The Kundalini Process: A Christian Understanding
Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality
- by Philip St. Romain
Paperback and digital editions
This is my first post here. Nice forum.
I had a kundalini awakening long ago. Almost 30 years now. People are lucky now that so much is available online.
My question for you is if anyone else out there has experienced the light coming in through the feet?
I think all the books on kundalini talk about the light/energy stirring in the base of the spine. For me, it was full-body. Or even more so--starting some distance below the feet. After so many years, yesterday I found out about the Macro-Cosmic Circuit of Qigong where the light comes in through the Bubbling Wells (or Bubbling Springs) points in the soles of the feet. I haven't studied Qigong yet, so I do not yet understand the implications of this.
I do have to say that I've always felt badly over the years that I didn't sense much practical help available from Christians/Christian tradition. People didn't seem to have any experience in this kind of thing. And that I could never find my peers.
After a certain period in history, I feel like Western culture abandoned its contemplatives. (Or at least that is how it has felt growing up in a Protestant family doing contemplative practices in secret as a child.) Whereas in places like India and Tibet, they have active yogic/contemplative traditions--caves and such that are still being used by ascetics; different villages have resident yogis, etc.
After my kundalini started blasting, I started to get a nesting instinct to settle down near a sacred stream or tree, or in a cave. But in today's world, I was like how the heck could I do that? I ended up going with a Hindu teacher and later lived in India a number of years (which was a lot easier financially to do than in the States) doing a lot of spiritual practice (millions of prayers) where the practices were all Indian, but the spiritual content that arose was medieval Christian--everything became a spontaneous meditation on the Crucifixion (which was very different from my Protestant upbringing that focused on the Resurrection).
I awakened kundalini my senior year in college praying deeply with one of the Psalms. At a certain point, I felt I was asked internally if I wanted to accept what was about to come. Since my heart's desire since junior high was to merge with God, I mentally said, "Yes, of course." (But I had no idea what I was getting into.)
A silver ball of light entered in through my feet and went up my body to the crown of the head. And then back down and out. It was really quite blissful. But later I didn't feel that I should tell anyone. Also, I grew up as a Christian Scientist, and I always (and still am) a bit confused, because CSists say that healing will be a natural outcome of your spiritual growth, whereas I've had all sorts of spiritual experiences and insights, yet healings are rare. Though I think my life has been saved on several occasions by listening to inner guidance.
When I was in India, so much arose in me about Christian mysteries, which are actually meditations. I felt that somehow within me I had gone from growing up on a far-flung branch of a great tree, to connecting with the trunk and roots of it. And yet, I don't know how this is relevant in today's world. The things of the spirit take so long to nurture.
I started prayer on my own at about seven. I was worried/shocked by my lack of a proper spiritual education and got busy myself (even though my parents were devout in their faith, went to church two times a week, said prayers and did almost daily Bible study).
This is getting to be quite long. I'll just say I was really blasted by light for seven years, but this settled down a lot when I focused on a really busy, regimented life. In recent years, I only had a couple of small blasts of energy...the process continues.
Welcome aboard, Mary Ann. I haven't had the experience you mention. In fact, the only vaguely kundalini-like experience I've had is once, for about half an hour, I experienced rivers of living water flowing out of my belly. John 7:38 exactly described the subjective experience.
Thanks, Derek. Beautiful passage. Lovely expression of the living scripture.
"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'"
I wonder why our tradition doesn't have any mapping of these rivers (at least that I know of). What I'm interested in now is to learn more about these energy flows (i.e. via Qigong)to be able to rebalance and hopefully overcome a chronic health condition.
I need to rekindle my sense of wonder and joy. And a sense of humor.
Derek, I appreciate your responding. Sometimes I get into these places where I feel very alone in all of it, even after all these years.
Hi, MaryAnn, re the lack of maps -- I'm not a kundalini expert myself, but I read the posts on Shalom Place, and I've read several of the books. I get the idea that no one really knows. The proportion of humanity that experiences kundalini is tiny, and before the Internet, there wasn't much exchange of experiences. The body of knowledge just doesn't exist. Apart from anything else, I also see a huge amount of individual variation. Your question ("Has anyone else experienced it exactly like this?") is often asked, and almost always the answer is no.
My working hypothesis -- for what it's worth -- is that these effects are analogous to what happens when you sit on your thigh. First the leg goes numb. Then when you get up, you experience the odd tingling we call "pins and needles." So I'm thinking that the release of chronic tension from deep in the body might account for the unusual neurological and perceptual effects we call kundalini.
The most knowedgeable person I know of is a woman named Tara Springett. She used to post on Shalom Place. Tara was raised Catholic, I think, but for many years has been heavily into Tibetan Buddhism. After qualifying as a psychotherapist, Tara got to work with many clients with kundalini symptoms. As a result, she has correlated the symptoms with psychological issues that needed to be resolved.
Sorry I can't be more helpful than that.
Echoing Derek's welcome, MaryAnn, and thank you for sharing your experience with us.
Since the publication of my book on kundalini in 1991, I have heard from many people via email, letters, phone calls and on this forum concerning various experiences of energy, light, expanded consciousness and so forth. A few have described what you have experienced -- energy coming through the feet. Some have found k process to establish within them a deep connection with the earth.
It is different for everyone. The Hindu/yogic description of energy awakening at the base of the spine and ascending up through the chakras to the crown seems an idealized way of talking about the process, though some do indeed experience it that way. The Taoists have a different approach, circulating the energy back down the front of the body and then back up the spine. Some people experience occasional inner lights, tingling sensations, psychic gifts, visions, etc. My sense is that k process has to do with embodying higher consciousness, but that this consciousness isn't always mystical or contemplative, at least not in a religious sense.
The good news is you're on the map. The bad news is that no one knows what the map really looks like. We each have to proceed in fidelity to the leading of the Spirit. For myself, I have found that the process is best integrated within the context of deepening Christian faith, so I try to keep that primary and focus less on the energy phenomena. It's always there, however, though mostly peaceful and enjoyable.
I hope some of this is helpful to you.
I like your approach--working hypothesis--I think in this way, too. I agree that it is highly individual. I also wonder if what some people call as kundalini might be stirrings of prana, not necessarily a process that gets unleashed and can go on for decades and decades.
Thanks for telling me about Tara. I'll take a look at her website, etc.
Yes, sure, although mentally I replace the word "prana" with "bioenergy." Michael Washburn has a theory that the ego is formed by a process of repressing basic bioenergy. Phil made me aware of Washburn's book some years ago. I've just got around to ordering it from Amazon. Are you a book reader? In case you are, it's called The Ego and the Dynamic Ground: A Transpersonal Theory of Human Development. So my theory is that certain spiritual practices dissolve repression, and the previously repressed bioenergy then makes its way back into awareness. This is pleasurable kundalini. I then put this together with Tara's theory of psychological conflicts to hypothesize that distressing kundalini symptoms happen when the derepressed bioenergy becomes snared in unresolved conflicts. It only goes on for decades if those conflicts remain unresolved. So that's my little theory. You're welcome to take it or leave it, as you wish.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. Somehow it is a relief to be reassured that other people, too, have experienced kundalini (or whatever is the right term) in through the feet. It was as though a long, silk veil gets pulled away and then in sweeps the energy. My hunch is that way back, the bridal veil became a symbol of this (one of the great mysteries of union).
Yes, makes sense that the Hindu/yogic description is idealized. I recently watched a DVD of Donna Eden Energy Med (she has seen the energy flows all her life) where she mentioned that color chakra charts are idealized/theoretical. She has yet to see someone whose chakras are all those colors. Rather each person's energy is as individual as their fingerprint.
I went through a very long cycle (30 years?) where the primary motivator seemed to be to merge with God. My body took quite a beating and I focused in mostly a devotional way with some philosophical insight. I used Indian/Hindu forms/prayers but it all came out Christ-focused.
My interest now in the energy flows has a lot to do with health, also I feel like I have kept myself willfully ignorant due to a major bias towards the heart center. For the last four years I've had what has been diagnosed as a benign essential tremor. I've tried many things medically and alt med and still am trying to deal with it.
I think learning about the energy flows and how to restore balance in my own system is a major step in the right direction for me. Also, I think it can help get me back to prayer without a lot of the baggage/assumptions I had brought to it.
Wanting to die into God isn't the most life-affirming way to carry myself in the world. I think the more I can connect/balance the flows in my own body, connect with the planet, and be accessible to others (in a good boundary way), the better.
I'd like to hear more about this:
My sense is that k process has to do with embodying higher consciousness, but that this consciousness isn't always mystical or contemplative, at least not in a religious sense.
Related to the above, what is charisma? Why do some people have it and others don't? (Charismatic people tend to manipulate others and go after personal/selfish agendas.)
I think the foundation for the yogi/mystic is strong ethics and concern for people/creatures. Unfortunately, a lot of the spiritual teachers out there awaken some power and use it for self-gratification at the expense of others--they lack ethics and integrity. It is the same as in other fields except that religion has less transparency and scrutiny.
There are some maps, like acupuncture charts, chakra systems, etc. but they all seem to be pieces of the puzzle. I totally agree no one knows what the map really looks like. I wish I had been ready to admit that decades ago when I went to a spiritual teacher for guidance.
A lot of my present dilemmas have to do with self-acceptance. I could easily have died in India. It was so difficult. A bunch of years later, I'm still trying to regain stamina and well-being. A few days ago at a local church lecture during a quiet moment the thought came to me, "How do you know it wasn't SUPPOSED to be that hard?"
My tendency is to think it is only hard if somehow I'm doing it wrong. In India, after I settled in, my life became a spontaneous meditation on the Crucifixion, while I underwent many hardships and an internal stripping away process. It was a scathing ordeal. At the same time, there was this upwelling of the love of Christ. My life seemed to hang by a thread. I experienced pain and despair on every level to a degree I scarcely know how I survived with sanity and body intact.
Never consciously meditating on the Via Dolorosa, I somehow lived it. Like my own darkest time (of physical and mental suffering) was fused with the Passion of Christ--without conscious effort. It was my own stripping away process but supported by this upwelling meditation. This culminated in a mental vision of Jesus with the crown of thorns and a great swelling of Love in/from my heart.
Somehow, in my own psyche, my personal suffering cannot be separated out from the suffering of Christ. I'm not equating them, it is just that if I try to deeply penetrate into my own suffering, the face of Christ is there from that vision. [Wow, that's kind of cool! Maybe I can stop beating myself up now thinking that I've been dilly-dallying while everyone else is living productive, full lives.]
The thing is I've been pretty jaded about prayer because I don't want more trouble and I still feel exhausted. And my nervous system is overloaded to the max. In trying my best to have fidelity to the Spirit, I've awakened kundalini and landed myself in places like India.
I think my work is to strengthen/balance my body/energy systems, especially the nervous system. The other stuff has a momentum I cannot stop and tend to think these days as almost a fever running through (the little glimpses/images that come through now and then).
I think TaiChi and/or Qigong would be helpful at this point (in addition to yoga and Pilates). Again, I look to Eastern methods to help stabilize me for Christian spiritual experience. Whatever works.
That's really interesting. I like looking at things from different angles. There's some projects I need to get done currently (other than these cathartic/soul-searching posts which I better take a break from soon), so I don't imagine getting to that book for a while.
If you've read my long post above, I wonder if individuals might also help deal with repressed bioenergy in their own families and culture. All of this Christ stuff seems like a medieval storehouse unloading through me.
I mean, the Crucifixion! I grew up a Christian Scientist which was taught that the Catholics dwelled too much on suffering and limitation. The Resurrection and glory of Christ was what it was all about.
These days I just try to observe it and not give much attention but sometimes certain images bubble up during quiet moments--the Madonna; Crucifixes; a cross on fire (Christian kundalini symbolism not KKK); etc. It is something running through. A couple weeks ago it was the word "Shekhinah"--so now it is also tapping into the Judeo aspect of the tradition.
I don't know. I certainly don't want to repress it. Nor do I want to do anything stupid. Witnessing seems a happy medium. Ideally, I would probably do some creative expression around it. But not until I'm stronger/have more stamina because it might open up a whole can of worms. At least with Amazon books you get to take a look/preview, but with kundalini you never know what you are going to get. And it can get pretty damn weird.
Which practices dissolve repression? Yes, Tara's theory makes sense.
I don't know, maybe past-lives are "real" to some extent. If I'm not running cultural stuff, then I have a heavy overlay from medieval nun pastlives. Or maybe some other psychological explanation that I don't know about could be given.
A few years ago after I returned from India, a friend told me about a good psychologist and I went to see him a number of times. At one point I tapped into something that felt like an really intense, core issue. The words associated were, "Vow of poverty."
I backed off at that point. It seemed too hard to deal with at the time. That I needed to focus on healing the body rather than taking that on.
I'm a Protestant who studied with a Hindu teacher. Never asked to take vows and never took any. I did my cloister walk in India. Ascetism sucks. Been there, done that.
And yet the deck is still so stacked against me. I'm not repressing the love of Christ. I'm just not printing it on a t-shirt. What is being repressed in me is the contemporary, American woman who can vote and think for herself. It is almost like I need a what do you call it...not exterminator...an exorcist to get rid of possession by a fanatical medieval saint.
But even that doesn't seem right. It seems like I'm dealing with a cultural overlay, a huge, long, historical overlay. Like a congealed film on the water. It is not personal. It is like a language we use.
I feel like, because I offered my life to God so many times, that I took on a lot of assumptions that aren't necessarily relevant to my life here and now. And since the assumptions have been connected to religion/spirituality, they have been harder for me to examine and consider.
Feeling stuck. Having a hard time moving forward.
Maybe I should dialogue with my inner medieval fanatic.
Thanks you for helping me process.
Any practice that involves directing the mind (e.g. mantra) is repressive. Any practice that does not involve directing the mind (e.g. choiceless awareness) is de-repressive.
Past lives I take to be symbolic representations of pre-symbolic experiences. If you want to work with them my way, the important thing to do is to connect with the feelings they evoke and ignore the symbolic content.
So do you basically mean focus on the feeling (w/o commentary) and witness it (allowing it to move or do whatever but continue witnessing without interpretation?)
Later addition to this response:
I don't agree with practices like mantra being (inherently) repressive. One of the practices I did in India was 10 million mantras (I had to make up my own counting systems, and it took about 3.5 years, plus I was also doing a lot of other stuff).
When you get into those kind of numbers, I don't believe it is repressive. I know the Tibetans have preliminary practices (prostrations, rituals, etc.) to prepare the mind which are said to take about a year if you can do them 8 hours a day. I believe I was doing some version of my own preliminary practices--except it went on for longer and I did other stuff, too.
With those kind of numbers, and that repetition, your mind begins to spill the beans and you get thrown back on the contents of your own mind.
It reminded me of going to a sleep-over in grade school for a classmate's bday. In the morning, all the girls were feeding the hamster peanuts. I was the last girl to feed him. I gave him half a peanut and suddenly I found a lapful of nuts. His pouch had become so full that last little bit made him unload them all into my lap.
According to my reading at the time, traditionally a person would do the 10 million mantras to basically start their practice--to get to know the mantra. Just as they would completely memorize by heart a scripture before they would study it. This way it resonates within your very being, instead of something of the intellect.
Curiously, the mantra I was given (I asked for from the teacher) was for a Hindu deity. However, when I viewed the depiction of the deity in the temple there, spontaneously I understood it to represent the Crucifixion. And a different Hindu deity, Siva, I just saw him as Jesus with his hair tied up. I think your intent is what matters. Even if it is not conscious.This message has been edited. Last edited by: MaryAnn,
Is this all explained in The Ego and the Dynamic Ground: A Transpersonal Theory of Human Development?
Well, I was going to say, you sound exhausted now, so perhaps this is not a good time to begin.
But when you feel ready, you could start in an intellectual, third-person way. What is happening for this medieval nun? How does she feel?
Then you would go on to own the feelings. Express them in the first person with your voice. If you want to go even further, lie down on a mattress on the floor and express them with your body as well as your voice.
This gets to be powerful stuff, and it's best done with a therapist to sit with you to provide a safe container.
No, this is my own learning, from a combination of Shalom Place, some meditation, and some primal therapy back in the 90s and 00s.
|Powered by Social Strata||Page 1 2 3 4|