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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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.

Being One: Berkeley Satsang Nov. 29

Being One as Form and Formless is the title of the satsang i am privileged to give in Berkeley at  7 p.m. on Nov. 29, Thanksgiving Weekend, for Open Circle Center. The location is a synagogue, Chochmat Halev, 2215 Prince St. in Berkeley. I hope to see some of my readers there, which is my first public satsang in the bay area,  but if you cannot attend and know people in the bay area, please pass the information along. For more information about Open Circle programs with non-dual teachers go to http://www.opencirclecenter.org. Satsang is an invitation to sit in Truth in your own stillness, opening to being touched by one another.

Hubble pic2

I once had a vision in which my consciousness was in a breezeway, with vast unbounded space in one direction, and all the creation of the world on the other.  I feel I have stood in this intersection between unbound consciousness and the limited expression of separation for most of my life now, and the focus of my work with spiritual awakening or spiritual emergence has been the same.  In my first book (Energies of Transformation) I called the initial challenges of these two apparent positions  the struggle between self and SELF, but in the awakened moments of being completely with what is there is no struggle, only relaxation into holding the miracle that as appearance in form we are both.  The challenge is in having no resistance to either, so if there is a moment of spacious emptiness, being with it fully brings a radiance into our lives.  In the moment of returning to the experience of life in its ordinary form there is a gratitude for the dance, a willingness to BE, since it is clearly the expression meant to exist out of the Oneness of the All. I wrote my recent books The Kundalini Guide and The Awakening Guide, to address some of the challenges awakening brings in my hope that as a reader’s understanding rises, and resistance falls away, the natural beauty and peace of spiritual emergence will unfold.

When following the ups and downs of many people who are awakening I have come to see that even a glimpse of the radiant formless, when trusted, will help them to feel the nature and  wonder of the transformation they are in. Then the challenges of the body, the rising of unconscious material, shifts in the energy field and psychic openings seem like curious manifestations rather than fearful invasions. One can rest in a stillness that simply witnesses and faces events beyond fear and eventually with equanimity.

Change can be hard, as it demands the release of all that no longer serves the new emergence.  Our minds want control and our bodies resist when we feel we have none. You might notice that when you feel afraid or angry it is almost always at the core an issue of control — the gut clenches when we feel helpless and vulnerable, the victim of a circumstance, or the butt of someone’s derision, attack, manipulation or rejection.  When phenomena arise that is unfamiliar, and we have no knowledge of what will happen next, or what the experience means, the mind is trapped in unknowing.  The emotions can overwhelm us at the sense of helplessness produced by fearful or confused thoughts.  Yet a significant condition for Self-realization is the willingness to live in the unknown.

Spiritual awakening by its very nature changes perspectives, bodies and lives. It is evolutionary. It is revolutionary.  Whether invited through deep and sincere spiritual seeking and practice, or exploded upon us unknowingly, it will bring surprises.  No one is ever adequately prepared or has a good sense of what will arise uniquely for them.  But it is a movement that happens to many people, and it can be met with openness, curiosity and gratitude for the revelations it brings.

We are, to our great amazement, an expression of the infinite, an appearance in a form that emerged from what the mind sees as vast uncharted territory of space, and thiscan be felt and realized but never adequately explained in the language of thought.