Friday, April 12, 2013

Boldness – Born of Compassion

In the early hours of one morning this week, I received a text from a woman distressed about the effects of rising energy that occurred while she was on a Buddhist meditation retreat. She asked if I could help her. As it was too early for me to do anything constructive, I drifted back to sleep.

On waking again, my first thought was of this woman and I immediately thought (more of a sudden insight than a thought, really) that what had happened to this woman was a shift of consciousness from the left brain or not-Self to the right brain or Self. Her experience resonated with me because it was exactly what happened to me when I was on a Vipassana meditation retreat in England during 1999. However, I had almost 1o years of Buddhist training and philosophy to support me when the energy rose; this woman was not as fortunate.

Ask and it Shall Be Given Unto You
Ask and it Shall Be Given Unto You
In the past, intense spiritual practices might be undertaken, but, contrary to today and to the despair of the practitioners, those practices usually didn't result in profound spiritual experiences. This has changed. Today intense meditation like Goenka can be done relatively safely with the knowledge that the effects of energy work bear much quicker results now than before. This shifts responsibility for informing students about the dormant energy and its effects on to the teachers of spiritual practices so that students are aware of its power and risks before undertaking it. Is this information given to students at their first meditation evening or yoga class? I don't think so. Pity, because students need to gird up their loins. The spiritual path is not a path for the fearful.  

When Kundalini rises in those who are tentative the result is often fear and confusion. The shift that happens must be put in a context if it's to have a chance of not overwhelming or terrifying practitioners.

How did I learn about the emotional and psychic shocks associated with rising Kundalini? In the laboratory of my own body, of course. My conclusions are based on a combination of my own experience and intuition.

Consider that the left brain is the ego or not-Self and the right brain is the Self. Kundalini creates a shift from left to right and then acts to bring left and right into balance. If the student knows this, he/she then realizes the energy is evolutionary and needs to be co-operated with, not resisted or fought against.

Having a context in which to put spiritual experience is very important to understanding, accepting, and co-operating with the process, as well as to allowing the energy to do its healing and transformative work. Without this context, spiritual practice can be a bewildering, scary experience that happens unexpectedly without the subject even being aware this energy exists, much less how its arousal will change the Being — physically, mentally and spiritually in the weeks and months and, indeed, the years to come.

If practitioners use the shift of consciousness from the left to the right as a model for understanding the "benign intentions" of the Kundalini experience, it will permit them to allay their fears and celebrate the moment of shifting consciousness.


  1. One thing nags at me. Without revealing confidential info... Did you discuss your approach with the woman? If so, what advice did you give her? How did she take it?

    1. Great question, thanks for asking me. Yes, I spoke to the woman and what was most important to her was to have her experienced validated and that I had a positive attitude towards her experience. In the days and weeks following a spiritual emergence whether the person attributes it to Kundalini or not validation of the experience as an expansion of evolutionary consciousness is so important. I remember once either reading or hearing that the only difference between the mad person and a mystic was who they spoke to! and I think that there is something in that.

      The advice I gave to the woman was to stay quiet as much as she could. To continue to do everything that she had given her word to do. She was a student and so I advised her to continue with her studies when all she wanted to do was drop out and rest. Because of the shift of consciousness there is a huge temptation to get absorbed and fascinated by the products of the expanded consciousness and it takes great strength to ignore these and do what one gave ones word to do. But speaking from my own experience it is very important not to get taken over by such experience, whether this experience is in the form of wonderful lofty ideas, blissful feelings, powerful emotions, visions etc all of this is to be watched impassively and without attachment. a

      The woman was relieved when I said this as many people had been telling her that she needed to rest. I don't agree with this advice. The upsurge of energy effects the nervous system and I found that I needed to do a lot of physical exercise so I did alot of intensive indoor cycling to relieve the pressure. In my reading of people who have gone through similar experiences most have said that they had to do some demanding physical exercise to keep grounded and relieve the build up of the energy. Even today if I leave it too long without going to the gym I begin to feel restless and irritated.

      You asked me how she took what I said. She was relieved to have her experience validated as normal and not a sign that she was 'going mad'! I didn't entertain the various experiences she was having both physical and mental which meant that I didn't engage with the drama and I think she was a little disappointed by that. Looking back I understand the power and pull of such experiences but they are not IT - they are just aberrations in the nervous system caused by the awakening energy and I don't encourage anyone to get stuck there....she is no different......

      Hope this answers your question....

  2. Not being sufficiently prepared for energy arousal seems especially commonplace in situations where Shaktipat is conferred. Shouldn't exceptional training and care be taken when energy is transferred from one person to another?

  3. I have been thinking about what you say myself. At some level we are all transferring energy to each other by virtue of the fact that we are all energy beings.

    The question then arises as what is different about the person who transfers Shaktipat which is said to be the spiritual transmission from a guru to a disciple. Does the self-admission of a person as a guru automatically give that guru the boon of Shaktipat?

    There are many people now claiming to be 'awake' and yet the people who come to their Satsangs don't seem to be receiving any spiritual transmissions. If anything, they seem to be frustrated sitting with this person, knowing that there is something to 'get' and not getting it. I can name at least three awakened people who have many people at their Satsang meetings as I write.

    So it is interesting and also perplexing. At a time when many people are waking up to the dream spiritual transmission in terms of reported energy movement in the body is not reported on. Is it that the consciousness is not developed enough to pick up on the energy moving in the body?

    Rather than think of it as preparation for Shaktipat I think that more honesty and transparency about the possibility of Kundalini awakening at any stage of a spiritual practice, whether that is the first meditation or yoga class is a possibility and what to do if it happens. This would be the responsibility of every teacher to inform their students at the beginning of every class.

    Thanks for the question...