Inspiration & Guidance for Spiritual Awakening

When Energy Overwhelms

Many westerners today are activating energy through spiritual practices, energy practices, healing, somatic therapies and trauma. Although they may have entered these exIMG_4656_2periences expecting to feel more aliveness and release old stuck patterns, they often do not understand the full potentials, both positive and negative, should the life force called kundalini awaken in the process.

We all feel releases of energy under some circumstances, particularly after a traumatic event, because of grief, or through breathwork or healing practices. In most cases it is the letting go of stuck places in our bodies where we contracted against a difficult event. We are a complex field of flowing energy and these flows can become knotted or blocked, leading to physical problems or dysfunctional emotional reactivity during some of our life challenges. These smaller releases, perhaps in the chest or the gut, are temporary and short lived experiences, often at the hands of a skilled therapist or practitioner, sometimes spontaneously during meditation or states of rest. A typical example is that of a friend who described to me once that after planning and holding a huge wedding and flying that night to Jamaica for her honeymoon, she lay in bed and her body shook all night long as it let go of the stress of the previous weeks.

Anyone who has done Psychotropic Breathwork or Rebirthing has also experienced this intense release of blockages in their body. The new tapping therapies invite these kinds of releases in smaller doses and specific patterns.

Kundalini is the foundation of all energy, and in our bodies this energy is said to be coiled at the base of the spine holding our energy system in stasis until we die, when it then unwinds and leaves the body. Some who have sat with a person dying can sense or even see this energy unraveling itself and moving upward. If it awakens through practices or spontaneously at other times it does not exit completely, but seems instead to expand and amplify the energy field. This transformative and creative energy holds a potential for changing consciousness and supports the realization of our True Nature. It is our connection to Universal Source, and initiates a gradual shedding of all the patterns that keep us from living and functioning as awareness of the Truth of what we are. In ancient eastern systems and in the mystery schools it was activated as a method of shifting and transforming human consciousness. Some people think of it as an evolutionary trigger.

When kundalini awakens it can be blissful, open up the body and clear out limiting belief systems and patterns, creating an ultimate opportunity for what has been called spiritual liberation or enlightenment. But for many it brings unexpected challenges and difficulties, probably due to lack of understanding and preparation.

This awakening can be overwhelming for five principle reasons:

  1.  It feels invasive and you have little or no ability to control when or how it erupts.
  1. It brings up everything in your history that needs to be seen clearly, accepted and transmuted as its function is to free you from yourself. The energy can also intensify any underlying psychological or physical issues that need to be addressed.
  1. Your body/mind is poorly prepared to adapt to the changes it demands in lifestyle and perspective. Belief systems get in the way, and there is a fear of change when the mind has not deliberately chosen it.
  1. It can provide moments of “no-self” or “no-boundaries”  that are disconcerting and sometimes terrifying for the ego-structure and these are poorly understood by therapists, physicians and other helpers who work with the egoic aspects of personality.
  1. Fear is intensified by the lack of a paradigm in western culture that understands the energy body and its relationship to consciousness, and the fact it is difficult to find others who have had the experience, even in spiritual communities. You may even be in a community that believes no one should talk about this phenomena, so you may feel isolated and as if you have made a mistake.

There are many myths and little understanding of what it means to awaken spiritually — or more correctly, to have your inner spirit awaken itself. There are many ways this experience can enhance your life, bring deep peace and open you to an appreciation of the sacredness of all existence. It can suddenly and radically change your world view and your ability to live fully present in the moment. You may uncover previously latent creativity, healing, psychic or other capacities. But at some point you must face and move through the shadows of your old issues and contractions so they can be released, and you can function from a new perspective.

I have found as I listen to the stories of people in this process, that those who long for clarity or truth more than holding on to old beliefs and patterns, who become curious and flexible, and who learn to trust their own authentic heartfelt or gut-level intuition, usually navigate this journey more easily than those who cling to the limited perspective of the conditioned personal self.

If you need a deeper understanding of this process you might enjoy my books “The Kundalini Guide” and “The Awakening Guide”, that have many examples drawn from the experiences of those who have navigated through this process. General information is on my websites www.kundaliniguide.com and www.awakeningguide.com. I will also be offering a “Living with Kundalini” Webinar beginning in April for people in this process.

logoimageI will be speaking at the ACISTE conference in Palm Springs the weekend of Oct. -20 -22 on Identifying and Supporting Spiritual Transformation.  Go to www.aciste.com for information about this event, designed to support people who are in a spiritual awakening process. ACISTE is the Assn for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences. I hope to offer a one-day workshop  on Living with Kundalini the Monday following for people who want to better understand the kundalini process..  Please drop me a note at kundinfo@mindspring.com if you would like more information. 

I just completed a weekend retreat called Presence at the Center, a gathering of women committed to spiritual awakening.  If we wish to discover the innate happiness within us it is important to take time out of our lives to rest in our center – the deep stillness available within our hearts, but often clouded over by the demands, distractions and worries of modern  life.  Meditation retreats, especially those held with the added dimension of silence, offer a return to our Self.

I become very busy in those days when I have a retreat planned, especially if I am doing other events such as webinars or consulting with those who contact me with concerns related to their spiritual  process.  It is like riding a fast moving train for several weeks, and then skidding to a halt at the retreat center, where I need to find my own deep silence if I am to invite others into it.  Finding our Self is about Stopping!

 Mental activity,  emotional upheavals, multiple engagements in our lives, the many voices surrounding us with expectations – all of these can fall away if we STOP,, leaving us in the pure sweet awareness that has always been waiting in the center of the cyclone of our lives.  There is a place within each of us already still, accepting, and open to the quiet joy of being.

 You may find when you are first silent there is an upheaval of mental activity, and even of unconscious material that arises.  Both meditation and energy work (such as yoga or  Qigong) open us to that which needs to be seen in order to be released, so that our subtle energy field  can become more free.  Release and insight bring growth and widen our access to inner harmony and relaxation.  Be patient with what arises as it is your own consciousness inviting you to meet, release and move toward awakening.  Suffering unwinds itself from our systems as we learn to meet our life experiences with equanimity and to meet ourselves with love.

 Spiritual awakening has no religious preference and is open to all. It is not about a belief, or embracing a system or tradition, although these may offer some initiating practices that will bring an invitation to know Yourself.  Awakening is an intimate touching of our natural state of spirit embodied, a direct inner knowing of our connection with the All.  It cannot be languaged clearly, although poets and sages have found ways to offer pointers.  Unusual phenomena may arise  when we follow our longing to know our true nature, but ultimately the outcome is an awareness that consciousness is vast and unbounded, and a return into a form that knows  a deep relaxation into life.

logoimageI am happy to announce I am now offering webinars to bring together people from diverse states and countries who would like support in their spiritual awakening process and a Fall Retreat on Living in Presence.   These are the upcoming webinars and programs I plan to offer between August and November through http://www.zoom.us. The webinars are great ways to connect with those who will understand your kundalini process, and the meditation retreat  for those who seek a deeper embodiment of awakening is 4 days of inner silence and learning to move from presence . Contact with me for fees and other information through email: shantiriver@gmail.com

Awakening and Embodiment – session 2 – 4 weeks, Thursdays, August 11,25 Sept 8, 22 ( 12 noon—1:30 Pacific time )
This is an on-line satsang and sharing for those intending to deepen their spiritual practice, support others interested in awakening to our true nature, and explore how to live from a new perspective of awakened intuition and inner autonomy.

Living with Kundalini — weekly for 6 weeks – Fridays Aug. 19 — Sept. 23 a.m. PST)
This program and supportive group is designed for people who are going through a kundalini awakening process and wish to meet others having this experience while learning classical and modern perspectives of Kundalini, the kinds of experiences and challenges this process brings, and methods of living more comfortably with it while awakening to the transformation it offers.

Therapist and Teacher training for Kundalini Awakening – 4 Sessions Fridays Oct 14, 28, Nov, 11 and 18 (12noon – 2 p.m. PST)
If you have taken The Living with Kundalini program at any time you are eligible for the therapist/teacher training which will focus more on identifying the kundalini process in a client or student. You will learn how to use the preliminary questionnaire to assess and understand where to focus in a consultation, the impact of the background and spiritual practices on the experience and how to support this process. There will be time to discuss cases and learn from one another’s experience.

A FALL RETREAT IN OREGON — PRESENCE AT THE CENTER -Sept 2-5, 2016
This 4-day/3-night non-dual silent meditation retreat will be held Sept 2-5 at St Rita’s Retreat Center in Gold Hill, Oregon, a few miles from the Medford OR airport. It is an opportunity for meditation and reflection on awakening, experiencing silence, guided meditations and teachings related to awakening to the presence of our true nature, You may also hike in a beautiful 60-acre setting with a labyrinth and waterfall. Journal, or participate in Qigong and sound meditations. Retreat is designed to support your deepest intention for awakening to the Truth of your own Being, and bringing that awareness into your everyday life. We will meet at 4 p.m. Friday (arrive 2-4) and close at 2 Monday. The fee is $275 is paid by August 15. This includes a comfortable double room with a bath, vegetarian meals, and all expense

ACISTE CONFERENCE IN PALM DESERT, CA Oct 20-22, 2016IMG_4833
I will be speaking on Therapeutic Issues of Spiritually Transformative Experiences at this conference of an organization related to Spiritually Transformative Experiences at the Doubletree Inn is scheduled Oct 20-22. Go to http://www.aciste.org for details. I am considering doing a kundalini and awakening workshop following the conference in Palm Desert while I am there. If you would be interesting in attending a program with me at that time and place – Oct. 23-24 – please let me know by sending me an email.

 

I’ve been seeking a deeper understanding of the chakras this week, preparing for the second class of my new webinar program on Living With Kundalini. I’ve started this webinar to bring people togetherIMG_1495 from all over the world who are living with spiritual awakening, most of whom have felt isolated in the process. There are 21 people in the current class, from parts of Europe, the U.S. and Canada, and now that I am learning to navigate the internet meeting approach, I can see the many gifts of bringing people together in this way, and I hope to offer more classes.

There are many books and discussions of chakras, and it can be overwhelming to sort out how they actually impact a person’s direct experience. I am reframing this understanding in a way that I feel will be most useful for those going through a spiritual emergence, or who are in a kundalini process. So I’ve woven my own perspective of watching thousands go through awakening, with the classical teachings of Kundalini Tantra, and written an essay for my website http://www.kundaliniguide.com. It’s called Chakra Experiences in the Awakening Process.

Having so much information about chakras can be confusing, and often it is very esoteric, so a reader misses the profound implications of how their function actually relates to spiritual awakening. For example, the second chakra, which is usually understood as related to sexually and procreation, is also the seat of deep collective unconscious material. So if in your awakening there is an eruption of demonic images, or overwhelming fear, it is likely there is energy being released as kundalini moves through this area. If a few weeks earlier you have had a blissful opening to expansive bliss (6th chakra) you may be shocked and appalled to find these darker energies appearing in dreams, visions, or emotional upheavals.

Chakras, with all their symbols, represent vortices of energy where physical and subtle bodies intersect with consciousness, and each of the seven usually identified as most significant in spiritual awakening, have unique energies and hold patterns in our psyche. A few of these, from the base upward, areour foundational sense of being in a body (1st), our sexual and collective instinctual energies, (2nd) our sense of power and capacity in the world (3), our ability to love, be creative and feel compassion (4th), our potential to discriminate and deal with the opposites (5th), and our capacity to know cosmic consciousness and our true nature (6th and 7th).

Various spiritual traditions focus on different chakra areas for awakening but ultimately everything we hold comes to the surface to be transformed and awakened as well. We might wish this would happen in an orderly fashion but it does not — energy returns over and over to complete deeper levels of clearing in our bodies.

So if you wish to understand more about how your chakras are related to you own spiritual awakening, or if you just you wonder how they might influence how you function in everyday life, you may want to read the new essay on my website: http://www.kundaliniguide.com.

 

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You are invited to attend a small group workshop

with Bonnie Greenwell on

Living and Thriving  With Kundalini

August 28, 29, and 30 in Ashland Oregon.

LOCATION: SHANTI RIVER CENTER

300 E, Hersey, Suite 2 Ashland Or.

Aug 28, 7 P.M. TO 9 P.M. & 9 A.M. TO 6 P.M. AUG 29 & 30

$200 fee, plus you may arrange your own housing

This valuable weekend workshop will help you understand and gain positive tools for living with the activation of kundalini energy. Bonnie is a transpersonal psychologist and  non-dual teacher in the lineage of Adyashanti who has specialized in working with spiritual emergence and kundalini activation issues for over 30 years. This is a rare opportunity to work in a small group setting with her to address all your questions and concerns.

The opportunities in this small group include

  • Discussing your concerns and questions with others who understand because they have had this experience.
  • Hearing both yogic science perspectives and modern interpretations of the inner revolution triggered by the kundalini process
  • Finding clarity about the function and purpose of this awakened energy
  • Learning tools for helping your mind, body and spirit live more comfortably and harmoniously with spiritual awakening.
  • Discovering the grace of fulfillment in the kundalini process.

You will be responsible for finding your own housing for this program, which is held in a charming tourist town with numerous hotels and B and B’s. To fly you would come to the Medford, OR airport, 14 miles from Ashland. Information on housing and travel will be sent with registration confirmation.

ATT00111 birdsSo perhaps you have had a shift of energies and perspective, and you are wondering how it will impact your significant relationships. You seem to no longer be caught in old familiar patterns and you are facing non-ordinary energetic rushes, emotional clearings, internal vibrations and a sense that nothing really matters in the way it used to. And now your partner is wondering what has happened to you and why you are changing.

There are several levels of spiritual awakenings but the two shifts that have the most challenging impact on relationship are the awakening of kundalini energy, which plunges your energetic system into many new phenomena, and the realization of consciousness in its vast and unbounded state of being the All, which transforms your understanding of who and what you are.

The shifting in energies, called kundalini awakening, changes how you feel, as it revs up and redirects subtle energies, shaking out the body, raising heat, and sending out rivulets of bliss or spasms of pain. The subtle body is restructuring itself, releasing old contractions, moving you from one emotion to another, even triggering moments of unfathomable sadness or irrepressible joy. Whatever you were like before this arising of kundalini you are not the way you were, and this is very disconcerting for the family and friends. In addition they may sense your energies and be uncomfortable around them, and be upset that you have lost interest in sex and socializing. You will very likely feel that no one understands what you are going through. (This in itself is an important concept to release — that you need to be understood.)

If you have had a spiritual realization, a sense that you are not your small identity but instead are an indescribable awareness (at least when you are living in the moment) the chances are you no longer feel needy, no longer want to carry on as if little things mattered, and no longer enjoy bonding by discussing mutual problems and practical issues around the house. You may be drawn into nature, or meditation, prefer silence to the television or the social events, hate going into crowds and big box stores, and generally appear to be a different style of character than you were before the awakening. Partners get alarmed when this happens. Work may also suffer as you can’t concentrate the way you used to, and care little about doing anything that seems superficial.

Although I could (and may) write a book on the many changes that might influence your relationships, for this moment I offer just a few suggestions for reorienting your life.

Understand you do not need to leave a relationship that holds value, love or meaning for you just because of these changes. But if it is toxic, draws you into substance abuse, or feels abusive you may need to leave in order to sustain your sense of presence. It is a false perception that someone who is enlightened ought to put up with anything. Awakening can be a call to action as well as a call to acceptance. In other words, you need to support your awakening by doing what feels right to you. You need to take time to consider whether this is where you want to be — for many reasons you may feel drawn to stay, and for others you may be drawn to go. Just be sure if you want this relationship that you consider the following questions:

  1. How can I help my partner live more comfortably with the changes in me?

Even if you do not feel needy anymore (and many relationships are built on mutual need) you can want to be there — because you feel respect, love, stability, partnership, mutual values related to your kids, or an opportunity to face the parts of you that are not yet awake! Living with another brings up many hidden patterns within us that may not have shifted in the initial moment of awakening, and still need to be seen through as part of the old identifications. If your partner senses you are no longer needy, let him or her know you want to be with them.

No matter how you feel, your partner may still need something from you. What are you willing to give? Let him or her know. Be sensitive and supportive. If you are in the energetic phase you may still need something from others — what are you able to ask for and show appreciation for if it is given?

  1. How can I speak of what is happening without using exotic and incomprehensible terms?

You can speak of the physical impact of your meditation practice being felt as energy, you can speak of mood shifts that feel a little disorienting and try to find a sense of humor about it, you can lean more toward curiosity than fear in speaking of the process, and you can be very clear that you do not need to be understood. Do not expect someone who has never experienced this to understand it. If they are fearful it is because they care about you and want to fix it, but as you know they cannot. This is very uncomfortable for people who believe they should fix things. You may have to find new ways to approach asking for what you need from the relationship, and become very alert to how you can support them in adjusting to it. Find someone to talk with that understands the experience, such as a spiritually oriented counselor or a friend on a similar journey.

  1. Why is everything I used to care about falling away?

It is inevitable that old identifications and patterns collapse. You may not have expected this when you began spiritual seeking, so now you are shocked. But the old you was built on conditioning, defenses, distractions and memories that are no longer so relevant. The needs of your body may be different — for example, you may need to give up alcohol, mind-altering substances, red meat, over-stressing yourself physically or mentally, and other patterns because you notice you feel lousy when you do them. Your subtle and psychic energy is focused now in one direction, rising or descending through the chakras to promote healing and clearing of old beliefs, patterns, traumas and emotional wounds. Your energy field is more sensitive and picks up the fields of others more readily. Eventually in a full awakening there is a rising of internal energies (think of it as the life force) until there is a realization of your true essence, and consciousness awakens itself. This is followed by a gradual coming alive of the body in a new way through which the transformed consciousness can be expressed. In the process the sense of an “I” fades or becomes irrelevant and all it has been attached to gradually drops away. The uniqueness of what you were, your preferences, and your skills are not lost but these are held more lightly. Many relationships thrive with these changes but some cannot. You will have to stay conscious in your relationship to help it endure, if that is what you wish.

  1. Can I use relationship to keep evolving?

Relationships with partners and families are primarily what will offer you opportunities to grow further, let go of more attachments, and develop compassion and sensitivity to the human condition. No matter how awake you are or how distracted by the ups and downs of your spiritual emergence you are still located in a human body and human world. Take time to lean into this as if it mattered, because to only be awake when you have escaped out of life is to only be half-free.

The heart opens when it breaks, the mind opens when it truly is present with another, and enlightenment stabilizes when you can be available to what is, free of compulsion but willing to meet the dance of creation however it is flowing for you.

When your anger or sorrow, irritability or demands, and other inconvenient emotions are triggered (after you thought they were gone forever) here is an opportunity to see what may lie still in the dregs of your unconscious waiting to be liberated.

Relationship can be a significant part of the spiritual journey to wholeness and peace. It offers grounding. It provides allies in the world of form and offers multiple ways of seeing into the delusions of thought. The role of celibacy in the Indian tradition may be necessary for young men entering monastic orders, especially if they practice complex breathing and pranic energy exercises to activate energies. However marriages are an important aspect of life for many Buddhist masters, Sufi mystics and Cabbalists in the Jewish tradition as well as the scores or ordinary people who are awakening today. What is important is recognizing what is right for you, and even this changes from time to time. If you are in an awakening process it is time to recognize and honor your own autonomy by listening to your deepest Truth. Being at peace in relationship may be your final crucible.

Shiva Nataraja

If you are having experiences of energy twisting or rolling up your spine, creating involuntary spasms, and rippling in strange ways through your body, you are possibly one of thousands each year experiencing what is known as a kundalini rising or awakening. You may feel frightened or disoriented by this non-ordinary shift, but if you can relax with it and understand it as simply a dynamic of your own evolution it can become a treasured ally on your spiritual path.
When we understand that all of creation is formed as molecular structures, mostly space and energy manifest in a multitude of forms, it becomes easier to meet the empty/spaciousness and the enhanced vibrational energies that appear in our bodies, and face all the changes they invite.
There are many reasons people suddenly have these shifts and awakenings. Often an intense spiritual or energy practice will open the body to the heightened energy known as kundalini by the ancient founders of the yogic system. Sometimes an intense concentrated period may activate this sleeping power, even such innocent practices as biofeedback, meditation, prayer, love-making, or the charge projected by the touch of another person who has this awakened energy. In the thousand reports I have collected over the last 30 years many people write of spontaneous awakenings, sometimes in moments of great interior stress, or while using plant medicines or psychedelics, or while sitting in silence at retreats. So if you are feeling as if your energy field has jumped from 110 to 220 or even 2200 you are not alone, although unfortunately you live in a culture that is totally unprepared to understand the power and potential of this experience.

If your experience plunges you into fear and anxiety, if it explodes you into ecstasy, or if it hits the brain centers that produce imagery you will likely be afraid you are losing your mind, and if you meet up with the wrong therapeutic model others will support this interpretation. But some part of you will know this is real and it is meaningful, even while the mind freaks out about it. If you can just be curious and open instead of afraid and contracted this will help it calm down considerably. You need to nourish the witness within you, that which is simply aware.

Kundalini energy is an aspect of your own life force. It is what happens when the normal pranic energy field or bioenergy of the body is infused with a powerful rush of energy from the base of the spine, the feet, or occasionally pours down into the body through the top of the head. Naturally you are startled. Even people in spiritual communities who have longed for awakening for years can be both astonished and terrified by this new dimension of interior activity. It was a naive assumption that spiritual awakening would be a sweet, simple release into peace and harmony and improved character and life would be forever blessed. It is true that awakening leads ultimately to peace and harmony, but it does so by stripping away every identification we hold dear, and releasing every old bit of suffering and confusion, all of which was held in our minds, bodies and subtle energy fields. It tries to release all stressors and heal all wounds, in the process freeing us from our assumed self image and personal history.

I have come to see kundalini as essentially a clearing out process, and then an opportunity to live from clear seeing and presence, which doesn’t change the content of life itself, but profoundly impacts our relationship to it.

Whether kundalini activation is sudden and traumatic, or slow and gentle, it is almost always a factor in a full spiritualrealization process. It may initiate the process of consciousness awakening, or it may fall into place after an initial shift of consciousness into the recognition of It’s true relationship with what we might call Source or Universal Consciousness, (that which cannot truly be named, but we try!) This might be called the non-dual experience, and to the mind it might feel empty and unbounded while to the spirit it is felt as unlimited spaciousness and dissolution into the whole (or some such image). Utimately awakening is the stable recognition of what is awake in all of us in every moment here and now, and not the dramatic experiences, visions, insights, dramas and traumas that may accompany realization for awhile. All experiences will pass. More will appear. Life is awakeness moving through experiences. Awakening helps us to take it more lightly, to feel peaceful even when we’re not, and to find beauty in the every day forms we encounter.

If you are in an energy awakening process and would like to be part of a small-group weekend workshop in Ashland, Oregon, planned Aug. 28, 29 and 30 please let me know. I offer this program once every year or two and will be happy to send you more details. My email is kundinfo@mindspring.com. You may also find helpful my new books “The Kundalini Guide” and “The Awakening Guide”, available on Amazon and Kindle.