Monday, February 20, 2012

Neuro-Kundalini v. Non-neuro-Kundalini

Kundalini awakening seems to be a spiritual, psychological, and neurological phenomenon, which includes neuro-endocrinological re-design.  However, there may be an important difference between Kundalini awakenings that are triggered by neurological incidents, such as traumatic brain injury, and K. awakenings that arise spontaneously or are triggered by non-neurological events such as 12 years of yoga.  Of course, while we’re in the body, *everything* is a neurological event, but, you understand, I am saying some K. is precipitated by more significant neurological discontinuity.

This blog is particularly focused on the kind of neurological injury / disorder that includes the element of dysautonomia – dysregulation or instability of the autonomic nervous system.  Some neurological problems don’t seem to involve dysautonomia, but many do.

Dysautonomia can present with an infinite array of symptoms, but the main idea of it is that the myriad homeostatic mechanisms that we rely on every second of the day don’t do their usual smooth and prompt job of re-regulating us in response to the myriad changes in the external and internal environment that happen every second of every day.  Everything becomes overstimulating – the refrigerator motor kicking in, the sun, remembering you have to do the laundry – resulting in extreme anxiety, physical hyperarousal, cognitive confusion, severe inability to sleep, etc.  The normal autonomic response is grossly magnified and grotesquely prolonged.  Bigger stressors can take days and weeks to calm down from.

Dysautonomia has something in common with PTSD, except that the hyperarousal is not specific to cues related to a trauma; it’s more ubiquitous.

What are the similarities between Kundalini awakening as a result of significant neurological trauma, especially dysautonomia  -- we’ll call this “Neuro-Kundalini” – and Kundalini awakening that is spontaneous or the result of any other precipitant ranging from the gentle (years of yoga) to the harsh (non-neurological accident) – we’ll call this “Non-neuro Kundalini”?

Similarities –

1)  All K. involves neurological re-wiring, so there usually will be some neurological signs and symptoms along the way.

2)  All K. involves psychological working through, even when there has been a clear neurological insult.

3)  All K. presumably involves a nod from Cosmic Consciousness  / the Tao saying now is the time and this is what you are supposed to be doing in order to become more fully yourself and contribute in the unique way that the world needs from you.  This is true, even if the precipitating event is a neurological incident.

What are the differences between Neuro-Kundalini and Non-neuro-Kundalini?

Differences --

1)  Autonomic instability makes it extremely difficult to learn, metabolize, or work through anything. 

2)  Any therapy that is the slightest bit stimulating or activating will trigger autonomic instability *without* this leading to working through or metabolization of the therapy.

3)  The ratio of light to dark is extremely skewed to the dark.

Let me explain these differences more.  I am a psychoanalytically-oriented psychologist who has been in two personal therapies and continues to try to learn more about myself on my own.  I have experienced psychotherapy facilitating profound change in myself and in my clients.  Because of both my training and my personal therapy, I developed a good memory.  I was a good learner.

Since I emerged from prescription antidepressant use with brain damage, I watch myself and my fellow survivors be astonishingly unable to metabolize or work through any external event or internal insight.  We stay stuck on any distressing event ad infinitum. Insight is almost useless.  We have to repeat the most inane self-soothing comments over and over, day after day, for years, with little apparent learning.  My long term and short term memory are now poor – although they are slowly improving.

Most therapies – psychotherapy, acupuncture, energy healing, massage, yoga – are somewhat stimulating as part of the process of promoting change.  But if you are neurologically precluded from digesting any stimulation, then all these therapies become less useful, and sometimes downright harmful.

At this point in time, we have no good therapies for dysautonomia.  Although it has similarities to PTSD,  PTSD responds to good psychotherapy much of the time. Neuro damage only partially does – mostly in the sense of gaining a holding environment from it or learning things that will be useful later when the neuro damage is more healed.  Although we have therapies for some of the cognitive and physical symptoms of neurological damage – we can re-teach a person to use a fork, and speak, and use mnemonic devices -- we have no good therapies for dysautonomia or for the affective symptoms of neuro damage. 

Concomitantly, we have no good therapies for Neuro-Kundalini.  Although Non-neuro-Kundalini will respond to a wide range of therapies, Neuro-Kundalini will not respond well, even with holding from a skillful, experienced, well-intentioned professional.  The autonomic nervous system is hyper-reactive to anything, and does not re-achieve homeostasis for a long time.  The good news is that the neurological damage slowly heals on its own, and the individual becomes more available for more therapies.

The other major difference between Non-neuro-Kundalini and Neuro-Kundalini is the ratio of light to dark.  Non-neuro-Kundalini awakenings have a range, but they usually include some experiences of ecstasy and bliss mixed in with the fear and overwhelm.  Neuro-Kundalini awakenings also occur along a spectrum, but tend to not to have any experiences of ecstasy and bliss.

Also, with Non-neuro-K, you are more likely to get episodes of normalcy to relieve the outre, bizarre, surrealness.  However, with Neuro-K, you are unlikely to get any breaks from the surreal state.  It is like an attenuated, many-years-long LSD trip.  Non-neuro-K may tend to show improvement sooner than Neuro-K.  The psychological impact of almost never getting a chance to feel normal and grounded for a minute is vast.  During the first few years of my recovery, I had the experience of feeling normal for a few hours, and then not feeling that way again for another year, then having another few hours of normalcy, then not feeling that way again for another year.  How do you grasp something as odd as that?

There is currently an epidemic of people going through Neuro-Kundalini from neurological damage (the wars, psych meds, chemo drugs, better survivability from accidents and neurological disorders – see 15 Dec 11 post).  We’ve talked before in this blog about neurological damage as just one of the many paths to a psychic / spiritual opening.  Neurological-damage-triggered openings are among the most difficult, but they are certainly not the only difficult ones.  And then some openings are a lot more pleasant.  And then some openings start difficult, but turn dramatically pleasant.  It’s a worthy question in its own right to explore *why* some people’s spiritual openings are so much darker than others.  In the next post, we’ll look at what we can learn from what Nancy Evans Bush has to say about distressing NDEs.


  1. I follow your blog and I enjoy reading about your recovery from chemical neuro-injury. I suffer from the same kinds of issues;the dysautonomia and the hyper-irritability. I've had extreme mental states as a result of these toxins and their associated discontinuation syndrome. Keep writing!

  2. Thank you so much for the encouragement! I just visited your blog and it looks fab! I love your Wild Manifesto. It's a breath of fresh air. And I deeply admire your strength and fighting spirit. You please keep writing, too! You have already transmuted your traumatic history into benefits for the communitas. I hope your healing and transformation become easier, more fun, and even more rewarding for *you*.

    When you mention "extreme mental states," if you are referring to possibly psychic phenomena, I hope you will tell me more about it at some point, via comment or email.

  3. Hello,Just found out about this Blog..At least Now I can relate My experiences and the Pain in the Brain..all the time as Not just a Clinical Disorder..But as you have mentioned.neuro-endocrinological re-design. Kundalini requiring the Re-Wiring of the whole Neuro system...But now because of the age progression..I personally feel..physically stressed out and over anxiety just takes you over.Cannot keep up the Pressure of the pace of the Kundalini progression.That is why i look for taking the steam out of the "Pressure Cooker" helps to stimuli the brain and feel normal for a day or so..untill again..the pressure the 'Cosmic Re-arrangement of the molecules ' as if ..there is a Thunder cum a Lightening striking..every now and then..inside one's self..
    Thank you very much to have this least now one can relate and get many answers to Q's ..which had No relevance to anybody else than the People who have experienced the "Kundalini Development" inside themselves.
    Vivek Verma.

  4. Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm so sorry you're having to go through such a pressureful experience. You describe the internal build-up well. It's really good that you make a concerted effort to de-stress, and I'm so glad you can get some relief for a day or so. It won't stay this way. Things are changing in you and in the world. It will get easier. -- Sheila

  5. Hi there. Thanks for publishing this. I am living with kundalini awakening symptoms since 2009. I have done a lot of reading, studying, sharing with other fellow travelers. Writing is difficult for me. I'd love to share stuff I have already written and maybe skype with you.
    I have come to sense (understand? intuit?) that kundalini awakening is a human experience. Humans are not split (mind/body), that was an invention of the western culture which as far as I know is not shared by other cultures. Ergo, it doesn't matter what the trigger for the spontaneous awakening is. There seems to be a difference though between spontaneous and not spontaneous in that the second is guided and may, depending on the wisdom of the guide, evolve with little or no discomfort. Currently I am holding the position that kundalini energy is part of the immune system and is there to "fix" ANS imbalances, mostly induced by chronic stress in our culture. I invite you to open your focus to consider that what you call dysautonomia is just another form of chronic ANS imbalance (trauma). I have had symptoms similar to yours but never took antidepressants or other such drugs. My email is Glad to have met you on the kundalini path.

  6. Thanks for your comment, Jorge! It sounds like you have developed some very useful understanding to help you as you proceed along the Kundalini path. Good for you for immersing yourself in study and analysis and intuition and guidance about this challenging life experience.

    Increasingly, I am suspecting that dysautonomia is more prevalent than heretofore recognized, and may underlie many chronic illnesses. It's also a way of looking at PTSD. In addition to the role of stress that you mention, the burgeoning presence of toxins in our lives is undoubtedly a factor in new nervous system disorders.

    That's an interesting idea that K. is related to the immune system. You're probably familiar with Jana Dixon's "Biology of Kundalini: Exploring the fire of life." She has some very thought-provoking things to say about the interaction of the immune and nervous systems during K. Also, she basically thinks that, during K., both systems are involved in dismantling the old armored body-self bit by bit: " awakening represents a hyper-activation of the self-defining and self-preservation systems of the body...."the body is simply dissolving and rebuilding a new or more refined version of itself" (p. 51).

  7. One day, when this WD ordeal is over, it's going to be the most incredible of experiences to be able to feel, to live, to exist without this thick pane of glass separating us from the outside world. We will get there. Let us keep healing, Sheila... And the Kundalini awakening, as described, could potentially be a fascinating part of it all.

    1. That's right, Luc. There is a lot to look forward to. This is a painful, healing transformation that is leading to some fascinating times, indeed.

  8. I had a kundalini experience at the age of 26 (36 years ago). I wasn't practicing Kudalini yoga but I was doing a meditation breath technique. that resulted in a ball of "light" moving up from my cocycs on the left side of my spine into my head. This caused me extreme trauma for about 4 months but somehow I eventually overcame the ill affects & continued with my life. It left me with an uncomfortable & sometimes painful sensation in the left side of my head, which I tried almost every type of treatment for, unsuccessfully. Now at the age of 62, it is more uncomfortable & painful than ever, particularly when I attempt to quieten my mind or "meditate". Any similar experiences or suggestions?

    1. It sounds like you've had to be quite strong to cope with this persistent symptom. Some questions -- 1) Can you identify anything you did that caused the extreme trauma to let up at the end of the first 4 months? 2) Can you identify when it started to get worse recently? 3) What exactly do you do when you meditate? 4) Do you have any theory about the cause or meaning of the symptom? 5) Are you taking any Omega-3 now? If so, how much EPA + DHA? If you prefer, please feel free to continue the conversation using my email (in my profile).

  9. I'm still going. Coming down now, if you will. 7 years. Severe trauma, impossible stress, psy.everything - pre-cognition, ESP, thematic dreaming, lights, bubbles coming out of my head. Rose scent. Kundalini dancing and yoga induced ecstatic states so uncontrollable, I had to stop practice. Extreme fear, surreal reality... lost too many people as a result. I didn't tell a soul what was happening, lest I be diagnosed with who-knows-what. You are the first person I've shared with. I am now applying for BSc. Neuroscience. It has been terrible, but now I know!

    1. You have managed to get through so much. You have a lot to be proud of. You're going to bring a very distinct, rich, innovative perspective to your neuroscience studies.