by Jana Dixon
Having gone through two kundalini awakenings, Jana Dixon was compelled to attempt to present a manual for others to guide them through the difficult stages of the inner transformation. Kundalini awakenings are completely out of the ordinary and so we must go to extraordinary lengths to explore, explain and investigate how to make the most of this… the most wonderous time of our lives.
This article is an excerpt from “Biology of Kundalini: Exploring the Fire of Life”, available at amazon.com.
Too much bliss
Imagine being caught in a condition in which pleasure is no longer pleasurable because one is buzzed out of one’s tree on a permanent high. This can be the state we find ourselves in, at the tail end of a kundalini awakening when endorphin levels are permanently elevated and yet the emotional storms of limbic reconstruction are finished. In this condition pain and suffering no longer really “touch” us, but neither does passion or excitement. The mechanism by which we have steered our life till now is now jammed and the territory has the same bland value everywhere we look.
Usually in life, our animal heritage drives us after this or that need or want, and our emotions go up or down depending on the quality of our perceived quality satisfaction level. But when endorphins are permanently gumming up the works we are not particularly driven anywhere, and our value system becomes more abstract and divorced from happenstance and phenomena. It’s as though we were permanently bathing in the exquisite turquoise lagoon–we are completely wet. We want to get even more wet so we can feel something, but we can’t get more wet than we already are. If we are already in background pleasure and bliss, how can we experience the “pleasures” of life? Our emotional landscape is reduced to a tropical island of perpetual sunny days in which nothing really happens. Bliss can be depressing when nothing touches us, even depression. With a perpetual tropical buzz going on we do not even register that we are depressed.
If everything is blissful then nothing is particularly pleasurable and so to actually experience “pleasure” while in a perpetual pleasurable state we have to become deeply “mindful” of the nuances, flavor and qualities of our experience. We must hone our sensory and perceptive senses to delve into far greater subtleties. With an even emotional playing field, we lose both passion, motivation, and navigation. It appears that a sustained high level of endorphins causes one’s affect to become somewhat “flat.”
When we have a low arousal level, the nervous system has a decreased reaction to the sensory input coming in and therefore doesn’t react or respond as quickly or as strongly to the input. With a low arousal level find it hard to remain interested and focused, and so we tend to seek out greater stimulation in order to register and respond to it.
In my experience years of high endorphin levels create a slow decline in passion and we then have to do something extreme that will counteract the eternal buzz, and bring more “excitement” to our nervous system. One thing I have noticed with my steady decline in passion is that I can no longer readily conjure feelings-thoughts-images of inner worlds, future visions and potentials like I used to when my soul felt more alive, though I still have a vivid dream life it too lacks potency and purpose. Even food loses its vivid quality as one of life’s simple pleasures and the intensity and sensation of sex and touch are muted… even orgasms are rather flat except on special moon cycles.
During the awakening itself, we tend toward a more amplified response to attraction and aversion… and so after being pulled around so obviously here and there for many years we tend to gravitate to the middle and gain distance from external and internal phenomena. In this way, equanimity is born from the exaggerated consciousness, sentience, and sensation of kundalini. This amplification of being coupled with the background endorphins, that make both pleasure and pain less distinct, gives us equanimity.
Unless this later stage of awakening is undertaken with eyes wide open the chances are that this ambivalence-chemistry will become a pathological state with symptoms including detachment, apathy, disinterest, dispassion, disregard, dull affect, emotionlessness, noncommittal, heedlessness, indifference, insensitivity, lassitude, lethargy, listlessness, passivity, stoicism, unconcern, unimpressed, unresponsiveness, lack of dedication and zest. So we could call this condition of the chemical neutering of our libido a pseudo-equanimity. It’s a wonder anyone ever gets enlightened, there are all these pseudo-states that one has to experience, learn about and transcend through enlightened application first.
Hence the paradox here is that too much bliss creates anhedonia. Anhedonia is the absence of pleasure or the loss of the ability to experience it. Another less known term is acedia, which is a sense of indifference created by the loss of feeling and a gradual closing down and withdrawal from the world. With anhedonia and acedia, we avoid risk and stimulation and cut ourselves off from anything that might trigger or stimulate us. In time we will find the correct language and metaphors for the subtle nuance of this post-awakening lull, to distinguish it from our normal ideas on depression and anhedonia. The post-kundalini slump is not really clinical anhedonia because there is still a diffuse pleasure and a permanent background bliss, but there is also the inability to suffer. Life’s peaks and valleys have been bulldozed down into the horizontal plane of endless nothingness… and where does one find “meaning” without the value discrimination of passion and emotion?
The kundalini blues is not really depression in the normal sense, it more like a vacuum of meaningful circumstance, a “spiritual catatonia”. This must be a very common condition of the kundalini exhaustion phase. And if one “tries” to create a meaningful circumstance in the world with other human beings, it often becomes some kind of comical or traumatic farce. Without meaning of course there is no motivation, and our sense of meaning is determined by our passion, so when passion goes, so does meaning in any real sense of the word.
I went through years of apathy and loss of proactive-drive related to coming down from the extremes of kundalini. It is paradoxical that this condition is related to an excess of endorphins and a permanent background of bliss. It is as if it were a biochemical existential malaise that leads to this loss of the sense of self and brings about a crisis of meaning.. Since there is a loss of meaning at this time, we can assume that the brain areas and neurochemicals that are hypo-functioning are those that are involved in the phenomena of meaning-making. When this neurology and hormonal under-functioning is returned to normal our sense of meaning and self will return.
Of course, a metabolic slump and loss of meaning are not a given after the honeymoon of a kundalini peak, it just depends on things like one’s emotional constitution, how one’s frames the experience, and the quality of one’s support. Basically, to move out of this biochemical existential hole it takes a resensitizing via whatever means that excites you…it could be a change in your environment, a new romantic love, travel, sailing across the ocean and or fasting. To reestablish quality of life it is essential to break out of this anhedonia for if there is little pleasure in things, there is little drive and will to live. While in the middle of it there seems no way out, but there is and eventually things swing around the other way to a new zest and appreciation of life.
Moving out of the existential vacuum, created by the death of the ego and the extinguishing of the pain-body’s life, cannot be done using the convention means through which we have lived up till now. Hence we need to reinvent ourselves beyond circumstance and culture, and figure out ways of cultivating change. But before we do that we need to taste the limbos more deeply, to keep doing what we are doing until we hit a saturation point. To go directly into the Spiritual Catatonia instead of trying to run away from it.
To get out of the intermediate state of purgatory–the strange limbos “between” heaven and hell–we essentially have to move beyond the life of the mind and body, while putting them to even greater and deeper use. To transcend spiritual catatonia we must learn to create a life of the soul, and for this, we need to use the “Imagination.” In Facing the World With Soul: The Reimagination of Modern Life, Robert Sardello talks of the making of the world by bringing attention to it and insists on consistently exercising the activity of imagination. With imagination we can avoid being locked into our view of ourselves and society to live out a life of the soul: turned on, enthusiastic, curious, and intentionally interested.
“The myriad forms of dysfunction all derive from the separation between self-awareness and awareness of the whole… a separation that the negative aspect of the ego battles to maintain.” John Pierrakos
Even the anhedonia (loss of pleasure) associated with the numbness of endorphins is a stage, through which emerges even greater riches, transcendental vision, and insights. The thing is to recognize, accept, and explore whatever state or condition we find ourselves in and this helps us move onto the next thing.
Loss of creative libido
“I’ve learned that real intuition requires skills and attitudes that are more demanding than those of the mind; it demands some concrete object, image or ritual procedure, and it doesn’t act in a vacuum. It presents no sure knowledge, but rather offers information that is poetic in nature, and often ambiguous, ambivalent, paradoxical and elusive. Its answers to our problems are neither immediate nor fully conclusive, but rather take time to unfold and may never stand fully revealed.” Thomas Moore
The life of the creator or artist is perhaps the hardest to undertake because you have to keep true to yourself, when as a culture we are encouraged to betray our soul for survival. To be a true artist demands that we do what it takes to keep our soul alive. It is also a practice in personal sovereignty and self-expression beyond the cultural wave, but through the cultural tide.
Of course, the illumination of true art runs off the libido, but if the culture at large is operating at a lower-spectrum libido level due to chronic ongoing stress and a sense of hopelessness, then the hormonal juices necessary for genuine art do not flow. As soon as things turn around though, they turn around in the collective psyche and so all the artist will undergo a revolutionary renaissance overnight.
The thing is many of us including me are “waiting” for the renaissance to arrive, hanging out for creative potency and purpose. But that kind of “on-hold” behavior of waiting for Grace to magically arrive is why we are in this imagination-desert in the first place. If we all did the work of calling in grace and illuminating our own lives with the Presence of spirit, then it is this action that will bring on the change we so seek in the collective psyche… and we can all get juiced up together, excited, inspired, divining and Alive. If we fail to light our own creative fire we are complicit in the problem instead of being part of the solution.
I think creative-libido or “creative-potency” are apt terms to describe the sex hormone basis to consciousness. “Potency” correlates with the idea of energy, potential, ability, effectiveness, efficiency, validity, zeal. It is really the zest or will for Life. Here are some synonyms for the fertility aspect of the word potency: abundance, copiousness, fecundity, fruitfulness, luxuriance, plentifulness, pregnancy, productivity, prolific, puberty, readiness, richness, and virility.
There are probably many reasons for artistic impotence… even including prolonged stress hormone release contributing to the loss of synapses and dendrites in the prefrontal lobes, hippocampus, and hypothalamus. Since art is one of the main “stress relief” mechanisms in culture, this drying up of our creative juices means that we fall into a perpetual feedback loop of lack of imagination, which produces stress which produces lack of imagination… and if we do this collectively it is very hard to get genuinely inspired by the inferior “impotent” quality of the spiritual “artifacts” of others in order to break the “impotency” cycle.
It is clear that perpetual stress and its effects on the body, mind, and behavior creates a vicious cycle. By destroying the neurological hardware for visionary and psychic foresight and illumination, stress neuters our potential for an inspired life and right livelihood. This brain damage produced by stress chemistry is one of the primary reasons for the poverty trap as well. In this way, we are then likely to be caught in a trap of perpetual stress because we then have to survive in a servile, subsistence, or flatland-conformist way… which is “stressful,” thus locking us into an endless recurring feedback loop of stress, “impotency”, and poverty.
Perpetual stress is like a tiger that won’t go away but that prowls around us 24X7 even if we are not consciously aware of it, we are always on alert for that tiger. To break out of the quicksand of the stress trap we need to do something different–an adaptive spiral. That is a progressive path in which the changes we make in how we think, feel, act, and treat ourselves, all reinforce each other to catalyze lasting change. So instead of being caught up in the stress trap, we can learn to generate an abiding recurrent creative potency cycle instead.
“The myriad forms of dysfunction all derive from the separation between self-awareness and awareness of the whole… a separation that the negative aspect of the ego battles to maintain.” John Pierrakos
John Pierrakos says that zest for life (Eros, libido) is rekindled through self-revelation as we disclose ever deeper truths about ourselves, we open our body, mind and soul to the divine. He says that everything we need for pleasure and fulfillment resides in the core of our being and as we activate the core we bring out the higher self. Meditation, especially sunlight meditation lights up the crystal chamber, or central hormonal activation center in the brain. Hence, it is only logical that meditation should increase creative libido and artistic potency through stimulating and balancing hormonal health.
Since it is stress and danger that often produce great artistic advances, it cannot be simply stress itself that produces a decline in the productivity of the muse… but perhaps it is the unrelenting aspect of it, the fact that we do not undergo the rest and recovery phase of the stress cycle to a significant degree. The ongoing slow ebb of our creative juices with little recharging and regeneration is perhaps the culprit in the demise of imagination in modern man by producing a somewhat permanently creatively neutered society and a perpetual creative-impotency-loop.
I am not referring to the sporadic triggering of the stress response cycle, but a permanent stress chemistry feedback cycle that atrophies neurons and organs and perpetuates itself through its debilitating effects on behavior, enjoyment, relationship, and circumstance. I think to a certain degree our entire western culture is suffering from chronic ongoing stress–such that we do not even recognize that we are stressed because that is who we are, and we feel things are under control as long as we can keep up with our various addictions (i.e.: negative stress management techniques).
You see relational stressors tend to have more immunosuppressing power than non-relational stressors, so if we have a community, society, or culture that is in chronic perpetual stress, then the stressed relationships will reinforce this condition… whereas normally in mammalian collective life relationship is a major source of stress relief. What this means in terms of integral art is that the reduction the sex hormone production, coupled with damage to the hippocampus (memory/symbol) and the hypothalamus (emotional-governance) will mean that one’s consciousness is cut-off from the Muse/Eros itself or is operating at a mere fraction of its potential. Coupled with that when the stress hormones cause damage to the prefrontal lobes it means even less communication with the limbic-emotional brain and motor coordination–this interferes with the transfer/translation of the artistic impulse and with the dexterity and ability to execute the art itself.
Thus the perpetually stressed brain is not Integral, it’s “divided”, and the only art that can come from this is copied material, symbol juggling, realist, and prefrontal cleverness dressed up as “cool.” It is not real art in terms of being relevant to cultural progress… but it is a sign of the deprived state of our contemporary cerebral condition.
Kundalini with its amplified metabolism and nerve activity, and increased oxidation, will tend to down-regulate neural and hormonal receptors and rewire the nervous system. However even if we are in the between-slump, when the hyper-functioning has backed off, but our receptors have not yet regrown, we cannot really consider kundalini as being “brain-damaging.” We must see all phases of metamorphosis as necessary allostatic changes in the transformation of our organism and the human collective. The atrophying effects on synapses, dendrites, and receptors of prolonged perpetual stress chemistry on the body, coupled with excessive perpetual endorphin production is probably why we tend to lose our “psychic powers” that were so very vivid and pronounced during the energy peak. Fasting may be one of the main methods for us to recover our higher capacities.
Fasting and kundalini/pranotthana activation waves
Fasting during an energy awakening is not a good idea because of kundalini’s huge energy demand, and because the tissues need protection by plentiful antioxidants. Releasing toxins into the system when the immune system is already compromised, and when one’s antioxidant reserves are already being used to the full is not a good idea.
However fasting after an awakening, especially at some point during the exhaustion phase might be absolutely essential to reestablish physiological function and hence higher emotional, mental, and behavioral performance. To overcome anhedonia, acedia, and a general dissociation from life, we may need to do an extensive fast or series of fasts to reinstate our neurotransmitter and hormone receptors.
Formerly medicine was based on the concept of homeostasis: the maintenance of the internal physiological environment of an organism within tolerable limits of a “set-point”. Now, however, evidence shows that the parameters of physiological regulation of the “set point” are not constant and the new concept of allostasis is emerging. Allostasis is a term used to describe the idea of ‘viability through change’ and explains how regulatory events maintain organismic viability, or not, in diverse contexts with “varying set-points” of bodily needs and competing motivations. With allostasis, the body adapts to changing circumstances through the activation of neural, hormonal, or immunological mechanisms.
In understanding the phenomena of allostasis the basic concepts of physiological homeostatic protection are integrated with damaging effects of the mediators of stress and adaptation disorders like depression, stress, anxiety, and addiction. The key point in the evolution of the theory of adaptation from homeostasis to allostasis suggests the goal of regulation is not “constancy,” but rather fitness under natural selection to promote efficiency, prevent errors, and minimize costs. Find more reading on allostasis in Allostasis, Homeostasis, and the Costs of Physiological Adaptation, edited by Jay Schulkin.
If we did not gain complete equilibrium between the intensity of the kundalini alchemy and our body’s allostatic ability to respond to the rapid changes, then chances are we have some rehabilitation work to do to re-establish the potency of our messengers and receptors. Besides the sex hormones, we need to revive the insulin receptors so that our metabolism supports allostatic efficiency, for the radical metabolism of the awakening may have produced insulin resistance and possible atrophy of the pancreas. Fasting will allow greater efficiency in metabolism, minimize error, dysfunction, fall-out, malformation, and reduce the “costs” of one’s physiology. Fasting will also allow the body’s negative feedback mechanisms to be better heard and thus bring about a strong allostatic efficiency.
I assume that fasting coupled with supplementation for receptor repair will help reverse the internalization (endocytosis) of receptors, that is receptors that have retreated into the cell membrane and become non-operational. To regrow the dendrites of nerves in atrophied areas of the brain we will also need nutritional, behavioral, and social attention in order to regenerate nerves and brain areas to full capacity. Satisfying social interaction and especially intimacy, positive genuine communion of spirit may also be essential to pulling an individual out of inner/outer desensitization (dissociation) and back into engagement with the world.
Since digestion itself can take up to 23% of our energy and generates toxins and free radicals, it makes sense to stop eating during certain periods of profound healing to provide energy and conditions for deep detoxification. With detoxification space and resources are made available for the metamorphic transformation of tissues (transmogrification). Fasting may also be necessary to give the digestive system a break in order to heal.
I myself got irritable bowel syndrome one year into my awakening and I never did anything about it until 5 years later when the pain had become so bad I decided enough was enough and I needed to fast in order to heal.
If you have the irritable bowel/candida complex and have even a mild sugar addiction (be it fruit or any other sugar/carbo), you might find that using the Master Cleanser on your fast makes you feel raw, edgy and interferes with intelligence. Even just one tablespoon of maple syrup/day in the Master Cleanser will create problems because it is a refined sugar and people with sugar addiction and irritable bowel are likely to be glucose intolerant. If you want to use the Master Cleanser then just use a fresh-squeezed orange instead of lemon and this will provide enough sugar to leave the maple syrup out.
Fasting is very important, for discovering how we have built ourselves and why; nothing brings us faster to the basement of our psyche than fasting, and the skins of the onion peel away. Fasting brings us rapidly to the heart of our psychological issues especially regarding abandonment vs. nurturing and the degree to which we love ourselves and have been loved. The ultimate book that covers these fundamental food issues in association with fasting is The Fasting Path by Stephen Harrod Buhner.
Be wary of consuming too much of seemingly healthy fruits like Wolf Berries (Goji or Lycium), for these are pretty high in sugar, and the more high glycemic foods you eat the more muscle and nerve pain you will feel. Also because many of us have candida and disrupted intestinal flora, the toxins produced by these pathogens when we feed them with this sugar also cause us pain. Olive Leaf and Neem Leaf will reduce nerve and muscle pain… they work as a broad spectrum cure-all that will address everything from pathogens, detoxification, to nerve coatings.
Although juice fasting is necessary before and after a water fast, it is through prolonged water fasting that we can really make physical and spiritual gains. Contrary to popular belief water fasting is actually easier than juice fasting because once the body’s energy metabolism changes over to burning fat (ketosis) then the appetite generator shuts off.
Digestive disorders during exhaustion phase
Digestive conditions that may become more prominent during the exhaustion phase are Crohn’s disease, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and leaky gut. These digestive troubles are associated with kundalini for many reasons, but perhaps the main one is the chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system during the peak means that the immune system is inhibited allowing invasive pathogens a chance to establish themselves. Scientists believe that chronic imbalances in the intestinal flora set off a chain of events that, in the end, damages the intestinal mucosa.
While stress can increase symptoms, stress is not a direct cause of these digestive disorders. It is thought that these intestine-related problems are caused primarily by viral or bacterial infection of the intestine that results in the development of an autoimmune disorder, where the immune system attacks the intestinal lining and secondarily by candida infestation which promotes leaky gut. When inflammation becomes uncontrolled, cytokines released by immune cells in the intestine attract additional immune cells that produce destructive chemicals causing further inflammation. The delicate mucosa of the intestinal lining cannot function properly when inflamed and consequently malabsorption of nutrients occurs, while simultaneously allowing the absorption of toxins and bacteria into the bloodstream. Thus people with inflammatory bowel disease often have malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, infection, and parasites.
Those with digestive disorders lack the ability to break down histamine at a normal rate, and since bakers yeast and some cheeses are high in histamine, bread and cheese should generally be avoided. Certain foods like dairy, eggs, nuts, fruit, tomatoes, corn, wheat (or gluten), refined carbohydrates, and animal protein/fat should be avoided to help control flare-ups (although this doesn’t “cure” the condition). Avoid drinking alcohol and coffee as they cause irritation. The epithelial tissue of the gut relies on vitamins A and C for its integrity and a raw diet high of fruits, sprouts, and veggies is high in these vitamins, plus the additional bulk makes stools softer and easier to pass.
For more information on this topic please visit http://www.biologyofkundalini.com.