Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Seven Chakras - Expanding Human Consciousness

Perhaps it's because I'm teaching the chakras in my weekly Kundalini yoga class that I've been thinking about these seven energy centres located in the subtle energy body. This week I focused on awakening the heart chakra, the fourth chakra.
The Seven Chakras
Prior to this class, I had taught the first three chakras, the physical, emotional and mental and at some point had the realization that these chakras are very much concerned with instinct and survival. They also comprise what we think of as our identity, our personality, who I AM. Each chakra corresponds to the first seven years of life so, as you can imagine, at age 21, a lot has happened during our lives to cause energy to become frozen in these chakras. This is why the instruction of "know yourself" is so critical to awakening.

I say "know yourself" not "judge yourself." It's an important distinction. When realization arrives, it is easy to get into blame or guilt. This is a trap.

It is also a trap to dwell too much on first realizations when energy becomes unfrozen in these chakras. For example, when I realized for the first time that a desire to disengage from the adult world was motivating my spiritual journey, it was shocking, but also liberating. More importantly it gave me the space to create an adult relationship with spirituality — one based in being in the world, not outside, alone in some altered state of consciousness.

The process that freezes this energy is often unpleasant. It can take the form of dark thoughts and unfounded opinions, coupled with feelings of being unsettled and agitated without knowing why — at least that was how it was for me.

There are days when it's still like that because the process of spiritual awakening is not linear. What works for me is staying with facts and not getting drawn in or absorbed by whatever is going on in the mind or body.

Unfrozen or transformed Energy in the first three chakras prepares the way for one of the most prodigious leaps in consciousness a human being can experience, the shift from the third chakra (solar plexus) to the fourth — the Heart.

This shift marks the beginning of what it is to be a human being. It is the shift from "Me" to "We." The realization that there is no separation, just the illusion of separation, followed by the desire to make a difference, to make a contribution to the world, not based on ego, but on a genuine desire to act.

It is this wanting to make a contribution without any ego attachment that defines this stage of awakening. At this stage there is also the realization that we are not the mind/body, but that which watches everything that arises from the mind/body. It is the stage of deep compassion both for oneself and others. There is also the realization that all and everything is LOVE and most importantly that there is nothing wrong either with oneself or with life.

Heart fully awakened, it becomes a matter of Grace as to whether or not consciousness shifts and stimulates the final three chakras, which are relatively clear of blocked energy. But whether or not it is possible for consciousness to permanently awaken so as to complete the individuation process seems to occur on a case by case basis. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Neuro-Energetic Stimulation: Tweaking the Vibrational Mix

In a previous post, Vivek Govekar explored the role of cosmological role of vibration, when he affirmed the following, "What is the nature of reality? Albert Einstein, that wise sage, once remarked, 'Nothing happens until something moves.' This is quite literally true. Nothingness is the pure potentiality, the unborn absolute in it's un-manifest form. When vibration happens, the nothingness gives birth to all that is."

This reality is the basis for all physical science and metaphysical exploration, ancient and contemporary. It covers nature, our bodies — all of existence, the energy continuum.

Let's take a look at some recent man-made discoveries in neuro-energetic stimulation including, vibrational stimulation devices, muscle activation and training techniques, Rife devices, neuromuscular alignment, oxygen intake enhancement, Earthing, and supplements have on the body and Being.

Since I activated Kundalini, I have been able to feel the effects of supplements and neuro-energetic devices. The ones that are authentic immediately shift my Kundalini motor into high gear, allowing me to distinguish between an adverse reaction and a positive one.

For instance, the Scalar Wave Laser, a device a friend loaned me, instantly stimulated my Kundalini. Same goes for Earthing equipment, the difference being that the Scalar Wave Lasar focuses energy to match the vibrational frequency of a designated body organ while earthing simply grounds the body to Earth's electro-magnetic field, allowing the forces of nature to tune the body. In both cases, the body's vibrational output is "tuned" by the equipment. Vibration picking up on the frequency of other vibrations.

I cite these as examples of the cause and effect relationship these devices have with the human body.

Scalar Wave Laser
I attended a training session with the inventor of the Scalar Wave Lasar, whose workings basically boil down to setting it to a particular vibrational frequency — one to which a specific organ is attuned — in order to benignly stimulate and/or positively affect said organ.

That is the premise. During the session, all of the attendees were given a laser device to experiment with. The devices have very sophisticated program settings, allowing the user to "tune" areas and/or organs. I felt the effects immediately and then during the following week, as I experimented further, I continued to feel it working. The question is: Working on What? Since I was not sick, I can't say that it cured or maintained any particular part of me.

During the breaks in the training session, I asked the participants if they could feel the actual energy. No one was able to say he/she "felt" anything, but many said the device relieved a given symptom. I wanted to find out whether they could detect the energy as I could, and although my survey was not scientific, I concluded that while the device may have stimulated energy in others as it did in me, they were unable to feel it. For them, it worked, but only behind the scenes, in the background, like some illicit computer program that transfers fractions of cents in thousands of customer accounts to an offshore account. If you're the beneficiary, you wake up one morning and you're rich!

I was especially impressed one evening during my reclining meditation. This is the moment the Kundalini revs up, sending enormous amounts of sublimated energy up the spine to my brain, which in turn starts all manner of neuromuscular activity throughout my body. "What the heck..." I decided, "I've used my body as a laboratory for the last 40 years. Why not test the laser device by placing it on the lower belly?" The staging area for my nightly energy build up!

I set it to its most general selection and immediately felt a quantifiable intensification of Kundalini energy coursing through me, which increased neuromuscular activity by a factor of three. This continued during the twenty-five minutes I remained in a deep Theta state.

Earthing, or Grounding
Earthing is even more interesting. Why? Because a Scalar Wave Lasar costs upward of $2000, requires batteries  charging, and maintenance while Earthing equipment is passive and, depending on the equipment you select, costs a mere $100-200. Yet, its effect on my body when I am grounded (using a piece of their grounding equipment) is as powerful as the Scalar Wave Laser.

Grounding works like this:
Throughout history humans walked barefoot and slept on the ground. But modern lifestyle, including the widespread use of insulative rubber- or plastic-soled shoes, has disconnected us from the Earth’s energy and, of course, we no longer sleep on the ground. Fascinating new research has raised the possibility that this disconnect may actually contribute to chronic pain, fatigue, and poor sleep that plague so many people. 
The remedy for the disconnect is simple. Walk barefoot outdoors whenever possible and/or sleep, work, or relax indoors in contact with conductive sheets or mats that transfer the energy to your body. People who do on a regular basis say they sleep better, feel better, and have more energy during the day.  This simple practice is called Earthing, also known as grounding, and it is both a technology and a movement which is transforming lives across the planet.

All of which goes to show that these devices, at least the ones I mention here, do work. I first noticed the effects of outside-in, as opposed to inside-out energy sources, that affect my body after taking a Ginseng supplement back in the early nineties. Why shouldn't the awakened Kundalini respond to other energy sources? Food, of course, stimulates Kundalini. I've discussed the subject many times in my books. But this was something different. I felt like a human energy detection machine. Get near to or ingest an energy substance and I could quantify its power and value. Why not? That's what Kundalini is all about — refining internal energy sources, and in the future, possibly discriminating among external sources. Again, vibration picking up on the frequency of other vibrations.

I've never been inside a nuclear facility, but I have been in a large automotive plant. Upon entering the plant, I started to feel like Superman when he's exposed to kryptonite, as if this factory's electro-magnetic field was draining the energy out of my body. I had to get away.

It's empirically clear to me that some substances/energies are toxic and some are benign. Would that each one of us could detect these properties! We might have an altogether different appreciation of the environmental issue if we could feel toxicity in our bones. Imagine how we might  be moved to recalibrate our thinking on wild life were we able to feel the effects of encroaching development on the remaining pockets of wilderness! Imagine being able to feel the negative effects of junk food at time of ingestion, instead of waiting for diabetes to set in! It's a matter of sensitivity. I have made myself into a test device; I like it that way.

Now onto several external sources of stimulation I have recently encountered:

  1.     Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT)
  2.     PPM Mouthguard

Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT)
I have talked with MAT trainers and watched them work on my son for various basketball injuries. Jason, one of the trainers I talked with, tells me it's difficult to explain. The trick, he says, is in the doing. You won't understand the effects through any cognitive process. Only after treatment do you get feedback from the body. Exactly how my 40 years of Kundalini has transpired — continually using the body as a testing ground. Not settling for intellectualization. David, another trainer, says it's all 1s and 0s, as in computer programming. Touch a certain muscle in a certain way and it responds. I won't go into the details; the above links contain overkill information. Nevertheless, I understood immediately that they don't treat symptoms, they treat causes, something that Western medicine has severely neglected, especially when you consider these recent findings on surgical intervention:
Joint pain, Function not Always Better after Surgery (Reuters Health) - "Only about half of people who have a knee or hip replaced see meaningful improvements in pain and disability in the months after surgery, a new study from Canada suggests.
Researchers found people who had worse knee or hip pain to begin with, fewer general health problems and no arthritis outside of the replaced joint were more likely to report benefits. 
"'I think this study really represents the general picture that often people do not have arthritis in just one joint,' said Elena Losina, an orthopedic surgery and arthritis researcher from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston."
PPM Mouthguard theory
The first PPM device* I encountered cost $700; they had to be specially fitted by a dentist. That was two years ago. Since then they've come up with a do-it-yourself model that costs only $30. I bought one and tried it. I wanted to see if my ability as an energy detector also covers this sort of device. I want to see if it affects my Kundalini and if it improves Strength, Balance, Explosive Speed, Agility, Endurance, and Recovery, as touted on their website. Like Earthing,  the science behind this device also has its roots in anthropology in that it harks back to the time before eating utensils were developed:
Archaeological evidence suggests that most human beings had an edge-to-edge bite, similar to apes. In other words, our teeth were aligned liked a guillotine, with the top layer clashing against the bottom layer. Then, quite suddenly, this alignment of the jaw changed: We developed an overbite, which is still normal today. The top layer of teeth fits over the bottom layer like a lid on a box.
This change is far too recent for any evolutionary explanation. Rather, it seems to be a question of usage. An American anthropologist, C. Loring Brace, put forward the thesis that the overbite results from the way we use cutlery, from childhood onwards.
What changed was the adoption of the knife and fork, which meant that we were cutting chewy food into small morsels before eating it. Previously, when eating something chewy such as meat, crusty bread or hard cheese, it would have been clamped between the jaws, then sliced with a knife or ripped with a hand -- a style of eating Professor Brace has called "stuff-and-cut." 
The model I have is for non-contact sports, such as golf, tennis, Yoga, track and field, skating running, etc. It works by realigning the jaw to permit a greater flow of air.
more oxygen means more endurance and strength
PMM mouthguard
In addition to the above factors the manufacturers say they have tested, I would like to see them do some Accuracy testing, as in golf drives, archery, basketball free throws, etc. If my hunch is correct, by optimizing neuromuscular alignment both MAT and the PPM device should improve bodily symmetry, which in turn, should affect accuracy. So much of this emerging science has not been developed in the lab, but through intuitive hunch during years of on-the-job experience — individuals working empirically with 1s and 0s in the laboratories of their own bodies.

Material science is falling behind. Kundalini, Scalar Lasers, Earthing, MAT, PPM are in the vanguard of utilizing vibrational energy and neuro-energetic stimulation in order to improve health and human potential and offer alternatives to medical procedures that often bring no respite. In the future, it seems certain that medical treatment will include some sort of vibrational therapy, synchronizing of vibrations to re-calibrate faulty organs.

* The entire 2010 Super Bowl winning New Orleans Saints football team was outfitted with a PPM device.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The First Stage of Spiritual Awakening — Know Yourself

A couple of weeks ago, I listened to a re-play of a broadcast interview given by Adyashanti whose teaching is prolific on the web at the moment. I had a personal interest because prior to the programme I had sent him an email question and like anybody who does something like this was eager to know if he would answer it. With the time difference it was too late to wait up for it, so as soon as it was available I downloaded it.

In the talk he gave before he answered emails and took calls, he spoke about two different kind of awakenings. Given my interest in Kundalini energy, what interested me was his not speaking about Kundalini specifically, but as a reference to the incident in the Bible when Jesus was baptised and the spirit descended on him like a dove. He said that he had had that kind of experience many years ago, but hadn't thought very much about it at the time. He talked about this 'spirit' operating in two ways:
  • The first being upward and outward which results in a transcendent state of consciousness, a moving out of the body/mind.
  • The second going down and in, which he says leads one to realize there is nothing wrong with the world or anything in it.
He offers the suggestion that from an early age we are taught or decide that there is something wrong with the world, but with this inward, deepening of the descending spirit there is the realization that everything is exactly the way it is meant to be and there is nothing wrong. I found this really interesting and it resonated with the two experiences I've had with this energy, which I call Kundalini solely because it was the first available label I found for this energy.

Talk over, he went to the emails and I held my breath! He asked that the emails/phone ins relate to his talk. 

However, the first email had to do with was an unresolved issue in the writer's personal life. I listened to him go through it with a growing sense of frustration that he was moving away from the content of the talk he had just given. Then he went to the phone to take a call and my frustration grew even more as he dealt with the caller's personal issues once again. While he didn't refer to my email or reference me, there were some sentences in his talk which were taken word for word from my email, so while I don't know for sure if he was influenced by my email, I was happy with the content in his main talk.

After the broadcast finished, I began to ponder. There is no doubt that without doing the work to resolve personal issues of the kind aired by the emails and call-ins, spiritual awakening is not possible.

The first commandment of spiritual awakening is 'know yourself' and it is the one most people want to avoid. Even after being on a spiritual path for many years, as I had with Buddhism, it was only after Kundalini rose that I was forced to face up to personal issues I had been running away from by hiding in the spiritual.

It is not the role of someone who has awakened to deal with this early stage of spiritual awakening. All of us who desire to awaken must take on that responsibility for ourselves. I say this because there is a great danger on the spiritual path — especially those practices featuring meditation, yoga, etc. — to believe that the practice itself can correct root issues which are holding us back from awakening. These can only truly be resolved at a conscious level when we are willing to take responsibility and stop blaming circumstances.

So before any spiritual work is attempted, I strongly recommend individuals, especially those who have been on a spiritual path for many years, do a transformative, self-development programme. In my case it was the Forum from Landmark Education, but there are others. It's not important which one is done. What is critical is doing something to deal with the sloppy thinking in which one presumes that simply by meditating or doing yoga one is going to transform the ego that stands in the way of awakening.

Trying to transform the ego on one's own is like a thief turning detective to catch the one who is the thief; it can't be done and leads to frustration and disillusionment.

So daring to ask, no matter how spiritually advanced one might consider oneself, "Is there something hidden from me that, were it to be revealed, would change everything?" The ego has no interest in this question. But when you think about it, knowing yourself is but a small price to pay for awakening. No only is it essential to awakening, it is a forward step in self-realisation.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sacred Cow Terminology Obscures Real Meaning

"Names can be designated, but they are not fixed terms."
~ Introduction to The Secret of the Golden Flower – Thomas Cleary

No one dares speak out against word casing sacred cow terms like "enlightenment," yet few understand them, not empirically, at least. It is better to use simpler language, metaphysical in place of spiritual, for instance, because metaphysical is a term most people can agree on. It means "beyond the physical" while spiritual connotes more subjective meanings.

Arcata marsh in spring
The Incandescent Power Of Nature
Since most people’s understanding of terms like "enlightenment" and "duality' are based on their experiences in the physical world, it is only normal that their "definitions" reflect their material perceptions and experiences. In other words, the boundaries of their material concepts and their entrapment therein.

After a Kundalini awakening, one begins to experience beyond-the-physical, meta effects for the first time. This provides the subject with kind of "grokking" insight into the beyond-the-physical realm. All of a sudden he/she knows there is no death, no duality. This is both a revelation and a realization, metaphysical and empirical at the same time, a product of Kundalini awakening. Over time, one moves gradually from the physical to a greater understanding of the metaphysical, but it takes time, lots of time.

It’s like climbing a mountain. Can you describe the mountaintop before you’ve seen it? The climb takes time. You can waste a lot of energy wondering about what the top of the mountain is like. Better to spend the energy on getting there. 

Once you are there — at the figurative mountaintop — you can apply the same observational, scientific principles to your metaphysical experiences as a scientist applies to a laboratory experiment. You can even add a dash of poetic expression, elaborate on its mystical aspects. You are transformed.

Nevertheless, one term that does need a new casing is Kundalini. Not that it’s a bad or inadequate term; it’s connotations are too varied. Is it a cult, people wonder? An ancient religion? An Indian anatomical term? A biological actuality? Something I don’t need to know about? Something I should avoid because it’s scary? An imaginary force? An actual energy center in the body? A chakra? A nerve? A spiritual practice? An esoteric teaching? A holy scripture? Or all of the above?

Unlike terms such as meditation, enlightenment, consciousness, kundalini is not readily visualizable. Mention meditation and you get an across-the-board instant mental picture of its meaning and context. Mention kundalini and you get all sorts of vague connotations. Until we come up with a -tion, -ment, or -ness term for kundalini, the confusion will continue. Problem is, there just doesn’t seem to be a better term at the moment — a situation epitomized by a book like The Secret of the Golden Flower, which is all about raising Kundalini, but never mentions the word.

It’s all about spiritual transformation. And yet, the labels keep us apart. We share this goal of transformation — and yet the labels separate us, classify us, make us suspicious of one another.
The new-age spiritual marketplace can’t keep up with itself. A new teaching appears; the author tweaks the labels; adds a few new terms of his own, et voilà, a new sensation is born. Three weeks to enlightenment! New and improved! Tell your friends!
"Readers will also find themselves faced with differences in the way various teachers language their teachings and discrepancies in the way that each approaches this subject. In some cases, it is simply a matter of terminology (e.g., one teacher uses ‘enlightenment,' another ‘liberation'; one talks about the ‘self' being the ultimate, while another talks about the 'self' as the ego).”~ Mariana Caplan - Halfway Up the Mountain, Hohm Press, 1999.
There are many teachings out there. It’s hard to keep score in this new-agey environment. The only thing that matters — besides the labels — are the teachings that work and the teachings that don’t work. And the teachings that work for one individual, but not for another, and so on...

If we were material scientists, we’d be using the scientific method to verify each and every teaching that comes along. The ones that didn’t work wouldn’t last long. I can’t verify any teachings other than the ones I’ve tried myself, namely Raw Foods and Golden Flower Meditation.

But who says the scientific method can’t be used to verify the workability, the feasibility, the viability of a metaphysical system? Who says the scientific method doesn’t apply to the metaphysical world in the same manner it apples to the physical world?

What, after all, is the scientific method if it isn’t a system based on observation, inference, and empirical verification? A system based on doing and experimenting. On trial and error.

Can I verify all the teachings out there? No, I can only verify the ones I’ve worked with in the laboratory of my own body. That’s where this verification process takes place. Did you think it took place in a university? That you could learn it out of book, take an exam, and get extra credit? You have to do! As Bruce Lee said, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” Of course, before I found Golden Flower Meditation, I tried various systems. I gave them a chance, and when they didn’t work for me, I moved on.

If you're truly interested in exploring the metaphysical, forget about Terminology and Labels and just practice.
"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." ~Mark Twain

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Creating a Balanced State of Mind Through Breath Control

The human brain is capable of creative thought. This is the greatest gift we have received as a result of expanding consciousness over the entire span of human evolution. No other species can create beyond the basic needs of survival and shelter. JJ Semple and I have touched on the subject of human evolution as it relates to expanding consciousness. As JJ mentioned earlier, it is not something that can be understood intellectually. The difference between a theologian and a mystic (someone that has experienced expanded consciousness) is immense.

In my own case, I received two gifts as a result of the awakening. One was the ability to understand music at a deep visceral level. It helped that the energy would respond to the music, causing my body to sway with it. That was just part of the story, however. Music is vibration and it is deeply embedded in our psyche. I have always been a huge fan of music, but was never a musician or singer myself. Turns out, this was just a limitation created by the left-brain dominated mind I lived with for years.

Long road ahead
After the Kundalini process began, I had an urge to learn music formally. It was an amazing experience. My newly awakened mind soaked up everything like a sponge. I went from not knowing how to sing to being an able singer in a matter of weeks.

The other gift I received was photography. Not just being able to handle a camera well, but being able to see better, knowing how to be creative and compose great images. Being able to see things in an everyday mundane reality and making something visually appealing out of them. I attribute all of these changes to the awakened energy working on my psyche and loosening the vise-like grip previously wielded by the logical left-brain. These abilities were within me, but the parts of the brain that governed them were inactive and I didn't realize I could activate them. It was as if they didn't exist.

Ducks under the dock
As Margaret Dempsey mentioned in her recent post, the ability to feel, to imagine and have an artistic frame of mind is the domain of the right brain. The left brain uses logic, but more importantly, I found it also keeps us tied to a rational world. We definitely need rationality and order in our world. There would be no scientific progress or order in the world otherwise. Too much of it can create an imbalance. A rigid and constrained world that lacks imagination and stifles the creative impulse.

Left-brain dominance predominates today: doing a job, making a living, leaving the creation of beauty to others, living a dreary existence. It would suck if that was all we had to look forward to for all time. But times are changing — the worldwide explosion of right-brain activity has ushered in a new wave of creativity. For the moment, yes, we live in a world that trains us to be cogs in a wheel. Left-brain activity is rewarded. But this imbalance is being corrected; it's as if Evolution is telling us: "If you won't stop killing and wasting, I'll have step in and stop it for you. I know, I'll make creativity a prerequisite for survival! That will restore the balance that left-brain dominance has disturbed." 

Guiding lights
During the early stages of my process, I found it very helpful to do alternate nostril breathing to balance the two hemispheres of the brain. The breath is the single most important factor in human existence. We cannot survive beyond a few short minutes when we suffocate. Yogic breathing or pranayama is a key element in the practices associated with raising the kundalini. One simple exercise we can practice in our daily lives is alternate nostril breathing, also known as anulom-vilom.

When the mind is cluttered with thoughts, its incessant chatter creating a ruckus inside us, it can be almost impossible to focus on day-to-day tasks, let alone on meditation. A quick way to bring the unruly mind to rest is through forceful breathing, focussing on expelling the breath through the mouth. Let the inhalation take care of itself. Focus on emptying the lungs of all air with strong, forceful exhalations. Breathe out 5 to 10 times until the stomach is drawn in and all air is expelled. Breathe in through the nose.

Using alternate nostril breathing with this forceful exhalation technique allows you to clear the mind and balance the left and right brain.

After emptying the lungs, cover the left nostril and breathe in through the right nostril. Slow, deep breath drawn into the diaphragm. Let the belly expand. Then cover the right nostril and let out the air through the left nostril. Slow, gentle exhale. Then breathe in through the left nostril and let it out through the right. Repeat this process for 5 to 10 breaths through each nostril.

This exercise helps balance the two brain hemispheres. It returns the mind to a state of calm. It is ideal preparation for a meditation session. It has helped me during times of panic or intense fear, and helps me deal with blocked chakras more effectively. This page provides more detail.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Left Brain is Concerned with What it Knows

"The left brain is concerned with what it knows...the right brain with what it experiences."
The title of this post is taken from page 78 of The Master and his Emissary by Iain McGilchrist and I resonate with this sentence so strongly. In the past with left brain dominance, knowledge and knowing were all important. Those who could remember and recite spiritual literature were seen as gurus and followed in the belief that the states of spiritual consciousness suggested by such knowledge could be transmitted. Many devotees were disappointed when this state couldn't be transmitted, or at least not transmitted in a
permanent and lasting way. That which Knows cannot Experience — they are two different worlds. To go from one to the other requires a shift.

On page 79, Iain makes a fascinating (at least for me) distinction between left and right in terms of certainty:
'The left hemisphere likes things that are man-made. Things we make are also more certain: we know them inside out, because we put them together. They are not, like living things, constantly changing and moving, beyond our grasp. Because the right hemisphere sees things as they are, they are constantly new for it, so it has nothing like the databank of information about categories that the left hemisphere has."
This got me thinking about the ego and how it is something that human beings construct from the way we interpret ourselves and from the sensory information we ingest from world around us. It is formalized when we get language and then for the rest of our lives, we fight tooth and nail to maintain these constructs which takes the form of being right and defending a point of view.

This is not wrong. If taken from the perspective of what is written about the left brain in this book, it is a simply a structure we have put together. If we are aware of the tendency of the left brain to be rigid and inflexible, then we have a choice to shift — as choice is always possible with awareness. In ignorance, choice is not possible.

On page 80, the author goes on to say, "The right hemisphere is virtually silent, relatively shifting and uncertain, where the left hemisphere by contrast may be unreasonably, even stubbornly, convinced of its own correctness."

This makes sense to me because of how reluctant people are to shift their points of view or validate their opinions. There is a rigid rightness in the left brain, which doesn't allow for the right to express itself, which, in turn, really doesn't care about being right (no pun intended!).
That which Knows cannot Experience
Hemispheres of the Brain
To say that I am dining out on this book at the moment is an understatement. I am poring over each word in each sentence and resonating with all of it. For the first time in many years I feel the excitement that comes from being authentic, having finally found something that mirrors my thoughts and feelings about this topic.

This is an important book. If there wasn't the shift happening from the left brain to the right, I wouldn't be so excited, but it is happening. You only have to Google "spiritual awakenings" and you will find YouTube videos created by people speaking about this shift, which never happens in the same way for any two people, but whose effects and realizations are the same. The means are different depending on the quality of conscousness and the degree of awareness.

Finally, I don't want anything I write or quote from this book to be seen as a value judgement on the qualities of either hemisphere of the brain. Of course, I am biased towards the right brain because it's my natural orientation, but the left is also needed to organise what is experienced and give voice to the experiences of the right brain. The left has asserted mastery over the right for too long and must now assume the role of interpreter for the right brain.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Journey or the Destination 01

I am wrongly criticized for describing my book, Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time as being a comprehensive breakdown of secrets in The Secret of the Golden Flower (SGF). It is not. That book has now been published as The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Kundalini Meditation Method. The two books work together, covering both aspects of the kundalini process: theory and practice.

I could write a hundred books — to no avail if the reader is only trolling the issue. At some point, discussion is moot. Theory leads nowhere without practice. And that's the problem with the internet, a public forum where off-the-wall and cogent interpretation exist side-by-side, but practical accounts are rare. Nonsense meets sense...and it's up to the reader, should he or she be so inclined, to evaluate the various positions, separate the wheat from the chaff. 

Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time is a memoir of my journey to self-discovery, during which, after long periods of floundering, I had the good fortune to come across the SGF and its method of meditation and the good sense to practice the meditation, whereby I now understand that:
"Self-realization begins at birth; it is the journey as much as it is the destination."~Araminta Matthews

Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time examines many aspects of the journey and the destination. Should the journey be considered part of the experience — in this case a Kundalini awakening? Does the effort to attain something count in the end result? Should the means enjoy the same weight as the ends? Beyond the fact that the journey is usually a humanizing experience, there's the ultimate question of: What is the destination? Miracles, super powers, bragging rights? Gopi Krishna had this to say:
"A question was asked of Ramana Maharshi, 'Do you see spirits?' He said, 'Yes, in my dreams.' I would like to tell you something which is probably not known in the West, I mean especially to the younger generation. There is not a single mention of miracles in the Upanishads, which are the fountainhead of all metaphysical and spiritual thought in India. There is not a word in favor of miracles in the dialogues of Buddha; in fact he condemns them. Not a word about miracles in the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna condemns those who practice meditation to harm others or gain some worldly object for themselves, or in other words miracles. Not a word about miracles in the sayings of Ramakrishna, Raman, Sri Aurobindo, nor Swami Sivananda." 
So if it isn't miracles, we can surmise it isn't bragging rights. So what is it? What is the destination? Gopi Krishna knew what it was, and, thanks to my struggles, so do I. It's greater consciousness, better decisions, better health, longevity, better self-control, knowledge of life and death, a connection with the energy continuum. So does all this come with a Kundalini awakening, the moment it occurs?

No, it takes time. It did for me anyway. For Gopi Krishna, too — if you read his books. And guess what? Some of the fundamentals are acquired along the way, during the journey! Yes, they are. Through focus, through travail, through trial and error. Through getting knocked down and bouncing back up. Through becoming single-minded.
Arcata Bottoms
Birds and their Fanciers
So what if I failed to do a line-by-line interpretation of The Secret of the Golden Flower. Not to start with, that is. Why? Because there happens to be a lot of them out there already. From Carl Gustav Jung to Osho. I preferred dealing with the really important secrets in the context of how I discovered they were important and how I ultimately came to practice and master them. Namely, Diaphragmatic Deep Breathing and the Backward Flowing Method. Why take a narrative approach?

Because people identify with the struggle of the journey. If the struggle isn't real — doesn't lead the seeker through a series of dark night of the soul crises — can the process be authentic? Not if it isn't lived in its entirety. Not if it produces a cloying mess that obfuscates the vital elements of the struggle.

The road less travelled

There was another reason I took this approach: I wanted to document the difficulties the westerner faces in even getting to the starting point of the self-actualization journey, especially in 1956 when I began my quest. I have Indian and Chinese friends who grew up with meditation and Yoga practices all around them. I never heard these words until I was in my twenties. Even when I did, there was very little information extant. As for Kundalini, I didn't hear the word until after I had activated it.

My journey took me from HS graduation to college to the USMC to college again to work to travel to work, 18 to 35, all before I'd found anything substantial, before I even had a clue that something like Kundalini meditation existed.

And that was just the materialistic aspect of my life; there were many other aspects: relationships, family, health, addictions, pursuits and dreams. Like everyone, I was juggling a whole medley of issues, but unlike most of my friends, not doing a very good job of it. I needed to document the choices I made in getting from a point far behind the starting line to where I ultimately ended up: a Kundalini practitioner and writer. Even today, I still look back and wonder how I got to where I am today. The least I could do was to retrace my steps so that other westerners, be they more or less apt or predisposed than I was, could nevertheless use my odyssey as a roadmap, sometimes for finding a way forward, other times for the choices to avoid.

Awakening Kundalini is akin to a crash landing on an unknown planet. There is no way to be fully prepared, no guidebook. The greatest preparation, in fact, is the ability to improvise.

Imagine crashing a plane in unfamiliar territory. Right away, you have to find food, shelter and repair your equipment with only a limited toolset and a manual written in an unknown language. A rush job with life and death stakes, that kind of desperate mission requires a task-oriented personality. Take stock and get on with it. And don’t neglect intuition; it may save your life.

Enough about theory, already. About idealizing the destination! It never works out like you think it will. There are years of coming to terms with an active Kundalini at work in your body, and you better learn the practical aspects of living with it and not yearn for ecstatic states of bliss.

Hopefully, as living empirical science proliferates in the future, raising Kundalini will become an everyday occurrence. Our race will make the next incremental leap in consciousness. But the method must be safe. Perhaps the spiritual pioneering by disparate groups and individuals currently underway will prepare the groundwork for safe, permanent awakenings. It’s possible to avoid the pitfalls, to mitigate their effects. That's why I concentrate on vital techniques, and why I update the method regularly — as new information comes in.

No, your journey won't be the same as mine. Nor will its outcome. But the more journeys that are documented, the more understanding brought to the endeavor. Especially when you realize that the end isn't only other-worldly, that it's not a question of magical powers. In acquiring the tools for the soul's long journey as it shape-shifts its way through the energy continuum, there's definitely work for more than one person.

Once again Gopi Krishna's farsighted assessment:
"A few more confessions such as Alan Watts’, and a probe directed to the avowals of thousands of human beings who have had the unmistakable experiences of the Kundalini force are perhaps necessary to put open-minded and enterprising men and women of science on the trail of what is the greatest mystery of creation still lying unsolved and even unattended before us."
It's not an either - or. The two go together: The Journey and the Destination: Part 02.

The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

Yesterday, I collected Iain McGilchrist's book — the one that inspired the title of this post — from the post office and once outside tore off the distinctly Amazon brown cardboard, releasing the book from bondage. The first thing that struck me was how thick it is (over 500 pages). I didn't realise there was so much to say about the right brain, or more specifically about the divided brain.

I waited for a bus to take me to work and, once on, flipped through the first few pages. As I read, I felt this overwhelming relief, a sense of coming home to everything I have been thinking. I was filled with such gratitude for the universal guidance which has never let me waver from my faith that I am right brain dominant. What Iain does in this book is to get away from the stark dichotomy of right and left, thereby alleviating the associated criticisms and dismissals which have been the fate of similar works in the past.

In the past, when compared to the right hemisphere, the left hemisphere of the brain has always come out of these studies lacking — exciting and creative as opposed to reasonable and boring. So Iain is at pains to stress that this research is more complicated and that most capabilities involve both sides of the brain. Yet, from what he has written there is no doubt that he believes the right governs different aptitudes than the left.

This is exciting because if consciousness is shifting from the left to the right then knowing how the right brain operates is going to make the shift less stressful and provide a context for it to happen. It may also explain the frequency of people reporting spiritual awakening-type experiences.

I scanned the book to see if there was any mention connecting the brain with vision that might provide an explanation for why I am right brain dominant. (My hypothesis being that an uncorrected, lazy right eye has not adequately stimulated my left brain so my right has had to compensate by being more active). On pg. 26 he states, "If you are a bird, you solve the conundrum of how to eat and stay alive by employing different strategies with either eye: the right eye (left hemisphere) for getting and feeding, the left eye (right hemisphere) for vigilant awareness of the environment." I'm not a bird, but it left me wondering what happens if there is a lack of visual stimulation from the right eye to the left hemisphere? Does the right brain work harder to compensate, in the same way one kidney does double duty when the other one stops working. It seems logical that it would.

I checked the index to see if there was any mention of spirituality or Kundalini. There wasn't, and I wasn't surprised as spirituality has not been identified as a right brain activity, much less Kundalini as a manifestation of it. Nevertheless, when I am on this track, inspirational notions come to me. For instance, this morning on waking I remembered a TED talk by neuroscientist, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor in which she watched herself having a stroke and experienced her consciousness leave her left brain and enter the right brain. This raises another question, i.e., is it the brain itself or is it the movement of consciousness? Is either side of the brain inert until fired up by consciousness?

As I re-listened to Jill Bolte's TED talk Stroke of Insight, I was once again struck by her conviction that it's a matter of choice whether we operate from the left or right in life.

What does this mean? That no matter what people say, if something doesn't feel right, then it's not. So rather than giving in, stay steady, ask for universal guidance to provide the answer and keep vigilant and alert.

In the face of criticism, it's all too easy to give up on our deepest truth. This is the challenge of being stay true to what we believe and what feels authentic. Over the years, many people have tried to tell me that my profound spiritual experiences and their accompanying states of consciousness are the result of karma or spiritual effort, but I have always known deep down that there is something else in play and I have stayed steady in the conviction that the something else is related to my right brain dominance. The details of this hypothesis are not yet fully cognizable, but they are coming together.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

How Vibrations Affect our Physical Reality - Part I: The Nature of Sound Waves and the Patterns They Create

Right from the beginning of my kundalini journey, I have experienced the divine as vibrations. My initial experience was a hyper-aware state where I experienced resonance with my surroundings and 'saw' the universe as a jumble of vibrations. Naturally, I investigated that path and, pardon the pun, found resonance, with spiritual traditions that used sound and vibration to explain genesis. I studied musical traditions specifically developed for balancing chakras, from tibetan singing bowls to Indian classical music.

Reading about the cosmology described in Kashmir Shaivite texts satisfies intellectual curiosity of spiritual seekers, but the question remains, how do we use this knowledge in our day-to-day lives and spiritual practices? This is a very valid question. As JJ has pointed out in his previous post, "knowing is not enough, we must apply." Being a knowledgeable pundit may satisfy your curiosity but will not take you even a single step closer to self-realization and will not bring about a transformation in your personality.

However, blind adherence to ancient traditions is also futile. If you chant mantras or hymns and listen to certain sounds because you have been told to, without knowing the inner mechanism of what works how and why, you could be wasting time doing the wrong practices, not seeing any benefits and never knowing why they did not work. It is never a good idea to follow something on blind faith. In this post, I will attempt to shed some light on the nature of sound and the use of resonance in ancient languages such as Sanskrit and efforts by modern scientists like Hans Jenny at understanding vibrations in a scientific manner.

In 1787, the jurist, musician and physicist Ernst Chladni published Entdeckungen über die Theorie des Klangesor (Discoveries Concerning the Theory of Sound). In this and other pioneering works, Chladni lay the foundation of acoustics, the science of sound. Among Chladni´s successes was finding a way to make visible what sound waves generate. With the help of a violin bow which he drew perpendicularly across the edge of flat plates covered with sand, he produced those patterns and shapes which today go by the term Chladni figures. Chladni demonstrated that sound actually does affect physical matter and that it has the quality of creating geometric patterns. More importantly, we could see the nature of a sound wave reflected in physical objects, giving us a better understanding of the propagation of a wave pattern and variations caused by differences in tones and frequencies. 

Chladni Patterns

In 1967, the late Hans Jenny, a Swiss doctor and scientist, published Cymatics – The Structure and Dynamics of Waves and Vibrations. In this book Jenny, like Chladni two hundred years earlier, showed what happens when one takes various materials like sand, spores, iron filings, water, and viscous substances, and places them on vibrating metal plates and membranes. What then appears are shapes and motion- patterns which vary from the nearly perfectly ordered and stationary to those that are turbulently developing, organic, and constantly in motion. 

The development of a pattern in sand (step by step)
Jenny made use of crystal oscillators and an invention of his own by the name of the tonoscope to set these plates and membranes vibrating. The tonoscope was constructed to make the human voice visible without any electronic apparatus as an intermediate link. This yielded the amazing possibility of being able to see the physical image of the vowel, tone or song a human being produced directly. (see below) Not only could you hear a melody – you could see it, too!
The vowel 'A' seen as a pattern in sand

In his research with the tonoscope, Jenny noticed that when the vowels of the ancient languages of Hebrew and Sanskrit were pronounced, the sand took the shape of the written symbols for these vowels, while our modern languages, on the other hand, did not generate the same result! This means, the ancients that came up with the language used specific symbols that corresponded to the vibration pattern created by the sound for each word for it's written representation, not something assigned randomly.

It can be surmised that ancient “sacred” languages have the power to influence and transform physical reality, to create things through their inherent power, or, to take a concrete example, through the recitation or singing of sacred texts, to heal a person who has gone “out of tune.”

What Hans Jenny pointed out is the resemblance between the shapes and patterns we see around us in physical reality and the shapes and patterns he generated in his investigations. Jenny was convinced that biological evolution was a result of vibrations, and that their nature determined the ultimate outcome. He speculated that every cell had its own frequency and that a number of cells with the same frequency created a new frequency which was in harmony with the original, which in its turn possibly formed an organ that also created a new frequency in harmony with the two preceding ones.

Jenny was saying that the key to understanding how we can heal the body with the help of tones lies in our understanding of how different frequencies influence genes, cells and various structures in the body. He also suggested that through the study of the human ear and larynx we would be able to come to a deeper understanding of the ultimate cause of vibrations.

Harmonic similarities found in nature
Jenny called this new area of research cymatics, which comes from the Greek kyma, wave. Cymatics could be translated as: the study of how vibrations, in the broad sense, generate and influence patterns, shapes and moving processes.

A more in-depth look at Jenny's investigation and conclusions can be found here. I have used the text and diagrams on this blog page to give a modern scientific perspective to the use of mantras and chants. The tones associated with different chakras will be explored in Part II of this post.