Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Early Visual and Affective Journey

“Wow! This description of the renovation and restoration process of kundalini is sure in line with my own experience.”
This was my reaction while reading sections of Kundalini Vidya: The Science of Spiritual Transformation several months after my forty day retreat.

At the time of my retreat, I had never heard of kundalini, nor did I know about the layers or sheaths making up the subtle body. Written by Joan Harrigan, this book uses an Eastern archetypal model that resonated with my own profound kundalini experience. This model was described in detail in my previous posting.

Beyond our physical bodies, but emanating from our physical systems, lies the energy sheath made up of energy channels intersecting with six major chakras. Next to it is the mental sheath of our conscious and unconscious minds that can be broken down into “chitta,” the unconscious storehouse of past impressions and imprints, “manas,” our sensory motor system that carries out automatically the many biological and psychological functions of our metabolism, and the “ahankara” or ego, defining and giving us that sense of I-ness or separate identity with all of its attachments and boundaries. Next to that lies the discernment sheath, reflective consciousness often referred to as our inner voice. With this blueprint in mind, I will try to describe how this model is connected with what I experienced.

In Christian Meditation (which I had been practicing for nearly three decades before encountering kundalini) we are told to breathe normally. So breathing becomes principally an unconscious response. You just let it be what it is. I would describe this as “manas” or an automatic response. If you wish to change it by holding your breath or breathing faster, you can, but normal would be to inhale, exhale with no special attention.

On the thirty-eight day of my retreat, the first noticeable and unexpected change was in my pattern of breathing. This changed in two ways. While I was meditating, it seemed that “manas,” or the automatic response system, temporarily shifted my breathing pattern to a deep inhaling and holding of breath for as long as possible. This inhaling and holding of breath created pressure which was then systematically directed towards certain areas of my body. First to the diaphragm, then to the left and right sides, to the upper chest, back, neck and head. I described this in my journal as an opening up of areas in my body previous devoid of air and energy flow.

The second thing I began to notice was the development of a new pattern for overall breathing. My old normal breathing pattern was comprised of a shallow inhale, exhale; an in and out routine. It began to change into diaphragmatic deep breathing, but of a circular nature, clockwise to be more specific.

In the past, I've seldom had, or paid much attention to, visions. In fact, I was quite suspicious of them, but during the kundalini process these mind pictures become a fairly common event. And these psychological pictures and affective impressions were of a great assistance in helping me understand what was happening during this unusual time.

During this change in my overall breathing pattern, the picture that frequently popped into my mind in respect to circular breathing was my breath following the curvature of a large wheel (positioned perpendicular to my body) that was circling slowly in a clockwise fashion. Upon exhaling, the breath followed the downward descent of the part of the wheel that was closest to my body. As the full exhale changed into the beginning of the inhale, the breath would follow the curve of the wheel through the bottom of its cycle to begin its upward climb until it reached the full inhale as it curved around the top to begin again its descent with the beginning of the exhale. Amazingly enough, it was the breath that was pulling the wheel around in its circular motion.
You may ask: What’s the significance of this? The significance is that "manas," the autonomic motor system, seemed to be changing my breathing pattern in a manner that was necessary to arouse the flow of kundalini energy up from the lower chakras to the brain as part of its transformation agenda. It seemed that circular breathing was continuously being called upon to facilitate this process.
In the following days, particularly during meditation time and at night, kundalini relentlessly took control of this agenda leaving me as an observer. The journey up the spine and into the brain became an ebb and flow over a period of weeks. This ebb and flow revealed some repeating patterns of mind pictures and affective experiences that I had no explanation for at the time, but were ultimately tied in with the archetypal model I discovered some months later in Kundalini Vidya.

Repeatedly, as kundalini made its journey, it was as if it was entering the mental sheath at the level of “chitta,” the unconscious storehouse of past impressions and imprints. The first repetition of images began with a scene where I was looking, as if through a window, at the bottom of the sea that was filled with murky, dirty, filthy and polluted water. The water had gross sea monsters and creatures swimming about like predators. Dark seaweed swung about, sometimes covering me. There was no fear associated with this mind picture as I was only an observer. Could this have been a psychological image of unresolved issues, cultural conditioning, repressed habits and drives, defense mechanisms, etc., accumulated over a lifetime, content that was never dealt with?

As kundalini continued its journey, it was as if it passed into the “ahankara” or the ego area of the mental sheath. Consistently here, I became aware of a side of myself I did not like. I became consciously aware of my deceitful and manipulative side, of boundaries that prevented me from living in accordance with a deeper truth. It was an awareness that many things I thought were true were not true at all. It was an awareness of attachments and constructs of my own making. These affective experiences caused, at times, a deep emotional grief that brought up sobs of remorse.

This experience would invariably move to mind pictures of things falling away; more specifically a truck going down a hill in reverse out of control, buildings, crosses, churches crumbling to the earth, pieces of the earth falling away into space.

As kundalini continue its journey, finally it was as if it entered the discernment sheath, “buddhi,” with its silence, its expansiveness, the clear sky without any clouds, a place with the absence of “self” — home.

With each ebb and flow, each cycle of kundalini through the sheaths of the subtle body, a renovation and restoration was taking place, noticeable changes in the way I saw the exterior world around me. There was a freshness, a newness. There was a connection with others, those close to me and strangers, that I never experienced before. Episodes that would have previously triggered an emotional response were now neutral. And many of my own constructs and boundaries, some of which were the values, beliefs and assumptions that I held as an important part of my life, were mysteriously absent. It was confusing, but at the same time liberating, and the ecstatic bliss associated with the whole transformation process provided the assurance I needed to move with its flow.


  1. Excellent account! Thank you for sharing. I have a question about your description of the wheel as it relates to your breathing:

    When you say the wheel is perpendicular and runs counterclockwise, what is the reference point, exactly, and how is it oriented? I'm not sure how to interpret it exactly. Perhaps you could explain it from a first-person view as though you are seated meditating.


  2. Just a guess, but I visualize his description as presented by this animation with the subject facing to the right, instead of to the left. The wheel is always seen in profile. Not that it couldn't happen some other way, but I've never heard anyone describe another possible orientation, i.e., the wheel in profile, turning between the shoulders.

    Using down the front and up the back is clearer than using clockwise/counterclockwise because front/back don't depend on which way the subject is facing: the front is always the front, whereas clockwise changes if the subject faces to the left or the right.

    1. Makes sense! I would assume it was identical to your animation as well; just wasn't 100% clear from how it's described here.

    2. Since this is visual experiential, it is hard to describe but I believe what you have described is correct. Air circulates on the inside of the body between the upper part of the lungs and lower diaphragm. The circle is not parallel with the body (from arm to arm) but from front to back. One can visualize air going in one inhale and out on exhale. In this visualization, air circulates in a clockwise fashion going up the front and down the back. I have no idea of why that direction or even if it is relevant. The main point is that there was a change in breathing patterns which I did not consciously do; sort of like the spontaneous yoga responses that were also triggered from time to time during the early stages. They were also accompanied by visual representations. I was always surprised that my body was able to move into these so naturally and with such smoothness that I would never have been able to do consciously. And it was what my body needed at the time to facilitate the kundalini process. When they were no longer needed, they stopped, although I have since adopted yoga exercises as a daily discipline with meditation to keep grounded. Thanks for your interest. JJ, I was wondering if this had anything to do with your backward flow. I haven't read that book of your yet. Must do that.

    3. Sorry JJ, didn't realize "this animation" was a hot key. I find the similarities remarkable. What I find amazing is the "inner intelligence" that coordinates all these activities. When all this begins, there are so many things happening that it is hard to keep in touch with the exactness of it all. But there are more commonalities than I originally imagined. I must read your book now.

    4. The backward-flowing method is described — in more or less detail — in all my books and in great detail on the clickable link web page cited in my previous comment (above) so I won't rehash it, except to note that diaphragmatic deep breathing induces the capability to detect a roiling energy in the lower belly that has the property of direction, namely up the front and down the back. Once it's detected, you must command it to change direction: down the front and up the back. Whether it's commanding or visualizing; it will obey. Hence, the backward-flowing method, which starts the sublimation process, seamlessly drawing the distilled "psychic fuel" up the spine into the brain.

      The change of direction — down the front and up the back — is all important. However, in describing it, clockwise/counterclockwise don't work because they are relative terms, dependent on the direction in which the subject in profile is facing. Front/back are better because they are absolute terms, not dependent on direction the subject is facing.

    5. JJ you are right about the breath reversing. I now notice that during my meditation time, it does go down the front and up the back. I wasn't aware of this before. I checked back in my journal during the time when all this was happening. At that time, during the night, the flow of energy up the spine and into the brain was causing an overload and much disorientation. I noted in the journal that the circling of the breath up the front and down the back provided some relief from this during the day. This is the flow I expressed in the article above. During my meditation, and early in the process, I discovered other means of enhancing the energy flow (a certain sitting position, and a mudra). I wasn't even aware of this change in the breath. Thanks for the additional insight.

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