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Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat - Dhamma Wheel

Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
spoke
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Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby spoke » Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:08 pm

Hello all,

I wanted to ask about some developments that have occurred in my practice recently, and which have left me excited, intrigued and confused about how to proceed.

I've been practicing in different traditions (Zen, Vipassana, Gurdjieff) since around 2001. About a year and a half ago I attended my first ten-day Goenka vipassana course, and found it to be the most intense and rewarding practice of my life till that point. About halfway through the course, I began having (what I subsequently learned are known as) kundalini experiences, specifically:

- A rush of energy up my spine and out the crown of my head, including the sensation that this flow was trying to pull me "up and out" through the crown.

- The ability to focus my attention within the body in a way I had never experienced before, as a sort of beam of attention “lighting up” any part of the body on which I chose to focus, with distinct, tingling physical sensations being felt on that part. This beam could also “pass through” different parts of the body, so that, for example, if I shone the beam of attention from my heart area to the neck, I would feel it both on the neck and on the chin, as it passed through the neck to the chin.

- The sensation that this flow of energy was painfully collecting and uprooting little "hooks" embedded throughout my entire body, and then carrying them up and out through the crown. This created both physical twitching sensations in the areas that were being cleared out, and a feeling of continuously having to burp as the hooks flowed up the throat area to the crown.

- After these hooks were cleared out, the area of the body from which they were removed was left feeling very clear and airy, with the exception of my navel. Once the hooks started getting pulled out from there, they just kept going and going, in a painful and seemingly endless flow.

At first I was very excited and intrigued by all these developments, and actually spent a good part of the last few days of the course exploring and experimenting with them. At a certain point however I also became quite anxious about all this, specifically at around two in the morning on the last night of the course, when the painful flow of uprooted "hooks” coming out of my navel and up through the crown wouldn't stop, and all I could do was just lay there and try to find a position that would allow the stream to flow as openly and painlessly as possible. If I was in the wrong posture, these hooks would either create a lot more pain in the navel area, or would fail to go up and out through the crown, but instead get collected elsewhere inside the head, creating pressure and pain there.

A couple weeks ago I went on my second Goenka retreat and had pretty much the same experiences, except for the anxiety, as described below.

I asked two assistant teachers in the tradition about these experiences, and their answer was basically to let the flow of energy come if it comes, and don't fret if it doesn't, and above all maintain equanimity in all cases. In other words, basically that it's just another sensation to be aware of and equanimous towards – don’t get caught up in it and start wondering what it is, what it’s doing, what I should do about it. This advice helped, and there was a lot more equanimity and acceptance of the flow, including its painful aspects, on the second retreat.

However, I can't seem to drop these major questions of: What is this energy? What are these painful hooks getting pulled out? Is this process the physical manifestation of the sankharas being uprooted, as Goenkaji describes? And what about the endless hooks getting pulled out from my navel – the only theory I could come up with is that this is the store of accumulated sankharas from previous lifetimes? What is the place of all this in vipassana, and in the Buddha's teachings in general (because it's not mentioned anywhere in either Goenka or Mahasi style vipassana from the little I know of)? All I know is that it's too fascinating, exciting, powerful, frightening, loaded and mysterious for me to just let it alone and observe it as if it were like all the other, ordinary sensations. (And it’s not like all the others – it’s a sensation that comes in and sweeps the others away!)

Recently, in search of answers to these questions, I've come across material about kundalini energy, and have found that descriptions of it line up with my experience quite precisely.

But kundalini is a concept from yoga, and yogic practices such as pranayama which are intended for work with kundalini are specifically mentioned by Goenkaji as something that should not be mixed in with vipassana.

On the other hand, from what I've read about kundalini, what I've been experiencing represents the awakening of a whole latent system of energy, spiritual development, etc. I also read that meditating on your crown and allowing yourself to flow up and out of it - a pull which I experienced very vividly before reading about it – can lead to enlightenment. I also recently read , in which the blogger describes his experience of attaining stream entry, in which he described the same experience of getting pulled up and out of the crown by this energy.

So I'm sure you can understand why I find it quite difficult to simply put this experience aside, observe it equanimously if comes, and nevermind if it doesn't :-).

I have also found in the last couple weeks that if I keep my attention on the crown the same sensations begin to a lesser degree, and I am quite confident that if I were to keep it there long enough I could reproduce the experiences I had on the retreat. This leaves me confused about how to proceed – should I continue dedicating practice time to focusing on the crown, in order to continue practicing with this energy flow, which I have read is so beneficial? Or just continue regular vipassana practice as usual, as advised by the AT in the course, and pay no mind to the energy flow? And if the latter, wouldn’t I be missing out on something huge?

So I would really love some guidance about what's going on, how all this fits specifically into Buddhist and vipassana practice, and how to incorporate it in a way that will facilitate my spiritual progress in the best, most effective, most skillful and beneficial way possible.


Any advice offered would be very much appreciated!

Many thanks and metta,

Gadi

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Ben
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby Ben » Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:01 pm

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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gavesako
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby gavesako » Sat Jun 25, 2011 7:52 pm

I have heard from a number of people who have had similar (and even stronger visual) experiences on Goenka retreats, as a result of deepening samadhi. Usually the ATs did not know what to do about it and advised them to stick to the technique as instructed. But these things have their own energy and are difficult to stop.

I would recommend looking at some meditations teachings of Ajaan Lee which incorporate the samadhi element together with vipassana:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

- Theravada texts
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manas
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby manas » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:01 pm

Hi spoke,
my experiences with that energy you speak of are much more limited and fleeting than what you describe. But from my readings in it, there are two schools of thought in how to deal with it. One is to allow it to rise up as far as it likes, up through the crown chakra etc. This method can have unpredictable results, so I've heard... The other way is to recirculate this energy, by bringing the tongue to the roof of the mouth (in either of three places), so that a 'circuit' is created, and skilfully drawing the energy back down again, down to the navel, where at the end of the meditation it can be safely 'stored' without unbalancing the whole system. As I said, although Ms Kundalini Shakti hasn't visited me to nearly the extent she has you, nevertheless I have felt that what little I've experienced is better kept within this body - but in a location where it won't 'overheat' our brains.

Whatever I have learned about the benefits and risks of working with this energy, was from Mantak Chia, and I recommend his advice:

http://www.universal-tao.com/

I don't see a problem with remaining a Buddhist, and working safely with this energy (please seek qualified instruction, though). Mantak Chia does warn against letting it 'blow you away' as he says; this can be too much for some, who can become 'bliss ninnies' so to speak - blissed out, but not very wise. That's why he (and many others) recommend letting it flow back down again, creating the 'Microcosmic Orbit' which conduces to both bliss, health AND calm.

Good luck, and safe travelling. And don't forget - it's impermanent! :namaste:

EDIT: M.Chia himself is Christian by faith; he doesn't regard working with the energy as a religious affair, but as an aspect of Nature. He says that you don't have to become a Taoist, or anything, in order to work with it (kundalini shakti). Just so you know. :smile:
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

SamKR
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby SamKR » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:43 am


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Ben
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby Ben » Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:17 am

Excellent post, Sam!
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Monkey Mind
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby Monkey Mind » Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:21 am

Talk with enough people who have been on meditation retreats, and I think you'll learn that these are fairly common experiences. Best not to exaggerate their importance.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710

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Monkey Mind
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby Monkey Mind » Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:30 am

I decided to personalize my last comment. For about 15 years now, I've asked meditators "What is the strangest meditation experience you have ever had?" I've met several people who thought they had reached nibbanna, many who experienced "kundalini", even a few who thought they were possessed by angels or demons. I personally have had hallucinations, and yes I thought I had achieved ariya or nibbanna.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710

Freawaru
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby Freawaru » Sun Jun 26, 2011 3:33 pm


Sanghamitta
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:48 pm

The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

spoke
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby spoke » Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:36 pm


rowyourboat
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:18 pm

I'm having second thoughts about responding..but here goes- when I was doing the body scan a lot of pain around my heart was felt and with it associated images of all the spears, javelins, swords, missiles that had gone through my heart ..in apparently previous lives, floated to the surface, as well.

It is known that in psychotherapies that use the body, many traumas can be stored up/manifest as bodily sensations.. :shrug:

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Ben
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby Ben » Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:07 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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kirk5a
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby kirk5a » Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:58 pm

"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

rowyourboat
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:16 pm

With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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cooran
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby cooran » Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:52 pm

Hello all,

Bhikkhu Bodhi on Right View being at the beginning and the end of the Noble Eightfold Path:
‘’ Perplexity sometimes arises over an apparent inconsistency in the arrangement of the path factors and the threefold training. Wisdom — which includes right view and right intention — is the last stage in the threefold training, yet its factors are placed at the beginning of the path rather than at its end, as might be expected according to the canon of strict consistency. The sequence of the path factors, however, is not the result of a careless slip, but is determined by an important logistical consideration, namely, that right view and right intention of a preliminary type are called for at the outset as the spur for entering the threefold training.
Right view provides the perspective for practice, right intention the sense of direction. But the two do not expire in this preparatory role. For when the mind has been refined by the training in moral discipline and concentration, it arrives at a superior right view and right intention, which now form the proper training in the higher wisdom.’’
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... d.html#ch2

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

SuperKingAir
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby SuperKingAir » Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:02 am

Hey everyone. I just looked up the sutra that this post reminded me of, so I thought, why not post it?



It's a lengthy one, but the phrase "But the painful feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain" and "But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain". It seems safe to assume that he meant he didn't attach or avert the feelings, but like another blogger mentioned 'just watched it happen'.

But, if your like me, sometimes I do become attached or have an aversion to feelings, thoughts, etc... like maybe how you wanted to do meditations to manipulate the energy. So, for me the discipline is to undo this habit. I don't really know what vipassana meditation is, but if it means developing the eightfold path, I would say it's exactly what we should do.

By the way Spoke, your experience sounds a lot like shaktipat, and whereas I get the whole 'so what' response to people having a kundalini experience (especially if there's a nasty, self-righteous attachment to it), I say congratulations- enjoy it. Obviously, you deserve it. Cheers.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jul 31, 2011 5:40 pm


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Pondera
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby Pondera » Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:44 pm

The reason you're feeling the release of these little hooks might be due to the soma associated with the crown chakra. There's soma released in each chakra whenever a person concentrates on them. The throat chakra, for instance, has a distinct soma. It affects the tendons in the ligaments. You can test this by simply stretching in any kind of way while not putting your thoughts on your vishudda, and then doing the same while putting your thoughts on your vishudda. You'll notice that you're able to stretch farther and more easily with the concentration put on the vishudda. But it isn't so much an energy thing as it is a material thing. It's quite biological to be honest.

I'm sure your experience with chakras has convinced you of their existence. But there's a certain feeling associated with each chakra also. The feelings are in fact what one gets when one releases the soma from the chakra and then concentrates on "bringing to life" the out-pour of the soma. If you already know about this then you can relate to what I mean when I say that the feeling of the soma in the crown chakra is quite different than the feeling one gets when they put concentration to the heart chakra or the brow, for instance. The soma in the crown feels like a creative spice. It's hard to put into words, so no wonder they call it soma.

My point is that the feeling of the crown chakra, that actual soma which is released by meditation on the crown, is going straight to your muscles. So it is relaxing all the tension in those muscles. This might explain the unhooking feeling. I wouldn't personally recommend trying to manipulate the energy of the chakras. I see it as a material thing anyway. The best thing you can do is simply open the chakra, release the soma, let it flow throughout the body, and -if you wish to feel the soma, concentrate on it as it spreads throughout your body. When tension is released, it is simply released. There isn't any need to direct away from the body. But I can't say I've ever tried.

I can relate to your experience as far as being able to definitely concentrate on points inside the body. I know that the crown is a point of release for the relaxation of muscles. I have felt tension releasing from my muscles in connection with the crown. But I can't say I ever felt any kind of pain flowing through me.

I'll mention this. What gets left behind through the crown chakra is your past. You can't personally shoot anything through the crown chakra other than your ability to recollect your past (i.e. your heart-knowledge). "The essence" of a person leaves an imprint on reality 32,000 times per moment. That imprint is metaphysically stamped on some dimension of time -which we usually call the past. So the past is real, but cannot do anything itself accept receive attention from someone in the present.

For every moment that passes in your life an imprint of everything you felt and experienced stays behind like some kind of wake of being in the river of life. Each moment is like a stone that creates a foam....never mind.

It's because of the existence of this wake that a person can have access to any and all memories when certain depths of the heart become known. But you can't direct pain through your crown. You can direct awareness. You can direct your knowledge and awareness through your crown, and in that respect this will have some sort of metaphysical implications on the quasi-real nature of what is left of "you" in the past. In other words, by sending your thoughts higher you can observe your past. And the whole thing becomes very weird and complicated once you return to your birth and watch the process go backwards into the womb, and through the stages of development.

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Pondera
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Re: Kundalini experiences on a Goenka retreat

Postby Pondera » Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:55 pm

The other thing is to never concentrate on a particular spot for too long or with too much force. The reason is particularly that each of these spots contain very little of what there is to be released. If you understand that the sacral chakra enables the bladder to release its contents, then you might understand that the throat chakra enables the thyroid gland to release its contents. And the relief which comes from emptying a full bladder is just a matter of how full that bladder was. The amount of content in the bladder is far greater than the amount of content in the thyroid. So, just as there would be no point on relaxing ones empty bladder, there is no point on trying to empty an empty chakra -like the throat or the crown.


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