Toxic Mind Theory

Progressively it is coming to light that there is a large neuro-detoxification component to the kundalini phenomena. After reading Peter Levine, Robert Scaer, Alan Schore, Arthur Janov, Joseph Chilton Pearce and Ellie Van Winkle it is apparent to me that kundalini arises either spontaneously or through provocation in an effort to bleed of tension held in the limbic brain from the fossilized repression of emotion. Kundalini is a process by which the body is attempting to "throw off" its former conditioning through detoxification, death and regeneration.

I am a big fan of the Toxic Mind Theory of mental and emotional illness which is described by Ellie Van Winkle at
He suggests emotional repression of the full expression of the fight/flight response and the consequent lack of resolution back to a neutral set point, results in the atrophy and toxicosis in catecholamine-noradrenergic neurons. A toxin is anything that cannot be utilized by the cell, and when elimination is impaired, toxins accumulate to intolerable levels and trigger a detoxification process. This cycle of toxification and detoxification shows up in the form of a mild to extreme disturbance in the emotions and personality.
A kundalini awakening represents an intensive and extensive detoxification process during the temporary lifting of the repressive mechanisms of the "conscious" ego. Very many if not all factors lead me to this conclusion. For example fasting or going on a raw diet awakens kundalini because the body at last receives the energy and resources needed to bring about a detoxification crisis. Whereas the normal cooked diet requires so much energy and resources to process that it becomes an ally in the spiritual repressive mechanisms of the ego, as do all such addictions. Thus natural growth and transformation is thwarted as the personality clings to its past imprints by various means of self-suppression; including getting others to victimize you.

Toxic Mind Theory is an elaboration of the stressing and unstressing process. A kundalini awakening is an amplified version of this normal cyclic detoxification process that affects us all. "A detoxification crisis is the sum of many crises in separate neurons, and depressive and excitatory symptoms may occur simultaneously. Whether symptoms will develop depends upon the extent of the toxicosis, and persons who are experiencing symptoms are healthier than those who are not because they are detoxifying their nervous systems." E. Van Winkle

The bipolar shift from over excitement to depression is characteristic of nearly all mental disorders including addictions and Alzheimers. Van Winkle associates the hyperactive stage with excess norepinephrine and other metabolites flooding the synapses; first this causes excitation in postsynaptic neurons and then noradrenergic receptors become bound up with these other factors (dopamine, epinephrine, serotonin, GABA, peptides, amino acids and various waste products) and depression ensues.

Our brain falls into patterns of cyclic neurotoxicity as a result of emotional repression of the fight/flight mechanism during early trauma, social stress, abandonment or deprivation of needs during in our infancy. Thus the neurotoxicity that is addressed by kundalini awakenings is the repressive mechanism built into our primary wiring (0-5 years development). This initial patterning becomes the template for ongoing emotional repression, and lack of neuron-recouperation, which interferes with the smooth running of our catecholamine "activating" neurons. (The Catecholamine metabolism proceeds from tyrosine, to DOPA, to dopamine to norepinephrine and then to epinephrine.)

Van Winkle says that other neurotransitters and metabolites build up in the synapses and this impaired function further contributes to stress. As you can imagine this leads to very inefficient brain function, and often kundalini awakening is initiated during a particularly high “stress/stress relief” cycle. Or rather, since the neuro-repression is unraveling, life circumstances seem to come to a profound nexus and crescendo of inner-outer events hyper-affects us to bring the nervous system to an acute crisis. The repression is thus its own antithesis, in bringing about its dissolution through the polar nature of existence itself. When there is simply no energy left to keep the repression system in place, nature steps in to reset the entire organism through a kundalini awakening, thereby redeeming what might have been a lost childhood, and permitting healing from the slings and arrows of life.
How did this pattern of emotional repression originate? A mother’s behavior must be attuned to the infant’s basic needs. Babies suppress fight/flight responses when their needs are so unmet that they go into a freeze response. The vegetative unmyelinated vagus controls basic metabolism and responds to stress by "immobilisation behaviours." Domesticated animals including humans are sub-natural when it comes to releasing the tension of both fight/flight and freeze. Also children are encouraged to "lie" by inhibiting the expression of fear, anger, sadness, and so the neurotic, dissociated false self that doesn't know what it feels is built. Kundalini awakenings constitute a mechanism for the ultimate release of this primal repression, allowing our brains to evolve and mature beyond the ongoing cycles of repression/neurotoxicity/detoxification.

The ultimate terror for a newborn organism is to be undergoing postbirth separation anxiety without the genuine emotional support of a mother figure. The trauma would still occur if the mother is there but is emotionally absent, distracted, depressed, rejecting or unloving. I suspect that the panic button comes on full bore and simultaneously to protect the baby from its own panic, the numbing or freeze button would also come on. Thus it may not appear from the outside that the baby is in deep distress. From this initial setting of terror, the consequences of this brutal entrance into the world cascade throughout the life of the individual such as: learning disorders, lack of coordination, shyness, lack of direction, chronic loneliness, bodymind schism and the inability to know what one truly feels, lack of a sense of center and focus, inability to feel included, relationship difficulties, diet and digestive disturbance, addictions, self-destructive entropic lifestyle etc… Ultimately leading to physical, emotional and mental diseases of various sorts.

Without a kundalini awakening that primary conditioning that we took on in our infancy still has a huge sway over our bodymind and lives. That is why kundalini can be so scary at times, because it is addressing our most fundamental and primitive structures…way below the domain of rational operation. While the nerves in the emotional limbic areas of the brain are being kindled by kundalini our emotions are unleashed, hence the crying, anger, fear, ecstasy, love, attraction, deja vu etc...that happen in the early stages of the peak. (See Action Matters)

Permanent changes in consciousness occur via kundalini's impact on the nerves by the extra pruning of axions and changes in myelination patterns, and changes in the spectrum of neurotransmitters and firing patterns. But what I don't understand is how the kindling of the brain leads to detoxification of the synapses. For sure kundalini must cause a loss of excitatory glutamate receptors which might contribute to the experience of equanimity and peace, but also to apathy and depression. And once the catecholamine neurons are no longer on permanent alert and forcing the production of the neuroinhibitors: glycine, GABA, optiates and serotonin in an effort to subdue hyper-arousal, the entire brain should come out of its self-suppression and become more available to present moment consciousness.

I suspect that it is the massive ongoing deluge of opiates and the other “relaxation” and pleasure chemicals of kundalini that allow the body to come out of its perpetual hyper-arousal. In this way the nervous system doesn’t need such extensive detoxification as it did during its radical-repressed condition…this leaves more energy and resources for higher states of consciousness and being. As the nervous system becomes more “efficient” and needs less resources to deal with damage control, we essentially incarnate to a greater degree and spiritually evolve. We show up!

As the Spirit finally starts penetrating the “shield of closure” there is a sense of extra "Presence" that accompanies anyone going through an awakening. A Presence which thereafter is forever with us to a greater extent than prior to awakening—because we have become freed from the repressive mechanisms of our primary matrix. Some people interpret this new larger “Presence” as an alien entity, God or spirit of some form, and thus continue the infant denial of their own existence as spirit.
The end result of a kundalini awakening is the significant reduction in body tension and body pain in general, coupled with the calming of emotions and reduction in reactivity. Having more Presence (contemporary available consciousness) we also have a greater sense of self-boundary so conditions of borderline personality, codependency and neurosis in general are reduced or eliminated. With the repression lifted we are both better able to defend ourselves, more trusting and less defensive, because we have the full power of the "unsuppressed" Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis at our disposal.

All our defense mechanisms and aspects of embodiment should therefore be more responsive to ongoing development, and the individual is able to mature at a far greater speed…having as it were the “primal veil of sleep” lifted from ones being. From this Toxic Mind Theory we can see why humans are so good at denial of reality, and what we are sacrificing by keeping this closure from reality intact. Through our repression of truth, we avoid our own incarnation and so are condemned to spiritual loneliness and separation from the cosmic whole.

Van Winkle says that the suppression of anger is more damaging than the trauma itself. For suppressing anger causes toxicosis in the brain which shows up as mood disorders, addictions, PTSD, all manner of depressions, codependency (loss of inner resources) and a host of other mental/emotional disorders. Since the inhibitory mechanisms of the brain are dysinhibited during a kundalini awakening, due to the increase in excitatory chemistry, this is the perfect time for undergoing assisted or self-administered primal therapy. The primal therapy of releasing repressed anger and grief is a simple and effective means of rectifying the toxicosis that is at the heart of most neurological disorders. Once the detoxification process has cleared neural pathways, recovery is virtually complete, restoring memory, intelligence and creativity and overcoming dysphoric symptoms. The native euphoria of the living organism is returned and unity with cosmos reestablished.

"When emotions are being released, the neurons are detoxifying and consciously redirecting the emotions toward past abusers allows neurons that may have been clogged up since childhood to clear." E. Van Winkle

Because of the state of helplessness and submission of the child, we learn early on to use yin/passive/self-destructive means to try and relieve our sense of anger and injustice. Those people that have developed toxicosis from emotional repression are prone to addictions to food, drugs and stimulating circumstances, because these extra stimulants bring on a detoxification crisis. Symptoms of a detoxification crisis include crying, grief, headaches, sweating, fever, anger, depression and panic attacks.
"Proper nutrition is essential to prevent deficiencies and toxicosis. Exogenous toxins are particularly likely to accumulate in the hypothalamus and in some cases maybe the primary cause of symptoms. Dietary changes are known to alleviate symptoms of nervous and mental disease and it is well known that when the nutrition of prisoners is improved the likelihood of violence is diminished. This is because avoiding stimulant foods decreases the severity of detoxification crises. Nutrients in excess of bodily needs and nutrients that have been altered chemically by processing and cooking contribute to toxicosis. Diets high in raw foods are better able to provide nutrients the neurons can utilize and will facilitate the release of toxins, both endogenous and exogenous. Persons who are willing to detoxify their nervous systems of exogenous toxins from food and other environmental sources, and who are willing to do the work of releasing repressed emotions, are the most likely to recover fully." E. Van Winkle
Cellular forgiveness or emotional resolution is achieved upon the completion of detoxification. Eventually the capacity for a healthy fight-flight reaction is restored along with the capacity for healthy anger, sadness and love. The detoxification of the toxemia caused by emotional repression is main component of kundalini awakenings. In fact engaging in emotional expression and breathing in Primal Therapies may indeed trigger a kundalini awakening as part of the detoxification process.

The kundalini phenomena is so exaggerated and complex that parts of the experience obscure other parts. At the start of writing my book I was sure that kundalini was not involved in detoxification because the vividness of the psychic, creative, ecstatic and relational aspects of the experience obscured the neurological metamorphosis itself. Only after I had pieced together the framework of possible chemistry of metamorphosis did the large picture of neurological detoxification come into focus. Then I saw the many causes, signs and symptoms fall perfectly into place within a detoxification theory with its roots in infant development.
That our primary wiring continues to inpact us throughout our life is beautifully expressed in the following example of a woman I interviewed.

"When I left home at 17 till the time my father died when I was 31, I went through cycles of anxiety that would build up till I went home to my parents, after which I would get sick. Like an addict I was using the negative chemistry of my parents relationship to force a detoxification crisis to relieve me of my anxiety; because the hypertonality my initial wiring was created within the context of that same toxic relationship of my parents. So I went through many cycles of hyperarousal/detoxification over this period. A kundalini awakening being a huge version of this same cyclic detoxification process.

After my kundalini awakening, although I am far from thriving in emotional regulation, I don't go through this anxiety cycling/neuro-detox process anymore, which means my brain has fundamentally restructured itself. The awakening was sufficiently catastrophic that the base hypertonality to my brain was changed so the synapses don't get so cluttered with metabolic debris...this means that my neurology is cleansing itself as fast as it is messing house, because my hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis is not set on permanent emergency mode anymore. All other factors being the same, if I had been given adequate loving skin to skin and eye to eye contact in infancy to build up a lush connection between my right orbital complex and my limbic brain, then my emotional regulation would have been stronger and I would not build up the enormous psychic tension that propels kundalini to awaken.”

The “double-bind sensation," of being screwed no matter what you do in life, is generated by disharmonious or frustrated and insufficient loving bond with the mother. It is this neurological default wiring that constitutes the blockage and resistence behind which psychic pressures build to great heights and a kundalini awakening occurs to allow the organism a more normalized, less energy exhausting existence. But of course not all kundalini awakenings are cuased by childhood trauma.

At the hierarchical apex of the limbic system is the orbitofrontal system, which is structurally more expanded in the right hemisphere than in the left. It processes sensory information concerning the external environment and integrates it with subcortically processed feltsense of the internal visceral environment. The orbitofrontal area thus act as an inner reflecting and organizing mechanism to refine emotions in keeping with current sensory input, and allows for adaptive change of inner-state in response to changes in the external environment that are perceived as meaningful. When acting efficiently, this prefrontolimbic regulatory system can regulate lower level subcortical structures that are involved in the earlier processing stages of socioemotional information. Alan Schore says that this adaptive self-regulatory process acts as a "higher preconscious system" that organizes "lower level unconscious states" of bodymind. With weak orbiofrontal development however this leads to recursive rumination usually of a negative nature (ie:worry), magnified protest/despair reactions and the chronic hypertonal HPA axis will lead to hypercortisol, depression and more rapid aging.

Researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have discovered a high tech way to quell panic in rats. They found that when they stimulated neurons near the middle of the prefrontal cortex (infralimbic area), this sends a fear extinguishing signal to the amygdala (fear memory) which reduces "freezing" in rats. It appears that the infralimbic area in the prefrontal lobe is the "safety memory" zone. Through connections between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, the increased activity of infralimbic neurons in the prefrontal cortex strengthens memory of safety by inhibiting the amygdala's memory of fear. The researchers speculate that stimulating parts of the prefrontal cortex in anxiety disorder patients, using an experimental technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation, might help them control fear. Meditation probably does something similar, slowly rewiring the nervous system away from the habit of fear and stress.

If someone is still caught up in a severely toxic social environment chances are that only a maladjusted form of detoxification cycle will occur, represented by addictions and periodic emotional displays or depression. The higher order of detoxification that occurs in kundalini will only happen where there is some relative safety, because only then can the "opening" chemistry of the kundalini occur. If one is in continual "defense" chemistry then there is simply not enough energy and resources available to spark off an awakening. I imagine that a kundalini awakening within a socially toxic (ignorant) environment would most likely lead to madness, unless the individual is naturally a spiritual genius, and has absolute trust in themselves and can objectively see and understand the psychological nature of their community.

It appears that kundalini is a devise that nature uses to eliminate old, inefficient, incapacitating neural hardware, and that humans have perhaps been experiencing such awakenings ever since our prefrontal lobes and the repressive-superego developed. I wonder just where in the evolution of life did kundalini awakenings start? If we knew this we would know more about kundalini’s cosmic function. We can assume that a kundalini awakening is both nature’s compensatory healing crisis for life-negating damage, as well as an inevitable evolutionary progression that occurs after a certain amount of development has occurred. An awakening is the attempt to eradicate harmful repressive brain wiring and force rapid integration to bring the organism up to its innate evolutionary potential and in tune with its contemporary environment.

Culturally we handicap ourselves with our life destroying habits and dissociative child rearing practices—the wild, original us is far nobler, deeper and more profound than we are socialized to be. In essence we have no idea who we really are. It is perversity of the polar play of the Tao that traumatic damage and repression serves to propel us into one of life’s most amazing journeys...simply because consciousness WILL OUT.

Humans even if they are not getting their real needs met still usually survive through to adulthood, and so kundalini is one way of rehabilitating the nervous system. All other animals than humans tend to throw off fight-flight-freeze tension—domestic animals do so less than wild animals however because they have been conditioned into similar repression as humans. Humans however have an increased capacity for repression through having a more advanced prefrontal cortex (superego). And perhaps because of this superior adaptive mechanism to trauma, our nervous systems also have a mechanism called "kundalini awakening" that can dissolve the former trauma induced wiring, and can reinstate a more open, less defensive chemistry once the danger is well and truly over and there is enough energy and resources for the healing crisis. Nature does this in the name of "energy conservation," because it is simply not energy efficient to run an organism on old faulty wiring that is "crying wolf" all the time.

Once the adult brain is "fully myelinated" it takes a "radical chemistry overhaul" and to restructure the brain so completely. To prepare for this cataclysm we are talking decades of preparatory time after the initial stunted neurological development, until the ego structure and body is strong enough to withstand such a catastrophic adjustment process. A weak ego structure vehemently resists its dissolution. And like I say, an individual that is still in a perpetually "dangerous" environment in which they feel unsafe, will simply not have built adequate resources for the Big K. For example a human that was abused as a child and spends their life as a slave, would not have built the kind of complex wiring and neurochemistry it takes to pop.

To be fully understood consciousness needs to be looked at transtemporally. It is our capacity for Higher Consciousness that allows us to descend into the neuronal matrix of our birth experience and infancy, once our Everyday Consciousness is blown away by kundalini, drugs or whatever. Thus to go up is to go down, and to go down allows more space and ability to go up. If the mind is not up to the task of going into infant-birth hell, then we simply don’t go there. It takes a strong mind and enormous energy to go spelunking in the primary matrix, because of the fierce repressive mechanisms of the bodymind that are determined to cut off all trauma and store it safely in the unconscious bowels of our being.

You see it takes a certain amount of conscious development and energy for a system to change into radical dissolution mode in order to reprogram at a higher order. If there is no powerful growth there is no great disparity between the old growth and the new, and so the organism just ticks along in its normal unintegrated fashion. If however there is a great disparity and tension between where the new growth is attempting to go and the faculty of the old system, then nature will force a catastrophic breakdown in order to restructure the original wiring in the morphogenic field of the higher conscious attainment.

It is the differential tension between the old and new growth that initiates the dissolution of the old brain and resurrection of the new. So rapid growth of cognition and brain development could also initiate kundalini, such as when students go to university and away from home for the first time. But the untraumatized nervous system is more apt to slowly release its stored charge more fluently, and so may require more extreme circumstances in order to pop. It is the lack of fluid integration of body, emotion, mind and soul that builds the karmic circumstances through which the central nervous system is brought to fever pitch. Lets just say that a kundalini awakening is the settling of the psychosomatic accounts. Thus a disharmonious primary wiring brings about its own reformation within the context of "adult spiritual achievement" and lived self-inquiry.

That awakening is somewhat aligned with "adult spiritual achievement" is of no big mystery. You see, if someone is still in denial and repression and is using all manner of addictions and defense mechanisms in order to keep their traumatic core under wraps, well there again, they simply do not have the charge, flow, conductivity, strength and resources needed for the genie to voluntarily come out of the bottle. And it is to this purpose of "liberating the Fire within," that spiritual practices such as fasting, toning, meditating, yoga, dancing, music, vision quests, chanting, mudras, and the Inner Arts of awakening are undertaken.

The family system is the basis of a spiritual culture. Ideally families are supposed to be units for the generation and amplification of love and consciousness. When this system becomes disfunctional and abuse occurs, its not so much the trauma from the abuse itself that injures—it's because the conditions of love and consciousness are perturbed and the real damage done to children is through the "insufficient" affect regulation, developmental cues and modelling of higher human Being. In this way dysfunction is passed on generation to generation with various symptoms of distress, disease and maladaption.

We can see that the Neurendocrine and Mitchondrial Theories of Aging combined with the Toxic Mind Theory, present a great basic model for psychological and spiritual health. On the physical level, the speed and efficiency of neurological cleansing and reset, is determined by such factors as cellular hydration, availability of minerals and enzymes, antioxidant capacity, oxygen and nutritional density as well as the obvious neurochemical, adrenal and hormonal status. Then there is the strength, integrity and resilence of the nerves themselves and the body’s ability to cleanse itself through the lymph, kidneys, liver and digestive system. All this and more contributes to our stress/unstress capacity and how fast we can rest and recover, and be ready to take on the next moment of life with no resistance. 
—John A. Speyrer hosts the "Primal Psychotherapy Page