I’m still contending with this annoying “dead brain” phase that started exactly two weeks ago. It happens a few times a year and always involves other strange symptoms that can feel as if my entire nervous system is being unplugged and rewired, which I do not rule out. Hot, cold, muscle spasms, torrents of energy in different regions of the body, noises, fatigue alternating with energy, headaches, little “micro-moods” of various kinds that can last for seconds at a time. And sometimes there’s a sensation as if all the thoughts have been sucked out of my head, leaving just sort of a vibrating “absent presence.” I hate when that happens...
The energy is unstable and moves around from place to place -- now in my low back, now in my head, now in my neck, now in my hands or legs. Not only that, but -- I don’t mean to sound wacko here -- but so long as I can just sit quietly with it, the unpleasant sensations can become pleasant, even blissful. That happened last night as I lay down to sleep. Instead of falling asleep in under three minutes, as I usually do, there was a blissful, burning sensation in my low back, accompanied by a pleasantly alert and energized state of consciousness. Go figure.
This has been going on for, I don’t know, 30 years, although looking back on it, it’s possible that it was there during childhood as well. It often comes on like a switch, and then disappears just as mysteriously. Naturally I considered a medical explanation, but that has been a completely dry well -- don't even ask. I’ve also carefully considered a psychiatric one, but it just doesn’t correspond with anything found in the DSM, such as a somatization or bipolar disorder. For one thing, there’s nothing remotely close to loss of judgment or reality testing (at least until I published this post). It’s as if it’s an internal, parallel process that I am able to observe. In fact, if one thing has changed over the years, it is that I am more able to detach from it and not react to it -- just let it run its course, so to speak.
I know of at least one other reader who deals with the identical phenomena, and we both chanced upon a website that describes it to a “t.” As you know, I don’t normally go in for anything vaguely new-agey, and my psychological training makes me very skeptical of what are often attempts to normalize frank psychopathology. I mean, if a patient came to me with my symptoms, I’d first want to rule out a number of things before I began considering spiritual explanations.
I suppose one reason I’m writing about this against my better judgment is that I am sure there must be more than one of you out there who have had this experience. After all, if you have any familiarity with spiritual literature, these experiences are extremely common -- they're only described everywhere. I’ve read any number of them; for example, I remember in Krishnamurti’s biography (or possibly hagiography) there is a particularly vivid account of his struggles with these symptoms. (By the way, I do not want to imply that having the symptoms necessarily makes you “special” or enlightened, or that not having them implies the reverse.)
In an interesting synchroncity, the man who turned out to be my literary agent, John White, published a standard work in the field many years ago, entitled Kundalini, Evolution and Enlightenment. I must have purchased my copy in the early 1980’s, and I am now holding my dog-eared copy before me. It pretty much covers the weirderfront, with around forty chapters ranging from “Signs of Awakened Kundalini” to “Neurochemistry and the Awakening of Kundalini” to “Christian Mysticism and Kundalini.” There are personal accounts, medical theories, traditional explanations, and a chapter by no less an authority than the Big Kehuna Wilber, “Are the Chakras Real?”
Hmm, good question. I’ll just flip ahead to the last paragraph of the chapter. Ken says, “the chakras do appear to exist, and the chakras are knots.... Kundalini theory, with its penetrating understanding of these shadowy knots themselves, offers sound, wise, and powerful advice on how to see through them, so that one may finally awaken, as if from a dream, to discover that the cosmos is one’s body...” Hey, sounds good to me... Are we there yet?
As if my credibility were not damaged enough, the website I mentioned above is dedicated to the work of a person with the unlikely name of El Collie. It includes a list of typical Signs and Symptoms of Kundalini Awakening. Let’s keep an open mind and just peruse a few items on the list:
• Muscle twitches, cramps or spasms (check)
• Energy rushes or immense electricity circulating the body (check)
• Itching, vibrating, prickling, tingling, stinging or crawling sensations (check)
• Intense heat or cold (not exactly intense, but yes; a couple of episodes back, however, the cold sensations were intense -- I was freezing, when normally I am quite warm blooded)
• Alterations in eating and sleeping patterns (check)
• Episodes of extreme hyperactivity or, conversely, overwhelming fatigue (more of the latter -- no hyperactivity, but short episodes of depletion)
• Headaches, pressures within the skull (check, but generally mild and transient)
• Racing heartbeat, pains in the chest (check -- by the way, I’ve had a thorough cardiac work-up, including a CT scan and nuclear treadmill, not to mention very complete bloodwork, including thyroid)
• Digestive system problems (mild -- worse last time)
• Pains and blockages anywhere; often in the back and neck (check -- these blockages are quite fluid, changing from place to place, and can sometimes become pleasurable; I can actually move them in meditation)
• Emotional outbursts; rapid mood shifts; (no to the former but yes to the latter -- however, as I said, they’re rather short and mild, like a wind stirring up and blowing by; and it's as if they're sort of "parallel" to my predominant mood, which is actually rather cheerful)
• Hearing an inner sound or sounds, classically described as a flute, drum, waterfall, birds singing, bees buzzing but which may also sound like roaring, whooshing, or thunderous noises or like ringing in the ears (check -- occasional whooshing and ringing)
• Mental confusion; difficulty concentrating (just the latter)
• Altered states of consciousness: heightened awareness; spontaneous trance states; mystical experiences (not so much at present, but the last time, yes)
• Heat, strange activity, and/or blissful sensations in the head, particularly in the crown area (check)
• Ecstasy, bliss and intervals of tremendous joy, love, peace and compassion (again, more the last time)
• Exquisite awareness of one's environment (yes, there definitely seems to be a sensitivity to certain human environments)
Well, that’s it, I guess. Like I said, I am particularly interested in anyone else who would care to share their “K stories.” Feel free to post anonymously.
Hey, don’t make it look like I’m the only one!