January 29, 2014

The 3 Stages of Awakening. ~ Vishnu Prasad

I am a yoga practitioner and teacher and I have been practicing yoga since my childhood.

I was born in a small town in Kerala, South India, where my grandfather introduced me to the practice that was to become my life’s devotion. Since those early years when my grandfather became my first guru, I have studied under numerous spiritual yogis and teachers near my home.

My best memories of childhood are of the times I spent growing up in the ashram and learning yoga. I have been blessed to share the knowledge passed onto me with many people from all walks of life.

I would like to share a few words about the topic of Kundalini awakening and the safety of this practice.

Kundalini is the shakthi, or the divine energy, which sleeps in the mooladhara chakra (root chakra). It starts to awaken once the body and mind are free of energetic blockages and the nadis (energy channels) in the body are clear to channel large flows of pranic energy. For millennia, spiritual masters have been using yogic systems to get to this stage.

There are four yogic systems which those masters used to achieve this state: Bhakthi Yoga, Janna Yoga, Karma Yoga and Raja Yoga.

Higher states of consciousness can be achieved through any one of these paths. All humans have a high potential energy, which can be activated through the yogic systems. All of us have access to the higher levels of consciousness once we do the sadhna, or practice.

There are many techniques available through various styles of yoga, but ultimately all yoga systems will lead to the same truth. For some people the awaking happens naturally without any sadhana. It depends their sanchitha karma (stored karma in the consciousness) or, stated differently, their past life blueprints.

The popularity of the practice of yoga in the Western world has brought the awareness of Kundalini to a wider audience. However, many misconceptions regarding Kundalini have been spread along with it.

There are many training courses marketed which use Kundalini awakening as a selling point and it is true that the awakening of Kundalini is surely a worthwhile goal. One would be well advised, however, to proceed slowly and systematically with the personal guidance of a guru who has already been through the process safely. There are specific dangers associated with the awakening of Kundalini if the body has not been prepared sufficiently. The experience can generate a great deal of fear and confusion if reassurance from an experienced teacher is not present.

Once the Kundalini has been awakened, a high level of energy will pass through the body’s nadis. If our energetic field, body and mind are not ready to tackle this heavy flow, the nadis will be damaged, leading to a variety of physical, mental and emotional problems depending on the extent of the damage.

An analogy could be a high voltage of electricity passing through a light bulb where the filament of the light bulb is not robust enough to carry that voltage. Often, a person can become dysfunctional, with fear and confusion overwhelming them for an extended period of time. Without the support of an experience guru, such situations are likely to present a very unwelcome experience, which can misguidedly lead to psychiatric intervention where the doctor has no real understanding of the cause or the treatment for the patient’s condition.

It is for this reason that many yogis take the safe, ‘eight limbs’ path with the support of a guru who has already been through the awakening process. Along this path, gradually, stage-by-stage, our body, mind and consciousness will be prepared to tackle this energy, so we never panic and the process feels very natural.

Kundalini feels like pure and intelligent energy and, like a mother, she knows all about us. Once it is active, cooperate with her. If we allow our ego to wrestle with her, it will create problems. Our job is to surrender to her completely.

Once the Kundalini has been awakened, we will go through three stages:

  1. Self-realization

  2. Self-stabilization

  3. Self-expression

At self-realization, you will gain a full understanding of life and also the ultimate truth: that we and the universe are one. You will experience an unlimited bliss and ecstasy. Self-consciousness becomes universal consciousness; in that moment there will be no “I”, there is only “self”. The duality will vanish.

The next stage is self-stabilization, but we have to take this stage carefully. During the process of stabilization, we will experience mood swings for days or weeks. Mental systems will be rearranged and biological changes inside the body can be felt as well.

It is common for failure to occur at this stage. The practitioner can generate a tremendous amount of fear which can lead to a mental breakdown for the individual as they cannot understand what is happening to them. This is the reason why, in India, it is common for yoga and spiritual practitioners to have a guru who can guide and prepare them to move safely along this stage. They will be informed as to what to expect so they will be mentally ready to tackle the challenge with full knowledge of what is happening. Once stabilization is achieved, we move on to the next stage.

At the final stage, that of self-expression, we begin to express ourselves like an instrument. That is, our true self starts to express itself. The energy just flows through us the way breath will flow through a musical instrument. At the highest level of this expression, the effects can be very surprising even to the practitioner themselves.

Back home in India, people will say that this person is performing miracles and they often start worshiping them. Actually, that person is an instrument; it is higher consciousness that is the operator. It is not in our hands—the energy does everything with pure love, but people give credit to the person. You will never see real masters take credit or fame in their own name. They will just point their fingers to the sky.

If the energy is suppressed during the third stage, individuals have reported difficulty and that their Kundalini experience was ultimately a burden to them. Because of this, suppressing the flow of compassion and love is discouraged. Let it flow.

Kundalini energy is like our mother (shakthi)—she knows everything about us and she knows how to take care us.

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Assistant Editor: Karissa Kneeland / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Vishnu Prasad

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