To understand Kundalini, one needs to be versed in what that means according to the wisdom tradition that gave us the term.
Carl Jung has an excellent book which speaks to spiritual psychosis called The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga. Jung posited that the westerner’s propensity for delving into spiritual concepts that they were not culturally conditioned to fully appreciate could cause some deep confusion and lead to more dramatic rifts in the psyche. Jung doesn’t equate the phenom known in India as Kundalini with the awakening symptoms experienced by many in the West, even as proponents for the correlation like Dr. Lee Sannella, M.D. are beginning to do precisely that.
The West isn’t culturally conditioned to fully appreciate the Eastern Construct of Kundalini. For instance, in India, they live with a pantheon of Gods. This is one example of a construct which westerners no longer live with – not since ancient Rome. Today we call that myth. But Indians, Japanese, Chinese, look at these myths in terms of how they’re manifested in the daily life.
Today there is a trend to consider oneself Kundalini Awakened when presenting with a variety of symptoms that might otherwise present as psychosis, if not severe physical imbalance. According to the Indians though, that’s not Kundalini. In the Indian wisdom tradition, the sages have written explicitly for centuries on exactly what a Kundalini awakening looks like. And it looks pretty good! What westerners label Kundalini is a product of western New Age definitions of a construct they haven’t come to grips with. This is what is meant by “not culturally conditioned to fully appreciate.” The western culture is using terms in a way that they weren’t created to be used.
There are 𝘀𝘆𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗺𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗯𝗼𝗱𝘆 & 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻, purification & empowerment, that have been established and advocated for by sages since ancient times, 𝗽𝗮𝘁𝗵𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝗴𝗮 to bring someone to the real experience of awakening – safely. Too many westerners, however, are in a habit of wanting to turn on like a light switch. Maybe we should thank Timothy Leary for that impatience – a global condition actually. Greed. I want what I want when I want it. And if you don’t give it to me, I’m gonna take it. Anger.
𝐅𝐞𝐚𝐫 is at the root of all the five hindrances of self-mastery. Ego is the construct that makes all the decisions at the surface conscious level. The eastern construct divides mind into ego, and three more discriminating aspects which serve to keep ego in check.
And yet, greed keeps us moving forward. It’s not entirely a bad thing. Same with all the hindrances – it’s why Buddha suggested the middle way through the dichotomy. 𝗚𝗿𝗲𝗲𝗱, 𝗮𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗿, 𝗹𝘂𝘀𝘁, 𝗶𝗹𝗹𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 – 5 major qualities to bring under some semblance of control. That’s the middle way. Not going too far to the left or right on any of those, but finding equilibrium through right knowledge and living, etc. Awareness of yourself is the first big step. Hence the mindfulness practices.
It’s hard without a plan, a system, a specific goal, markers to see your progress and knowledge of the ways and means through challenges on the path.
For instance, I have a kid – the most important thing in my life. And I have a real, tangible, overarching goal regarding her. Well many, but one big one is to protect her innocent child heart. This is huge for me. And if I get angry, I see immediately how that anger affects her. This effect directly contradicts my goal. And it’s a real goal. So it’s really easy to check myself and bring myself back when it happens. And it does and will happen. But I’ve also got tools for that, too. And I am entirely happy to employ them, hence I never get tired of working on it.
Using 𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐟𝐮𝐥𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐩𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞𝐬 when there is resentment, ill-will, and grief – at these times emotional control becomes tough. Emotions are thoughts. The body’s reaction to thoughts. We’re talking about ‘not’ thinking about something, which is a really hard thing to do. What is easier to do is to take it in the positive direction – not even try ‘not’ to think about that thing. It’s already been identified, and clarified viz. I’m sad, angry, and resentful – and we can psychoanalyze ourselves sometimes and find all the wrongs and rights of it, but the memory lingers and turns like a hamster wheel forever because of the deep ‘attachment’. So I find the best way to deal with this, after clarity is already there, is to form deeper attachments to something else which serves to replace the one I’m not wanting to think about. In other words, think about something else. Easier said than done, unless you’ve got a mission and a vision. In which case you will be empowered to make the 𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐞𝐟𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐭 (another middle way tactic) in order to achieve that mission and vision, and the thing you weren’t wanting to focus on stops getting focused on because you’re so busy focusing on what you want to be focusing on.
This is not repression. Repress means ignore. This is the opposite of that. In my case, not being angry has become more important than getting what I want through anger. So when it does rise, I can easily shift my attention to what it is that I am wanting, and quell the uprising of what I am not wanting. That’s not repression. It’s conscious choice. The resultant ability and acquired skill that comes from 𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐟𝐮𝐥𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 (another middle way tactic).
𝐸𝑣𝑒𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑒𝑟𝑠, 𝑔𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑛 𝑙𝑢𝑠𝑡𝑠 – 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑐𝑖𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑙𝑦. 𝑁𝑜𝑡 𝑔𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑜𝑜 𝑓𝑎𝑟 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑒𝑓𝑡 𝑜𝑟 𝑟𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡, 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑦𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑖𝑑𝑑𝑙𝑒. 𝐴 𝑠𝑎𝑔𝑒 – 𝑎 𝑚𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑓.
As long as we live in the dichotomy of hot and cold running water, we’re always going to have both sides of the emotional spectrum. The point of the Middle Way is to keep the temperature just right.
…is a Saiva Tantrika, Gyana Yogi and founder of Uma Maheshwara Yoga & Ayurveda. David has an MA in Semiotics, lives in Japan with his family and works as a coach in L & D, devoting his time to developing science-based tools and programs that help people reach the fullest potential of the human condition.