Biology of Kundalini A Science and Protocol of Spiritual Alchemy    

Kundalini & Schizophrenia


Factors that trigger both schizophrenic breaks and kundalini awakenings include circumstances of impossible dilemmas, double-binds, and avoidance/attraction etc... That is situations in which we cannot proceed in a logical-prefrontal manner, but which force us to spin our wheels and to experience angst, perplexity and frustration. Since energy is not utilized in a normal fashion it builds and leads to a psycho-energetic crisis—the energies of flight fight, having no resolution basically kick off either a psychotic breakdown or breakthrough—usually a bit of both. Koans, of course operate in a similar fashion to confound the normal rational thinking process leading to the overload of the nervous system and the sudden progress to a new level of awareness.

Symptoms of schizophrenia include: thought disorder, withdrawal-retardation, hallucination, estrangement, psychosis, sensory gating deficits, voices, delusions, obsession, paranoia, feels out of time, out of space, loss of body boundaries, and non-existent as a person.

The perturbation of everyday consciousness reduces the filtering system and presents a scale of consciousness that spans from schizophrenic to mystic. This transnormal impact of consciousness if interpreted adequately by the rational mind is then called mystic revelation. If however the rational mind is off kilter then ones interpretation is called schizophrenic.

When we penetrate beyond everyday consciousness we are both more animal-essential and more Godlike-omnipotent. We experience a range and subtlety of interconnectedness that would be simply frightening and crazy-making to our normal socio-conditioned repressed mode of being. Thus we only get to sense the true nonlocality of consciousness during peak events—either awakenings or breakdowns. That is not to say that our super-senses are not there in ordinary life, it is just that we simply filter out the information in order to cooperate with the dumbed down operational level that society adheres to. There is an enormous “leveling” system that goes on unconsciously in communities where noone is “allowed” to be more awaken than the others, and we are subtley or overtly punished if we are.

It seems like embeddedness (attraction/aversion) in duality leads to nonduality. For if were not “affected” by the symbols, myths and archetypes that we use to give “story” to our lives, no psychic tension would arise to propel us out of the vice of “normal” consciousness. As the subtle-psychic levels arise we become hyper-affected by the imagery and our story of duality and this builds up such a psychic tension that a kundalini awakening is sparked off.

After an awakening we become psychosomatically differentiated from the images, symbols, myths, stories and personal identity that we were so involved in before. Thus consciousness has become separated from its contents. Perhaps this is the difference between a schizophrenic and a mystic. The mystic has become emancipated from the persuasions of psychic content, while the schizophrenic has become lost in them.

The perturbation and removal of normal consciousness and the consequent disruption of egoic-metaprogramming is not regression—it is not going backwards—but merely the removal of adaptive/repressive functioning in the present. This creates an entirely new consciousness that has never occurred in ones history, yet may have features similar to infantile being. This loss of the sense of the known self (ego) is standard procedure in many of the extreme kundalini events and in the overall metamorphic process itself.

Contributing to this perturbation of consensus-adaptive consciousness is both the extreme amplification and expansion of consciousness during peak events and the consequent damage done by neurotransmitters, free radicals and metabolites. The higher we climb above the "norm," the further we thus fall into the downside of these acute neurological events. This is the shamanic journey to the heavens and then into the hell realms. Both extra-normal conditions could be classed as regression by an ignorant observer; but both high and low are equally part of the path toward the emergence of the life of the Soul. There must indeed be a suspension or cataclysmic breakthrough of the norm for the infinitely larger soul’s life to be born. So rather than "regression” in the service of the ego, we could more aptly state that during a kundalini awakening we undergo "suspension” of the ego in the service of the soul.

For those that are breaking out of consensus mind and who are leaning toward inflation or the schizophrenic end of the scale, this vulnerable condition is NOT the time to be intensive meditation, shadow work or primal processing. For these people stabilizing and structure building is needed more than uncovering therapies as the interpenetration of the levels of consciousness proceeds. Humor, because of its trickster element is a great tool for establishing rationality, because laughter builds up the prefrontal lobes. The practices for the periods of unstable integration between the levels of consciousness should be of an embodiment and boundary building nature. Of self-definition through internal exploration via neo-shamanistic practices of a self-originating nature. The work of Miguel Ruiz, Byron Katie and Alberto Villoldo would be valuable at this stage to establish the self/other boundary and build up the core-self.

Therapists attending to people undergoing kundalini awakenings could benefit from reading Ken Wilber’s writings on schizophrenia such as Chapter 17 of The Atman Project. This piece entitled Schizophrenia or Mysticism is very good, yet I would like to add a distinction. I think that awakening from “normal conscious’ runs a scale between schizophrenia and mysticism and each of us has a gravity to a particular point on that scale. But throughout the duration of an awakening we may sometimes be closer to the schizophrenic end of the scale and sometimes closer to the Mystic end of the scale depending on how stable and adaptable the rational faculty is at the time.

“Mysticism is not regression in the service of the ego, but evolution in transcendence of the ego. The mystic seeks progressive evolution. He trains for it. It takes most of his lifetime—with luck—to reach permanent, mature transcendent and unity structures. At the same time he maintains potential access to ego, logic, membership, syntax, etc…He follows a carefully mapped out path under close supervision. He is not contacting past and infantile experiences, but present and prior depths of reality.” 183

“I have frequently agreed with, and often argued for, the fact that true regression can and does occur; that some who call themselves mystics are actually caught in some form of regression; and that some true mystics occasionally reactivate regressive complexes on their way to mature unity states.” 175

“In my opinion, a dual process is thus set in motion: the self begins to regress to the lower levels of consciousness while, at the same time, it is opened to flooding by aspects of the higher realms (particularly the subtle.) Put differently, as the individual moves into the subconscious, the superconscious moves into him. As he regresses to the lower, he is invaded by the higher. He is hit by the submergent-unconscious as well as the emergent-unconscious. I personally see no other way to account for the phenomenology of the schizophrenic break. Those who see schizophrenia as all regression totally overlook its real religious dimension, and those who see it as all superspiritual and superhealthy just fly by the evidence of actual psychic fragmentation and regression.” 176

Some of the chemistry could be similar between kundalini and various mental illnesses, because of kundalini’s perturbing revelatory quality, nothing is left unseen and unfelt within one...there is no where to hide. The former repressive hold of the ego is released by the dissolution and so the psychic tension is let whatever form we have stored within us.

Relationships are particularly good at triggering kundalini awakenings because our brain's primary matrix is constructed in relationship to our primary caregiver in infancy—thus relationship later in life can trigger the release of incredible psychic forces bound up in such complexes as avoidance/attraction, double-bind, relentless dilemma, rejection and abandonment. Complexes, are webs of associations created by intense or repeated activation of an archetype. Psychic storms based on these kinds of primary archetypal patterns build slowly over the course of a life, underneath the repressive lid of our ego's coping mechanisms and defenses.

One wonders what is left after all our compensations and camouflages are penetrated; is there a life at all if we are not doing all this secondary work of trying to prop ourselves up, defend ourselves or kill ourselves? But unless things build up to popping point, unless kundalini sparks up, we will remain in the clutches of the vice that we built to protect ourselves from the reality we were born into. The ego will not voluntarily go into that "hole" in our primary matrix...spirit however willingly goes there in equanimous embrace to find light in the dark. Kundalini is a spiritual force that arises spontaneously to save ourSelf from our self.

If you are congenitally schizophrenic, or interpret events in a mythic or highly personal way then it is best to steer clear of trying to raise kundalini, because the "self" is just not strong enough to ride out the dissolution of self and the intensity of archetypical psychic contents that arise during an awakening. Kundalini is a radical amplification of our subjective eye and subjective experience that is why those with unstable neurology can be driven over the deepend. I think this is probably what happens in the majority of mental breakdowns. Under kundalini’s incideous power even the strongest brains can fall into morbid-grandiose-hypersubjectivity and think that the universe is made for them and that they control the weather and the stars.

I think this state of pathological grandiose inflation is the fate of many a Guru and rather than true transcendence it represents infantile fusion and indissociation, that is magically and mythically charged (e.g. the purple and red in spiral dynamics). This subjective-fusion with manifestation is similar to an infant’s magical uroboric perspective; a state of oceanic indissociation or egocentric fusion, which is undifferentiated or "one with" local environs.

“We have noted that in the world of the infant the solicitude of the parent conduces to a belief that the universe is oriented to the child’s own interest and ready to respond to every thought and desire. This flattering circumstances not only reinforces the primary indissociation between inside and out, but even adds to it a further habit of command, linked to an experience of immediate effect. The resultant impression of an omnipotence of thought—the power of thought, desire, a mere nod or shriek, to bring the world to heel—Freud identified as the psychological base of magic, and the researches of Piagest and his school support this view. The child’s world is alert and alive, governed by rules of response and command, not by physical laws: a portentous continuum of consciousness endowed with purpose and intent, either resistant or responsive to the child itself. And, as we know, this infantile notion (or something much like it) of a world governed rather by moral than by physical laws, kept under control by a super-ordinated parental peresonality instead of impersonal physical forces, and oriented to the weal and woe of man, is an illusion that dominates men’s thought in most parts of the world—to the very present. We are dealing here with a spontaneous assumption, antecedent to all teaching, which has given rise to, and now supports, certain religious and magical beliefts, and when reinforced in turn by these remains as an absolutely ineradicable conviction, which no amount of rational thought or empirical science can quite erase.” Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God, Volume 1: Primitive Mythology

Schizophrenia maybe a hypo-glutamatergic illness: excessive glutamate metabolism leading to the damage of receptors and exhaustion of glutamate as a neurotransmitter. Studies found that high levels of glutamate antagonists were present, and glutamate levels decreased in the prefrontal and hippocampal regions of schizophrenics. The limbic regions especially the hippocampus contain high concentrations of NMDA and AMPA glutamate receptors, however in schizophrenia these are reduced. Some researchers speculate that overactivity of the brain's cannabinoid system may contribute to schizophrenic symptoms

Glycine is essential at the NMDA receptor site, it was found that there were an increase in glycine receptors possibly as compensation for the reduced glutamate activity. Increasing NMDA function with glycine agonists maybe a potential new strategy for the management of schizophrenia. High doses of glycine at 30 g/day gave significant antipsychotic results. Schizophrenia and Glutamate, B. G. Bunney, PhD.,

Some of the schizophrenic type symptoms of kundalini awakenings could be due to hypertonality of the nerves activating the release of Ca2+ thereby killing off neurons, axons and reducing the number of NMDA glutamate receptors. That is during the peak kundalini stage first there is abnormally high concentrations of glutamate and over excitation of nerve cells, followed by a hypo-glutamate period of burnout and recovery lasting 5 or more years until the glutamate receptor systems have reinstated themselves. Thus glutamate toxicity leads to a glutamate deficiency.

The NMDA receptor is activated by the neurotransmitter glycine as well as glutamate. It appears that it might be advisable to take glycine supplementation during awakening as it has calming rather than excitatory properties and is used in bipolar treatment and for hyperactivity. Also to reduce kundalini it might be worth investigating inhibitors such as L-lysine which functions as antagonist to glutamate receptors. Since lysine blocks the NMDA receptors it might protect them from damage during radical kundalini events. It is likely that it will also reduce the severity of such events.

Histamine protects against NMDA-induced necrosis in cultured cortical neurons. It has been found that about half the patients classified as suffering from schizophrenia have low histamine levels in the blood, and as histamine levels were increased, their health improved. (See Histamine for more on this.)

In his book What Really Causes Schizophrenia, Harold Foster proposes that schizophrenia is not caused by excess dopamine but by excessive levels of a metabolite of adrenaline—adrenochrome. Adrenochrome acts as a hallucinogen, free radical generator and neurotoxin that interferes with biochemical systems and damages the thyroid. Dr. Foster suggests that treatment should include methods to reduce adrenaline producing stress and slow down its metabolism to adrenochrome. Sugar consumption and allergin exposure should also be reduced. Coupled with a supplemental program that includes high doses of niacin, thiamine or coenzyme Q10 along with desiccated thyroid to help thyroid damage.

Archetypes and Health

There are common themes in the symbols and archetypes that arise during the energy flux of both kundalini and schizophrenia. As these images arise biochemically within us they themselves become the resonant filter via which we find synchronous information and events in the outer world to reinforce the energetic power of the archetype we are preoccupied with. This process of alchemy via correspondence between the inner and outer worlds is mostly geared into the visual cortex it seems. We project our interiors and this adds fuel to the heat of our internal flame. At this time the repressive mechanism of the prefrontal-Superego is reduced and we have more access to potent dream visuals, visions and the full spectrum of psychic supersenses—including precognition (temporal penetration) and bio-telepathic-navigation (nonlocality/spacial penetration).

Dreams are reflections of the archetypal psyche. Note that the dream life we have is inclusive but transcendent of who we are as a conditioned being. Dreams offer us a deeper human experience and understanding than we can arrive at during our waking state. They have originality, depth, genius, profundity and transpersonal meaning way beyond anything arrived at via the intellect. Dreams impact us at a species level to affect alchemical transformation via emotional-cellular retuning. Since dreams are our greatest teacher, that means that the archetypal layers of the psyche are actually superior to the intellect and the associative mind is a mere student or tool of this mind beyond the mind which is inconceivably vast and unfathomable. If we were exposed to the full impact of this greater mind without our normal restrictive filters we would probably never return to the limited state that we call sanity. Because the complexity, interrrelatedness, exquisite beauty, portent and love of the archetypal realm of the Gods would be such a shock to our habituated dissocation.

The Dreamer who dreams our dreams knows far more of us than we know of it." R.D. Laing

Symbols of the Collective Dream

Positive Images —Center, return to beginnings, lost paradise, logos of origins, the egg, new society, new humanity, New Jerusalem, new earth, new birth, Mary and child, Divine child, sacred marriage, androgyne, apotheosis as God or Goddess, king or queen, deity or saint, hero or heroine, messiah, one chosen for leadership. Quadrated fourfold structure to the World, law of One, play of the opposites.

Negative Images—Fire, the snake, chaos, lost, no nurture, decay, dismemberment, death, dissolution in the Void, dangerous abyss, falling, cosmic conflict, Armageddon, world domination, triumph of the Antichrist, evil ruler, threat of the opposite, supremacy of the opposite sex, fool, clown, ghost, witch, puny outsider, stranger danger, UFOs, alien invasion, abduction, stuck, suffocation, possession, malevolent entities.

These various symbols also arise in the collective daily consciousness as impulses of joint active imagination…there is indeed probably a progressive spiral pattern to the successive emergence of these various inspirational symbols above and beyond the interference of media. They are contagious chemical, quantum, and visionary impulses that arise during certain periods, as an infinity of nested archetypal memes arising spontaneously from the Void impacting us all. They are probably keyed into cosmic and annual solar/lunar cycles also. It is through the madness of this kind of collective waking-dream that events like the holocaust or wars in general are undertaken.

We can run into trouble with patterns of cyclic metabolic disturbance if the interpretation the subjective experience of our awakening remains in the mythic-archetypal realm, by being possessed by the figments of our alchemical imagination. With the perturbation of consensus mind and the sometimes instantaneous new levels of sensing and consciousness, we must then learn to recognize this newfound awareness in rational, Higher-Self accepting terms. To avoid spiraling into prolonged metabolic and cognitive chaos we must accept these new levels of awareness and physiological condition as coming from “us” and not from an alien entity or God. That is we must claim responsibility for our Self as it incarnates at an accelerated pace and not project the cause of our condition onto external people, entities or events.

As an integrated human we can still "have" our story, but we must keep it in its place by running it through a progressively rational interpretation. For it is this rationalizing process that integrates the archetypal imaginal world (reptilian/old mammalian brain) into the 21st Century prefrontal lobes. In schizophrenia the individual has no objective distance between him and the objects or contents in his mind and by being perpetually and totally engrossed in the internal drama his biochemistry spirals out of control leading to catabolic breakdown of tissues and affecting long term cellular and neurological processes and structures.

Chronic illness can occur due to the presence of biotoxins which the body is unable to eliminate. These biotoxins can be cause and effect in cyclic periods of mental illness as well as physical disorder. Endogenous toxins are produced like ammonia, methylmalonic acid, free radicals; and an acid pH generates a different kind of metabolism. Studies in rats show that all catecholamines (excitatory neurotransmitters) including norepinephrine (NE), dopamine, and epinephrine, are toxic to neurons as well as glial cells. Plus neuron excitotoxicity also occurs with excess glutamate and nitric oxide. Biochemists and physiologists are now recognizing that these regulators or products of their metabolism as potential endogenous toxins. Other potential endogenous neurotoxins include: tetraisoquinolines, beta-carbolines, methylimidazoles, tryptamines, and biotoxins produced by intestinal bacteria and these are just a few.

Certain levels of these compounds exists in a healthy organism, but when they are hyperproduced they can generate pathogenic toxic products under the action of certain conditions such as mental disorder, stress, infection, alcohol or exposure to drugs or exotoxins and pollutants. Using our mind in ways that perpetuate metabolic toxicity creates “enterometabolic disorders which have a relationship to inflammation, musculoskeletal pain and degeneration, suppressed immunity, autoimmune disorders and lowered fertility. Using our mind in healthy ways lowers the body’s burden of metabolic toxins, which in turn reduces the inflammatory cascade.

(See Toxic Brain Syndrome and The Ammonia Hypothesis)
—The connection between pathogens, biotoxins, inflammatory and immune disorders.

Archetypal Fixation

If we lack powerful connection to our Muse’s higher art and purpose, this can lead to the energy of awakening remaining in the symbolic phantoms of our archetypal matrix. The elevated energetic activation of the autonomic-medulla and emotional-limbic brain can hold us captive, running out their own dramas. In a sense these captivating figments are not us, but programs entered into us via our origins and our position in the collective unconscious. If we can objectively gain distance from the content of our mind and emotions, we can then be still enough for our higher purpose and spiritual vocation to emerge from the maelstrom. Human life is all symbols. We live in a mind soup of psychoconfabulation. The art to life is to disembed from the symbols of mind-stuff so that we can use them, instead of them using us.

Archetypal Validation

For the initiate there is a lot of support out there nowadays, through various kundalini institutes and Spiritual Emergence Network SEN in various countries. The psychotherapy industry is slowing addressing the issue. But there is a danger that because psychotherapists are trained in pathology, not human excellence and evolution that they will treat kundalini as though it was a form of disease. Believe me when one is studying pathology one takes on a bit of the stigma and paranoia of the pathology. While individuals in the throws of an awakening are as sensitive and vulnerable as they will ever be, great care should be taken to reassure them and not drive their chemistry into a paranoiac downward spiral. Also the energy and cyclic flow of the awakening should be honored, if the process is countermanded, contested and stopped this can cause grave danger to the individual.

The archetypical content should be respected and perhaps seen through various lenses, but it should never be dismissed as delusion or mere projection. If this happens then the whole cascade of chemistry that packs enormous energies and psychic forces can be prematurely deflated and then it turns into a self-destructive bomb in the bodymind of the awakener. Consequently this can lead to such a devastating production of free radicals and catabolic agents that the mind of the individual can be permanently damaged. Hence professionals that deal with kundalini have to be of a post-conventional, humanist bent. They need to specialize in self-actualization, with a thorough understanding of the nonordinary nature of this chemistry, the physiology and the larger picture of the evolution of the human species and life in general. They will be effective to the extent that they too participate in the Mystery along with their clients.

Erich Jantsh, coined the term "self-organization." The science of self-organization concedes that the most interesting structures in nature are not caused in the usual sense but, rather, cause themselves to come into being. They "self-organize." Another term for this is Autopoiesis, the process whereby an organization produces itself. Like physical formation and birth of a child, kundalini is autopoietic. That is it occurs under its own innate chemistry. It is a cosmic birth—the Universe is birthing itself through us. But just as the environmental conditions (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) may not be condusive to the true well-being of a human birth, so too the conditions for a spiritual birth may not be constructive and alchemically-cocreative with the universe to bring about the spiritualized individual. The only reason why this is so is Ignorance!

Because an awakening involves mechanisms that lead to the death of old mental pathways, the necrosis of neurons and axons and inferior cells throughout the body—if this is not undertaken in life-affirming circumstances then much more extensive die-back can occur—and if conditions are not suitable during the rehabilitation phase then the time specific period for retraining the brain in preferred pathways and states is forfeited. Can you not see then the potential for brain damage coupled with circumstantial dehumanization through environmental deprivation. And all because of our wholesale ignorance over this natural process of spiritual death and rebirth.

Bruce MacLennan in his chapter in the book Neurotheology P305-14 says that archetypes as described by Jung, provide the crucial link between the material and spiritual worlds; shaping the conscious contents by regulating, modifying and motivating them. He says the archetypes (inherited patterns of behavior) are objectively real and crucially important for meaningful human life. This might be the best material out there on the impact of the archetypes on the psyche.

I cannot recommend Neurotheology: Brain, Science, Spirituality, Religious Experience highly enough. Some of the authors contributing to this book include: Rhawn Joseph, Andrew Newburg, Michael Persinger, William James, Eugene d’Aquili, and many more.

Follow the works of John Weir Perry for an interesting look into the archetypal symbols that arise within the psyche during awakening. There is an interview with Jeffery Mishlove—Visionary Experience or Psychosis with John W. Perry, M.D.

Trials of the Visionary Mind: Spiritual Emergency and the Renewal Process; John Weir Perry State University of New York Press, 1998.

The Living Labyrinth: Exploring Universal Themes in Myths, Dreams, and the Symbolism of Waking Life by Jeremy Taylor; Paulist Press, 1998.

Also Volume 5 of Carl Jung’s Collected Works: Symbols of Transformation.
The Unfolding Self: Varieties of Transformative Experience, by Ralph Metzner is a good overall map of universal symbols and concepts to the transformational process.

Rudi: 14 Years With My Teacher by John Mann, is a fabulous book on the psychological aspects of cultivating kundalini, it is a very reassuring book. —some mp3 audio of Rudi.

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