KF writes: “As a former practitioner, I understand the dangers involved in . . . TM-style meditation, centering prayer and yoga. I’d especially like to see an article on the enormous damage that can be caused by ‘kundalini’ effects.”
My thanks to KF for giving me this opportunity to blog about the extreme dangers of Kundalini yoga and the kundalini “awakening” that it is designed to bring about.
First of all, kundalini yoga is a type of yoga that attempts to arouse and raise the kundalini, believed to be Shakti or creative divine energy which supposedly sleeps in the form of a coiled snake at the base of the spine. It employs pranayama or breathing exercises, visualization, asanas (body poses) and mudras (hand positions) along with chanting and meditation to awaken and then raise the kundalini.
Yogis believe that when the Kundalini awakens, the door of the Sushumna (an energy conduit) is opened and the Kundalini ascends through the six chakras (alleged energy centers) until it reaches the crown chakra at the top of the head. When it reaches this height, it unites with Lord Shiva (the god of destruction) whose consort is Shakti. This union supposedly brings about the joy of “Blissful Beatitude.”
This is the religious explanation of a kundalini awakening, an event that is accompanied by many physical and/or spiritual side effects which some regard as evidence of spiritual progress, but others see as potentially serious problems. These include:
• Involuntary jerks, tremors, shaking, itching, tingling, and crawling sensations, especially in the arms and legs
• Energy rushes or feelings of electricity circulating the body
• Heart palpitations
• Intense heat (sweating) or cold, especially as energy is experienced passing through the chakras
• Visions or sounds at times associated with a particular chakra
• Emotional purgings in which particular emotions become dominant for short periods of time.
• Pressure inside the skull and headache
• Bliss, feelings of infinite love and universal connectedness, transcendent awareness
• Involuntary suspension of breath
The spiritual manifestations can be even more bizarre. People who have experienced a kundalini awakening have testified to terrifying experiences, such as being visited by spirits who at first appeared friendly but then became hostile and abusive. In this article a woman named Carole, who is a personal friend of noted Christian apologist, Dr. John Weldon, was physically and spiritually assaulted by spirits who would try to extract the life from her body, as if “monstrosities of another world were trying to take my very soul from me, inflicting pain beyond endurance, ripping and tearing into the very depths of my being.”
When the assaults would not stop, she was referred to Dr. C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D., a noted neurosurgeon, a former professor at Harvard University, past president of the American Holistic Medical Association, and the author of Occult Medicine Can Save Your Life. He couldn’t help her, and sent her to Dr. Robert Leichtman, M.D., another spiritist who coauthored several dozen books allegedly received by revelation from the spirits.
Leichtman admitted that Carole’s situation was not uncommon among followers of Eastern gurus and even admitted to her that some had died of these and similar psychic attacks. He was also unable to help her.
Carole was ultimately healed when she turned her life over to the only true Master Healer – Jesus Christ.
It’s interesting to note that yogis themselves consider kundalini yoga to be risky and openly condemn yogis who teach it indiscriminately to the public. They also report bizarre effects such as temporary madness and lasting mental instability or illness in their pupils.
Puran Kahn Bair, master meditation teacher and mystic who studied with Sufi teacher Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, believes there is great danger in raising the Kundalini because it may not turn off or the state it produces could become addictive.
“I have seen a number of cases where people have been debilitated by Kundalini and struggle for years trying to correct the imbalances, often with no success and much despair,” he writes in this article about the complications associated with kundalini awakenings.
So does this mean there really is a coiled snake at the base of our spines that can have such a powerful effect on our minds and bodies when awakened?
No. It means that some of these practices may stimulate major endocrine glands and nerve bundles known as ganglions which happen to be located very near the alleged position of the chakras. The endocrine system is a system of glands which secrete hormones into the bloodstream to regulate various parts of the body. It is an information signal system similar to that of the nervous system, so it’s easy to see why tampering with these glands could cause a variety of unwelcome side effects.
Clare McGrath Merkle, former yoga instructor and New Age expert, attests to what can happen when one tampers with these powerful glands in the practice of yoga.
“An example is at my own workplace where Power Yoga is offered at lunchtime for a quick pick-me-up,” she writes in her article, “Yoga: Health or Stealth?”
“The yoga instructor recently had the class perform an exercise designed to stimulate the pituitary gland – and one of my co-workers did not sleep the entire following night. The dangers of any kind of yoga can include abuse of power, unconscious motivations of teachers and students, as well as the ignorance of the physiological and psychological effects of yoga. ”
While kundalini may sound exotic and intriquing, it is anything but. If you want to keep your sanity, stay away from it.