Kundalini: The Reawakening of the Serpent

Kudalini fascinates many westerners because of its esoteric side. However, the pseudo-pathological side of the Kundalini Syndrome should not be underestimated. Many scientists and psychologists are carrying out research in order to decipher the great mystery of the "serpentine soul". However, Stanislav Grof's team takes things one step further. Stanislav Grof has identified a personal crisis of reawakening in this "serpentine power" (Avalon); he defines this as Spiritual Emergency1.

Kundalini is a process of reawakening which could take months and years; it is accompanied by symptoms of destabilisation of the subject. Nevertheless, the Kundalini Syndrome includes a real and personal transpersonal crisis and those who study it admit that the state of kundalini is due to a prolonged, intense spiritual exercise like yoga or is a result of past experiences and brushes with death in N.D.E. (Near Death Experiences). In each case, kundalini acts as a real and personal pseudo-pathological reawakening which, if wrongly diagnosed or badly interpreted, could be confused with the pathology of depressive or borderline psychoses.

The symptoms of kundalini are of a physiological or psychotic order and one cannot reject the hypothesis of its strong similarity with schizophrenia. However, trying to suppress the source of this crisis could be risky and could lead the patient straight to death2. More research is needed as supported by C.G. Jung, one of the first pioneers to distinguish a self-healing symptom in kundalini in correlation with the process of what he defines as individuation. Research into mandala and their psychological meanings induced Jung to interpret kundalini as a phase or a creative power of reintegration and transfiguration.

In Hindu myths, transfiguration is emphasised by the dynamic reawakening of Shiva, the god of the cosmic dance and the groom who, by marrying his bride the goddess Shakti, favours kundalini. The reawakening state happens in phases and by degrees. These are called chakra, the points of reawakening situated in the body along the backbone. This is where the power of the serpent lies. This power is latent in each individual but can be reawakened at any time especially if stimulated by what Jung defines as "figurative, aesthetic images", a drawing of the mandala for example, where one accesses a superior transcendent phase.

More than a psychosis, kundalini is a reawakening to the transcendence of the mystic-psycho-spiritual matrix, and transpersonal psychology, contrary to orthodox psychiatry, is not far away. The symptoms of kundalini are of a physiological nature: trembling, tingling sensations, a change in heartbeat, involuntary sudden movements of the body, spasms, cramps, depersonalisation, depression and an altered breathing rate. If someone is affected by kundalini he/she may feel suffocated or can barely manage to breathe. This is the result of "pre-yoga" phases, in other words prolonged breathing exercises (Samadhi), which the present karma to the individual has surfaced as psychogenic material and agents. In a clinical framework, kundalini should be treated with suppressive medicine and anti-depressants but as transpersonal researchers have discovered, kundalini is understood as a reawakening phase of spiritual emergency and, if it is not obstructed or blocked in any way, can come close to a speed3 process of recovery.

In conclusion, the kundalini syndrome, recently diagnosed by the American Psychiatric Association as a "spiritual and religious problem" (Turner, Lukoff, Barnhouse and Lu), is a real personal pseudo-pathological enigma which modern psychiatry does not intend to solve or, better still, finds hard to solve since psychiatry lacks the basic theoretical support which for centuries has come from an esoteric, thousand-year old science like the vedanta of the Hindu matrix or vedic science which integrates itself into a holistic support in the pseudo-pathological framework of kundalini, stabilising the pranic disturbances of breathing and channelling the energy of the chakras to the source of the serpentine reawakening.

Diego Pignatelli


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