I realize that I haven't written anything on my blog in almost 2 months now. Interesting things have happened, but I'll start with what I've been up to. Well, the good part is that I've finally adjusted to the overly-stimulating city environment without the overwhelming feelings I first got, upon coming back here after years in the quiet of Nature. It was a slow and difficult process, but I'm happy to say that I've now adjusted enough to function normally here.
I've been so busy with work and activities, that it all left me pretty exhausted in a matter of weeks. And so I'd dropped into a part-time work schedule instead, so that I could regain my balance. That also meant that I would earn much less than I originally intended. But plans change, and my life in the past couple of months has been nothing short of a letting go of previous plans, and a falling away of purposes that, I've realized, don't serve me anymore.
You see, I had so many plans. I would go here and there, do this and then that, meet these people and those people, and it was all so exciting and purposeful, because it was all for the benefit of my new pilgrimage. But after awhile, all these plans started to pale. At the same time, I slowly got worn out with work, as I couldn't see a clear purpose to what I was doing anymore. I had to spend a whole lot of time reflecting again. And when I did that, certain plans started to fall away, as I started to see the opportunities that were already being presented to me right here and now. Here I was, plotting out all kinds of things for the future that were already happening to me in the present!
The thing about excitement is that it's a fleeting emotion, entirely based on outer circumstances. We constantly run toward events that make us happy, excited, or simply comfortable – the dream job, the dream partner, the dream family or friends, the dream life, the dream destination - and away from things that make us sad; constantly doing things to “fix” whatever makes us feel uncomfortable. But it just didn't seem like real freedom to me. All it seemed like was a doomed fate to keep running all our lives, toward one thing and away from another; just a tiring, repetitive cycle. I had promised myself long ago that I would never be part of that cycle. I would flow through life without attachments. But without knowing it, I had been part of the cycle at times too.
And so a couple of weeks ago, in complete surrender that once again, I didn't have any answers, nor did I know where to go next, I had my bizarre experience.
As I've said in my previous post, yoga has offered itself to me in bountiful amounts since I got to Manila, starting with the reunion with my brother, who helped me deal with my recent breakup experience through a more devoted practice of this discipline. I'd taken this, as well as other invitations that had to do with yoga, as signs that I'm being led through this way.
The latest offer was a free Kundalini Yoga class at my workplace, where the teacher has trained for years and traveled from India to teach it here in Manila. I've always been curious about this mysterious practice that claims to awaken the powerful energies at the base of our spine, causing a great surge of energy to release itself upward and through us, eventually leading to our enlightenment; enlightenment, being the release from the illusory physical world we currently live in, and attaining that perfect and finally permanent bliss...which is very different from the feeling we currently know as happiness. It can be dangerous for the unprepared person who hasn't taken the time to build foundations to stabilize the powerful energy that the body needs time to adjust to. The whole thing sounded a bit scary to me. But seeing as a class was being made available to me freely, I took that as a sign that I might finally be ready to learn it.
And so I went, and I diligently practiced the techniques on my own. As the days passed, I started feeling a little “foot-off-the-ground”, coupled with intense mood swings. I felt a little alarmed, because I had already managed to stabilize myself after my somewhat traumatic experience of a break-up from a serious relationship, coping in the loss of control over myself, being thrust out of Nature and into the overwhelming activities of the city, and having little more than spare change in my pockets, all at the same time. I didn't want to go back through all that again.
I finally fell into despair one day. That was the day I no longer knew where I should go next, because I felt that everything had been tried, tested, and done with. I've traveled, been in more occupations than I can even remember, loved deeply, let go when I had to, been ecstatically happy and hopelessly sad, been immersed in different cultures, subcultures, and social environments. I'd lived in the city slums at one point in my life, where my apartment was nothing but paper-thin walls and a floor that was about to give way to the garbage dump beneath it. By the same token, I've lived on a sailboat, in the sheer pleasure of physical freedom. I've observed and learned from all I needed to see! As far as I knew, I've been faithful to all my callings. What else did life want of me? “I'm utterly bored now!” I screamed to it.
The only thing I felt compelled to continue was my yoga practice, even though I didn't know exactly where it would lead me. I didn't even feel the desire to teach it.
That day, after a short and tearful prayer to be shown the way and I would again follow, I continued my Kundalini practice with abandonment. After the exercises, as I sat down to meditate with chanting music, I noticed that my body started to vibrate with heightened sensitivity to the music, and I felt a great urge to move my arms. My hands got lighter and lighter, and I started moving with the smooth, flowing energies that I could feel strongly in the air. Then my hands soon took a life of their own, moving around my head and various parts of my body...and I was merely witnessing it! For a whole hour or so, my hands untiringly went back and forth like pendulums, and around in circles throughout my body. It was like watching hands move that weren't mine. But I wasn't scared the first time. I thought it was fascinating. But then when it happened again in another session, and it had become stronger, that's when I got scared.
Thoughts started racing through me: How is it that my body is moving of its own accord? I'm not dreaming, that's for sure. I'm watching all this happen, and I'm fully conscious. My eyes are open, and I can hear the children shouting, the dog barking, and the cars passing by outside. Everything in the room is still in the same order. It's getting stronger! Am I possessed? Am I going crazy? There's no one to witness what's happening to me, what if I explode or something and die?!
I pray fervently to the heavens, trying to calm myself as best I can, while this experience happens. But then I find that I'm still in control, even while my body moves by itself. I can choose to stop it anytime I want, simply with my will to do so, if the experience ever gets too much for me. And so I go with it.
What follows after these experiences are very intense feelings releasing themselves with a vengeance, of all the fears and hurts I've held onto over the years. This process lasts for hours, leaving me exhausted, and then I fall asleep quicker than lightning. When I wake up, I'm at peace, but a little disoriented because I didn't know I fell asleep.
I had a feeling Kundalini yoga might have something to do with it, so I made it a point to do some research. What I unexpectedly discovered from there is how I've actually been going through a Kundalini rising process for quite a few years now. Apparently, some people experience it as a powerful and sudden surge of energy, affecting them and those around them forcefully and immediately; while others go through a slower, milder version of it that grows stronger in time as the body takes in more and more of it. The Kundalini is often triggered by an awakened sense of spirituality in a person. Another factor can be a recent traumatic experience that shocks the system and somehow awakens this energy more potently, even in a person without spiritual background.
As the energy tries to move upward from the base of the spine, trying to cleanse blocked centers within the body in an accelerated manner, a person will experience any of the following or more:
Increased body temperature; trembling, sudden muscle twitches or spasms, usually during meditation or rest/sleep; pain between the eyes (pineal gland area) or headaches/head pressures; extreme and uncontrollable emotional disturbances where unresolved issues are amplified (w/c can cause mental confusion, as the person going through them can't understand why they're so out of control); interval periods of ecstasy; hopelessness or loss of enthusiasm for reality as the person currently knows it; symbolic dreams; electronic gadgets malfunctioning during heightened experience; and acute sensitivity to the environment. There are more signs, and the Kundalini experience varies in each individual, but I name a few of the ones I've been through, which came to a climax this past year...and which has led to the peak of turmoil in me, to say the least.
Kundalini rising has been a known phenomenon in the East for centuries. Yoga and other ancient scientific practices have been devised for the gentle management of the Kundalini energy as it rises, to ensure that the individual's body and mind can smoothly accommodate the transition to this energy state. It's also called the Chi or Life Force, among other names, and once it's awakened, it only grows stronger with time.
People who have not been able to manage this energy have usually been diagnosed as mentally ill or psychotic, as the energy very much affects the mental state. For decades, doctors have apparently been puzzled about the strange phenomenon, of which their usual medical practices have had no positive effects on patients experiencing this. Often, these patients have not been introduced to grounding practices, such as a light diet and the practice of any of the ancient techniques for managing it. Eventually, they “fly off” with the strong energies. Vincent Van Gogh comes to mind. I think he might have actually tapped into these high energies, which caused his artistic genius, but he also didn't know how to come back down to the ground.
Experiencing a stronger form of energy, such as the Kundalini, is sort of like plugging 110 volts into a 220-volt socket; it's going to blow. An adaptor is needed, which is what yoga, martial arts, chi gong, or other such disciplines serve for us. They help the energies flow through more smoothly.
So anyway, I had a talk with Ines, my Kundalini teacher, regarding my experience. She said that I'm to control my body whenever this happens. This will keep the energies locked into my body, so that my body can learn to integrate them as they grow; otherwise, the energies will scatter everywhere, and that's never a good thing when you're talking about something powerful being allowed to unleash itself before its time. She gave me a series of exercises to get me back grounded. And I also better understand my whole experience of scattering energies now, particularly in the more recent past.
I learned that as the energies grow stronger, the more imperative it becomes to practice the grounding activities more regularly. This, I wasn't doing. I was very undisciplined and flying all over the place with these energies, somewhat akin to being high on drugs. Even my yoga practices were inconsistent then. My energies scattered all over the place, greatly affecting those in my immediate vicinity, either positively or negatively, depending on my state. This scattering of energies eventually left me confused.
So now I'm learning to handle the energies properly. It's made me realize why I had to come back to Manila. I had to integrate my body through yogic techniques and guidance made available in my vicinity. Who would've thought that I would find these things in the place I vowed never to come back to? Life's little humor, I guess. Well, laugh it off.
And so my previous plans have all flown out the window. I've always been where I'm supposed to be. At this point, the most important thing for me to do is not to over-stimulate myself with sensory experiences, and to get a bit more guidance in the Kundalini process. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but when did I ever anyway?
Right now, I'm also getting used to the swaying energies my body moves to as I meditate. It's a bit like being water itself, because I feel so fluid. Now I don't have to immerse myself in water. I am water! But okay, I'll still take my baths (blah).
Well I've had to work up some guts to write these personal details of my life, at the risk of perhaps a few of you thinking, “That's it. Now she's gone completely nuts.” But I feel a commitment to telling my pilgrimage as it is. So take what you can from it, if anything.
As for me, well my reality has just gotten a lot bigger, obviously. I was bored with the world as I knew it, and so it showed me a little more. And all it took was letting go of my own tired, repetitive plans. Funny how life works that way, isn't it? Well, I sure like its plans better than mine.
Namaskar, Namaskar <3