- Kundalini Syndrome
KundaliniSyndrome is a set of sensory, motor, mental and affectivesymptoms reported predominantly (according to certain writers on the subject) among people who have had a near-death experience[ Kason (2000)] [ Greyson (2000)] ; it has also been attributed to practitioners of meditationor yoga[ Scotton (1996)] [ Kason (2000)] .
Researchers in the fields of
Humanistic psychology[ Lukoff et.al (1998)] , transpersonal psychology[Scotton (1996)] , and Near-death studies[Kason (2000)] [ Greyson (2000)] describe a complex pattern of sensory, motor, mental and affective symptoms associated with the concept of Kundalini, sometimes called the Kundalini syndrome[ Greyson (2000))] . This psychosomaticarousal and excitation is believed to occur in connection with prolonged, intensive spiritual or contemplative practice, such as meditation or yoga [Lukoff et.al (1998)] [Scotton (1996)] [Kason (2000)] , or a near-death experience [ Greyson (2000)] [Kason (2000)] , or as a result of an intense personal crisis or experience. According to these fields of study the Kundalini syndrome is different from a single Kundalini episode, such as a Kundalini arousal. Kundalini syndrome is a process that might unfold over several months or years. If the accompanying symptoms unfold in an intense manner that destabilizes the person, the process is usually interpreted as a spiritual emergencyGrof, Stanislav & Grof, Christina (eds) (1989) "Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis" (New Consciousness Reader) Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher] [ Lukoff et.al (1998)] .
Researchers affiliated with the fields of transpersonal psychology and Near-death studies (see references below) have suggested some common criteria that describe this condition, of which the most prominent feature is a feeling of energy or heat rushing up the spine [Kason (2000), p. 223.] [Scotton (1996), p. 261.] . Other sensory and motor symptoms may include the feeling of cranial pressures [Kason (2000), p. 222.] , the perception of inner sounds [Kason (2000), p. 223.] , experiences of inner lights [Kason (2000), p. 223.] [ Greyson (2000), p. 125.] , vibrating or tickling sensations in the lower back [Kason (2000), p. 223.] ,
tachycardia(rapid heart rate) [Scotton (1996), p. 264.] , spontaneous trance states [Scotton (1996) p. 264.] , changes in breathing [Greyson (2000), p. 124.] , spontaneous bodily movements [Greyson (2000), p. 124.] , sensations of heat or cold moving through the body [Greyson (2000), p. 125.] , localized bodily pain that starts and stops abruptly [Greyson (2000), p. 125.] , vibrations and itching under the skin. [Greyson (2000), p. 125.] Mental and affective symptoms include fear[ Scotton (1996) p. 264.] , anxiety[ Scotton (1996) p. 264.] , depersonalization, [Greyson (2000), p. 125.] , intense positive or negative emotions [Greyson (2000), p. 125.] , spontaneous slowing or speeding of thoughts [ Greyson (2000), p. 125.] and experiencing oneself as larger than the physical body. [Greyson (2000), p. 125.] A few theorists within the transpersonal field, such as Greyson [Greyson (2000), p. 124.] , refers to this symptomatology as the Physio-Kundalini syndrome, while other Western academics use the description Kundalini-experience/awakening [ Scotton (1996) p. 261] [ Lukoff et.al (1998)] . 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 professional [Kason (2000)] .
Even though the symptoms at times may be dramatic and disturbing, theorists such as Sovatsky [ Sovatsky (1998)] and Greyson [ Greyson (2000), p. 132.] tend to interpret these observations in favor of viewing the unfolding symptomatology as largely non-pathological,
maturational, and of evolutionary significance for humanity. According to Scotton [ Scotton (1996), p. 269.] Kundalini-symptoms may be associated with psychopathology, but are not reducible to any psychopathology. He also thinks that it is important to differentiate between the signs of Kundalini and the symptoms of pathology, and not subsume the signs of Kundalini under a pathological diagnosis. If the unfolding process is supported and allowed to progress to its conclusion it might — according to transpersonal theory — actually result in what Kason [ Kason (2000), p.25] calls "a psycho-spiritual housecleaning". That is, a stabilization of the psycheon a new level.
According to the field of transpersonal psychology the Kundalini-syndrome is largely unknown to Western
psychiatry. A few writers, within the fields of psychiatry and psychology, have consequently suggested a clinical approach to the problem. Possible improvements in the diagnostic system that are meant to differentiate Kundalini syndrome from other disorders have been suggested [Grabovac & Ganesan (2003) Table 3: Selected elements of a proposed academic lecture series on religionand spiritualityin psychiatry.] [ Herrick (1996) Poster Presentation Abstract: "Toward a Science of Consciousness" 1996, Tucson Convention Center.] [Scotton (1996)] [Lukoff et.al (1998)] . In an article from the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseasetheorists Turner, Lukoff, Barnhouse & Lu. [ Turner, Lukoff, Barnhouse & Lu (1995)] have implied that the Kundalini-symptomatology might be placed under the DSM-IV diagnostic category "Religious or Spiritual Problem" [ See American Psychiatric Association (1994) DSM-IV, Code V62.89]
A recent criticism of some of the transpersonal approaches to the symptomatology, and the current interpretation of the symptoms, has been put forward by Sovatsky [Sovatsky (1998), page 161] who believes that it is crucial to differentiate between the symptoms of what may be a Kundalini awakening, and the symptoms of different preliminary
yogicprocesses or pranicimbalances. According to this view, many reported Kundalini problems might rather be signs of the precursory energetic state of pranotthana. Sovatsky also notes that:
In an article from "Psychological Reports" Thalbourne [ Thalbourne (2001)] discusses whether scores on a 35 item "Kundalini Scale" are correlated to the concept of
Transliminality(a hypothesized tendency for psychological material to cross thresholds into or out of consciousness). The Transliminality Scale, presented by Lange, Thalbourne, Houran & Storm, Lange R.; Thalbourne M.A; Houran J. & Storm L. (2000) "The Revised Transliminality Scale: Reliability and Validity Data From a Rasch Top-Down Purification Procedure." Consciousness and Cognition, December, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 591-617(27)] defines a probabilistic hierarchyof items that address magical thinking, mystical experience, self-absorption, hyperesthesia, mania, dream interpretation, and predilection to fantasy. In an article from the "Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine" Le Fanu [Le Fanu (2002), p. 118-119] briefly discusses Kundalini symptomatology in connection with the interpretation of so-called medical "mystery syndromes".
Problems have been known to occasionally arise from Kundalini risingGrof, Stanislav & Grof, Christina, "The Stormy Search for the Self", New York: Perigee Books, ISBN 0-87477-649-X] Greenwell, Bonnie, "Energies of Transformation: A Guide to the Kundalini Process", 1995, Saratoga, CA: Shakti River Press, ISBN 0-9627327-0-2] The following possible side effects have been noted by various teachers . These problems can persist for moments or endure for decades, and they can also recur. All students with an active Kundalini experience at least a few, if not many, of these side effects. Generally these problems begin to occur after a few months (less likely) or years (more likely) after starting a contemplative practice, but in some cases they begin very soon after starting meditation or yoga.]
Summary of known problems:
Death, pseudo death , psychosis, pseudo psychosis, confusion, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, sadness, suicidalthoughts, urges to self-mutilate, homicidalurges, arrhythmia(irregular heart beat), exacerbation of prior or current mental illness, insomnia, inability to hold a job, inability to talk, inability to drive, sexual pains, temporary blindness, and headaches.Grof, Stanislav, "Beyond the Brain: Birth Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy", State University of New York Press] Goel, B.S., "Third Eye and Kundalini: an Experimental Account of Journey From Dust to Divinity", Vol II, Eye Foundation of India] Tweedie, I., "Daughter of Fire: A Diary of a Spiritual Training with a Sufi Master", 1995, The Golden Sufi Center, ISBN 0-9634574-5-4]
According to transpersonal theory, and Eastern spiritual traditions, these problems are thought to arise as
karma- deep physical, psychological and emotional material — is brought to the surface of the mind as a result of yoga and meditative practice. Consultation with a meditation teacher who is not trained in Kundalini techniques or with a psychiatrist, medical doctor or therapist who is not knowledgeable about this process often leads to confusion and misunderstanding. Using Western medicine to treat or suppress the Kundalini symptoms is not recommended, and in some cases may have undesirable side effects. Grof noted that suppressing kundalini's side effects with psychiatric medicine could lead to death. However, Lukoff et.al note that there may be times when medication can play a role in recovery, and integration of spiritual experiences. Lukoff et.al (1998)] Teachers of Yoga familiar enough to guide students through the completion of Kundalini karmic release are so rare that the likeliness of having side effects solved smoothly is unlikely.
*Grabovac, Andrea & Ganesan, Soma. "Spirituality and Religion in Canadian Psychiatric Residency Training". Canadian Journal Of Psychiatry, Vol 48, No 3, April 2003
* Greyson, Bruce (2000) "Some Neuropsychological Correlates Of The Physio-Kundalini Syndrome". The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Vol.32, No. 2
*Herrick, Karen, "Finding Our Own Substance: New DSM-IV Code 62.89, Religious or Spiritual Problem". Poster Presentation Abstract at Toward a Science of Consciousness 1996, sponsored by the University of Arizona 8 April–13, 1996, Tucson Convention Center.
* Kason, Yvonne (2000) "Farther Shores: Exploring How Near-Death, Kundalini and Mystical Experiences Can Transform Ordinary Lives". Toronto: Harper Collins Publishers, Revised edition, ISBN 0-00-638624-5
* Le Fanu, James (2002) A" clutch of new syndromes?" Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine; Vol. 95:118-125, March 2002
*Lukoff, David; Lu, Francis G. & Turner, Robert P. (1998) "From Spiritual Emergency to Spiritual Problem: The Transpersonal Roots of the New DSM-IV Category". Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 38(2), 21-50,
* Scotton, Bruce (1996) "The phenomenology and treatment of kundalini", in Chinen, Scotton and Battista (Editors) (1996) Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. (pp.261-270). New York: Basic Books, Inc
* Sovatsky, Stuart (1998). "Words from the Soul: Time, East/West Spirituality, and Psychotherapeutic Narrative". New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-3950-X. Suny Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology
* Thalbourne, Michael A. (2001) "Measures of the Sheep-Goat variable, Transliminality, and Their Correlates". Psychological Reports, 88: 339-50
*Turner, Robert P.; Lukoff, David; Barnhouse, Ruth Tiffany & Lu Francis G. (1995) "Religious or Spiritual Problem. A Culturally Sensitive Diagnostic Category in the DSM-IV." Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease,Vol.183, No. 7 435-444
* Whitfield, Barbara Harris (1995) "Spiritual Awakenings: Insights of the near-death experience and other doorways to our soul. Health Communications, Inc. Deerfield Bch, Florida
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