The Kundalini Research Network is an international group of health care professionals, researchers, scholars and individuals interested in the transformative power of Consciousness, known in the Yogic tradition as Kundalini.
The Kundalini Research Network is dedicated to exploring and supporting this remarkable facet of our humanity.
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Our reward for working through ego inflation (a "head trip" rather than an authentic "heart experience") and spiritual bypass (When we try to bypass or ignore the "lower" to get to the "higher levels" of consciousness) is recognizing and using the power of humility: the solid foundation of an authentically spiritual, healthy and whole human being. We can begin to define humility as having openness and willingness to learning more about our relationship with our self, others, and God. Humility is not about groveling or being a doormat. Instead, it is a powerful attitude and state of mind that, when we are in the pain of conflict, opens us to more choices and peaceful resolutions. Humility assists our ordinary ego-centered unawareness into a more expansive, alive and conscious awareness where we can live in and as our natural Soul. Having humility levels the occasional bumps in our Kundalini process.
With humility we are willing to continue learning throughout our lives. In its openness we are free not only to avoid any of the pitfalls of ego inflation, but we are also free to experience a connection with our Higher Self and Higher Power. In this state of humility, a kind of second innocence, we can more easily witness our life as a heartfelt experience.
Some experience a degree of ego inflation. Others become grandiose and may get stuck. A way out is to work on ourselves over time psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. To believe we can be instantly healed through a religious or spiritual experience only -- is to attempt what we call a spiritual bypass. We try to bypass or ignore the lower to get to the higher levels of consciousness. Eventually, however, our false self will likely pull us back until we work through our particular unfinished business.
Other names for spiritual bypass are high level denial and premature transcendence. It is seen in any number of situations, from being prematurely born again to having a spiritual awakening and focusing only on the Light, or focusing on psychic ability as a major part of our identity, to becoming a guru or teacher who exploits their students.
The consequences of taking a spiritual bypass are often active co-dependence or conflict, including : 1) denial of the richness of our inner life; 2) trying to control our self or others; 3) all-or-none thinking and behaving; 4) feelings of fear, shame and confusion; 5) high tolerance for inappropriate behavior; 6) frustration; 7) addiction, compulsion, relapse; and 8) unnecessary pain and suffering.
If we live from our ego or false self, we may find it impossible to quiet down our inner life during meditation or any attempt at centering. We can only experientially quiet down and connect with God, each other and ourselves by developing our True Self-- living as our natural Soul. Ego inflation and spiritual bypass are more cognitive intellectual experiences, or head trips. Being our True Self and connecting spiritually with God is more of a deeply emotional heart experience.
The Contribution of Neuroscience
Recently some scientists have found that the anatomical location of these heart or mystical experiences is the limbic system of the brain. Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg from U. Penn. Medical School used functional imaging (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET scans) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPEC7) to show that experiential spirituality lies in the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system is where we feel positive emotions and our positive relationships with others.
Newberg thus studied Tibetan Buddhists who practiced Kundalini Yoga meditation and had been meditating for many years. They were advanced in their own practice. Newberg showed that when these meditators achieve a state of mystical union, followed by a profound sense of calm, that the activities of those parts of the neocortical brain were functionally cut off from the rest of the brain. At the same time, both the limbic hippocampus and amygdala were more active. . Newbergs subjects meditated on a spiritual symbol or a positive emotion. Some focused on the feeling of forgiveness. He found that the area activated by these positive feelings increases their parasympathetic activity, producing relaxation, followed by a profound sense of serenity. There are no words used in this experience, only a sense of positive or joyful feelings.
Newberg suggests that experiential spirituality reflects limbic questions about love, community, positive emotions, and the feeling of being one with the universe. He has also reported that for meditating nuns, while in prayer, their sense of God becomes physiologically real, and the meditating Buddhists caught a glimpse of what for them was an absolute reality.
Religious and New Age theology usually activate the brains neocortex where we think in words. If we are thinking about our spiritual process we may also be in our neocortex where we can become confused and even create closed loop thinking by trying to analyze what is happening to us. When a similar Kundalini process becomes overwhelming and perhaps interferes with our normal life, which sometimes happens, I found that not reading any spiritual literature for a while and not trying to analyze where I am in it helps to calm down the uncomfortable or overwhelming aspects of the process.
I almost never recommend prescription medication for my clients who are undergoing a Kundalini process, even though many physicians believe it will help. Psychiatrists and neurologists wrongly diagnose an upheaval in this process as psychosis, depression, mania, or bipolar. They commonly misprescribe psychiatric drugs such as neuroleptics, or anti-anxiety agents and anti-depressants, which are toxic and hard to stop.
Any upheavals along the Kundalini process that can be alleviated by using non-drug modalities should be used first. Try increasing or decreasing meditation, increasing or decreasing energy type massages. Acupuncture and psychotherapy focusing on the release of painful emotion may be all that is needed. Spending time in nature may also help. Eliminate television viewing or reading anything with highly emotional content. Nutrition should be of concern because we are what we eat. Fast food or any processed food should be eliminated.
In 12-Step programs humility is part of the solution. They are aware that people might try a humility bypass as well and find false humility which does not work. 12 Step fellowships believe that true humility is obtained by hitting a bottom, getting honest, and working the 12-steps and/ or counseling.
Click the link below to learn more about "Kundalini 101" from Barbara Whitfield from a chapter from her book, "Spiritual Awakenings"
Charles Whitfield, MD, Barbara Harris Whitfield, RT, CMT,
Jyoti (Jeneane Prevatt, PhD), Russell Park, Ph.D
Greyson B and Harris (Whitfield) B: Clinical Approaches to the NDEr. Journal of Near-Death Studies 6, no. (fall 87) 41-50.
Newberg A, Iversen J, The Neural Basis of the Complex Mental Task of Meditation: Neurotransmitter and Neurochemical Considerations, Medical Hypothesis 8 (2003): 282-91.
Vaillant G (2008). Spiritual Evolution: A Scientific Defense of Faith. Broadway Books New York, NY
Whitfield, C.L., (2003). The Truth about Depression: Choices for healing. Deerfield Beach, FL: HCI.; Whitfield, C., The Truth about Mental Illness, op.cit.
Whitfield, C.L. (1987). Healing the Child Within: Discovery & recovery for adult children of dysfunctional families. Health Communications, Deerfield Beach, FL; Whitfield, C.L. (1990). A Gift to Myself: A personal workbook and guide to Healing the Child Within. Health Communications, Deerfield Beach, FL.; Whitfield, C.L. (1993). Boundaries and Relationships: Knowing, Protecting and Enjoying the Self. Health Communications, Deerfield Beach, FL.
Whitfield, CL., (1993). Boundaries and Relationships. Op. cit, Whitfield CL, (2004). The Truth about Mental Illness: Choices for healing. Deerfield Beach, FL HCI.;Whitfield et al, The Power of Humility, op.cit.; Whitfield, B., Spiritual Awakenings, op.cit.;Whitfield, B., The Natural Soul, op.cit.;
Whitfield C.L, et. al. The Power of Humility
Kundalini Primer: Humility, Bypasses and Science