Friday, September 16, 2016

Kundalini And Out Of Body Experience

My first Out Of Body Experience (OBE) occurred when I was 21, lying in a George Washington University hospital bed after a appendicitis operation for which I was given a morphine injection. I wrote about it in my book, Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time, from which, the following excerpt is taken during a visit to the hospital by my girlfriend at the time, Madeline:
JJ: “I was in this half-state between sleep and waking. A great glowing light filled the room. Suddenly, I was floating upward. When I reached the ceiling, I realized I could steer myself. I’m having trouble though. I command myself to roll over and I’m looking down at my physical body, asleep in the bed, and I realize that I’m in an altogether different body.”
Madeline: “So?”
JJ: “So I stayed up there watching my body asleep in the bed. I knew I could leave the room, but I didn’t know if I’d be able to get back. I knew I’d see amazing things, but I figured I had to return to my body, that I wasn’t ready to take off and leave it.”
Madeline: “Hummph.”
JJ: “Well, it opened my mind… Perhaps, I shouldn’t say ‘mind’ because the mind may not be part of it.”

Until my Kundalini awakening fourteen years later, I had no further OBEs. Since activating Kundalini, I've had numerous Astral Body experiences and am now able to put myself into the state at will. How is that possible? OBE can be learned. Yes, you can train yourself to leave your body at will. In my OBEs, I have experienced many of the effects listed in Akhena’s book, Astral Consciousness: Out of Body Explorations, Life Force Books (2016), namely, the abilities to:
  • Fly like a bird and even visit outer space,
  • Walk through solid objects like walls, ceilings etc,
  • Meet loved ones who have "passed on,"
  • Grow spiritually and gain awareness of your True self,
  • Visit the Akashic Records and see the past and the probable future,
  • Increase your psychic abilities,
  • No longer fear death,
  • Become a better problem-solver,
  • Become a better person in all areas of your life,
  • Engage with the pet (especially your cat) in an OBE,
  • Heal yourself physically and mentally.

Is an active kundalini necessary for OBE? It certainly doesn't hurt. Many kundalini adepts have shared most of, if not all of, these effects. But is it absolutely necessary? Aren’t the effects of an OBE a subset of Kundalini effects? Given the large number of OBE accounts over the centuries, I think they are. People have been experiencing OBEs without ever knowing about, or even having heard, the term Kundalini. In its own right — Kundalini is perhaps more difficult to activate, especially on a permanent basis.

Again, I experienced the Out-of-Body state spontaneously, and also as a result of kundalini. Perhaps, my first experience acted as a "warm-up" — a signal that this faculty would lie dormant until my meta-body was sufficiently reprogrammed, in my case, by kundalini, a condition that would eventually enable me to summon my Astral Body at will.

Only recently with the explosion of self-realization studies has a critical mass of interest in both OBE and Kundalini appeared, which has led to OBE self-learning materials, such as those developed by Akhena.

Should you become interested and wish to explore OBE, one critical point to remember is: You retain conscious control over all your impulses. Just like my experience in the George Washington Hospital when I decided to pull back, you can exert the same kind of control. In other words, you can move forward incrementally, only undertaking OBE as you are able to master your emotions: fear, anxiety, etc.

What's special about Akhena's book? I went to France last January to meet Akhena and to discuss publication of her book in English in the US market. We talked about the many books on the subject already on Amazon US. I asked her what was special about her book. It was then that she told me about her courses on OBE given around France and about her ongoing work with students. I was impressed by the fact that the information in her book had been field-tested over many years of working with students.

I didn't have to ask her what was special about her: it stuck out. In a word it was her authenticity. I meet and talk with many people about meditation, NDE, OBE, mindfulness, enlightenment, and kundalini. It's easy to distinguish a genuine seeker from boastful pretender. Detached, yet present, emotionally composed, Akhena acts as a receiver and transmitter of metaphysical actuality and she has proven her capabilities over many years. She not just someone who's written another spiritual book; she's successfully taught others to use her methods and techniques.

Meeting her was enough to convince me. I decided to publish her book, despite the congested state of the OBE book market. It's that important of a book...
10/07/2016: This Title Goes live on Amazon
Since awakening my Kundalini 40 years ago, I have mastered the techniques and highly endorse OBE as a means of spiritual development. Once you master it, there's no limit to the insights into the cycle of life and death that an OBE bestows on you, the traveler.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Dream Energy

One of the strongest impacts Kundalini has on me concerns the way I sleep and the falling-asleep and waking-up processes, and I wonder if other people have experienced the same thing.

Natalie by Paul Lyons
During the day Kundalini strips away anxieties, irritations and fears. When Kundalini’s at hand, it’s easy to see, almost visually, a big package of angst or negativity welling up from your stomach and to simply look away from it and let it turn into simple, pure energy, part of the continuum. Kundalini certainly improves task-oriented functioning as well as clarifying one’s position in the world at large.

At night, asleep, the energy’s just as strong, but it works differently. For the last couple of years I’ve been waking up to find myself pinned to the bed by a sort of shining stillness. There are no thoughts or feelings, just a bright force holding me still in the position that I’ve happened to wake up in (either flat on my back, or mostly on my right side, stretched out fully, not curled up). If I’ve got to go to work, be on the train in twenty minutes, think about placing an order with the builders’ merchants, tell my customers I need some more money — this stillness gets wasted. But since I’ve been back in Thailand with my wife and only teaching two days a week, I’ve been able to let this waking stillness, breathing very slowly and deeply, Kundalini intense and bright, take its own course and take hold of me. It usually lasts for about an hour. I have the feeling that I haven’t dreamed much, or at all, during the night (though, of course, it’s hard to say for sure) and that this bright stillness is dream energy, the subtle energy that would normally have gone into dreaming, but which has stayed in its raw, unmanifested state and hasn’t somehow allowed my brain to make dream narratives, faces, or places out of it. I checked this out in some books and believe that this bright still energy is what in Tantra is called tejas.

Psyche discovers her secret lover is Cupid

After an hour or so the stillness starts to burn, the Kundalini heat becomes more intense, thoughts start up, and at a certain point I reach a sort of overload, and it’s time to get up. But what then becomes crucial is that this prone, lying-down state of the last hour gets balanced by some uprightness and concentration. So, after a wash and ten minutes on the balcony getting used to looking at things again (mountains, a river, a singlet used to clean the floor) and listening to things (birds, insects, someone panel beating up on the highway), I sit in straight-backed, upright meditation for another hour. The stillness and the Kundalini are much the same but, for me, there’s something vital about being centred and upright (not lying down any more.) In alchemy, the prone position, symbolised by a horizontal line represents the Waters and Cosmic Female and the upright position, symbolised by a vertical line, represents Fire and the Cosmic Male. I have a hunch that there’s a lot in this and would be interested to know whether other people have experienced this same altered relationship between sleep and wakefulness once Kundalini is activated.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Is Compromise Possible? - A Kundalini Worldview

With tropes like, "'This is the dirtiest campaign ever' being amplified to a fanatical degree by the Media and the Internet, it's possible to think it may be so, until you remember the pundits have been saying the same thing about the last several election cycles and presidential campaigns. So I think it's safe to predict that the next election cycle will sink to even lower depths, waste more time that could be used for getting things done, and throw away more money for the wrong reasons.

It's not so much about the beliefs and positions of the left or right as it is about the growing distance between the two camps that's making compromise close to impossible. So what's wrong with that, what's wrong with opposing camps raining down invective and hurling personal insults at each other?
Black Lives Matter in an America Made Great ©JJ Semple
Is Compromise Possible?

You've heard the expression, "It's not personal; it's business." It's an expression that makes a lot of sense when applied to the nation's business, the business of running the country, which amounts to government doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people, even if that sometimes means doing nothing. Personal connotes doing something for your own immediate gain; business connotes a rationale that involves something larger than the individual.

Sitting around the table negotiating takes patience, civility, and a degree of mutual understanding — what George H. W. Bush called a kinder, gentler mindset — the capacity to put oneself in the other's position. So what's happened to cause our society to move from positions of relative cooperation to total estrangement? Not that the political forces in this country didn't oppose one another's policies. They did. But when things were on the line, they compromised.

Estrangement leads to perpetual gridlock, a condition that's expanded geometrically since the 1970s, one we'd almost forgotten about it, except to use as a talking point when blaming the other side.

Can anything short of a Napoleon-like dictator get the nation focused on fixing the things that need fixing? That's what Donald Trump is telling us: that only a strong leader can put things right. But we know what happens when a country resorts to a so-called strong leader.
Bun-Hur: avoid the remake
Crowning the New Savior

The people who wished for it soon realize they got more than they bargained for. There's a memorable passage on the subject in Elia Kazan's Viva Zapata! (1952), a film that tackles ambition and abuse of power:
Zapata (to his followers): You always look for leaders, strong men without faults. There aren't any. There are only men like yourselves. They change. They desert. They die. There are no leaders but yourselves. A strong people is the only lasting strength.
"A strong people..." How did we lose our strength? I'm not talking about military hardware, world hegemony, or economic supremacy; I'm talking about integrity. And when you succumb to every temptation out there, you do lose it. I've summarized this issue previously; no need to repeat. Only to add to the above that we're not alone; the rest of the world is right up there with us, chasing the same illusions: money, power, wanton sex, domination, self-aggrandizement — all the elements Freud said destroyed a man. And if they can destroy a man, they can destroy a nation, a world, a planet. Just look at the frequency and prevalence of incarceration, addiction, war, new diseases, racial hatred, sex crimes, wanton violence.

I used to believe the rapid increase in kundalini awakenings would somehow put us on the right track. No more. Why? There doesn't seem to be enough time to slow down the headlong worldwide rush to self-destruction.

Not by any of the accepted orthodoxies can we change course:

Religion can't do it: There are more religious wars now than ever before, and on a grander, worldwide scale.

Education can't do it: There are a lot of intelligent people, but the true test of intelligence is not IQ; it's what you use your intelligence for. The more people who graduate; the more they disagree; the more they indulge self-interest.

Politics can't do it: Any institution beholden to money and driven by it is bound to fail.

Science can't do it: It's one step forward and two steps back. For every Salk vaccine we get napalm and the atomic bomb...with runaway profit margins. A cure for every ill, never mind the side effects.

If these orthodoxies were capable of change, they would have already changed things — they've been at it long enough. My guess is, over time, our brains become hard-wired in one of two ever-more-bitter positions: Right becomes Alt-Right and Left becomes Alt-Left. Over generations this breeds a strident, militant, self-righteous inflexibility.

Kundalini can change this wiring, rewiring the brain to a more flexible worldview, a more temperate, more tolerant human being, one whose consciousness extends beyond the puny, insubstantial ego. In order to do so, time is essential; it also running short.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Color Red

Color symbolism is important in Tantra. Color exists on a spectrum that is both "horizontal" (the infra-red spectrum) and "vertical" ( in which color modulates from the visual, via imagination and hallucination, to color that symbolizes transcendent realities.

Red signifies fire. The pingala, or sun, nadi is fiery red because, when Kundalini ascends the pingala nadi. She is the fire that underpins materiality and physical manifestation. This is why, in the pingala nadi, Kundalini can become a consuming force, an unbearable heat. There is a significant moment in Gopi Krishna's Kundalini awakening (described in Kundalini, The Evolutionary Energy In Man) when, exhausted and feverish, almost at the point of death from Kundalini's rising up the red pingala nadi, he makes a last-ditch inner effort and rechannels Kundalini into the ida, or moon, nadi (its color is white) where manifestation is female, interior, sustaining and cooling — and by so doing Gopi Krishna saves his own life.

Front Cover of Paul Lyons' novel Natalie
In alchemy, the initial awakening, after the "separation of the mercury" (the ability to sustain consciousness in the subtle body, or female state) is called the albedo, or white work. After this stage comes the rubedo, or red work, the more challenging task of sustaining consciousness in the fiery forces that underpin physical matter and one's own physical body. The red work is done in the pingala nadi, the white work in the ida.

Red is also associated with the belly chakra and its fire, where prana (the force directed at transcendence) and apana (the force directed at physicality) are mixed to create the "Blessed Inner Heat" that Milarepa speaks, in fact, sings, of. Interestingly, the inner woman, or shakti, whom Milarepa evokes and celebrates he calls the Red Dakini, the shakti of material manifestation.

Tantra in the movies
Last Tango In Paris (1972)
Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider

There is a fascinating correspondence between Milarepa's red dakini and a passage from Dante's Vita Nuova. There is evidence that Dante, the great medieval Italian poet, was a member of the Fideli Amore, or "Love's Followers," an esoteric group that practised an alchemical/sexual awakening comparable to Milarepa's. Dante describes how Love appeared to him in a vision as his "Lord" (the transcendent Siva or Real Self) "the memory of whose being maketh me shudder:"
"In his arms methought I saw one sleeping, naked, save that she seemed to me to be wrapped lightly in a crimson drapery; whom, gazing at intently, I knew to be the lady of the salutation (Beatrice), who the day before had deigned to salute (save) me. And in one of his hands methought Love held a thing that was all aflame; and methought he said to me these words: Vide Cor Tuum (Behold Thy Heart)."
 This is a wonderfully powerful symbol, the after image of a true vision: Love holds in his arms a naked woman (shakti stripped of all conditioning) who is wrapped in a crimson drapery. What he has awoken (or better, what has greeted him) is the inner woman or shakti who is found the red bloodstream of the physical body. This "woman" is the Kundalini, union with whom, goes beyond physical sexual intercourse. She is woken in the heart that is "all aflame." The shakti of the breath, on the other hand, is wrapped in a white "drapery."

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Like-Minded People

"Groups don’t think, act, or have motivations, only individuals
do. Each individual is different from every other. How can we fit
in one world? There isn’t much in common when you extend the
relationship beyond the one of mutual self-interest, so someone
will have to sacrifice. Any relationship should last only as long as
it is beneficial for each party. Intimacy needs to be cultivated and
~ How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World — Harry Browne
Like-minded people are the basis of groups, but finding and maintaining like-mindedness over a period of time is an illusion, bolstered by the urge to fulfill certain needs. Don't think so? Look at the divorce rates. What starts out as a testament to like-mindedness ends up in a lawyer's office because like-minded people are needy people, and needs diverge over time. How do I know this? I was conditioned to be needy; we all are. Our cultural markers direct us to identify with the needs of others, and, by extension, subsume their needs as our own — as if what others have is somehow more desirable than what we have.

To see this mechanism in action, look at popular culture. For example, the highly-regarded HBO television series, "The Newsroom."
"In 'The Newsroom,' Emmy-winning executive producer, Aaron Sorkin, uses the operation of a fictional cable news network as the heart of the story, with Jeff Daniels portraying the network's lead anchor and leading an ensemble cast. Episodes are written around actual recent news events, reported by a staff that takes its collective responsibilities seriously, but corporate and commercial obstacles — plus entangled personal relationships — fly in the face of their public mission."
While the show venerates the news gathering process, it revels in the vicarious interplay of the characters' compatible and incompatible needs, leaving the viewer withfield guide to neediness. In fact, "the entangled personal relationships" segments occupy more screen time than the news gathering segments do, and are so entangled it's amazing that these hard-charging producers and reporters get any work at all done.

It's not that those segments are less interesting or less well constructed. It's that any personal neediness a viewer might have is amplified by a parade of familiar tropes in each of the character's relationships. At one point, there's a play within a play in which one of the neediest characters encounters a "Sex And The City" tour bus that's hosting a guided tour of locations featured in that show. Need on top of need on top of need.

Cast clapping after another scoop in HBO's "The Newsroom"
HBO's "The Newsroom"
In this sequence, that character, Maggie, who lives with co-worker Don, who she doesn't love, is given notice after a YouTube video in which she confesses her love for co-worker Jim, who she does love, goes live and is viewed by Don who tells her their relationship is over. Maggie locates the woman who posted the video and beseeches her to remove it. At the same time, Lisa, Maggie's roommate, dates Jim, much to his chagrin because he loves Maggie.

Maggie discovers that Lisa has also seen the video and now wants to end their friendship. As the downtrodden Maggie ponders her next move, a double-decker tour bus, with Sex and the City plastered all over it, appears on the roadway alongside her. Frustrated by Jim's reluctance to commit to a relationship with her and anguished at his persistence in remaining quasi-faithful to Lisa, Maggie rails against the injustice of her plight to the tour bus passengers on the open-air, double-decker bus, only to have Jim emerge from among the amazed passengers, aghast at the melodramatic nature of her indelicacies. Jim, it turns out, is on the bus because a colleague had suggested he get in touch with his feminine side.

So...for starters, Maggie needs: Jim's love, Lisa's friendship, and Don's respect. She also wants to move up the ladder professionally, is frustrated that she's been unable to pull off her Don-to-Jim switcheroo in classic Sex and the City fashion.

How does this affect the viewer? Without being aware of it, the viewer is sucked into a cesspool of neediness. Why can't I have job like that? Be chasing a guy while another guy is chasing me? Vent my frustrations on the street from time to time? I deserve better; I NEED better!

Groups are unproductive because everyone goes full-speed ahead; everyone wants to impress, to prioritize their particular laundry list of needs.

In life, needs compete. And the more ardent the competition, the less likely the individual is to slow down and take stock. Who has time to be mindful of his or her neediness when 15,000 new Hillary emails are made public? Who has the time or the inclination to be mindful?

Mindfulness is being aware that you are You in the present moment, in spite of what else may be happening around you. It's not something that comes naturally; you have to learn and practice it. You have to acquire the ability to slow down, much as you do when you meditate. 

Mindfulness is an extension of meditation, a practice you can call upon to recreate the meditative state at the first sign of provocation, turmoil, or stress...if only you can remember to do it. That's the hard part: remembering yourself! Nevertheless, once you're adept at remembering yourself in the present moment, you can extend your practice of mindfulness to include being mindful of superfluous needs that may be controlling your thoughts and actions. You can bring them to the fore, turn them around, examine them in all their aspects, and then dismiss them forever.

Being mindful is being present in the moment, and still getting your work done!

Woody Allen is a past master at using his characters to portray neediness, right up there with Anton Chekhov. In Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) his leading character's needs lead him into the murkier regions of the soul including murder-for-hire and the need to rationalize it.

In The Seagull, Chekhov's Boris taunts the beautiful young aspiring writer/actress, Nina, in this passage, using her as a metaphor for both the seagull and the girl:
Boris: This is a beautiful place to live. [He catches sight of the dead sea-gull] What is that?
Nina: A gull. Constantine shot it.
Boris: What a lovely bird! Really, I can't bear to go away. Can't you persuade Irina to stay? [He writes something in his note-book.]
Nina: What are you writing?
Boris: Nothing much, only an idea that occurred to me. [He puts the book back in his pocket] An idea for a short story. A young girl grows up on the shores of a lake, as you have. She loves the lake as the gulls do, and is as happy and free as they. But a man sees her who chances to come that way, and he destroys her out of idleness, as this gull here has been destroyed.
And so, over the course of the play, he does exactly that — destroys her with Iago-like "motiveless malignancy."

Both Allen and Chekhov introduce us to the fact that because art comes to the artist intact — as a result of their talent — artists tend to become heedless of the strivings of others. Witness Boris's wanton destruction of Nina and Irina's belittling of her son's writing. Thanks to an innate talent, the artist's needs of self-expression are taken care of, so they must manufacture new needs, exemplified in The Seagull by the artistic characters unconscious destruction of the weaker characters.

What does this have to do with kundalini? Kundalini not only leads to mindfulness, it overhauls human nature, allowing you to become less attached to real or perceived needs. Moreover, it puts "like-mindedness" in perspective, that the urge-to-merge is largely an illusion, that you don't have to run alongside a tour bus blurting out your despair. That being yourself with yourself in the moment is satisfaction enough.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Krishnamurti used to begin his talks by describing the terrible state the world was in: war, famine, refugee crises, negative emotion, and blind politicians profiting from the suffering. Krishnamurti’s dead, and nothing much has changed. There’s turmoil in Europe with Brexit, the Euro crisis, and there’s conflict in America with the forthcoming election. The aftershocks of these crises affect people all over the world.

Was Krishnamurti stupid in saying that an inner transformation has anything to do with, let alone could change, world conditions? Is Samadhi simply escapism?

Total Freedom by Krishnamurti
Awakened Kundalini perfects the brain and balances the body. Kundalini also clarifies personal relationships and intensifies energy in the immediate surrounding reality of work and social life. But how far this surrounding reality reaches is a moot point. Whether Kundalini has anything to do with facing up to the horrors of the modern world is an open question. The Blissful Inner Heat is blissful when it’s inner, but can become a delirium when applied it to the state of the larger world. I have a deep admiration for people who are activists and manage to maintain their integrity, but is it really possible to awaken Kundalini and run things, make larger decisions?

There is an alchemical motto: "The All, The One." The fact that there is an energy continuum is becoming more and more obvious. Therefore an individual’s inner action can affect everything. But this realisation, while true, can easily lapse into a Tolkienesque fantasy world of good wizards vs. bad wizards, of the goodies behind the scenes warring with the baddies out front. In order not to fall into this fantasy trap, the individual, the little one must become the "One, The All." In other words, blustering politicians and corrupt businessmen as well as the suffering victims of war and famine are all me. They’re inside me. It’s no wonder Krishnamurti died saying that he’d failed. The Awakening he spoke of has perhaps only ever been achieved by Sakhyamuni, the Buddha...if at all.

If transcendental and non-human forces lie behind, and form, the manifest world, then the politicians and warmongers are as much "the sons and daughters of Eternity," to use Blake’s phrase, as are those who are seeking Truth. We are in the Kali Yuga big time.

So what, then, is Kundalini? She is physical, powerful, white hot. Is She also "consciousness," in some higher form or other? Consciousness is certainly the starting point, a conscious act of sitting down to meditate and become free. In the Buddha’s original teaching, consciousness, too, is one of the five strands of the "five fold stem of illusion." Another of these illusions is "personality" (even the loudest politician’s!). It’s a daunting truth, but perhaps, behind even consciousness and personality (i.e., in an apparent eternal darkness) there is "panna," — "prajna" in Sanskrit — wisdom. Wisdom is not confined by consciousness, which is why, when Kundalini awakens, she’s as physical as the hand in front of my face. And perhaps, on a quantum level, where sub-atomic particles share knowledge, it’s this "panna," "prajna" or non-conscious wisdom that is the ultimate constituent of Kundalini.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Beyond the Relaxation Response (Part 2)

The particular genius of Dr. Benson (see Part One of this post for background) lies as much in his packaging and marketing approach as it does in the actual process. No matter the name of the method, the first two steps discussed in Part One, and the physiological changes wrought by mastering them, are common to most Western meditation methods imported from the East and are found in each and every serious meditation method. 

However, many teachers, including Dr. Benson, appear to gloss over or avoid one of the most challenging issues of all meditation methods, two-step or other, and that is the issue Dr. Benson identifies in his second step as "Passively disregarding interfering thoughts."

Sitting next to one another we are connected, yet separated
Down time Is Self-Remembering Time
As opposed to the aforementioned "physical transformation processes" this process is defined by many, including Dr. Benson, as a passive process. He says so in the wording of his second step: "Passively disregarding interfering thoughts." It boils down to finding a means of quieting mental activity during meditation and, contrary to Dr. Benson, I believe the practitioner must take an active approach.

This uncontrolled mental activity has many names; one of the most colorful is Taoist expression: "the ten-thousand things." There are others like, the inner dialogue, monkey mind — all our crazy secret thoughts and schemes, our dialogs with ourselves stifles our daily lives and interferes not only with meditation, but with all our endeavors to realize our full potential.

But it is very difficult to control the mind directly; almost impossible to tell the mind to just "shut up" or try what Dr. Benson calls "passive disregarding." Once again, we need a kind of subterfuge or "handle" to stop the mind from running away. Each teacher has his own approach. Yet frequently, the discussion over the best approach devolves into acrimony. I recommend two approaches to "handling" the 10,000 things. It’s an attempt to "sidestep" the mind completely by giving it something banal to do.

And that is letting the little voice in your head — what psychologists call “inner speech” — count your breaths to yourself as you breathe. So, in a series of four beats, you would count: On inhale, one-two-three-four; On hold, one-two-three-four; On exhale, one-two-three-four; On hold, one-two-three-fourStart over. Inhale-four, hold-four, exhale-four, hold-four. Start over. This activity occupies the mind just enough to forestall the 10,000 things. Some practitioners have even found that the counting drops away of its own accord after a while, and correct diaphragmatic breathing becomes second nature.

A second approach to counting entails walking, that is, timing the breath cycle over a given number of strides, always breathing through the nose, of course. So you would time one breath cycle over a series of steps, for example, inhale one breath over four steps, hold that breath over four steps, exhale that breath over four steps, hold over four steps. Start over. In this way, the activity of walking and counting occupies the mind even more than inner speech alone does; it compounds its efficacy, especially if the practitioner lets himself become mindful of the oneness of nature and his being, the sights and sounds of nature come alive in him, thereby subduing the diversions of material life.

Now for the third transformational step and the physical changes it produces. Adding this next step takes the meditation process "Beyond the Relaxation Response." And it involves implementing “the backward-flowing method.”

My familiarity with the “the backward-flowing method” stems from extensive first-hand experience with Taoist meditation, all detailed in my book Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time. Written in narrative form, the book describes how I was given a copy of The Secret of the Golden Flower by a stranger in Paris during the early 1970s.

I was a bad actor at the time, so I put this book away for over a year. Then one day, as my life began to spin further out of control, I picked up the book and reading it. Soon after, I began meditating. At first, I didn't understand the text. Slowly, however, I began to "figure out" what to do.

I became so involved in the meditation that I left Paris to live in a small village in the south of France. The experience was one day, one page at a time; I didn't know what to expect, had no idea there would be a dramatic outcome. I had never heard the word, Kundalini. This was 1972. And Gopi Krishna's book wasn't available yet, not in my tiny French village, that is.

Main Street St. Jean, l'Herault, france
St. Jean, The House Where I practiced GFM in 1972
Page by page I worked my way through The Secret of the Golden Flower until one day, while meditating, I noticed something different in my breathing. In Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time, I describe the moment thusly:

“Observing my breath as I sit one morning, I am aware that it has the property of direction. At each inhalation the hitherto imperceptible wind in my belly appears to eddy slightly at the bottom of my abdomen as it descends before taking an upward circular course. Or so it appears to me. Down the back, then up the front, in a circular motion.

"Something clicks. I remember the words ‘backward-flowing method’ in The Secret of the Golden Flower. Words I'd passed over a hundred times, never having a clue as to what they meant, never imagining they might be important. I break off to look for the passage. In two quick flips, I‘ve located the text, ‘At this time one works at the energy with the purpose of making it flow backward and rise, flow down to fall like the upward spinning of the sun-wheel…in this way one succeeds in bringing the true energy to its original place. This is the backward-flowing method.’”

Yes, diaphragmatic breathing is the key to stabilizing heart rate, but the key to causing the energy to flow upward to the brain is the ‘backward-flowing method.’ Again it works like pump-priming, that is, reversing the direction of the breath begins the process of drawing distilled seminal fluid (cervical fluid in the case of a woman) up the spinal column. This passage from my book describes what happened after I reversed my breath:

“I visualize a plumb-line and close my eyes half-way. I command the breath to change direction and it obeys. I am elated at receiving confirmation from the book. What I don’t yet realize is that this is the last time I will direct the meditation process. From now on I am on automatic pilot. I remember the words of Ram Dass: At first, you do it; later, it does you. Action to attain non-action.

”For a week I observe my breath circulate in the opposite direction without noticing any effect. I go back to my uninspired routine: walking, cooking, meditating. Then, two weeks later, about the length of time it takes the backward-flowing process to become permanent, there’s something new. On the day in question, I feel a sensation at the base of my spine like the cracking of a small egg and the spilling out of its contents. For the next month, I observe the fluid-like contents of the egg trickle out of its reservoir and slowly begin to climb my spine. What is this fluid? I can’t describe it exactly. It seems to emanate from the base of the spine and press upward. Each time I sit to meditate it has risen a half an inch higher.”

I believe — and I discuss it in detail in my book — that The Secret of the Golden Flower contains the safest, most reliable method of taking one's meditation practice beyond the Relaxation Response, so much so that I have modernized it into a method for contemporary practitioners. I call it Golden Flower Meditation or GFM. Of course, there are many methods; it's impossible to know them all; some, it seems, are very close to GFM.

Now the ‘backward-flowing method’ may be the key to arousing kundalini. But it’s a big step to consider because there’s no turning back. I got confirmation of this fact first hand, for shortly after I willed my breath to change directions, the Kundalini activation process began. Yes, there were glitches, but overall using The Secret of the Golden Flower to activate my Kundalini has been a restorative process — physically, mentally, psychically, spiritually. And I believe it can be so for others.

When I met with him in Kashmir during the summer of 1977, Gopi Krishna termed my experience, “One of the most far-reaching, permanent Kundalini awakenings I’ve encountered. Rare, very rare, indeed.”
The Backward-Flowing Method, The Secret of the Golden Flower (Routledge & Kegan Paul)
I ascribe the positive results I achieved in activating the restorative powers of Kundalini to the secret “backward-flowing” technique in The Secret of the Golden Flower.

Adding this one extra step to the two-step Relaxation Response process wakes up the hidden powers of Kundalini and primes the body for restoration, renewal, and an explosion induced by a flood of psychic fuel into the nervous system. So I prescribe a three-step transformational process:

  1. The development of systematic diaphragmatic breathing.
  2. The use of diaphragmatic breathing to control heart rate.
  3. The moment you detect the property of movement, change the direction of your breath — the backward-flowing method.

The transformations that results from employing the “backward-flowing method,” the secret techniques in ancient Taoist texts that I ultimately deciphered, were used by the ancients for reliable Kundalini arousal. In a future post, we’ll examine GFM from a scientific perspective and learn how it produces standardized results.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Beyond the Relaxation Response (Part 1)

Until recently, meditation was considered a “spiritual” activity, a perception that caused many people to turn away from or avoid it altogether. In the 1970s, however, research led to the development of the Relaxation Response, Dr. Herbert Benson’s technique for promoting stress reduction and worker productivity. By borrowing techniques from Transcendental Meditation and other Eastern meditation methods and re-purposing them, Dr. Benson discovered a creative way of popularizing meditation.

My own research has uncovered benefits that go way beyond the Relaxation Response, and point to meditation as much more than a spiritual activity: it's physical exercise, albeit, a less-is-more form of aerobics, which, by the way, if practiced scrupulously, leads to metaphysical encounters and higher consciousness.

By adding one simple step to the Relaxation Response, or any other serious meditation method, I have designed a system with tangible therapeutic and restorative health benefits. I call it, Golden Flower Meditation or (GFM), not for religious or spiritual affiliation reasons, but out of deference to the ancient Chinese who developed and practiced the method.

The key to GFM is “the backward-flowing method.” Adding this one step to a meditation practice like the Relaxation Response opens the door to a safe, permanent Kundalini awakening, after which, self-healing, higher consciousness, stable life style, and emotional control are probable by-products.

After researching energy cultivation techniques for many years — and getting nowhere — I obtained a copy of The Secret of the Golden Flower, an ancient Taoist text from a stranger. Eventually, I spent two years mastering the intricacies of the method, especially the arcane “backward-flowing method.” Ultimately, success unleashed a powerful transformational force that rooted out all traces of illness and malformation in my body.

Through GFM my nervous system was stimulated such that the natural chemical substances of the body were recombined and used for healing. Is this remarkable meditation technique capable of bestowing similar therapeutic benefits on all those who master it? I believe it is. As long as the method is implemented correctly, many disabilities related to the nervous system are susceptible to treatment by this method. No, degenerative illness like heart disease and stroke cannot be cured by GFM because, just as the term degenerative suggests harm done to the body by poor diet and bad habits cannot be reversed.
If the Relaxation Response establishes a healthy climate for combating stress, consider the extended benefits of GFM. GFM is not only about becoming a healthier person; it's also a useful ingredient in the pursuit of self-actualization. Once the practitioner has mastered GFM, his ability to avoid addiction, to make well-reasoned decisions, to manage health, and to live naturally will improve dramatically. Who is suited for GFM? I believe it particularly interests doctors, trainers, researchers, scientists, nurses, students, laymen in all walks of life — in hospitals, businesses, universities, schools, progressive learning centers, and clinics.

Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a time is the story of my discovery of the “backward-flowing method.” As for "the secrets," this book is not a laundry-list of techniques; it's an account of one individual's trial-and-error discovery and practice of GFM. Why take this approach? In teaching the GFM method, I've discovered that:
  • People are impatient; they want get to the payoff without putting in the work. The method is a series of dependencies. You must master each step in turn; you cannot skip steps,
  • In the past, even though I offered a meticulously prepared list of steps and how to apply them, many people either got lost, misunderstood, or misapplied the steps in practice,
  • The book allows would-be practitioners to get a sense of what's involved, not only in the practice of the method, but also in what to expect afterwards. I've been living with kundalini for 40 years; that prospect is not something to be taken lightly. 
Although some of Dr. Benson’s acolyte’s have divided the method into many sub-steps, Benson describes the critical steps as being:
  1. Breathe through your nose. Become aware of your breathing. As you breathe out, say the word, "ONE", silently to yourself. For example, breathe IN ... OUT, "ONE",- IN ... OUT, "ONE", etc. Breathe easily and naturally.
  2. Do not worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation. Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace. When distracting thoughts occur, try to ignore them by not dwelling upon them and return to repeating "ONE." With practice, the response should come with little effort.
He sums up the two steps as follows:
  1. Focusing the mind on a word, phrase, or sound.
  2. Passively disregarding interfering thoughts.
According to various write-ups, “Herbert Benson, M.D. coined the phrase (Relaxation Response) after studying people who practiced Transcendental Meditation (TM). Benson took the principles of TM and removed them from their Eastern religious context in order to make them more accessible for westerners.

“The Relaxation Response represents a form of meditation which has been practiced for many years. The technique can be found in every major religious tradition. It is a simple technique, but it is not easy to practice or to incorporate into your life. You will find your mind wandering, and you will probably find it difficult to set aside the time to practice. It feels like setting aside 20 minutes a day to sit and do nothing."

“If you incorporate this or any relaxation technique into your life, you may notice at least the following four benefits:"
  • "You will gain increased awareness of whether you are tense or relaxed. You will be more "in touch with your body."
  • "You will be better able to relax when you become stressed-out.
  • "You may even reduce the resting level of your autonomic nervous system - walking around more relaxed all the time.
  • "Your concentration may improve. By repeatedly bringing yourself back to the meditation you are strengthening the part of your mind that decides what to think about.”
That’s a third party take on the Relaxation Response. The big news here is his finding that meditation impacts health in a positive manner. This is no surprise to those already familiar with meditation, but the scope of Benson’s project, its scientific methodology demonstrates the enormous potential of meditation.

What about Benson himself? What does he think? According to him, “The Relaxation Response seemed to cure or help any medical condition or illness to the extent that condition or illness was caused or exacerbated by stress. Because this physiological state was accessible to everyone, I became convinced that the Relaxation Response was the opposite of, and perhaps the antidote for, the stress-induced, fight-or-flight response.

“I found that anyone who employed the two steps could elicit the physical changes of the Relaxation Response.”

More important than his health claims is Benson’s insistence that meditation induces physiological changes, or transformation.

First of all, whether a basic meditation method like the Relaxation Response contains two steps or two hundred, its immediate purpose is to produce the physiological change and transformation observed by Dr. Benson. So instead of judging a method by the number of steps, we need first to understand the physiological changes a basic two-step method hopes to induce and how efficient that method is in inducing them.

The physical changes produced by a basic two-step meditation method are:
  1.  The development of systematic diaphragmatic deep breathing.
  2.  The use of diaphragmatic breathing to control heart rate.
In a little while I will propose a third, and even more powerful transformational step, but first I want to discuss the two steps mentioned above, both of which require physical intervention on the part of the practitioner.

In Step One you encounter the notion of diaphragmatic deep breathing or the training of the diaphragm to regulate and improve your breathing. Unfortunately, since you cannot control or even isolate the muscles of the diaphragm directly, you must find a "handle" that allows you to do so indirectly. That handle is the belly or abdominal muscles.

 If you push the belly out to pull in air on inhalation and pull the belly in to expel air, you are embarking on a regimen of abdominal and diaphragmatic calisthenics. Starting this activity for the first time — whether sitting, walking, or lying down — you may feel a burning sensation. That is the muscles of the abdomen and diaphragm telling you that you're breathing correctly. Using the belly muscles is like pump priming, i.e., using the handle of a pump (the belly) to activate the pump mechanism (the diaphragm). More on the method and the importance of "centering yourself."

Step Two uses the acquired diaphragmatic deep breathing skill as a means of slowing down the heart rate, which has the effect of relaxing the body, hence the achieved goal of the Relaxation Response. Again, since you cannot influence or control the heart rate directly, you must use a subterfuge or "handle" to accomplish it — in this instance, you use your mastery of Step One (diaphragmatic deep breathing capability) to make the breathing more profound and more regular. What do I mean by more regular? Regular means both rhythmic and deep.

Because you’ve acquired the diaphragmatic deep breathing skill, you can now take in more air during each breath cycle. How does this work? Shallow breathing merely fills the lungs. Deep breathing fills the lungs, the diaphragm, the belly, even pockets behind the kidneys. With diaphragmatic deep breathing you not only take in more air, you slow down the inhalation/exhalation cycle to the point where breathing is entirely silent. The Secret of the Golden Flower says, “Only the heart must be conscious of the flowing in and out of the breath; it must not be heard with the ears.” Like the diaphragm, the heart is a muscle you cannot isolate or control directly. Once again you use a “handle” to control the heart (the source of emotion). As The Secret of the Golden Flower says, “The heart cannot be influenced directly. Therefore, the breath-energy is used as a handle."

Stay tuned for Step Three: The Backward-Flowing Method (to be continued).