Biology of Kundalini A Science and Protocol of Spiritual Alchemy    

Exploring the Symptoms


The unconscious nervous system is the autonomic nervous system...which yogis do have some control over. Many of the kundalini symptoms arise from the brainstem, which consists of the medulla, pons, cerebellum and midbrain...that is the majority of kundalini symptoms originate from areas of the brain that are beyond our normal control. Hence many of the symptoms and feelings arise directly from physciological events triggered by specific neural circuits. The ultimate outcome of kundalini awakenings is a reduction in background fear, body armor and emotional volatility.

Over the period of peak awakening sex hormones and other pituitary hormones are raging; the heart is radically expanded and engorged with blood, and the digestive system venting due to parasympathetic hypertonality; skeletal muscles are ready for action and hypervigilance is up due to the flight/fight activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Thus during a kundalini awakening there is a simultaneous hyperactivity of the 4F-Responses: *censored*/freeze/fight/flight. It is not all tongue in cheek when I say that this 4F Response Theory basically explains all the kundalini symptoms and health consequences.

"In response to threat, the organism can fight, flee or freeze. These responses exist as parts of a unified defense system. When fight and flight responses are thwarted, the organism instinctively constricts as it moves toward its last option, the freeze response. As it constricts, the energy that would have been discharged by executing the fight or flight strategies is amplified and bound up in the nervous system...

If the organism is able to discharge the energy by fleeing or defending itself and thus resolve the threat, trauma will not occur...In humans, trauma occurs as a result of the initiation of an instinctual cycle that is not allowed to finish. When the neocortex overrides the instinctual responses that would initiate the completion of this cycle, we will be traumatized." Peter A. Levine, Ann Frederick, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences

The fact that the freeze response occurs during the hypertonality of both sympathetic and parasympathetic NS has profound implications. I used to think the paralysis that occurs during extreme events was due to overloading of the sensorymotor cortex with kundalini energy. This may play a part in it, but now I think the paralysis is due to the brainstem stimulating an extreme parasympathetic response to meet the extreme sympathetic activity that is occurring...thus both on and off switches are at full bore. To prevent any further escalation of this duel between the on and off systems the body turns on a massive freeze response via the dorsal vagal complex. The dorsal vagus complex (DVC) is a cluster of connected neurons in the brainstem medulla that slows down the energy-expending processes. It is the primative unmyelinated vagus related to the conservation of metabolic resources.

This freeze response is experienced as paralysis and as far as I know the paralysis only happens during inner-conjunction events when the energy is pouring at maximum voltage up the spine itself. One of the reasons why paralysis occurs during the full flux up the spine is that the spine must be straight at this time--people always talk about their spine becoming as rigid as a stick during the spinal inner-conjunction. This might be a similar thing to sleep paralysis that prevents the body moving during REM sleep, and also to the state of immobilization without fear that occurs during sexual activity in the female mammal.

During the peak heart expansion event (Heart Nova or Solar Heart) again the sympathetic and parasympathetic are dueling at their maximum and the dorsal vagal complex again kicks in bringing on a freeze response. But in this particular situation instead of paralysis a Dive Reflex occurs, essentially pulling the individual into the ground and making them lie flat. That way the heart that is already laboring at max due to the expansion doesn't have to work at pumping against gravity to get the blood around the body. In other words the intense grounding where the body is forcibly pulled into the ground during a heart expansion event, may be due to the "dive reflex" stimulated by the dorsal vagus complex (DVC) during a freeze response. The DVC governs the dive reflex in reptiles, where they remain submerged for long periods of time to pursue prey or escape predators. Research on the human dive reflex suggested that it does involve concurrent sympathetic and parasympathetic activation.

Perhaps both the heart expansion and the dive reflex will always go together as the body tries to tone down the expansion of the heart. For this hyper expanded heart may stimulate the vagus to initiate a dive reflex to prevent the organism from overexertion when the cardiovascular system is so engorged, dilated and overworking. By lying down the heart does not have to work so hard against gravity to pump blood. Since the blood vessels and the heart itself are hyperdilated blood pressure would fall, so lying down would both reduce the toll of low blood pressure and having to work against gravity. Low blood pressure reduces oxygen in the brain and this would force the body into a faint, with acute fatigue and bring on the compulsion to lie down.

The heart expansions themselves might occur when the parasympathetic gains dominance in the cascade of kundalini activity. They occur during periods of intense bliss, right-brain consciousness and are associated with intense grounding and extreme lethargy. This dive reflex makes more sense than my first explanation, which was the extra grounding needed by the hearts field pulling one into the ground during the massive heart expansion periods that occur. Whatever the cause of the grounding, it must be noted that the extreme pull on the body is relieved by lying for half an hour on the grass or bare earth with ones spine on the ground. This is no doubt a key to understanding the phenomena.

The gravity warping sensation could be a fluxing in the nerve sheath between sympathetic and parasympathetic dominance. Since they are both in a highly activated state this shifting might be more noticeable than usual and give the sensation of gravity crushing (sympathetic) or gravity expanding (parasympathetic). The expansion/contraction sensation would arise mostly from the heart, and blood vessels and relate to the level of Nitric Oxide generation. Increased vasodilation would give an expanding gravity effect, while a turn toward vasoconstriction would give one the sense of gravity crushing, or implosion.

It is apparent that when both sides of the nervous system are radically hyperactivated then the freeze response automatically comes on to modulate the overactivity, essentially to protect the brain from excessive stimulation and damage by nitric oxide, glutamate, adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol. Thus there must be a freeze in effect throughout a kundalini awakening to varying degrees, culminating in total paralysis during the inner-conjunction.

Given the right circumstances stress could trigger a full-on kundalini awakening. It appears that the awakening of kundalini means the prolonged hyperactivation and dance between both sides of the nervous system with periodic dominance of the freeze response during extreme inner-events. It could be that after a certain period of this extreme nerve activity the immune system goes into a radical catabolic condition, what I call a die-off. Part of the function of a die-off could be the resetting of the nervous system equilibrium, breakdown of axions and restructuring to a more mature/advanced functioning. It does seem that the sense of being overwrought and out of our depths disappears after a die-off for we have assimilated our metamorphic progress to date and have a new lease on life. The timing of the die-off must correspond to both the intensity and duration of nerve activity. A more acute phase of neurological chemistry is followed more quickly by a die-off to help bring the rest organism up with the refinement or growth that has occurred in the nervous system.

Sleep Paralysis with its complete or partial atonia, most likely is the result of hyper-parasympathic activation of the DVC. Sleep paralysis is experienced when the individual bypasses directly to REM dream sleep with its Beta-wave cortical activity. The REM sleep phenomena is associated with the inhibition of certain motor neurons; inhibition of sensory input; rapid eye movements; activation of brainstem neurons that control the movement of facial muscles; and important to the hallucinatory experiences associated with sleep paralysis, the activation of visual pathways. These events normally occur when neurons in the pons (a medullar structure) become active after a period of non-REM sleep (slow-wave, synchronized sleep).

Sleep paralysis is an evolutionarily old function to keep animals still while they are sleeping and prevent them falling off cliffs, trees or attracting predators. Certainly it must have emerged simultaneous with REM dream state to prevent motor response to dream imagery. The most obvious neurotransmitter agents to sleep paralysis would be inhibitors GABA and glycine, but it probably more complex than that. Those that become "aware" of being paralyzed descend to hypnogia/Theta without going through the normal phases that kick in the loss of consciousness, so they are conscious while paralyzed, usually with amazing visions to account for their journey. The lucid perception of sleep paralysis can give one the sensation of compression on the chest and suffocation as energy is removed from the diaphram. It is the sympathetic side of the nervous system that stimulates breathing activity and thereby raises blood oxygen.

Besides Robert Scaers idea of the dorsal vagus complex causing freeze paralysis another possible cause of paralysis during extreme spiritual energy states could be the hyperactivation of the limbic system and brainstem and its consequent effects on incapacitating the motor-sensory cortex. Rhawn Joseph at says that freezing is brought about by both the overload/overwhelm of the motor and frontal lobes and the consequent burnout of dopamine and serotonin in these areas. Freezing is a life preserving reaction in nature that is apparently mediated by the amygdala and striatum. He writes the amygdala under conditions of extreme fear and arousal, can induce catatonic-like frozen panic states--resulting in a inability to initiate a voluntary movement, and the "Will" to move or vocalize may be completely negated. Given the extensive interconnections of the medial frontal lobes, corpus and limbic striatum with amygdala, it appears that when exceedingly aroused or emotionally stressed, the amygdala is able to inhibit (by overactivation) the frontal-striatal motor centers. When this occurs, the organism may fall and cease to move, blink or even breathe, thus appear to be dead and in a state of rigor mortis.

Rawl Joseph suggests the numbing during the fear response is caused by a massive secretion of opiates within the amygdala and basal ganglia, while the rigidity and loss of Will is a consequence hyper-amygdala influences on the medial frontal lobe and corpus and limbic striatum. The amygdala is able to induce these catatonic states, via interconnections with the basal ganglia, brainstem, as well as the medial frontal lobes. Under extremely stressful conditions the striatal, frontal lobe and amygdala, are simultaneously undergoing dopamine depletion, which in turn results in hyperactivation of these areas.

In the Eastern traditions there is a catatonic deathlike state called Nirodha "meaning "prior to the arising of ignorance and volitional impulse." Like deep Samadhi, Nirodha is a very high non-meditative meditative state. During Nirodha there is no time sense, heartbeat and metabolism are slow and practically cease so very little energy is burned, and body temperature drops well below normal. In fact this spiritual catatonia is so deathlike that there is the danger of being mistaken as dead and so buried alive. It is said that Nirodha is a precursor to Ego Death. Nigredo in Western alchemy is the death-like withdrawl of the soul from the body.

"The Gnani (the Enlightened) continually enjoys uninterrupted, transcendental experience, keeping his inner attention always on the Source, in spite of the apparent existence of the ego, which the ignorant imagine to be real. This apparent ego is harmless; it is like the skeleton of a burnt rope--though it has form, it is of no use to tie anything with." Sri Ramana Maharshi

Tingles are felt especially on the left side of the body from the base of the foot up, and bubbles like champagne in the pelvis. Tingles and bubbles are always associated with increased kundalini flow, heat and bliss, so this phenomena is probably an effect of the nervous system and opiate receptors. There is some indication that the tingly feeling of kundalini may be associated with an increased amount of nitric oxide, perhaps in the nerves themselves.

The left-brain freeze was one of the first radical symptoms to arise at the beginning of my July’2000 awakening. This symptom includes a pressure-clamp and numbness covering the left side of the scalp that extends down the forehead and into the eye socket. This numbness started peaking 3 days “before” I met my initiator, so my body-soul already knew exactly when the meeting was to happen. Or rather the alchemy was occurring despite the temporal and geographical distance between us. And my condition proceeded in direct response to when we would meet and be in each others presence, though my conscious mind had no idea we would meet at all. For me the left-brain freeze continued in varying intensity throughout the 3 years that kundalini was highly active, though it was most severe during the 6 month apex. Since this neuroinhibiting clamp only occurs on the left side of the brain, this is another factor leading to the conclusion that the overexcitation of nerves by kundalini energy mostly occurs in the left hemisphere and left side of the body. Although why this is I do not know.

I assumed that this numbing clamp was due to the neuroinhibitors GABA, Glycine and endorphins. In the google video by Robert Sapolsky “Stress, neurodegeneration and Individual Differences,” he said the neuronal defenses against over excitation by glutamate include substances such as adenosine, GABA and taurine. The neuroinhibitor Adenosine plays an important role in biochemical processes, such as energy transfer—as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and (ADP); as well as in signal transduction as cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). Caffeine's stimulatory effects are primarily (although not entirely) credited to its inhibition of adenosine by binding to the same receptors. This reduction in adenosine activity leads to increased activity of the stimulatory neurotransmitter dopamine. Adenosine also acts as a vasodilator of the arteries through the relaxation of smooth muscle, thus might be a factor in both the heart expansions and the red eyelid effect. By blocking adenosine receptors caffeine on the other hand is a vasoconstrictor; 250 milligrams of caffeine can decrease central blood flow by 20-30%. With the information currently available we can assume that the leftbrain freeze is caused by both vasodilation and neuroinhibition.

One can see that the left eyelid is droopy, the pupil is dilated and a strange new consciousness is apparent in the eye itself. During sun meditation as I looked at the sun I found my left eyelid was lit red from the increased blood supply due to dilated blood vessels. (Eyelids are closed during sun meditation as it is not good to actually "look" at the sun.) Understanding the experience of the red eyelid capped off my entire investigation, for once I understood the presence of increased nitric oxide during kundalini and started reading about the freeze response. I realized that the paralysis, the left-brain freeze and red eye lid were not accompanied by the "contraction" of tissues but by their dilation, even if the numbing clamping effect "feels" like a contraction. And that the paralysis during the inner-conjunction may not be due to the over stimulation of the motor-sensory cortex, but due to the freeze response that operates on the brainstem and the dorsal vagus complex.

The neurological cause of the left-brain freeze is probably rather simply explained. Since most of the "electrical" activity is experienced on the left body and left-brain I assume that the numbing of the scalp of the left side of the head is simply the result of massive beta endorphin (opiate) production in an effort to inhibit the excessive nerve firing in the left side of the brain.

This left-brain clamp/crab gives new meaning to the term "numb-skull." Doing mathematics in the head is almost impossible. One has to watch out that one doesn't do silly things, or rather one watches oneself "do" silly things. The effect of having the left-brain function suspended results in the body-soul claiming its own time and space for metamorphosis to occur. The ego and one's life becomes subordinate to the metamorphic crisis as it totally takes over one's existence. With these awesome forces the ego soon learns that it is not in the drivers seat, that it is kundalini that is living us. The numbing effect of the left-brain freeze can reach such acute proportions that I was reduced to a radically "right-brained consciousness" on the day that I met Mr. Universal. On that day my left-brain freeze reached its zenith and right-brain consciousness became more prominent in general during the entire period of the awakening.

The night after leaving my initiators presence I had the most ecstatic divine experience of my life. I had lapsed into a paralyzed, rapturous trance as soon as I had gone to bed. Although time is incalculable during such events, it seemed like for perhaps half an hour or more a blissful electric penis was entering me while ecstatic energy poured upwards through every cell of my body. I call this experience Sex with Eros. It wasn't anything I "did" and it only happened once, sex on that level is not sex, it’s some kind of God communion activity of the cells. I felt like Jesus Christ after the first awakening in 1988, but with this Sex-with-Eros thing, I was God his-very-self and she was a woman. Sex with Eros involves spontaneous prolonged full body orgasm during an inner conjunction, without a partner or any stimulation. However “orgasm” in no way describes the sense of divinity and absolute unity that occurs. I think this is what mythic traditions might have interpreted as having sex with the Gods, or with angels. It might even correspond to the idea of being impregnated by God and consequently the virgin birth. Stimulation of these contractions is probably due to a combination of vasopressin, oxytocin, prostaglandins, nitric oxide and histamine; within the context of generally upgraded sex hormones that occurs during the heating and peak kundalini stages.

As night follows day, the morning after this complete opening I woke to find myself in its opposite. A massive autonomic shock that I call the White Death. This involved an involuntary contraction of my entire body. The skin turns white as adrenaline causes blood to leave the surface tissues and into the vasodilation of the skeletal muscles to be ready for action. My face was white and my hair stuck out like I had been electrocuted and my intestines, liver, spleen and other viscera curled up and were contracted for days. Motor control was impaired and the freeze response, endorphin numbing, (and possible nitric oxide damage) leaves us with the dissociated feeling of "not being in our body." In fact I was so disembodied that morning that I had a Hakomi session (body-centered psychotherapy) to try and put myself back in my body. The Hakomi exercises worked to a degree, at least to help me feel less like a car crash victim or dissociated robot. After any such autonomic shock it is imperative to shake, dance, run, to push against walls with arms, back and legs and make expressive noises to eliminate the stored tension of the freeze response from the body. Dr. Robert Scaer's book The Trauma Spectrum is a great source of information on the freeze response, trauma and PTSD.
(See Nitric Oxide in Septic Shock of the White Death for a biochemical explanation.)

After this radical expansion and contraction the full conflagration of kundalini heat came on, along with intense heart pressure and mystic ecstasies. My left-brain continued to be so contracted that my left scalp, extending into the face and neck was radically numb. The numbness becoming more prominent when the flow of kundalini increased during its monthly progressions. I didn't experience a lot of pain but I did have discomfort and intolerance for the overpowering intensity of the energy. Of course going "with it" rather than resisting or running from it is the answer. To breathe into it and raise the energy up, without fear.

Philip St. Romain in "Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality," says that his kundalini symptoms of the crab, the pincers and the sword on his head, became more painful when he deviated from spiritual alignment into various things like TV, reading, writing, certain foods etc...This pain kept him on track to more fully enter his surrender. Philip St. Romain attributed great significance in the tucking in of the chin to facilitate the free flow of energy between the body and the head, and thought his symptom of the Crab was due to not practicing this neck-lock posture during prayer. He assumed the Crab effect was the result of pressurized cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles.

Vasoactive Amines, that is nitrogen containing substances that dilate blood vessels, include histamine and serotonin, which are strongly vasoactive; and tyramine and dopamine which are also quite vasoactive. Mood elevating Ginkgo Biloba increases the brain uptake of serotonin. Serotonin (5-HT) is a vasodilator. A deficency of serotonin would therefore decrease blood flow due to relative vasoconstriction. Amines are normally rapidly deaminated after they enter the body by monoamine oxidase (MAO), which is present in many tissues. This mitochondrial enzyme catalyses oxidative deamination of almost all vasoactive amines. So normal consumption of such amines not normally a threat. Banana peel is richest source of dopamine 700 mg/g, while the pulp has much less at 10 mg/g.

Since the left-brain freeze always occurs along with radical heart expansion, the numbness might be related to the vasodilators: histamine, nitric oxide, serotonin and acetylcholine. But whatever it is it must be pretty substantial chemistry to exist for more than 3 years at varying intensity. As I mentioned, since the left eyelid was redder on looking toward the sun, suggesting the vessels were dilated, this leads me to assume that the expanded state of the heart and associated dilated blood vessels is a major contributor to the left-brain freeze effect. Could the lowered blood pressure caused by the expanded vessels create this numbness, and why only on the left side if the effect is neurotransmitter based. The numbness actually occurs along with what feels like pretty intense head pressures especially in the prefrontal lobes. The logical answer is that the numbness is endorphin based, but there again why only on the left side of the brain.

Initially I thought that the Left-Brain Freeze (the Crab, Philip St. Roman) was due to the increase in the Heart's electromagnetic field, because the heart expansion is such an overarching, omnipotent affect. But another cause could be related to initation of spleen and immune activity, from the hyper-activation of the sympathetic nervous system during the acute phase of the awakening. In which case histamine would factor into the mix. The left-brain numbness and contraction probably starts at the same time that the spleen contracts releasing its store of blood. Thus the spleen, bone marrow and the immune system reboot to change from normal function to metamorphic mode, in order to break down and dissolve the pupael body. It could be that as long as the spleen is functioning in its metamorphic capacity there may be some left-brain freeze.

If indeed the spleen and macrophages are set into hyperdrive by the expansion and contraction of the nervous system (rapid flipping between hyper-sympathetic to hyper-parasympathetic) then the white blood cells would be producing a lot of nitric oxide (free radicals) and this liberal dosing of vasodilator would keep the hyperactivation of the nervous system going, coupled with the radically increased heart expansion and associated amplified heart electromagnetic field. Within the heightened heart field the entire body would be dissolved and reformed in alignment with the higher template of the expanded heart. The end result of the effect of sustained heart expansion over many years results in the dissolving of body armor and traumatic memory in the brain--thus reducing neurosis, tension and body pain.

During fight flight first the inflammatory response is activated, then when acute danger is over the immune system is activated. This stimulates the spleen to contract, releasing much of its blood into circulation, as well as the liberation of glycogen stores from the liver. It seems all the visceral organs go into a major contraction at the onset of the acute kundalini phase in preparation for the shift to the self-dissolution work. Thus blood leaves the spleen, liver and digestive system and travels to the skeletal muscles to prepare the organism for action in the face of danger and possible injury. At this point histamine metabolism in the bone marrow probably sets off the mechanism of using energy stored in the Calcium bonds in the bones. This provides extra energy for the kundalini conflagration and produces heat.

The acute phase of kundalini seems to largely consist of both fight/flight response and freeze response. That is the body is in a state of hyper-vigilance (go) coupled with a freeze (stop) and this burns a lot of energy without any "work" being done, thus we can loose a lot of weight this way. People often report rapid weight loss during their first awakening especially when this radical shock is more in effect than in latter awakenings. Remember this shock is autonomic, we have no control over it, except perhaps if we are an advanced yogi.

The brain is a hologram of the body, so the condition of various tissues throughout the body is reflected in the nature of the brain. An occluded dead pelvis for instance would have its corresponding occlusion and deficiency in the brain structure and chemistry. Thus when we have kundalini moving through the pelvis it is simultaneously moving through a particular pathway in the brain. The end result of this chemistry seems to be an unlocking of connective tissue, a loosening of the entire body armor and reduction in the pain of the pain-body.

Kriyas are seizure type impulses related to certain neurotransmitters and areas in the brain. Traditionally it was thought kriyas were purifying movements or cleansing actions revealing blocks to the flow of kundalini. They say that yoga arose through observing the various spontaneously arising positions (asanas) created by kriyas. I think this might be partly the case...whether a voluntary complying with the way the energy wants to go, or involuntary compulsory asanas.

It was assumed that kriyas, or the spontaneous convulsions and contorted movements produced by kundalini are stress being released in order to unblock and restructure the tissue to convey greater consciousness. However kriyas are best explained in terms of neurochemistry such as the "overexcitation or disinhibition" of the body's glycine and GABA-producing neurons in the brain centers that coordinate movement. So that the nervous system is all "go" and the inhibiting off-switch is incapacitated. I think they are probably convulsive discharges of the letting go of the freeze response and from spontaneous firing through the motor areas in the brain. The convulsions are more likely to be the result of kindling type brain chemistry that perpetuates itself and slowly changes nerves, brain and cells--until the whole body is transformed to a higher rev state.

Kriyas might be painful with the spontaneous contraction of muscles, not everyone experiences kriyas though. Mostly kundalini is not associated with pain because of the extreme levels of opiates produced. Traditionally the spinal knots that kundalini penetrates are called grathis. In the East they say the root chakra, heart and third eye charkas are the greatest obstacles to the rising of kundalini. However, the process is not linear, it moves with the seasons, returning again and again to the same spot to work at a deeper level each time.

Visual acuity (transcendental vision) goes up in the heating and peak phases of kundalini due to stimulation to the occipital lobe where the visual cortex lies, and to increased pituitary hormones, nitric oxide, histamine, phenylethelamine, dopamine, norephinephrine...and increased blood flow to the brain. Because transcendental vision is very much like being on the drug Ecstasy, which is a dopamine drug, I suspect that it is phenylethylamine and dopamine that gives us the radical shift in vision as though every atom were scintillating and the eyes of love. Whatever the neurotransmitter mix one can assume that more energy passing through the optic brain center leads to scintillating transcendental vision. Kundalini itself is not hallucinogenic, so although there is a high level of opiates being produced, endogenic euthogens are probably not in affect as a general rule.

The increase in psi and telepathy is harder to explain but is probably something equally as simple such as nonlocal primary perception or superconduction of consciousness. The EMF of the human body is probably greatly magnified during kundalini and the brain might be able to pick up the "radio signal" of a significant other. The other alternative is that consciousness doesn't "travel" in any kind of wave, but that it is a "nonlocal" phenomena; but I think we need new physics to explain that one; especially as it relates to precognition.

Psychic and bioenergetic phenomena doesn't actually mean anything other than the meaning we give it. It is only we humans that apply "meaning" to things...Psi, subtle and causal effects are simply a revelation or confirmation of the way the universe is put together. However because it is extrasensory and transcends the mind we tend to think that it is more important than the consensus reality that is based on the cognitive interpretation (prefrontal lobe) of information from the five senses. Just because something is beyond the five senses we think it has greater holy significance and we tend to be drawn hither and tither by our spiritual ambition to “get more God.”

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