25 July 2011

Dear Anonymous

Kundalini is the life current. Or we might say the life force. When it intensifies or awakens itself our subtle body goes through many changes. Sometimes it happens after years of preparation and other times it is a spontaneous awakening. Sometimes it triggers shifts in consciousness that might appear to be depersonalization or a lack of personal identity.

You ask why anyone would want this. People who long for self realization have no control over the longing. It may happen before or after the activation of kundalini. It is like The sexual drive It simply arises at a certain stage of life in some people. Others never become interested and have a passion or focus or other things. It is not the ego that wants self-realization. It is the deep true Self wanting to be liberated from the contractions of the conditioned persona that a person carries, which is usually the cause of unnecessary suffering. Some say they want to end suffering. Some feel a need to know if there is a God or they are wanting to know the meaning of life. Most spiritual seekers do not realize the depth of the deconstruction that spiritual awakening brings, and the true nature of surrender, until they are very deeply engaged in the process It can move from great transcendence and bliss and joy to a feeling of falling apart very quickly. It is not a mistake when this happens. It is the just the way it works for most people

If you have seen clearly that you are not the separate self but are the life force or universal source or spirit (whatever you might call this which is unnamable), and know you are only wearing the cloak or playing the role of a human identity, the mind might react with terror or sadness or some other emotion to pull you back into old patterns. This understanding is very threatening to the ego structure. Some people feel pulled back and forth for years between old patterns of identification and experiences of pure consciousness

There is no question that when awakening happens there can be a loss of drive and of interest in the things you used to enjoy and identify with. This is a very common concern. It is like a whole layer of who we are just falls away. Most people have to find their way into a new way to live. It helps to remember to just be in the moment with what is with consciousness and heart rather than thought. It helps to get out into nature or to explore a few activities you feel drawn to. It helps to set an intention of living in a way that feels intuitively authentic for you and give up concerns about what other people think. You may realize that how you see the world is not the way the mainstream of our society sees it and this can feel lonely to the mind, so it helps to find community and read teachings by those who share your perspective. You can reenter society, work, school, and old activities but you may not feel as engaged in these things as you did in the past. If something feels important or right to do you can learn to consciously lean in and do it even if there is an underlying detachment. This feels better than complete lack of involvement in life. If you do this you will eventually find those activities that are a good fit for you. It is like learning anything. You can learn how to live with life and enjoy other people even though you feel somewhat uninvolved. You can find joy and compassion and curiosity and love in new and unexpected ways, especially if you are just present in the moment with what is! If you can allow your heart to be open, eventually there can be a deep relaxation in just being who you are with no concern for an image and the end of a running dialogue in your head about what you should or shouldn't be.

Often those who go through these changes need to be more grounded, more fully present in their bodies. You can use your intuition about how to eat but it is very helpful not to use intoxicants or drugs and to be sure you get enough protein. You may feel inclined to be vegetarian but if so plan a healthy diet with protein it. Your general health and any challenging issues with digestion may require dietary changes everyone is different in this regard so I cannot make specific suggestions. If you have concerns you might see an Ayurvedic practitioner who can look at your body type and energy and tell you specific suggestions for balance. If there is a lot of energy you may feel extremes of hunger or no appetite at all for a while. There are numerous variations in what the body wants and needs at this time. If the energy is very intense some yogis recommend drinking warm milk with sugar and ghee in it, saying this is a calming drink, certain herbs and oils help with calming the energy down and some yogic asanas are useful for stretching and opening the body so that the energy becomes more harmonious. Many people feel a need to avoid stressful and crowded environments, at least temporarily

You may feel you have had an experience you would like to avoid, feeling you had no true desire for it. But in fact something drew you to the practices that triggered it Even though the result was not what you had thought it would be. You can try to reenter your old life or you can look for the teachings that will confirm your experience and support a new kind of life. You can see the experience as a great blessing and a gift of insight meant to happen in this life or you can put it on a back burner and see it only as a passing phase. Often spiritual growth takes place in spurts and a deep experience is followed by some years of ordinary living and then another leap happens later in life. I would say that is how it was for me, with several distinct stages between the ages of 28 and 60. Everyone has a unique journey in this process that is really only leading us back to our Self, which we come to see was here all along.

You might find the writings of Adyashanti ( esp. “Falling Into Grace” or “The End of Your World”), or Jeff Foster (“An Extraordinary Absence”)helpful. Both had awakenings as young men and describe their way of finding how to move in the world through their writings.

16 July 2011

Dear Anonymous,
I can't say if this is kundalini without knowing a lot more about you. But generally kundalini energy begins by what feels like an eruption of energy moving up the spine or from the feet and causing involuntary body movements. You are experiencing shifts of consciousness, which are often experienced in what is called "awakening" where one begins to experience themselves as pure consciousness and realize that everything is this, and where the boundaries seem to dissolve. This also happens sometimes when people use hallucinigins like LSD or mushrooms, or pot. Some people experience it in a way that is called disassociation by therapists, and this is a psychological condition that especially occurs when someone is under a lot of stress or anxiety or unconsciously wanting to avoid something that is difficult to face. It happens often to children who are being physically or sexually abused. And a few people just naturally tend to experience it. (These are kids who are called day-dreamers in school or who seem not quite present in their life). If these kinds of issues are up for you it might be wise to speak with a counselor or therapist. If not, and the experience is an aspect of spiritual awakening, perhaps if you stop doing any concentration practices and you get more grounded in the world -- making sure you eat well, avoid intoxicants or drugs, spend time walking in nature, doing physical activity i.e. sports or dancing, the phenomena may stop or become less frequent. Since it is already fading away I think there is a good chance it will pass, at least for the time being. However, in many cases once kundalini activates it does not stop moving through the body and one feels tingling, vibration, involuntary movements and other odd experiences at least occasionally. These do not harm you but they feel disorienting until you get used to them. You are also experiencing what yogis call sense withdrawal, where you do not feel clearly the sensations in your body. This is experienced when yogis do certain types of breathing and concentration practices and is part of the path of some yogas which lead to the realization of Self as pure consciousness.

Since you are young and starting school and since your experience is more about shifts of consciousness than energy events it seems possible you can move out of this experience if you just put your attention on other things. This is called "grounding". Getting more in touch with your body connected to the earth!

You ask where this is going. Ultimately a spiritual awakening leads to a felt sense of being in the world but not of it, although paradoxically knowing the body/mind as part of nature. It's a sense of being a spirit embodied. It opens up compassion and appreciation of beauty and love as well as an acceptance of what is. In the end it makes you feel kind of empty and quiet inside and this feels very free and open. But it usually dulls the drives and egoic motivations that are so much a part of western culture, and pulls one more toward a spontaneous and intuitive life lived in the moment. This experience happened very suddenly for Tolle, who I am very familiar with. But he was an older person at the time with his schooling behind him. Almost everyone else I have ever met or spoken to have spent years in this process, after awakening, and only gradually coming into a natural and comfortable life. If you feel you want spiritual direction and awakening at this time in your life I recommend you connect with the website www.adyashanti.org, as Adya is a teacher who speaks very clearly about the process of awakening in ordinary life. His books and tapes could be very helpful. These changes are much easier to deal with when you let go of fear and just see them as part of your own growth process; in the way that going through puberty changes you, so does the awakening of energy and consciousness.
If you want the experience to stop, the most useful things you can do are to take good care of your body , learn more about spiritual awakening, get involved in things that interest you, and stop doing any practices that seem to make you uncomfortable. You might try working in a garden or on cars, or baking bread -- concrete, sensate experiences. If you want to follow this new spiritual direction the suggestions are the same but you may also want to learn a little yoga (telling the teacher you need to ground!) and learn to relax with the process, substituting curiousity for fear.
I wish you well on your journey. Bonnie

13 July 2011

No matter how our health and spirituality function, even when we are perfectly well, struggling with poverty makes life more difficult. But certainly in the east many who have spiritual awakenings are very poor, and live as sadhus moving among ashrams or living on the streets. This activation of energy is about the transformation of consciousness and the opening of the body into a very simple and natural relationship with nature and life. Rather than the external life, it is more about an inner process that has the potential to make someone more okay with how things are, more attuned to the flow of life as it is, more peaceful. It is the mind that struggles and rages with the inequities of life. This process is trying to pull one into a part of themselves that is quiet, open, compassionate and simply present without all the intense feelings generated by thought.

If there are severe physical difficulties it is usually due either to mental anxiety or fear of change, an underlying physical difficulty or limitation, an underlying psychological challenge (e.g. long term depression, anxiety disorder, eating disorder, PTSD), an unhealthy diet or the use of drugs. I have met many people from all levels of society with kundalini activations, and the energy itself can be confusing, shake your body up, take you into altered states, and cause heat and odd spontaneous movements at times. But it does not by itself cause pain and illness. It can aggravate an underlying condition, and it can cause adrenal exhaustion if there is too much energy intensity too often, and it can cause headaches. (you need to bring energy down, more into the heart or belly if there are headaches). In a few people who are very sensitive it is very draining and debilitating. If the energy is stuck in the lower chakras it can cause sexual preoccupation or stomach discomforts. It needs to move up and through the whole system.

If one has an income source or someone in their life to support them it is a great blessing when the need is to rest and be away from the intensity of the working world. Many people find they cannot sustain the kind of work environment they had been adapted to prior to awakening, and seek ways to simplify their lives. It is essential to find a lifestyle that is authentic for you. Although triggers that seem to cause awakening can be identified, no one can say exactly why some people activate this transformation and others never do, but it seems as if it was just meant to be in this lifetime. The intention of this process does not seem to be about destroying your life so much as opening your consciousness to feel itself as one with all things, relaxing into just being, and awakening to the unlimited potentiality and expression of consciousness. Your identity is challenged and those things you think you are (female, male,child, parent, worker, profesional, rich, poor, inadequate, smart, healthy, ill --everything) are seen to be temporary appearances while underneath it all is a quiet spirit and presence that is the true "I" and knows it is only temporarily playing this role. This awakening is not something the mind can decide or understand,and certainly not control when it happens, but it is something consciousness itself realizes as part of the whole experience of spiritual awakening. The kundalini is the life force trying to make realization possible. It doesn't care if you are rich or poor -- it wants you to become awake.

There is very little opportunity in the west to find understanding and support for this process. It is totally out of the mainstream direction and thinking of our culture which is built on the glorifying individual success and accomplishment. So people experiencing it can become very frightened and alone and this makes the struggle even more difficult. But what is needed is an internal meeting of the process, time to ground yourself walking in nature and being quiet inside, a simple diet with a protein source that helps you ground, an ability to listen deeply to your own inner guidance and to trust the process. None of these things cost money. You can also find companionship on the journey on the web, read the teachings of spiritual masters like Ramana Maharshi or modern teachers like Adyashanti, and if you are well enough you could do some service in the world that you feel called to. You can do a simple meditation of just sitting in presence. There is much access to resources today that did not exist even 15 years ago.

I know it sounds crazy to the mind but there is an old saying "What you resist, persists" Once we stop resisting our circumstances, and stop "arguing with reality" (as Adyashanti puts it) all that energy that goes into anger, disappointment and longing for something to be other than it is can be released. Then we can find a new deeper creative energy within us and begin to take small steps in the direction our heart is leading us, and positive changes can happen in our life. Sometimes our old patterns of how to make things happen just don't work anymore but we keep looking at life from an old position and can't see other alternatives. Awakening to your true nature, and relaxing into just being-ness, can offer a whole new perspective.

People enter this process with many issues -- not just limited resources or poverty. Some have disabled relatives they care for, or alcoholic partners, or cancer, or abusive situations that need to be addressed. I have known people whose homes were flooded or burned to the ground. Anything in our external life can be a hurdle that feels like the kundalini process is just too much to deal with, but it is actually an invitation out of that identification and into a realization of the part of us that is not suffering, that is awake and present in the now of living. From this place it is easier to see what needs to happen and not be overwhelmed by it and thus to make changes that serve our lives. It is not thought and mental activity that frees us-- it is spirit.