The Interpretation of Kundalini
Kundalini yoga presented Jung with a model for the developmental phases of higher consciousness, and he interpreted its symbols in terms of the process of individuation. A few western translators interpret the energetic phenomena as a form of psychic or paranormal energy, although the western parapsychological understanding of psychic energy, separated from its cultural-hermeneutic matrix, is probably not the same as the yogic understanding. Yogic philosophy understands this concept as a maturing energy that expresses the individual’s soteriological longings. Viewed in a mythological context it is sometimes believed to be an aspect of Shakti, the goddess and consort of Shiva.
Theorists within the schools of Humanistic psychology
, Transpersonal psychology
and Near-Death Studies
describe a complex pattern of motor functions, sensory, affective and cognitive-hermeneutic symptoms called the Kundalini Syndrome. This psychosomatic arousal and excitation is believed to occur in connection with prolonged and intensive spiritual or contemplative practice (such as meditation or yoga) or as a result of intense life experience or a near encounter with death (such as a near-death experience).
According to these fields of study the Kundalini syndrome is of a different nature than a single Kundalini episode, such as a Kundalini arousal. The Kundalini syndrome is a process that might unfold over several months, or even years. If the accompanying symptoms unfold in an intense manner – that de-stabilizes the person – the process is usually interpreted as what Stanislav Grof
has termed “spiritual emergency”Interdisciplinary dialogues within the mentioned schools of psychology (see references below) have now established some common criteria in order to describe this condition, of which the most prominent feature is a feeling of energy travelling along the spine, or progressing upwards in the body.
Motor symptoms are said to include tremors, other spontaneous or involuntary body movements and changes in respiratory function.Sensory symptoms are said to include subjective changes in body temperature – feelings of heat or cold – a feeling of electricity in the body, persistent sexual arousal syndrome, headache and pressure inside of the head, tingling, vibrations and gastro-intestinal problems.
Cognitive and affective symptoms are said to include psychological upheaval, stress, depression, depersonalization or derealization, intense mood-swings, but also moments of bliss, deep peace and other altered states of consciousness. Within the mentioned academic traditions this symptomatology is often referred to as the Physio-Kundalini syndrome or Kundalini-experience Awakening.Transpersonal literature emphasizes that this list of symptoms is not meant to be used as a tool for self-diagnosis. Any unusual or marked physical or mental symptom needs to be investigated by a qualified medical doctor.
Kundalini and Physiology
Contemporary spiritual literature often notes that the chakras, as described in the esoteric kundalini documents, bear a strong similarity in location and number to the major endocrine glands, as well as nerve bundles called ganglions.One speculation is that the traditional practices have formalized a method for stimulating the endocrine glands to work in a different mode which has a more direct effect on consciousness, perhaps ultimately by stimulating the release of DMT by the pineal gland,
which may be analogous to the ‘pineal chakra
‘.The late Itzhak Bentov
studied Kundalini from an engineering perspective. According to Bentov (1990), the 7.5 Hz
oscillation of the heart muscle rhythm induces mechanical Hz frequencies in the brain, that in turn create a stimulus equivalent of a current loop. The nerve endings in that loop correspond to the route through which the Kundalini “rises”.This current polarizes the brain part through which it flows in a homogenous way, effectively releasing tremendous amounts of stress from the body. The body then becomes an effective antenna for the 7.5 Hz frequency, which is one of the resonant frequencies of the ionosphere. In layman’s terms, you then pick up information from the air.This might account for repeated descriptions of heightened senses as a result of rising Kundalini, e.g. as described by Yogananda: “The whole vicinity lay bare before me. My ordinary frontal vision was now changed to a vast spherical sight, simultaneously all-perceptive.”