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Author Topic:   What is Kundalini????
Solane Star

Posts: 5032
From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: Jun 2005

posted January 27, 2008 08:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Solane Star     Edit/Delete Message
What is Kundalini?

Kundalini is a subtle energy and consciousness that is said (in Yogic and Tantric scriptures) to be coiled at the base of the spine 3 1/2 times, holding our system in stasis during our lives. If it uncoils and awakens, either through spiritual practices, breathing practices, near-death experiences or by other means, it moves upward through the sushumna, a subtle energy field which follows the spine, opening chakras and brain centers and changing the way the body feels and the quality of awareness. This upward movement may be sudden or it may be gradual over weeks and months and even years or lifetimes. This awakening is also acknowledged under other names in many other spiritual traditions, including Taoism, Tantric Buddhism, Gnostic mystical traditions, and some Native American practices. In some cases the energy awakening flows through channels other than sushumna, triggering a wide range of phenomena, either positive or negative.

Kundalini awakening brings about great changes in the psyche, the body and the spiritual capacity of the one who experiences it. Depending on the intensity of the experience, and the channels through which it moves in our bodies, many phenomena may occur. The person who has a sudden awakening needs a context and understanding of this experience, because it may cause an eruption of energy (involuntary movements, jerking, vibrations), psychic phenomena (precognition, visions, inner sounds), altered states of consciousness (out-of-body experience, other-life recall, states of ecstasy or unitive consciousness or a sense of a void -- a sense of limitlessness), psychological difficulties, and many physical manifestations (heat, energy problems, eating and sleeping difficulties, heart sensations, pains, stomach problems and other conditions.)

Kundalini awakening offers a profound opportunity for those who are called to follow a spiritual path. It can also lead to sudden expansion of creativity and intelligence, emotional depth, and a call to service in the world. Ultimately it is an invitation to release all the patterns and delusions about your personal identity and realize the essence of your existence, or the Self (also known as the non-Self in Buddhist traditions.) Because everyone enters this process with a unique history and set of habits and beliefs, there can be much variation in how we adjust to the changes and the insights that follow a spiritual awakening. It is threatening to the ego-structure and frightening for many to feel a loss of boundaries, or experience a fragmenting of the sense of personal control. But the energy and consciousness that awakens in us can lead us directly into a profound understanding of who we are, when it is well supported. Ultimately life becomes more open and free, more acceptable as it is, more loving and compassionate. You become grounded in the Truth.

Like any energy of creation (prana, electricity, atoms) this energy can be activated and misused by people who seek only power and do not follow a spiritual motivation. Many teachers with activated kundalini energy have not reached the full potential of this process, and are therefore not free of personal drives and negative intentions. You can recognize a teacher who has completed this path successfully by the measure of understanding, wisdom, love and selfless service they demonstrate. A fully awakened teacher has no hunger for personal gain or recognition and will always encourage you to honor the guru within. Such people's lives are marked by simplicity and presence.

How Does Kundalini Awaken?

The initial arising of kundalini energy is often part of some intense and concentrated experience This may be in a spiritual practice using energy manipulation, or meditation, but it also can happen in response to an intense challenge such as a near-death experience, a meeting with a teacher who has awakened energy, a beating or other traumatic event, a powerful sexual encounter, an overwhelming emotional experience, or extreme anxiety. In some cases it has awakened during childbirth. In others it seemed to awaken spontaneously, with no obvious cause, while sleeping at night, and even following an initiation in a dream.

Kundalini is a sanscrit word for the primal energy of consciousness, and could be considered the life force. It is said by yogis to set the energy field of the subtle body and chakras into motion, and then curl 3 times at the base of the spineand hold the body in stasis through our lives, until it unwinds and leaves the body at death.

While it is coiled the energy we can feel flowing in our bodies is called prana, chi or ki in various eastern traditions, and sometimes bio-energy in the West. When the residual coiled energy unwinds as a result of spiritual practices it is called kundalini. Its function appears to be the deconstruction of the personal identity, and the clearing and restructuring of our interior space so that consciousness can flow more freely, without attaching to all the held patterns of our personal conditioning.

Since as the energy arises we may experience many phenomena, (sometimes including the opening of abilities to heal, or psychic abilities, or the experience of bliss, or the freeing of the voice or creativity so we become more expressive in the world), some people have associated this energy with gaining powers, called siddhis in yoga and tantric traditions. But every tradition warns against becoming attached to any of these phenomena, saying it will deter us from the original function of the process, which is to bring us into self-realization.

There are gradual schools of training in yogic and tantric traditions which use breathing, energy and concentration to prepare the body, balance the major energy flows in the body, strengthen the body organs, and in time, activate kundalini through specific practices. They generally require strict dietary rules, disciplined practice, a non-stressed and simple lifestyle, and often celibacy, in order to have optimum potential for this awakening to occur and progress smoothly. When this happens the gradual progression of the energy from the base of the spine through the crown chakra leads to a releasing of various contractions in the energy body, and finally to an experience of merging into unitive consciousness. Usually this is a temporary condition, and in time the person returns to their ordinary orientation, but always knowing themselves to be part of this unitive whole.

People can also activate kundalini during or following an experience of self-realization. In the non-dual traditions such as Zen Buddhism or Advaita Vedanta, the teachings and the transmission of an awakened teacher are considered the method to awakening, rather than working with the energy field of the subtle body. Consciousness itself suddenly shifts from identification as the separate person, into a glimpse, or even a lengthy period of knowing itself as pure consciousness or awareness, without attachment to the body/mind or any other object. When the person returns to their ordinary orientation they may feel greatly changed, slightly disoriented, and may find new energy flows in their body that are unfamiliar and disarming. The clearing process in such cases happens after the initial awakening, preparing one in time for a permanent state of realization.

If a student is with a teacher or mentor who has experienced this journey they may receive guidance that helps them make appropriate adjustments along the way, so that the changes they are experiencing are not so frightening. Simply having the context of a spiritual intention in one's life, and understanding that energy changes are part of this, can be an enormous support in the process.

However, many people who have never known a practice or a teacher have spontaneous awakenings. These may occur in conditions related to trauma, body therapy, breathwork, deeply devoted prayer, yoga practices, martial arts, meditation programs that do not explain the phenomena of energy, metaphysical programs that manipulate consciousness, therapies that include deep penetration into alternate states of consciousness, recreational drug use, automobile accidents, and even intense biofeedback sessions. In a few cases it appears someone has had this energy awakened since birth, When unusual energy and consciousness shifts occur in someone who has no context for them it often raises anxiety, and this makes the process more contracted and uncomfortable. People may fear for their sanity and even their lives. Doctors frequently are unable to understand or diagnose this situation because it is out of the paradigm of their training. If during this process they continue to use recreational drugs, use alcohol, work long and stressful hours, have stressful relationships, or do more intense energy practices they may find the kundalini process is very uncomfortable, painful, and feels more like a punishment than a freedom. If they misinterpret the event as something that is dangerous or evil, or shouldn't be happening, their anxiety can greatly intensify the difficulties.

There are many myths about spiritual awakening, the most difficult being that it should only happen to saintly people. This is clearly not the case. It is an interior phenomena of energy and consciousness that supports the realizing of our true nature, of our roots, and is a potential for all humans. Many great mystics and sages did not live exemplary lives before their awakening. It appears to happen both in those who have strong intention and in those who have never even heard of such a thing. It is as if the collective numinous consciousness itself finds a moment in which it can awaken our bodies and minds, and stimulate us to turn inward, in order to discover what we were before we took on all the roles and concepts and emotions of a human life, and what we are now, underneath all these garments of separate identity. To awaken all the way to the Truth is to know the source of our life, and directly feel it living through us. To reach this state the interior energies start to move in new ways, breaking old stuck patterns in our cells and our psyches, opening the belly and the heart to vulnerability and presence, opening the throat to new expression that is free of self-consciousness, and opening the mind to clarity and stillness. This takes some time, usually years, and this is why one is said to be in a kundalini process.

7 Categories of Phenomena Experienced in the Kundalini Process

1. Pranic Activity or Kriyas:
These are intense involuntary body movements, shaking, vibrations, jerking, and the sensation of electricity, tingling, or rushes of energy flooding the body.

2. Yogic Phenomena:
Body involuntary performs yogic postures (asanas) or hand movements (mudras) that the subject has never before seen, and the psyche may produce symbolic images, or the sound of chanting, Sanscrit words, tones or a variety of specific sounds such as bees buzzing, or kettle drums beating. Some people spontaneously create and enter into a ritual.

3. Physiological Problems:
Activation of latent illness or pseudo illness, apparent heart problems, gastrointestinal disorders, nervous energy and hyper-activity, eating disorders, dramatic rushes of heat and cold, pains occurring in back, head, stomach, or big toes. These and other difficulties are atypical and usually prove difficult to diagnose and treat because they are not consistent with known illness and they come and go spontaneously.

4. Psychological and Emotional Upheavals:
Intensification of unresolved psychological issues, fear of death or insanity, mood swings, overwhelming waves of anxiety, anger, guilt or depression which may feel unrelated to any personal issues, waves of compassion, unconditional love, and heightened sensitivity to the moods of others.

5. Extrasensory Experiences:
Visual input (i.e. lights, symbols, images of entities, the reviewing of other lives, visions); auditory input (i.e. hearing a voice, music or phrase); or olfactory input (i.e. smelling sandlewood, perfume or incense).

6. Parapsychological Experiences:
Psychic awareness, unusual synchronicities, healing abilities, seeing or feeling auras, channeling, electrical sensitivity and psychokinesis are the most commonly reported occult phenomena. Sometimes there is dramatically awakened creativity.

7. Samadhi or Satori Experiences:
The absorption of consciousness into mystical states of unity, peace, light or energy, sometimes with a clear perception of existential truths; or a profound sense of I am that or This pure and open consciousness with no identity is what I truly am. There may be less intense levels of trance-like states which bring peace, joy, waves of bliss. These may occur during meditation, or after meditation, or spontaneously at other times.

Please note: Any of these phenomena can occur independent of a kundalini awakening for various reasons. Particularly if there are intense physiological issues a medical evaluation should be made to rule out illness or neurological disorder. But if a person has had a dramatic initiating event of energy arising, and this is followed over time with experiences from several of these categories it is probably a kundalini process.
Derived from Energies of Transformation: A Guide to the Kundalini Process.

10 Things You Can Do to Help Your Kundalini Process

Kundalini awakening, whether it occurs within a traditional spiritual discipline or spontaneously, brings challenges for many people. It is as if your system has been amped up from 110 to 220 wiring and you, as the appliance, have not yet adapted to it. It is exceedingly rare for an awakening to be complete before many months and years of clearing have occurred. This energy of life force, often depicted as a goddess, has a goal of bringing you to a complete rest in the universal Self, or the Non-self (not a personal self),or what has been called the peace that passeth understanding. As this happens the self-identifications, beliefs and illusions related to the existing personality are undermined and eventually dissolve. You may feel you no longer have a place to stand in the world. You are moving toward standing in the vastness of the whole.

This clearing has been called a purification process, or in Hindu terms it is the release of samscaras and vrittis. Samscaras are all the conditions brought into this unique life to be played out from previous lives, but could also be considered the consequence of effects in the present life. Vrittis are all the movements of mind and thought, which pester us like flies buzzing in the house hoping to be made into pets. Many spiritual practices exist for the purpose of calming and overcoming the activity of vrittis.

Because we are spirit imbedded in a physical body all of the cells of our bodies are like parts of a hologram, containing the memories of whatever has happened to us. So it happens that as the energies that hope to transform us move through the body any areas where energy, pain, memory or contractions are stored will react. This is what we are feeling when there are pains, jerking movements, heat, vibrations, rushes and other phenomena during and following a kundalini arising. Many people have associated some of these movements with opening the chakras, which is just another model for saying that as contraction releases new possibilities emerge. People carry their pain in different ways, just as we live our lives in different ways, and so there can be a wide variety of responses to this movement of energy, or clearing process. If there are physical problems from an old injury it may be especially sensitive. If our diet has been unhealthy or our lifestyle causes us to live where there is toxic emotional energy, this can leave us more vulnerable to difficulties. If there has been abuse of any kind, or there is a history of alcoholism or drug-use, the body may be especially challenged by this awakening, which is trying to clear it of the past memories and experiences that we are identified with. If there is a tendency of the personality to contract and a strong desire for control the process can be very difficult because of our resistance to it. There is an old saying that "What one resists, persists."

For these and other reasons these are a few guidelines that can help you move through this experience and find inner peace.

1. The energy may feel coarse and intense at times. But it is rarely painful. Usually it is the fear and the attempt to stop it that causes pain. If you are having lots of body movement, lay down once or twice a day on the bed, and invite the energy to move through you and clear out whatever doesn't belong to you, and whatever is in your best interest to release at that moment. Usually it will run for a few minutes -- maybe up to 20 -- and then stop, and you will feel more relaxed. You especially need to do this if you work in an environment where you may be picking up negative energy or the pain of others such as healing or therapeutic work, or in places where there is a lot of alcohol use, or in hospitals. If you are having persistent physical pain in this process you should have a medical evaluation.

2. Discover what your body really wants to eat. Often people need to make major dietary changes such as giving up alcohol and recreational drug use, avoiding red meat, eating smaller and more simple meals. If you have a persistent problem with kundalini do detective work to see what is happening when the problem arises. How long since you ate and what did you eat? Would a small piece of bread calm it down? Perhaps chamomile or burdock root tea? Do you need more protein? Yogis recommend sometimes a mix of warm milk with sugar in it (not honey, which raises heat). Another option is to have a good analysis done with an Ayurvedic practitioner, who can assess your body type and balance, and recommend the optimal diet and herbs for you. There is much variation in what people need to do, and sometimes people have long periods with no appetite at all, or long periods with a voracious appetite. Usually a diet focused on rice and vegetables is most useful, but proteins are also important. I tend not to eat much meat so I take a powdered protein and mineral supplement in juice every day and it makes a great difference in how I feel. Be good to yourself.

3. Focus more in the heart and the belly than in the head. Look for practices that center you more deeply into the present moment. A devotional practice such as chanting or doing a heart-centered meditation can help the energy open you to an experience of the deeper part of yourself, the eternal part, and can also help it move outward into more loving connections with others, or a tendency toward service or creative expression, all of which keeps the awakening more balanced. If you have a divine image ( a god, goddess, spiritual teacher, saint, symbol) that is comforting to you use it as an ally during this time, talking to him or her or it and asking for support, or bringing light around yourself. These are powerful archetypal energies that help the psyche when it is moving through challenging changes.

4. Do something to help your body be more open such as yoga, Tai Chi, dance, acupressure, movement processes, long walks in nature, or whatever you are drawn to. If you don't know what is best for you try several things and stick with what feels the best. The physical body is the vehicle that will carry and ground your spirit, your awakening, in the end. No better how deep your realization you will ultimately be living in a human body for a few more years. The better it is cared for the more options you have to express realization when it occurs. Of course, a person who is weak or dying can also be a beautiful and complete expression of the Divine, and poor health does not preclude enlightenment. Those who have set with people who are dying have seen that as attachment to the body lets go more and more light shines through. But this should not be misconstrued to advocate a harsh ascetism. While we are living, having an open and flexible body accomplishes the same thing with a lot less pain and distraction. Making the body "disciplined" by over-doing exercise is not of any use either. Find a middle way, where your body is in harmony with your spirit.

5. Wake up each day expecting not to know what will happen, and looking with curiosity for the events to unfold. Instead of worrying and controlling, simply be present to whatever arises with the intention of meeting it with your best effort. Whatever happens in the process of spiritual awakening will be unpredictable and will move on, if you are simply the one noticing it, and not doing battle or making a big project out of it.

6. You may have emotional swings, energetic swings, psychic openings, and other undesired shifts that feel unfamiliar to your personality as you knew it. Be the observer. Don't feel you have to fix or change anything. It will pass.

7. If you have serious trauma in your history and have never had therapy it could be very useful in releasing the pains of the memories that come up around the events. I have noticed that people who had good therapy before their spiritual awakenings often have much less difficulty. Therapy teaches you to express, to witness, to release and to move on. Your therapist does not have to know much about kundalini as long as he or she does not discount that part of your process. What you want to focus on is releasing issues related to the trauma, and you want a therapist that is experienced and compassionate and sees your spiritual orientation as a motivation and a support for the process of healing.

8. This process is your opportunity to wake up to your true nature. Some people wake up first, and then experience a kundalini arising; others have the kundalini process moving through as a preparation for the arising. The arising occurs to do the clearing out work so is part of either model. Waking up means the realization that the one who is looking through your eyes, living through your senses, hearing your thoughts and being present in every moment of your experience, good or bad, is recognized or remembered. This is a bright, aware detached and unconditionally loving presence that is universal and eternal and it is completely free of all the conditions and memories that you associate with as a personal identity. But as long as you believe in all your personal conditions and stories, emotions and thoughts, it has to experience life filtered through them. This conditioned mind is what brings variety and drama to the game of life, but it also causes suffering and fear of death. We glimpse the Truth about the deep expansive silence that is the ground of our being when we are in Samadhi and Satori experiences. The early Gnostics called it gnosis (knowledge) or the One. Some spiritual teachings such as Advaita Vedanta and Zen go directly for the realization, while others see it as a gradual path accomplished through years of spiritual practices. Either way the end is the same. When you know who you are the world becomes as Shakespeare said, a stage, and you the player, and life is more light and thoughts less intrusive, and the kundalini process settles down into a mellow pleasantness.

9. Give up going places and being with people who cause you pain. Sometimes people seem to be more acutely sensitive when kundalini arises. They can't tolerate the energy of large discount warehouses, or smoky nightclubs, or the kind of family gatherings that are tense and competitive. It's okay to take care of yourself and find more quiet time, more intimate friends, and even a new job, if the old one is overly stressful. Don't feel you have to prove anything by forcing yourself to be someone you aren't. Rediscover what is comfortable naturally for you to do and to be. Live more authentically. In this process you may also find a new creative urge, which is a wonderful opportunity to express what is happening. Draw, write, dance, work with clay, paint, garden -- all of these are great ways of nurturing yourself through the deep psychic changes you are experiencing.

10. Find an awakened teacher to hang out with. For many people with spiritual awakenings meditation is an intrinsic part of their lives. An awakened teacher will bring you a transmission of peace, and an opportunity to sit deeply in the silence of your true nature. An awakened teacher can be of any spiritual persuasion or none, can understand kundalini or not be interested in it, and will demonstrate tolerance and compassion for all who pass their way. When you learn from them the art of sitting and just being, you will find the cure for all the suffering of life. In time all the activity of the mind and complaints of the body fall away, and there is a deep understanding and love that arises, which brings a sense of completion, openness, freshness and invitation to the expression of the greater Self. When awakening is complete, there is no question it has been the whole purpose of your life. Where it will take you there is no way to know, and there is no one to care either. We surrender to the dance, knowing it is a dream.

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