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”?
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?
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.