The Subtle Body

Quantum Medicine
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                               "Mystery Syndromes".

 

 

KUNDALINI

According to well-known teacher and translator Eknath Easwaran, kundalini means "the coiled power," a force which ordinarily rests at the base of the spine, described as being coiled there like a serpent.

Kundalini ( kuṇḍalinī, Sanskrit: literally means coiled. In yoga, a "corporeal energy" - an unconscious, instinctive force, lies coiled at the base of the spine.

The kundalini resides in the sacrum bone in three and a half coils and has been described as a residual power of pure desire.

Kundalini is a sleeping, dormant potential force in the human organism. It is one of the components of an esoteric description of the 'subtle body', which consists of nadis (energy channels), chakras (psychic centres), prana (subtle energy), and bindu (drops of essence).

Kundalini is described as being coiled up at the base of the spine, usually within muladhara chakra. The image given is that of a serpent coiled three and a half times around a smokey grey lingam. Each coil is said to represent one of the three gunas, with the half coil signifying transcendence.

Through meditation, and various esoteric practices, such as Kundalini Yoga, Sahaja Yoga, and Kriya Yoga, the kundalini is awakened, and can rise up through the central nadi, called sushumna, that rises up inside or alongside the spine. The progress of kundalini through the different chakras leads to different levels of awakening and mystical experience, until the kundalini finally reaches the top of the head, Sahasrara chakra, producing an extremely profound mystical experience that is said to be indescribable.

A number of descriptions exist that attempt to explain exactly what the kundalini experience is:

Sri Ramana Maharshi mentioned that the kundalini energy is nothing but the natural energy of the Self, where Self is the universal consciousness (Paramatma) present in every being, and that the individual mind of thoughts cloaks this natural energy from unadulterated expression. Advaita teaches that Self-realization, enlightenment, God-consciousness, nirvana and kundalini awakening are all the same thing, and self-inquiry meditation is considered a very natural and simple means of reaching this goal.

Swami Vivekananda described kundalini briefly in London during his lectures on Raja Yoga as follows:

The kundalini rises from muladhara chakra up a subtle channel at the base of the spine (called Sushumna), and from there to top of the head merging with the sahasrara, or crown chakra. When kundalini Shakti is conceived as a goddess, then, when it rises to the head, it unites itself with the Supreme Being (Lord Shiva). Then the aspirant becomes engrossed in deep meditation and infinite bliss.

 

The arousing of kundalini is said by some to be the one and only way of attaining Divine Wisdom. Self-Realization is said to be equivalent to Divine Wisdom or Gnosis or what amounts to the same thing: self-knowledge. The awakening of the kundalini shows itself as "awakening of inner knowledge" and brings with itself "pure joy, pure knowledge and pure love."

 

 

Kundalini different approaches

The question arises: how is this awakening triggered? There are two broad approaches to kundalini awakening: active and passive.

The active approach involves systematic physical exercises and techniques of concentration, visualization, pranayama and meditation under the guidance of a competent teacher. These techniques come from any of the four main branches of yoga but for this purpose could be termed kundalini yoga.

The passive approach is instead a path of surrender where one lets go of all the impediments to the awakening rather than trying to actively awaken the kundalini. A chief part of the passive approach is shaktipat where one person's kundalini is awakened by another who already has the experience. Shaktipat only raises the kundalini temporarily but gives an experience to use as a basis.

The spiritual teacher Meher Baba emphasized the need for a master when actively trying to awaken the kundalini: "Kundalini is a latent power in the higher body. When awakened it pierces through six chakras or functional centres and activates them. Without a master, awakening of the kundalini cannot take any one very far on the Path; and such indiscriminate or premature awakening is fraught with dangers of self-deception as well as misuse of powers.

The kundalini enables man consciously to cross the lower planes and it ultimately merges into the universal cosmic power of which it is a part, and which also is at times described as kundalini....The important point is that the awakened kundalini is helpful only up to a certain degree, after which it cannot ensure further progress. It cannot dispense with the need for the grace of a Perfect Master"

The experience of kundalini awakening can happen when one is either prepared or  unprepared.

 

Preparedness

According to Hindu tradition, in order to be able to integrate this spiritual energy, a period of careful purification and strengthening of the body and nervous system is usually required beforehand. Yoga and Tantra propose that kundalini energy can be "awakened" by a (teacher), but body and spirit must be prepared by yogic austerities such as pranayama, or breath control, physical exercises, visualization, and chanting.

Patañjali emphasised a firm ethical and moral foundation to ensure the aspirant is comfortable with a reasonable degree of discipline and has a serious intention to awaken their full potential. The student is advised to follow the path in an openhearted manner.

Unpreparedness

Many people’s like to try by themselves without consciousness of what truly is the kundalini power, but the kundalini can also awaken spontaneously, for no obvious reason or triggered by intense personal experiences such as accidents, near death experiences, childbirth, emotional trauma, extreme mental stress, and so on.

A spontaneous awakening in one who is unprepared or without the assistance of a good professional can result in an experience which has been termed as "kundalini crisis", "spiritual emergency" or "kundalini syndrome". The symptoms are said to resemble those of kundalini awakening but are experienced as unpleasant, overwhelming or out of control. Unpleasant side effects are occur when the practitioner has not approached kundalini with due respect and in a narrow egotistical manner.

Kundalini is a highly creative intelligence which dwarfs our own. Kundalini awakening therefore requires surrender; it is not an energy which can be manipulated by the ego.

 

Physical and psychological effects

Physical effects are believed to be a sign of kundalini awakening by some, but described as unwanted side effects pointing to a problem rather than progress by others. The following are either common signs of an awakened kundalini or symptoms of a problem associated with an awakening kundalini (commonly referred to as Kundalini syndrome or physio-Kundalini syndrome):

  • Involuntary jerks, tremors, shaking, itching, tingling, and crawling sensations, especially in the arms and legs
  • Energy rushes or feelings of electricity circulating the body
  • Intense heat (sweating) or cold, especially as energy is experienced passing through the chakras
  • Spontaneous pranayama, asanas, mudras and bandhas
  • Visions or sounds at times associated with a particular chakra
  • Diminished or conversely extreme sexual desire sometimes leading to a state of constant or whole-body orgasm
  • Emotional upheavals or surfacing of unwanted and repressed feelings or thoughts with certain repressed emotions becoming dominant in the conscious mind for short or long periods of time.
  • Headache, migraine, or pressure inside the skull
  • Increased blood pressure and irregular heartbeat
  • Emotional numbness
  • Antisocial tendencies
  • Mood swings with periods of depression or mania
  • Pains in different areas of the body, especially back and neck
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and touch
  • Trance-like and altered states of consciousness
  • Disrupted sleep pattern (periods of insomnia or oversleeping)
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Bliss, feelings of infinite love and universal connectivity, transcendent awareness
  • Etc.

 

Comparisons with other philosophical systems

Vajrayana Buddhism

The tantras of Vajrayana manage a system which is very similar to the Indian systems of kundalini yoga, in that they too manage a series of subtle channels, subtle winds, wheels and subtle drops, and they refer to a force known as kandali which must be raised up the central channel. However, there are a number of differences. Firstly, the descriptions are mostly about 'red bodhicitta', that resides in the lower chakras, and 'white bodhicitta', that resides in the crown. The 'inner fire' is ignited, through practices such as Tummo, which causes all the winds in the body to enter and rise up the central channel. When the fire reaches the crown of the head, the white bodhicitta melts and flows down to the lower chakras, producing profound spiritual experiences of bliss and emptiness. This practice of 'inner fire' is seen as a preliminary yoga to a further set of practices; obtaining the 'Illusory body', and obtaining the 'Clear Light', as well as practices such as dream yoga, and consciousness projection.

Western interpretation

Kundalini is considered an interaction of the subtle body along with chakra energy centers and nadis channels. Each chakra is said to contain special characteristics and with proper training, moving kundalini energy 'through' these chakras can help express or open these characteristics.

Sir John Woodroffe (pen name Arthur Avalon) was one of the first to bring the notion of kundalini to the West. As High Court Judge in Calcutta, he became interested in Shaktism and Hindu Tantra. His translation of and commentary on two key texts was published as The Serpent Power. Woodroffe rendered kundalini as "Serpent Power" for lack of a better term in the English language but "kundala" in Sanskrit means "coiled".

 

Western awareness of the idea of kundalini was strengthened by the Theosophical Society and the interest of the psychoanalyst Carl G.Jung (1875–1961). "Jung's seminar on kundalini yoga, presented to the Psychological Club in Zurich in 1932, has been widely regarded as a milestone in the psychological understanding of Eastern thought.

Kundalini yoga presented Jung with a model for the development of higher consciousness, and he interpreted its symbols in terms of the process of individuation".

Sri Aurobindo was the other great authority scholar on Kundalini parallel to Sir John Woodroffe, with a somewhat different viewpoint, according to Mary Scott (who is herself a later day scholar on Kundalini and its physical basis) and was a member of the Theosophical Society.

Another populariser of the concept of kundalini among Western readers was Gopi Krishna. His autobiography is entitled Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man. According to one writer his writings influenced Western interest in kundalini yoga.

In the early 1930s two Italian scholars, Tommaso Palamidessi and Julius Evola, published several books with the intent of re-interpreting alchemy with reference to yoga.  Those works had an impact on modern interpretations of Alchemy as a mystical science. In those works, kundalini is called an Igneous Power or Serpentine Fire.

New Age

Kundalini references may commonly be found in a wide variety of derivative "New Age" presentations, and is a catchword that has been adopted by many new religious movements. However, some commentators, such as transpersonal psychologist disapprove of New Age authors and groups who have appropriated certain Yogic Sanskrit terms, such as chakra, kundalini, and mantra, and claims that they defined them in ways that relate only superficially, if at all, to the traditional meaning of the words.

Psychiatry

Recently, there has been a growing interest within the medical community to study the physiological effects of meditation, and some of these studies have applied the discipline of Kundalini Yoga to their clinical settings. Some modern experimental research seeks to establish links between kundalini practice and the ideas of Wilhelm Reich M.D. the father of Orgonomy.

Orgonomy is the science of the functional laws of cosmic Orgone energy which comprises all natural phenomena from living things to the universe itself. Reich was Freudʼs most important pupil.

The popularization of eastern spiritual practices has been associated with psychological problems in the west. Psychiatric literature notes that "since the influx of eastern spiritual practices and the rising popularity of meditation starting in the 1960s, many people have experienced a variety of psychological difficulties, either while engaged in intensive spiritual practice or spontaneously". Among the psychological difficulties associated with intensive spiritual practice we find "kundalini awakening", "a complex physio-psychospiritual transformative process described in the yogic tradition".

Researchers in the fields of Transpersonal psychology, and Near-death studies have described a complex pattern of sensory, motor, mental and affective symptoms associated with the concept of kundalini, sometimes called the Kundalini Syndrome.

According to the psychiatrist Carl Jung, "...the concept of Kundalini has for us only one use, that is, to describe our own experiences with the unconscious..."

The differentiation between spiritual emergency associated with Kundalini awakening may be viewed as an acute psychotic episode by psychiatrists who are not conversant with the culture. The biological changes of increased P300 amplitudes that occurs with certain Yogic practices may lead to acute psychosis. Biological alterations by Yogic techniques may be used to warn people against such reactions.

The Kundalini Syndrome is a set of sensory, motor, mental and affective symptoms reported predominantly (according to certain writers on the subject) among people who have had a near-death experience; it has also been attributed to practitioners of meditation, yoga, ecc.

Researchers in the fields of psychiatry, transpersonal psychology, and near-death studies, describe a complex pattern of sensory, motor, mental and affective symptoms associated with the concept of Kundalini, sometimes called the Physio-Kundalini syndrome, or Kundalini-syndrome.

This psycho-spiritual and transformative process is believed to occur in connection with a near-death experience, or with prolonged, intensive spiritual or contemplative practice, as practiced within a few sub-disciplines of meditation or yoga.

Other factors that may trigger this symptomatology includes a variety of intense personal crises or experiences.  According to writers in the field of transpersonal psychology the process is not always sudden and dramatic; it can also start slowly and increase gradually in activity over time.  

If the accompanying symptoms unfold in an intense manner that destabilizes the person, the process is usually interpreted as a spiritual emergency.

Symptomatology

In our Research affiliated with the fields of transpersonal psychology and near-death studies suggested some common criteria that describe this condition, of which the most prominent feature is a feeling of energy or heat rushing up the spine.

Other symptoms Category

Symptoms Sensory and motor symptoms

the feeling of cranial pressures

the perception of inner sounds

experiences of inner lights

vibrating or tickling sensations in the lower back

tachycardia (rapid heart rate)

changes in breathing

spontaneous bodily movements

sensations of heat or cold moving through the body

localized bodily pain that starts and stops abruptly

vibrations and itching under the skin

unusual, or intense, sexual sensations

Mental and affective symptoms fear anxiety depersonalization

intense positive or negative emotions

spontaneous speeding of thoughts

spontaneous trance states

experiencing oneself as larger than the physical body

experiences of paranormal consciousness

Symptoms associated with Kundalini-activity might not always represent such activity, but instead be an indication of other medical conditions, in need of attention.

A few theorists within the transpersonal field, such as Greyson, refers to this symptomatology as the "Physio-Kundalini syndrome", while other Western academics use the description Kundalini-experience/awakening when describing clinical features related to the concept of Kundalini.

I underline that any unusual or marked physical symptom needs to be investigated by a qualified medical or psychological professional Doctor even when the experiencers feels and the symptom is nothing more than the expression of the transformative energy in the body.

 

Bentov's "Physio-kundalini syndrome"

Dr. Itzhak Bentov devoted an appendix of his 1977 book Stalking the Wild Pendulum: The Mechanics of Consciousness to what he called “Physio-kundalini Syndrome”.

Bentov's colleague Dr. Lee Sannella subsequently also used the term to describe the incidence of physiological phenomena found to be coexistent with experiences of kundalini.

Both Bentov and Sannella, concurred with Gopi Krishna's view that kundalini is a symptom of an evolution toward higher states of consciousness.

These researchers were especially interested in kundalini problems - unusual physiological occurrences that tended to happen in situations where subjects practiced long periods of meditation without proper guidance or supervision.

Many of Bentov and Sannella's case studies were mostly practitioners of Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Bentov and Sannella held positive views of meditation as a means of releasing stresses in the body.

Their main concern however was that unusual bodily reactions or mental states related to kundalini stimulation might lead to inappropriate and potentially harmful medical interventions.

According to Bentov:

As has been mentioned before, the human nervous system has a tremendous latent capacity for evolution. This evolution can be accelerated either by meditative techniques, or it can occur spontaneously in an unsuspecting individual. In both cases, a sequence of events is triggered, causing sometimes strong and unusual bodily reactions and unusual psychological states. Some of those people who meditate may suspect that these reactions are somehow connected with meditation.

Others, however, who develop these symptoms spontaneously, may panic and seek medical advice. (Sometimes individuals of both groups may seek professional advice.) Unfortunately, however, Western medicine is presently not equipped to handle these problems. Strangely, in spite of the intensity of the symptoms, little or no physical pathology can be found.

In my discussion of diagnosis, I will show that it is possible to recognize the physio-kundalini process and to distinguish it from psychosis, even when these two conditions are temporarily co-present in a particular individual.

This distinction will help make it possible for clinicians to avoid the serious mistakes that have been made in the past. A faulty diagnosis can not only further complicate a case, but also deprive the person who has all the symptoms of an awakening or awakened kundalini of the great transformative and spiritual potential this signals.

The psychological symptoms tend to mimic schizophrenia. It is very likely, therefore, that such individuals may be diagnosed as schizophrenics and be either institutionalized or given very drastic and unwarranted treatment. It is ironic that persons in whom the evolutionary processes of Nature have begun to operate more rapidly, and who can be considered as advanced mutants of the human race, are institutionalized as subnormal by their normal peers.

I have the courage to guess, that this process is not as exotic and rare as one would like to believe, and possibly 30 to 35 percent of all institutionalized schizophrenics belong to this category – a tremendous waste of human potential.

It is my hope that as the material presented here gradually reaches the more open-minded physicians and psychotherapists, and as the syndrome described becomes more widely known, non traumatic methods of dealing with these symptoms will be developed, methods that will not stop but slow down and control the rate at which the evolutionary process is progressing, thus allowing the patients to develop at a safe, acceptable rate and to function normally in everyday environment.

 

Discussion

The awakening of kundalini energies may have side effects and such an awakening, in some instances, may be conceptualized as a spiritual problem.

According to Transpersonal theory the awakening of such energies are "accompanied by alterations in physiology and consciousness understood in terms of the Hindu chakra system". Knowledge of the chakra map may therefore be helpful regarding the interpretation of symptoms. Consultation with a meditation teacher who is not trained in Kundalini techniques, or with a psychiatrist, medical doctor or therapist who is not knowledgeable about this process, often leads to confusion and misunderstanding.

Specialist familiar enough to guide client through the completion of Kundalini karmic release are so rare that the likeliness of having side effects solved smoothly is slim.

Even though the symptoms, at times, may be dramatic and disturbing, theorists such as Sovatsky and Greyson tend to interpret the unfolding symptomatology as largely non-pathological, maturational, and of evolutionary significance for humanity.

According to Scotton Kundalini-symptoms may, or may not, be associated with psychopathology, but are not reducible to any psychopathology. He also thinks that it is important to differentiate between the signs of Kundalini and the symptoms of pathology, and not subsume the signs of Kundalini under a pathological diagnosis. Other writers, such as Kason, tend to view the broad scope of the process, with the accompanying symptoms, as resulting in a "psycho-spiritual house-cleaning".

However, Sovatsky believes that it is important to differentiate between the symptoms of a possible Kundalini awakening, and the symptoms of different preliminary yogic processes or pranic imbalances.

Some clinicians, such as Scotton, notes that classical western psychiatric treatment may not be the most appropriate approach towards kundalini symptomatology. He does mention a few circumstances (mainly involving psychotic ideation) where he finds drug treatment to be appropriate, but he prefers to handle Kundalini episodes with as little physiological intervention, and drug intervention, as possible.

A few writers, within the fields of psychiatry and psychology, have suggested a clinical approach to Kundalini-symptomatology. Possible improvements in the diagnostic system, that are meant to differentiate Kundalini-problems from other disorders, have been suggested, In an article from the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, theorists Turner, Lukoff, Barnhouse & Lu mention Kundalini-problems in relation to the DSM-IV diagnostic category "Religious or Spiritual Problem".

Discussion of Kundalini-symptomatology has also appeared in a few mainstream academic journals, including Psychological Reports, where M. Thalbourne operates with a 35 item "Kundalini Scale".

In the book “The Stormy Search for the Self”, Stanislav Grof, whose wife Christina underwent the dramatic shaktipat experience, gave prominence to increased levels of energy, shaking, memories of traumas, extreme emotions, inner sounds, visions, sexual arousal, and difficulty controlling behaviours.

They recommended anyone having these experiences have a medical examination by a clinician knowledgeable about kundalini because of the similarity between these symptoms and indications of psychiatric and medical problems.

The biological plausibility of meditative practices and Yoga causing acute psychotic illness has been suggested by a psychiatrist as being related to alterations in neurophysiological parameters such as P300 which may be used to prescribe or proscribe yogic and meditative practices to certain people.

Sign of energy emergency

In their 1990 book, transpersonal psychologists Grof and Grof coin the term “spiritual emergency” to describe “critical and experientially difficult stages of a profound psychological transformation that involves one's entire being.” They contrast it with the more gradual process of “spiritual emergence.” They describe the awakening of Kundalini as one of ten varieties of spiritual emergencies.

In the ages-long Kundalini Yoga tradition, a student is only initiated into the practices that awaken the kundalini after a master accepts them as worthy of instruction. The aspirant then takes up their practice, following a strict regimen under the watchful eyes of the master, who for all intents and purposes serves as their counselor and priest.

Yogi Bhajan agreed with Bentov and Sannella and Krishna that problems with kundalini arousal are the result of subtle blockages that must be cleared:

These hallucinations ... and nerve weaknesses mean nothing. If a client working with Kundalini is very blocked up in the spine and pranic nadis, he may have a one time experience when the channels are cleared.

These things may happen when someone's nervous system has not been properly prepared, or if they do not use the technique properly. The real measure of kundalini rising is your consciousness from energy and the courage you bring to your life. These momentary flashes brought on by weakness have nothing to do with kundalini.

Sannella advises that the doubts and fears that might arise during the kundalini process be handled in a supportive environment. Anyone encountering difficulties should consult with someone with experience in this area. He also cautions that breathing exercises are hazardous unless practiced under the guidance of a competent professional teacher.

 

Treatment

I defined kundalini difficulties as the release of blockages in the body-mind spiritual system, best treated by a gentle program of meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, balancing the human energy fields, opening the chakra and Balancing or raising the electric human vibrations:

...the stresses in the system are actually energy patterns, and they have to be converted or eliminated from the body. One of the most common forms into which these stresses are converted is body movement. It is not unusual to see people who are meditating go through different involuntary body movements, such as moving the arms, head, shaking of the whole body, etc. The heavier the stresses that are given off, the stronger the movements may become. There are other ways in which these stresses may come out. These are a direct release of emotions, which may take the form of depressions, crying, and general emotionalism. Other ways may manifest simply as temporary pain in different areas of the body. All considered, meditation combined with light body-toning exercises, such as some simple postures and mild breathing exercises, can be the most effective, inexpensive, and fastest system for the removal of stresses from the body. I don't want to give you the impression that anyone who meditates will have the symptoms described above. On the contrary, by far the largest majority of people who practice meditation have very pleasurable or even blissful sensations, and those who have any of the stress symptoms will eventually outgrow them as the level of stress in their bodies diminishes. They then begin to enjoy a feeling of growing inner peace and tranquillity, which is not obtainable by any other means.

A program of interventions, including a prohibition of any consciousness-altering activity, regular energetic vibrational meals even in the absence of appetite, hot baths to relax and draw the person back to their body, and immersion in routine tasks, mild exercise, psychological mild therapy and interaction with others energy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiritually Energetic Transformative Experiences covers a number of factors, including who has spiritual emergencies and why.

Following a number of strategies for living with spiritual transformation. Central to these is a balanced lifestyle.

The following is her 10-point Basics of a Balanced Lifestyle:

  • Develop and stick to a regular routine – have regular rising, bed, and meal times and set aside regular periods each week for exercise.
  • Get plenty of sleep and rest and set aside regular times for daily relaxation and weekly recreation.
  • Do not skip meals. Eat a nutritious, well-balanced vibrational diet. You don't need to deprive yourself of occasional treats, but avoid junk foods in general.
  • Keep the amount of stress and hectic activity to a minimum.
  • Communicate and share your thoughts and feelings with a supportive person daily, or as often as possible.
  • Keep your sex life as normal but pay attention to your body if it seems to be telling you to cut down.
  • Spend time in nature; get plenty of natural daylight.
  • Avoid toxins and self-destructive habits. keep alcohol consumption to a minimum.
  • Get regular physical exercise, at least two or three times a week.
  • Spend a moderate amount of time each day in meditation, prayer, and/or a spiritual practice.

Seven indicators of healthy transformation:

  • You will find yourself developing more noble traits of character, such as compassion, universal love, gratitude, charity, truth, honesty, and humility.
  • Your desire to be of service to humanity will grow and may become a primary focus as your feelings of unity with all humankind and all creation grow.
  • You will have an intense inner yearning for the divine.
  • You may experience a spontaneous flow of tears and overwhelming emotion at the mention or thought of the divine.
  • You will find yourself developing a more clear, discerning intellect and deeper psychological insights, along with a deeper moral fibre.
  • You may find yourself developing new gifts of inspired creativity.
  • You will find yourself repeatedly experiencing mystical states of consciousness.

 

 

 

 

The phenomenon of kundalini energy run amok in the absence of expert guidance first gained popular and academic attention with the case of Gopi Krishna. On his own, Krishna had practised an arduous routine of pre-dawn meditation from the age of seventeen years. In 1937, at the age of thirty-four, Gopi Krishna began to experience dramatic and distressing changes in his body and consciousness. Knowing very little about kundalini, he began to read as much as he could with his altered consciousness. Gradually, with the little helpful information he was able to glean and with the passage of twelve years, Gopi Krishna's kundalini awakening led to the development of new, inspired creativity. Gopi Krishna founded the Kundalini Research Institute and set out to learn more about and to teach others about kundalini. He is the author of several books.

Over the years of my involvement with this area, I have seen many cases of spontaneous and systematic evolution of the nervous system. There are some physiological changes occurring in the body associated with the attainment of these different levels of evolution. These changes may come about slowly, over a period of years, and go unnoticed, or they may occur suddenly. Some of the symptoms resulting from these changes may be very mild and some very powerful, depending on the amount of stress accumulated in the body. ...the stresses in the system are actually energy patterns, and they have to be converted and eliminated from the body. One of the most common forms into which these stresses are converted is body movement. It is not unusual to see people who are meditating go through different involuntary body movements, such as moving the arms, head, shaking of the whole body, etc. The heavier the stresses that are given off, the stronger the movements may become. There are other ways in which these stresses may come out. These are a direct release of emotions, which may take the form of depressions, crying, and general emotionalism. Other ways may manifest simply as temporary pain in different areas of the body.

 

 

DSM-IV: Possible parallels

While kundalini problems are not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, through the efforts of David Lukoff, Francis G. Lu and Robert P. Turner, a new diagnostic category called “Religious or Spiritual Problem” was included in the fourth edition, DSM-IV published in 1994. This category was proposed to offset the tendency of mental health professionals to ignore or pathologize religious and spiritual issues brought into treatment. While acknowledging the consensus within transpersonal psychology that kundalini awakening is a form of spiritual emergence, or emergency, and should not be diagnosed or treated as a mental disorder. From the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, researchers Turner, Lukoff, Barnhouse & Lu discuss Kundalini-symptomatology in relation to the DSM-IV diagnostic category "Religious or Spiritual Problem".

Discussion of Kundalini-symptomatology has also appeared in many mainstream academic journals, including Psychological Reports, where M. Thalbourne operates with a 35 item "Kundalini Scale". The concept also appears, in an article from the Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine where Le Fanu discusses a small detail regarding Kundalini symptomatology in connection with the interpretation of so-called medical "mystery syndromes".

Mistaken psychiatricization of spiritual experiences.

In their paper, Turner et al. list "kundalini awakening" under the heading "Spiritual Emergence/Emergency", along with "mystical and near-death experiences", "shamanistic initiatory crisis", and "psychic opening". The describe kundalini awakening as "a complex physio-psycho-spiritual transformation process described in the Yogic tradition".

According to Turner and his associates, religious and spiritual experiences, when deemed as problems "need to be subjected to more research to better understand their prevalence,clinical presentation, predisposing intrapsychic and interpersonal factors, outcome, relationship to the life cycle, and ethnic factors. Although there is a wealth of clinical literature on these problems, the clinical research on religious and spiritual problems is minimal, with the exception of the many well-designed studies on NDE (Near-Death Experiences) They indicate in the article their hope that increasing research and an openness to alternative cultural narratives among the authors of psychiatry's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) "will help reverse the predicaments surrounding psychiatry's treatment of religious and spiritual issues, i.e. "occasional, devastating misdiagnosis; not infrequent mistreatment; an increasingly poor reputation; inadequate research and theory; and a limitation of psychiatrists' own personal development" (Peck S, 1993, Further along the road less traveled, Simon and Schuster). Some clinicians, such as Scotton, notes that classical western psychiatric treatment may not be the most appropriate approach towards kundalini symptomatology.

 

Mistaken "spiritualization" of psychiatric episodes

Turner and his associates point out that religious or spiritual practice can co-exist with a psychiatric disorder, and the prominence of religious and spiritual concerns in manic-depressive illness. This raises the problem of mistakenly characterizing psychotic behaviors, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, with signs of actual spiritual growth and evolution.

In comparison, in the ages-long Kundalini Yoga tradition, a student is only initiated into the practices that awaken the kundalini after a master accepts them as worthy of instruction. The aspirant then takes up their practice, following a strict regimen under the watchful eyes of the master, who for all intents and purposes serves as their psychiatrist, shaman and priest.

Physical "Symptomatology"

Researchers affiliated with the fields of transpersonal psychology and near-death studies (see references below) have suggested some common criteria that describe kundalini problems, of which the most prominent feature is a feeling of energy or heat rushing up the spine.

  • Other sensory, motor and physiological symptoms may include: the feeling of cranial pressures, the perception of inner sounds, experiences of inner lights, vibrating or tickling sensations in the lower back, vibrations and itching under the skin, cool or flushed skin, tachycardia (rapid heart rate), persistent  bradycardia, changes in breathing, spontaneous bodily movements, spontaneous assumption of yogic postures, sensations of heat or cold moving through the body, localized bodily pain that starts and stops abruptly, and unusual, or intense, sexual sensations.
  • Mental and affective symptoms include: fear, anxiety, depersonalization, intense positive or negative emotions, psychotic symptoms or psychotic ideation, spontaneous slowing or speeding of thoughts, spontaneous trance states, experiencing oneself as larger than the physical body, and experiences of paranormal consciousness.

Summary of known problems: Pseudo psychosis, confusion, panic attacks, depression, sadness, suicidal thoughts, urges to self-mutilate, homicidal urges, arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), exacerbation of prior or current mental illness, insomnia, inability to hold a job, inability to talk, inability to drive, sexual pains, temporary blindness, urticaria or rash, and headaches.

Many researcher within the transpersonal psychology field, such as Dr.Greyson, refers to this symptomatology as the "Physio-Kundalini syndrome", while other Western academics use the description Kundalini-experience/awakening.

The process is not always sudden and dramatic, it can also start slowly and increase gradually in activity over time. If the accompanying symptoms unfold in an intense manner that destabilizes the person, then the situation is usually interpreted as a "spiritual emergency".

Transpersonal literature indicates that the overview of symptoms is not meant to be used as a tool for amateur-diagnostics. According to writers in the field, the interpretation of symptoms is not straight forward.

According to Transpersonal theory the awakening of such energies are "accompanied by alterations in physiology and consciousness understood in terms of the Hindu chakra system". Knowledge of the chakra map may therefore be helpful regarding the interpretation of symptoms. Consultation with a meditation teacher who is not trained in Kundalini techniques, or with a psychiatrist, medical doctor or therapist who is not knowledgeable about this process, often leads to confusion and misunderstanding.

Even though the symptoms, at times, may be dramatic and disturbing, researcher such as Sovatsky and Greyson tend to interpret the unfolding symptomatology as largely non-pathological, maturational, and of evolutionary significance for humanity.

According to Scotton Kundalini-symptoms may, or may not, be associated with psychopathology, but are not reducible to any psychopathology. He also thinks that it is important to differentiate between the signs of Kundalini and the symptoms of pathology, and not subsume the signs of Kundalini under a pathological diagnosis.

However, Dr.Sovatsky believes that it is important to differentiate between the symptoms of a possible Kundalini awakening, and the symptoms of different preliminary yogic processes or pranic imbalances. According to this view, many reported Kundalini problems may rather be signs of the precursor energetic state of pranotthana.

Reference

· Princeton University Press, Book description to C. G Jung - "The Psychology of Kundalini

·  American Psychiatric Association (1994) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-IV). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association

·  Bynum, Edward Bruce. "Research Methods in Clinical Psychospirituality". The Humanistic Psychologist 1996, Vol. 24, No. 2, 257–61

·  Grabovac, Andrea & Ganesan, Soma. Spirituality and Religion in Canadian Psychiatric Residency Training. Canadian Journal Of Psychiatry, Vol 48, No 3, April 2003

·  Greyson, Bruce (2000) Some Neuropsychological Correlates Of The Physio-Kundalini Syndrome. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Vol.32, No. 2

·  ^Judith Coney, Sahaja Yoga: Socializing Processes in a South Asian New Religious Movement (1999) p55-56

·   K.Gyatso. Tantric Grounds and Paths.

·  Scotton (1996), p. 261-262.

· Avalon, Arthur (1974). The Serpent Power. Dover Publications Inc.. p. 1. ISBN 0486230589. "Kundala means coiled."

Yoga", 1999·  Her Holiness Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi Srivastava: "Meta Modern Era", pages 233-248. Vishwa Nirmala Dharma; first edition, 1995. ISBN 978-8186650059

·   Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Kundalini Tantra.

·  "From The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Edited by David Godman".

·  [Complete works of swami vivekananda, http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Complete_Works_of_Swami_Vivekananda/Volume_1/Raja-Yoga/The_Psychic_Prana]

·  Eknath Easwaran, A Glossary of Sanskrit from the Spiritual Tradition of India, Berkeley, Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, 1970, p. 5

·  Kundalini Yoga:http://www.siddhashram.org/kundalini.shtml

·  Kundalini Yoga from Swami Sivanandha: http://www.experiencefestival.com/kundalini

·  Vivekananda, Swami (1915). The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. p. 185. "...kundalini is the one and only way..."

· Eastman, David T. (1985): "Kundalini Demystified", Yoga Journal, September 1985, p.38, California Yoga Teachers Association.

· Baba, Meher (1958), Beams from Meher Baba on the Spiritual Panorama, San Francisco: Sufism Reoriented, pp. 13-14.

·  Eastman, David T. (1985): "Kundalini Demystified", Yoga Journal, September 1985, p.39, California Yoga Teachers Association.

·  Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, The hidden power in humans, Ibera Verlag, pages 47, 48. ISBN 3-85052-197-4

·  Manocha R, Black D, Ryan J, Stough C, Spiro D, [Changing Definitions of Meditation: Physiological Corollorary, Journal of the International Society of Life Sciences, Vol 28 (1), Mar 2010]

·  Eastman, David T. (1985): "Kundalini Demystified", Yoga Journal, September 1985, p.41, California Yoga Teachers Association.

· Eastman, David T. (1985): "Kundalini Demystified", Yoga Journal, September 1985, p.40, California Yoga Teachers Association.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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