"Following the way of Yoga a man must reach the state of Samadhi, that is, of ecstasy or enlightenment, in which alone truth can be understood." 249, P.D. Ouspensky, A New Model of the Universe, Dover, 1997
Our modern cultural conditions such as sedentary lifestyle, removal from nature and cooked-clogging diets are not conducive to kundalini flow or awakening. This means when we do pop it tends to be explosive rather than an ongoing thread of alchemy throughout our lifetime. Still I don't think it should be the aim of spiritual practices like yoga and meditation to have a nice smooth calm awakening. Safe growth is translation not transformation. It is the machination of the ego to want to control the process of evolution, either through balance or through exaggeration of the extremes. Spiritual practices however can tend to tame the ego's resistance to the process so that less friction and damage to the organism occurs, thereby making the metamorphic process more thorough and enduring. If one wants to establish a kundalini practice then I personally think that fasting, a raw diet, overt-generosity, compassionate action and adventure to be a better method of popping than preoccupation with yogic practices.
It is the unusual nature and intensity of metamorphosis which forces respect, awareness, awe and faith. Fear is unavoidable with the hyperactivation of the sympathetic nervous system and the unknown quality of what is happening and where it's going. But in the end passing through this fear leaves one with such an altered perspective and physiology that one essentially transcends the collective fear. Only then do we have any power to dispel consensus fear and increase love in the world. We become karma eating machines, offering cellular forgiveness.
Whether rocky or calm one always has the awakening specifically designed for one's own needs. Each individual is different. Some nuts are harder to crack than others and so take more force or unusual mechanisms to open. Kundalini herself will guide the way if we listen intently to be informed from within and hold lightly to our "shoulds" and known concepts.
During Gobi Krishna's major cycle he was having severe problems with extreme energy, aberrant mental states, heat, fear and pain. Although there was very little help available for him (even in India at the time), someone did tell him that if the energy goes up the right sympathetic trunk (pingala) that his could result in the symptoms he was experiencing, and possibly end in death. During the height of his suffering he had the intuition to concentrate on directing the current up the central channel of the spine. After success at doing this, his torturous symptoms abated and he entered a more gentle, blissful and illuminated awakening, which lasted the rest of his life.
Those who have had a childhood of abuse, neglect of dysfunction, tend to have more catastrophic awakenings because their systems are built for repression and dissociation. This is not always the case but it is a pattern. One can imagine that the more loving-touch and self-validation, the child receives the more efficiently wired their nervous system will be, and the fewer psycho-somatic and emotional blocks they will have. But consciousness will out no matter what the formative structure.
The nature of one's individual awakening not only depends on one's past history it is also determined by one's future history. That is, what one is to become and experience is already at play in one's present. In-forming us trans-temporally in ways the rational mind cannot perceive. The tree is already inherent in the seed. The future magnetically draws us toward it. One could call this, the karma of the future.
It seems like the more open, surrendered and evolved one is, then the more challenge one is faced with in incarnating one's soul. So here's the rub...the more spiritual preparation one does, the larger the flow of kundalini coursing through one. But if we don't have some form of yoga and meditation, then we are upstream without a paddle and are battered about on the rapids with no sense of control over our boat. Traditional spiritual practices were developed to both bring on an awakening, give one the strength and skills for navigating the awakening and to substantiate the awakening in the life of the individual and his/her relationship to the world.
Pranotthana is Sanskrit for intensified, uplifted life-energy. I find it endlessly ironic that the hardest thing we will ever have to face in life is the pranotthana of our Self. Fortunately now with modern science we can largely understand the unusual and disturbing symptoms, raise our homeostatic coping ability and avoid a lot of the dangers posed by radically increased life-force. Although they had traditional medicines and intuitive wisdom, the amazing Realizers of the past did not have the comfort of scientific rationality by which to understand and accept what was happening to them.
Ramakrishna told his disciples that after several samadhis, he actually feared that he would no longer be able to look after himself. Because the old has to die before the new emerges, there will always be this feeling of being completely "out of our depth" during some leg of the journey. However through rational understanding, self-inquiry and reassurance from the experience of others, we can greatly reduce secondary stress, resistance and negative coping mechanisms, such that we can learn to flow with the evolutionary force, rather than fight against it.
Our attitude toward being "out of our depth," and toward the death of the old and how well we can accept the Great Unknown, will largely determine how well we weather our kundalini journey. If we fight with kundalini it will harm us, but if we learn the cosmic ways of metamorphosis and fall into sublime relationship with it, trusting the very force of the power itself, it will transform our frog-self into our Royal being.
The yogic traditions that were developed in response to the evolutionary urge include:
All of us need to develop and integrate these various sides of ourselves to support a positive awakening, however we will likely be drawn more toward one or another at various times of our lives. Of course this rounded development is none other than taking care of the three domains of Being: I, We and It, which is outlined throughout Ken Wilber's work. He gives Integral Practice suggestions in Integral Psychology on page 544; and One Taste page 130; and also in The Essential Ken Wilber on page 105. The Integral Institute has put together a Integral Life Practice Starter Kit to help with establishing ones own integral spiritual practice. Integral Spirituality: The Role of Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World by Ken Wilber, Aug 8, 2006. For a porthole into the Wilber World go to: Integral Institute
Integral lifestyle is essential to balance body, brain function, emotions, intellect and spirit. If we do not apply ourselves to developing our lives integrally then we tend to narrow our focus and become habitually lopsided real fast. Then any self-realization our awakening has given us is undermined by the lack of balanced foundation to our lives. The amplified energies and awareness of awakening will tend to exaggerate the insufficiencies in our lifestyle and being, making it easier to see where we need to apply ourselves.
During a kundalini awakening we are at a lifetime peak in pituitary potency, this raises our center of being to the psychic level, through which we have access to a vastly higher vision and taste of reality. While at that level we cannot fit our larger being down into the consensus flatland "reality," thus when in this higher operational mode we become acquainted with our essential aloneness.
As well as the endocrine glands, the spleen, liver and stomach-brain, heart-brain are radically important to the metamorphic process. We can assume that the reserves in liver and spleen are being used up during the peak, and this along with exhaustion of neurotransmitters, hormones, enzymes etc... causes the classic burnout effects. After the 3 year peak is over the pituitary hormones drop off and we can fall into a slump, losing our psychic abilities, inner-navigation, motivation, attractiveness and attraction to others, purpose, meaning, drive, zest etc... From the heights of Everest we may drop back down to crowd consciousness and forget the power of our visions.
One thing we must be aware of while at the height of our psychic function is that as the awakening leaves us, and as we go into the exhaustion phase we might become "less" psychic than we were prior to the awakening. As a culture when we learn to manage kundalini without excessive organic damage, we should be able to grow in a fashion that prevents horrendous slumps in our functioning. But we should anticipate and be "prepared" for a loss of physic ability so that we do not become soul-sick from our apparent loss of depth.
Integral practice prior to awakening will deepen the integration and integrity of our hormonal base so that when an awakening occurs we can use the peaking energies and hormones to productive effect, rather than have them wasted in resistance, dysfunction and coping mechanisms. Integral practice will permanently up our baseline pituitary hormone levels so that we do not fall quite as low after an awakening.
To illustrate the need for preparation I will quote a very important passage from Ouspensky's A New Model of the Universe.
"Hatha yoga prepares the physical body of man to bear all the hardship connected with the functioning in him of the higher psychic forces; higher consciousness, will, intense emotions etc... These forces do not function in ordinary man. Their awakening and development produce a terrific strain and pressure on the physical body. And if the body is not trained and prepared by special exercises, if it is in its usual sickly condition, it is unable to withstand this pressure and cannot keep up with the unusually intensive work of the organs of perception and consciousness, which is inevitably connected with the development of the higher forces and possibilities of man. In order to enable the heart, brain and nervous system (and also the other organs the role of which in the psychic life of man is little, if at all, known to Western science) to bear the pressure of new functions the whole body must be well balanced, harmonized, purified, put in order and prepared for the new and tremendously hard work that awaits it." 249
What is the motive of the need to kindle kundalini? I question the soundness of trying to initiate kundalini via yoga practices. I think just to have a yoga/meditation practice for its own sake is the correct way to go about it. In my experience kundalini sparks up spontaneously in the course of one's life through the interplay of stress/release, pain/pleasure, trauma/achievement. Going after kundalini is like going after orgasm for its own sake, it's masturbation. Saying that however, I think that only the raising of kundalini (or various extreme life experiences that facilitate neuronal dissolution and regrowth), can free us from the pain-body, neurosis, trauma and the miasmas of past history that we have recorded in our tissues.
We can never know what kundalini is like until it sparks up and in our unbalanced western bodies the fire is going to pretty much dismantle our existing life. You have to be spiritually advanced or supported in order to keep up productivity and function during the height of the flame. Everyone is going to get some downtime, some crisis, some death--this is unavoidable during a full-on awakening. Yet to be afraid of kundalini only amplifies the dangers, for it is like being afraid of one's own soul. Realizing that kundalini is the very process of incarnation itself, we can devote the very best of ourselves to learning all we can, and respecting the process with the same devotion we would apply to God. A triumphant, successful kundalini awakening is reliant on our potential to surrender to illumination, ourSelf and love.
The adventure of Self discovery takes us to our edge, puts us in various life and death situations that quicken our spiritual metabolism. Through adventure we evolve by facing challenge and so real life skills are learnt. We grow by living out our hero's journey. We discover the various characters, heroes and antiheros within.
How does spiritual practice fit into the Hero's journey in the making of soul? Spiritual practice won't make a soul, only the Hero's journey will. However, practice will prepare us and give us resources for the journey. At times a left-brain methodical approach might be what is needed to build strength, energy and hope. Kind of like, build ones inner resources and the journey will come! Spiritual practice helps us maintain our core and ballast as we are going on our adventure, but it's not the adventure itself. Our adventure is nothing other than following our Muse.
Of course it's helpful to have a guide or friends on the path, but if one wants to be an independent researcher one needs to do it alone, for the amount of misinformation and distraction out there is infinite. Also, through having to guide oneself, one finds the inner guide whom is infinitely intelligent. If we feel the need to rely on outside sources, we may remain dependent instead of discovering the source within. The progression of maturity goes: dependent--self-survival--self-actualization. The more we fail and have to pull "ourselves" up, the further we get in the process of self-actualization. The beauty of having a teacher or master is that through state-resonance we can stabilize ourselves faster, and have less secondary symptoms and fear. But for an investigator such as myself, I have to go it alone, it's my duty in consciousness, for only then can I bring "new" riches into the world.
Meditation leads to a balancing of the neuronal activity of left/right hemispheres, overall brain syncopation, balances the sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems, and reduces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline to provide a deeper rest, relaxation and recovery period. The inhibiting neurotransmitter GABA increases in the blood during meditation. Regular meditation will permanently reduce the baseline activation of the Hypthalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis.
Some of the factors that play into meditations benefital effects are perhaps magnetization of blood and economy of enzyme use. It probably leads to growth of neurons, increased dentrite connections, regeneration of receptor sites, conservation of neurotransmitters, plasticity of brain function, hence enhancing learning and memory. Not to mention the "potentization" of the hormonal system through maximizing the health of the pituitary gland. Also with increased ionization of the cerebral spinal fluid, the action potentials of the nerves are stronger. Thus the body is able to substantiate the structure of the Higher Self, essentially incarnating a deeper more profound human experience. So this is like amplifying ones neurology such that the governing "host" has more conscious control over the bodymind. Only that which is made conscious can be "dropped."
The way I see it is that meditation reduces friction, strengthens, detoxifies and regenerates. With the balancing of the autonomic nervous system there is a removal of excess energy from reptilian defense system, thus allowing brain function to become more contemporary rather than ruled by past trauma and reptilian mechanisms. This obviously gives us more prefrontal control over our amygdala (fear center) and limbic brain, and this could be described as a maturing or enlightenment of the mind. Thus new energy and consciousness is made available for higher human capacities rather than being wasted away in reactive animistic responses to our environment and autonomic coping mechanisms to the stresses and traumas of life. The orbitofrontal regulation that our mother originally "provided" (to the degree that she engaged in primal mothering) is now taken over by mediation and spiritual practices in the individuating aspirant.
Only that which is made conscious can be "let go."Is kundalini a Divine or God Energy? Basically it is love. That is the easiest way to describe it...what Joseph Chilton Pearce calls the Intelligence of the Heart and Teilhard de Chardin sees as the next revolution in harnessing the forces of the Universe. It is the intelligence within the atom, cell, organ, brain, organism lit up, integrated and resonant with Love energy. It has the bliss component that anaethetizes former structures so the larger order can transform the being. It is what we mythic humans have tended to call God, and all the various names of God. You could say that it is the butterfly self emerging from the cocoon of the conditioned self...a socialized being into a Universal Being...born unto himself. This miraculous force is truly the most phenomenal process.
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