capacity for an interior evolution that is far beyond any religious belief system. You wake up out of belief and into being. You discover directly potentials of mind and body that are out of the mainstream understanding of God.

This is not an escape from your human foibles and challenges, because you are living as a human and embodied in the world dream. Those who seek awakening to escape life can have a difficult time dealing with awakening when it is time to ground and learn to live an awakened life. In the end, only a relaxation into the ordinariness of life will bring the ability to recognize the sacred both in the form and formless aspect of existence. We cannot live only in the formless reaches of consciousness, but only be visited by them when we enter the stillness we are. Living requires the openness and heartfelt acceptance of life as it is.

If you are in this process, which brings with it many months and years of curious shifts and insights, and might begin to understand it better if you look up my websites www.kundaliniguide.com or www.awakeningguide.com and check out www.adyashanti.org .

 

What is Enlightenment?

What is enlightenment? I asked Adyashanti this question once and he said “It is being undivided.”  Unfortuimg_4835nately, many people imagine enlightenment to be a state of having magic powers, continual bliss, and connection with other-dimensional beings. Some think of it as genius or having omniscience.  I remember being told as a child that God knew everything and was everywhere, and this impression seems to be the way some look at enlightenment – as if it means becoming all-knowing, all-powerful, having control over everything.  This would be an exciting possibility for an ego, and may encourage some people to seek enlightenment who are not well suited to it.

But what does it mean to be undivided? Could enlightenment or awakening to the Truth of our real nature have a result as simple as this?  The ego’s way of being undivided might consider it as being one-pointed, determined and set in one way of looking at things, never allowing facts or feelings, or the needs of others to interfere with your set direction.  But that is being narrowly one-sided, rather than living the undivided way of an awakened mind and heart.

 I believe we come into life undivided.  It is the state of openness to whatever arises. It is availability.  It is a part of our cellular structure that naturally allows anything to happen.  It is always within you but from your first experiences of pain or sorrow, and your first lessons of separation and identity, you formed a shell around this openness and became a character with opinions, demands, emotional upheavals and drives that you think of us as “me”.  This “me” has fear and resistance to many aspects of the human experience and generates many problems and thoughts in a life.  Of course this “me” can have lots of accomplishments and feel love and joy and be a positive force in the world as well.  These options are usually thought of as free will – but since in the early years there is so much conditioning and shaping of identity – positive and negative — it is questionable just how free you are.

 When a person’s True Nature awakens there is a sense within the body/mind of no boundary or border to the energy of the heart and mind, no separation from either form or space, and no argument with life as it is. We might call this clarity. Some have called it radiance. This openness into life as it is can be felt viscerally, at the core.  It feels as if all identification with that “me” has fallen away and what remains is clear, at peace, sometimes kinestically flooded with love or bliss.  This realization may look like an experience but it is more of a knowing of what always was and will be, even before birth, and after death.

 There is no division in the True Nature. All division comes from the mind’s ideas about protection and separation.  When events in your life seem threatening this need to create safety is a genuine response of the body and mind.  The dimension we live in as humans has definite boundaries. We cannot fly off cliffs or stand in the middle of the highway and survive. We must have water and food and protection from the elements. As infants we need others to care for us and as emotional beings we crave love and community. Enlightenment does not remove these patterns that are part of our human imprinting. We are energies dancing as form and the form has specific limitations that the spirit does not

This is why no matter how deeply you have felt your True Nature you may at times have medical problems, you may sense waves of the suffering in others, you can feel loss as loved ones pass, and you may still have patterns of conditioning arise to be met and released.  The difference is that when undivided you can have compassion for or perhaps even laugh at your human vulnerabilities because there is no one there who cares to judge them.  And when the events in the world are troubling, you understand that human form by its limitations produces troubles and challenges, and if you feel an inclination to engage you can do it without attachment to results or acquiring new karmas (conditioning) to be worked through (the true meaning of karma yoga).  You are unbounded formless consciousness living within the patterns and boundaries of energetic forms, imprinted with the uniqueness of your conditioning and DNA, and thus you are One and Undivided.

 

Energies of Transformation

The energies  that come with spiritual awakening are a mystery to most people who do spiritual practices, and even for those who do energy practices like Tantra, Reiki, breath work, or martial arts, expecting only bliss and healing. Many practices and circumstances can ignite a range of more challenging phenomena as a clearing and transformative energy process begins.images-4

             I was  interviewed yesterday about the kundalini experience by Ingrid in Germany who is setting up an internet forum on energy called the Kundalini Congress (kundalinikongress)  that should be available in a couple of months in the US and Germany.  We talked about my work with kundalini, and my understanding of ways to deal with the challenges it can bring.

            Once you begin to see the body as a molecular structure, an energy grid that carries thoughts,  emotions, and sensations from one point to another, and stores patterns and memories  within its structure, it becomes easier to understand the phenomena that arises when kundalini is activated.  All beings live with both conscious awareness and energy flow.  This energy flow is called prana in the yogic model, chi or qi in Chinese systems, and ki in Japan.  In the west a few have termed it “bioenergy” but it’s full potential is little understood.  Yogis say that it activates the body at conception, and after the development of the infant the residual is wrapped in a coil at the base of our spine and holds our field in stasis until we die.  Then it uncoils and leaves the body.

            Kundalini can begin to uncoil itself as a result of energy or meditation practices, in response to a trauma, or through a variety of other causes.  Initially it can feel overwhelming as it rushes through the body from the base of the spine, or it can unwind gradually like a snake, and then feel blocked or concentrated on one area of the body.   When this activation happens the entire energy field is amplified   Many phenomena may arise, depending on the lifestyle, history, proclivities and practices of the person so affected.  There can be shaking, vibration, heat, emotional upheavals, changes in perspective, odd physical symptoms, shifts in eating habits, difficulty sleeping , waves of bliss and clarity, waves of fear and discomfort, brain fog, psychic moments – many passing experiences.  This is because your entire structure is reorganizing itself and consciousness itself is changing, clearing itself of what is not necessary if you are going to live more present in the moment, more authentically here and now.

            Very few schools of meditation or energy or healing speak of all these changes directly and most schools of psychology or medicine have no paradigm with which to address these experiences.  Somatics programs are an exception as they include the body in their studies but often those who understand the need for energy release do not understand the spiritual implications.   We live in a culture based on Christian perspectives that for the most part deny the connection between spirit and body, probably because of the repression  by the early church founders of pagan practices , mystery schools and indigenous rituals that opened the body to allow altered states of consciousness.

            But we are clearly moved through the flow of energy, healed or transformed by the flow of energy, and only alive as spirit when energy is flowing. When spirit leaves it rides on the energy that leaves when we pass on.  Probably it is these energies that account for evolutionary adjustments in our species. Hopefully as we in the west begin talking  about this and more people encounter their own inner transformation we will discover the gifts of kundalini and learn more ways to support our spiritual awakening processes.

            If this is a topic impacting your life or work you may be interested in my website www.kundaliniguide.com or my books “The Kundalini Guide” and “The Awakening Guide.” I also do occasional workshops and webinars for people in this awakening process.