A Great Journey
psychotherapist with extensive experience of kundalini comments
on the risks and benefits of awakening.
By BONNIE GREENWELL
24, 2000 1:09 AM
You have a beautiful
website and it has much potential for reaching people who want to
understand their spiritual processes and the deeper meaning of them.
I am writing because
your site was referred to me by a client who was very alarmed by
some of the comments in Glenn Morris's article, Partial
Kundalini Awakening: No Such Thing.
I am a researcher,
psychotherapist and the author of Energies
of Transformation: A Guide to the Kundalini Process. I have
worked with hundreds of people over the past 15 years who I believe
were in a kundalini process. It is a great challenge to help people
tolerate the non-ordinary experiences they have as a consequence
of spiritual awakening when they are told that this is dangerous
and they could go insane (a common perspective of medical people
who have no paradigm for this experience, and of some meditation
or martial art teachers who have no knowledge of psychology and
very little of the mystical elements of kundalini awakening).
Kundalini has been known
in every culture for thousands of years and if you read the lives
of mystics it is easy to recognize. It is an innate potentiality
for each of us.The confusion, pain that may (but does not always)
arise, visions, inner sounds, energy and heat rushes, and flushing
up of old psychological issues -- are not insanity! They are a process
that is trying to transform you.
I am a founder of the
Kundalini Research Network
and have organized several conferences and attended all but one
of their conferences. Very few people who come to these events (we
have had nine conferences) were ever hospitalized for this experience.(If
I had to guess I would say maybe 5% -- perhaps about 10 people of
the hundreds I have interviewed.) If they were hospitalized it was
usually as a result of a drug reaction, or a misdiagnosis by a doctor,
or during a brief crisis which was resolved within a few days.
Kundalini does not make
you insane with the following exceptions: 1) If it awakens in someone
who has a very shaky personality structure to begin with, who has
always had problems and who is already on an edge; or 2) the person
is using drugs, usually pretty heavily, at the time of awakening.
(This is not insanity but a drug-induced reaction which usually
clears up in a few weeks if the person changes their habits). Some
people become dysfunctional, but hardly insane, because they do
practices that are too intense for their constitution and their
life is out of balance. This energy will not work well if you use
alcohol regularly, have sex promiscuously, hang out with toxic people,
or live a frantic and overstretched lifestyle. (This is not a moral
issue -- it is an energetic issue -- the process needs your cooperation
to work well).
This awakening demands
that we put our life and attitudes in order, mature our expectations
of life, give up stressful work and toxic relationships, develop
moderation, and get our health in balance. People who have a history
of abuse or trauma, or PTSD, or perhaps had an NDE that triggered
their awakening may have greater difficulties adjusting because
the awakening can bring up all the unfinished psychological business
and the cellular memory of their trauma. They need to get therapy
and learn to trust and have compassion for themselves and others.
Once they have worked through the psychological issues it is easier
to work effectively with the spiritual energy.
Many people have partial
awakenings. In fact, hardly anyone has a full awakening, which would
imply they are completely free and enlightened. Ramana Maharshi
could be a model of this. Being free means making no personal demands
of life, no emotional upheavals, no old personality traps to fall
into. It means one lives spontaneously with recognition that there
is nothing other than god, that all of us are the play of consciousness.
Such people are happy -- why not? They make no personal demands
Many people have gradual
awakenings which bring a slowly expanding capacity to experience
altered states of being, greater compassion, a tendency to service
in the world, a sense of peace, the loss of the fear of death and
other benefits. Some yogic and Buddhist systems provide an awakening
so gradual it has no difficulties. Some people have dramatic awakenings
through all the chakras at once and feel blown out into space. This
may seem to be a "full" awakening but it is not the complete experience
unless they are completely transformed. Generally the energy settles
back down, with a continual hum remaining in the body, and months
and years of personal work are needed to find the natural peace
and completion of this experience. If people use kundalini for power,
control, manipulation -- they are stuck. They are not fully awakened.
They have activated a powerful connection with the life-force but
they have not completed the transformative potential of this experience,
which is basically union with all that is and the dissolution of
People who are fully
transformed by the process are kind, present, exude a dispassionate
love, and seem to be empty of all conflict. This completion is a
major step for the ego, because it is ultimately dissolved, so it
is not surprising or wrong that anyone takes a lifetime or more
to get through it, with much backsliding and distraction. After
all, we are attached to being who we are and many of us worked hard
to get to a strong sense of personal self.
is the beginning of a journey that will eventually shift all of
your thinking, feeling and spiritual perspectives until you see
the ego for the illusion it is. It can be a great journey if you
are prepared or willing to make it. If you are angry, resistant,
physically unwell, have a tendency to cling to people or ideas,
push yourself too hard into extreme practices, and misunderstand
this process as "insanity" you can have great difficulties with
it. Certainly there are some mentally unstable folks that may have
an awakening and will not be able to deal with it effectively. But
95% of those I have met in this process are creative, well-educated,
successful, sensitive, loving, and remarkable people in the world.
They are not saints and mystics in the traditional sense -- they
are ordinary but vital and comfortable with a spirituality and a
lifestyle they know is not consensus or mainstream. They work to
find ways to live a life in line with the profound beauty, love
and ecstasy they have experienced. They experience either devotion
to or union with what we might call the source of life.
I hope you will encourage
those who write to you with problems to get help if it is a psychological
problem, but recognize when it is a spiritual problem, known for
centuries. I have over 300 scriptures, lectures and biographies
from spiritual traditions that describe kundalini awakening in positive
(although often challenging) terms. It is simply a secret in our
society where we have allowed external sources to define what god
is and what we have to do to be in relationship with "him."
Anyone who has spent much time in this process has had deep, profound
connections with the source that has taught them lessons well beyond
any Western religious studies. I hope you can help people trust
this. They are in no way crazy. They have simply had glimpses of
truth and freedom. I have met the most creative, vital, strong,
capable, passionate, and loving people all over the world who are
living this experience.
I have a personal website
your members may be interested in -- kundaliniguide.com
-- and I work with people individually by email
or in person in the San Francisco Bay area. The Kundalini
Research Network has a site at kundalininet.org. We hope to
have a one-day regional meeting in Aptos, California in October
but the schedule is not yet firmed up. People can get on the mailing
list by emailing me their mailing address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kundalini Research Network
RELATED PAGES ON THIS SITE
Our main reference page
on kundalini. Overview, links, book reviews.
Partial Kundalini Awakening: No Such Thing
By Dr. Glenn Morris
article to which the author of this letter is responding.
international group of physicians, psychologists, researchers, therapists,
and other people interested in spiritual states of consciousness
and their relationship to kundalini.
Dr. Bonnie Greenwell's website.