kundalini

Breathing through Kundalini

I appreciate the comments from those who read essays on my blog but it is important for me not to accept any links, because there is much confusing information on the web about kundalini awakening, and unless I have reviewed material I cannot say if it is going to be helpful for someone else. Since I do not want to be selective I just wish not to use any links. I have found one of the most challenging experiences in this process is when fear arises. The mind has much difficulty with change, and the arising of energy and unfamiliar shifts in consciousness that happen with kundalini experiences promote great change, and can be unnerving and disorienting for many people, especially if they do not have a context for the experience or the support of others who are comfortable with it. There are many odd things that happen, most of them temporary and passing, and generally the best way to deal with them are to take good care of the body, have a willingness to face any memories or patterns from the past that may arise to be cleared, and relax into the energy releases until they pass. You may need to change your diet, your practices, a toxic environment in which you life or work, how you think, and find therapeutic ways to release blocks and old conditioning.

Everyone goes through this process differently, depending on their history, health, habits and lifestyle and what one person experiences can be quite unique from another. If pain arises, and is persistent, you should check it out with a doctor to be sure there is no underlying medical condition. If you find there is no cause then it may be related to a block to be released or a held and contracted emotion from the past like grief or rage. If you have shortness of breath or very strong energy you may be doing too much practice that arises energy. The breath alters during meditation or when running energy, usually becoming more slow and deep and sometimes spontaneously panting (called breath of fire when done deliberately) and sometimes it may feel like you are not breathing at all because it so shallow.

One of the most grounding things you can do is to breathe deeply into the belly so that the belly comes out on an in-breath and goes in gently on the out-breath. Just sit or lie down and effortlessly bring attention to the belly as the breath does this and rest the mind in silence as you follow the breath. Once you learn how to do this then you will be able to do it any time and anywhere if you begin to feel agitated or anxious.

Eventually the kundalini process will slow down if you take good care of yourself, release fear and anxiety, and let random thoughts about it become irrelevant, bring awareness below the neck and into the center and relax into the world. Remember the energy is your own life force trying to bring you into a state of openness and peace by clearing and rewiring the flow of your energy. It might be helpful to try the harmonizing energy meditation on my kundaliniguide website which is designed to help direct it into optimal channels and to help you know the fluidity of consciousness. There is also advice on managing this process in my new book “When Spirit Leaps:Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening”.

Science and Non-Duality

I just returned from the SAND conference, an amazing group of scientists and non-dual teachers who are exploring the further reaches of human consciousness and bring 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.

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.

Physical Challenges as Kundalini Awakens

As Kundalini energy moves through the body various issues, even pain, can arise in chakra areas.  Usually a person who has activated kundalini has not prepared themselves in the ways recommended in classical kundalini yoga.  Some systems say 12 years of preparation is required before the energy is awakened if all is to move smoothly, and this is done through physical cleansing practices, strict diet requirements, gradually adding more advanced breathing practices, sitting in specific yogic styles, and releasing various egoic tendencies through obedience to the teacher and system. It is clear that 99% of those who activate this energy have not done these kinds of preparations and are not interested in doing them. In some cases, yogic masters say that a person who has activated energy spontaneously must have done lifetimes of work previously for this to happen. But our present bodies have not been present during all those lives, so they need adjustments and releases. 

My perspective is that many factors come into play to cause a person to be available to this opening (which I have enumerated on my website and in my books) but most often there is a long and gradual process as the subtle body energies, physical body, and psyche adapt to this new energy flow. One must be patient and take time to address old psychological issues and to adjust their life to the new patterns the kundalini energy is calling for.  So when there is pain in the body that doctors find no reason for or heat arising, or strange  blockages where energy seems to be stuck this is because some clearing is needed since it was not done before the awakening.  Some spiritual seekers believe that an awakening will erase all past psychological issues, but if this should happen it is only temporary. Some old beliefs, preferences and habits will fall away or transform, but deeper issues will then come to the surface, and the energy must return to clear the blocks that were created by these experiences.  For an awakening to become stable and comfortable it appears that we have to see through all our old patterns, holdings and attachments, recognizing they are not definitions of who we are.  Until this happens we are likely to feel divided, or caught in "I got it. I lost it" syndrome, seeming to fall in and out of positive awakened states.

One commenter asked about pain in the neck and shoulders that seems to have no medical source.  This is the area of vishuddha, the throat chakra. There are several possibilities for this kind of pain.  Energy is often blocked here because most of us spend a lot of time holding back our self-expression or our emotions. It's as if everything unsaid is locked into our subtle energy field.  Sometimes spiritual seekers believe they should never feel anger, and so when something outrageous happens to them they swallow their feelings in order to be "spiritual" and forgiving.  I met one person who seemed to have tourette's symptoms as his face jerked spontaneously, but once he released anger these problems went away.  One does not need to act out the anger, but simply find a safe way to move it out of the body through expression by yelling (at no one) or writing and just fully acknowledging it. 

Another reason for pain may be an old injury that has been locked in the system and needs to be released.  Kundalini seems to be trying to remove anything tight or damaged in the body. Some call these blocks. Wherever your energy seems stuck and keeps returning to with jerks or discomfort over and over is generally seen as a block, caused by physical or emotional holding from issues in this life or possibly a previous life.  Sometimes it is even an issue related to your birthing experience, or your mothers experience when you were in the womb. Also a stiff neck may be caused by the way it has been held for years, and gentle body work can help to open it.  Cranial-sacral work or acupressure might be useful. 

In yoga there are 3 major "granthis" or "knots" in the body which must be released in this process. These are believed to be points where the power of ignorance and attachment is particularly strong.  One is in the solar plexis area, where we are attached to pleasure, material things, and having things go our own way; the second is in the heart area where we are attached to our emotions, certain people, our personal visions and passions; the third is in the the third eye area where a person may open and then become attached to psychic powers and attribute them to their personal identity.

So as energy moves through to change consciousness and make your energy field as open as possible, these are a few of the clearing challenges that may arise.  They can be addressed through therapy (if it is rooted in a past traumatic experience), using sounds such as the Bij mantras to open chakras, yoga postures that are for stretching and relaxing that area, meeting the pain directly with presence and love, guided imagery, acceptance and surrender and in other ways that you might intuitively discover.  Taking good basic care of the body is important in this process and releasing personal demands that life be just the way you want it -- learning to live in the flow of the river -- as the Taoists say-- is helpful.  This is why quieting the mind or at the least not being driven by thoughts, can be helpful.  Our thoughts are often focused divisively, telling us what is wrong and worrying about it, blaming us and others for it. Bring awareness down into the heart or the belly and see if you can be present more fully where you are at any moment.  This calming will support the opening of intuition which may be able to suggest some new directions to resolve those challenges in your process.

Energies of Evolution

If you are having experiences of energy winding or rolling up your spine, creating involuntary spasms, and rippling in strange ways through your body, you are possibly one of thousands each year experiencing what is known as a kundalini rising or awakening.  You may feel frightened or disoriented by this non-ordinary shift, but if you can relax with it and understand it as simply a dynamic of your own evolution it can become a treasured ally on your spiritual path.

When we understand that all of creation is formed as molecular structures, mostly space and energy manifest in a multitude of forms, it becomes easier to meet the empty/spaciousness and the enhanced vibrational energies that appear in our bodies, and face all the changes they invite.

There are many reasons people suddenly have these shifts and awakenings.  Often an intense spiritual or energy practice will open the body to the heightened energy known as kundalini by the ancient founders of the yogic system.  Sometimes an intense concentrated period may activate this sleeping power, even such innocent practices as biofeedback, meditation, prayer, love-making, or the charge projected by the touch of another person who has this awakened energy. In the thousand reports I have collected over the last 30 years many people write of spontaneous awakenings, sometimes in moments of great interior stress,  or while using plant medicines or psychedelics, or while sitting in silence at retreats.  So if you are feeling as if your energy field has jumped from 110 to 220 or even 2200 you are not alone, although unfortunately you live in a culture that is totally unprepared to understand the power and potential of this experience.

If your experience plunges you into fear and anxiety, if it explodes you into ecstasy, or if it hits the brain centers that produce imagery you will likely be afraid you are losing your mind, and if you meet up with the wrong therapeutic model others will support this interpretation.  But some part of you will know this is real and it is meaningful, even while the mind freaks out about it. If you can just be curious and open instead of afraid and contracted this will help it calm down considerably. You need to nourish the witness within you, that which is simply aware.

Kundalini energy is an aspect of your own life force.  It is what happens when the normal pranic energy field or bioenergy of the body is infused with a powerful rush of energy from the base of the spine, the feet, or occasionally pours down into the body through the top of the head.  Naturally you are startled.  Even people in spiritual communities who have longed for awakening for years can be both astonished and terrified by this new dimension of interior activity.  It was a naive assumption that spiritual awakening would be a sweet, simple release into peace and harmony and improved character and life would be forever blessed.  It is true that awakening leads ultimately to peace and harmony, but it does so by stripping away every identification we hold dear, and releasing every old bit of suffering and confusion, all of which was held in our minds, bodies and subtle energy fields.  It tries to release all stressors and heal all wounds, in the process freeing us from our assumed self image and personal history.

I have come to see kundalini as essentially a clearing out process, and then an opportunity to live from clear seeing and presence, which doesn't change the content of life itself, but profoundly impacts our relationship to it.

Whether kundalini activation is sudden and traumatic, or slow and gentle, it is almost always a factor in a full spiritual realization process.  It may initiate the process of consciousness awakening, or it may fall into place after an initial shift of consciousness into the recognition of It's true relationship with what we might call Source or Universal Consciousness, (that which cannot truly be named, but we try!)  This might be called the non-dual experience, and to the mind it might feel empty and unbounded while to the spirit it is felt as unlimited spaciousness and dissolution into the whole (or some such image).  Utimately awakening is the stable recognition of what is awake in every moment here and now, and not the dramatic experiences, visions, insights, dramas and traumas that may accompany it for awhile.  All experiences will pass.  More will appear. Life is awakeness moving through experiences. Awakening helps us to take it more lightly, to feel peaceful even when we're not, and to find beauty in the every day forms we encounter.

If you are in an energy awakening process you may also find helpful my books "The Kundalini Guide" and "The Awakening Guide", or “When Spirit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening” available on Amazon and Kindle.

 

Kundalini and Awakening

Kundalini and Awakening

Whether you have activated kundalini energy through practices, meditation, or for no logical reason you can imagine, the most important thing to know about it is that this is a passage into  a new understanding of who and what you are. Perhaps the caterpillar feels just as shocked when it finds itself in a cocoon, nor knowing it was it’s own making.