Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
September 26,   2011
Pioneering Christian Kundalini

 

 

Pioneering Christian Kundalini

 

A Book Digest

by

Fran Kramer*

 

 

Imagine a high energy electric current running up your spine, coursing through your body, making your limbs tremble or feel the sensation of warm fluid flowing or bees buzzing around in your head.  Then imagine anxiously going to the doctor, and paying to have all sorts of tests done such as a scan on your head and a thyroid test to check for hyperthyroidism -- only to be told that all is well.  Then again imagine going to a psychologist to get an explanation for rampant anxiety that seems to come on at only certain hours of the day, or gushing tears that come for no logical reason at all, again only to be told that you may have seasonal mood disorder but really aren't going crazy. 

 

For the average practicing Christian, or Westerner, for that matter, who experiences such phenomenon, these scenarios most likely will be the outcome because the vast majority of physicians, psychologists and average people do not understand what is now being recognized as a world-wide human experience, not just an exotic Hindu concept: kundalini energy.   In Dr. Philip St. Romain's case, as a lay minister with extensive background in biology, counseling and contemplative prayer, he was at least able to intuit that seeking traditional Western medical or psychiatric help may not the best approach when he felt the onset of these bewildering symptoms.  Most likely what he was experiencing was not in the usual list of pathological indications.

 

In his pioneering book which is a first-of-a-kind, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality, St. Romain recounts in detail his own struggles and conscientious search for answers to the amazing energy which catapulted him on a journey he never chose.  From his informed background he addresses the triune nature of kundalini which transforms the physiology, the psychology, and the spirituality of the person involved.  He then comments on what this powerful energy means for Christianity.

 

Dr. St. Romain's Personal Journey

 

Readers undergoing the kundalini process will find much to validate of their own experience in St. Romain's detailed personal and candid account -- something that is very helpful when one lacks a guru who has been through it all and knows the path ahead.  

 

St. Romain begins by telling readers a bit about his life at the onset of his kundalini experience: that he had already done Ph.D. course work in biology and then shifted careers, becoming a lay minister and practicing the Pentecostal form of Christianity which included reading scripture and spending long hours in silent prayer combined with glossalalia, the speaking in tongues.  He was certainly someone seriously attempting to grow spiritually.   He married, and again refocused his career by becoming a free-lance writer, counselor, and lecturer, strong in the field of contemplative prayer.   Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality, there is a list of 19 other books of his on spirituality.  The entrepreneurial nature of St. Romain's work, along with supporting a growing family, brought on a great deal of stress.  He comments that it was perhaps both this stress and his developed prayer life that may have brought on his kundalini awakening in a natural manner.  His says his work at the time in multifamily group therapy may also have had an influence, no doubt because, as he notes, any spiritual growth requires willingness and an avenue to explore the emotional expressions of the soul. 

 

When his first kundalini signs started in 1986, St. Romain was, like many Westerners, clueless as to what was causing the ongoing, constant, bizarre and often frightening symptoms.  To not much avail, he sought answers by reading the lives of the saints and by questioning spiritual directors, both nuns and priests.   It wasn't until 1989 when a friend told St. Romain that what he was experiencing sounded like kundalini.  Until this time, there had been three years filled with confusion, questioning, coping and trying to trust in a higher power.  In the spirit of an explorer of strange and frightening lands, he documented his experience, and would later divide his kundalini journey into the following seven phases. 

 

During the first phase, which St. Romain calls "The Throat Phase," he first noticed a sore throat that wouldn't go away.  Then he noticed high levels of energy, along with a feeling of not knowing himself.  For someone who had always felt emotionally stable, this was a new experience signaling the stripping away of ego perceptions about who one is.  Kundalini was beginning its work.

 

St. Romain calls the second phase, "Lights!" because he saw brilliant colors when his eyes were shut.  He also could perceive energy moving throughout his body, another common feature of the kundalini experience.

 

The third phase is called "Asana" after the yogic body movements and postures because St. Romain found himself spontaneously doing asanas when he didn't even know what they were.  This again is another expression of kundalini: one's body, limbs or muscles jerk or twist with the strong energy as it makes its way through the body.  The yoga practices called asanas simulate these unusual movements in the belief that such exercises allow the energy to flow more freely.   

 

At this time, St. Romain also encountered a tornado-like psychological "black hole" that seemed to suck him in.  At a loss, he says, "my interpretive system began to fail me" and for the first time began to feel that things might not turnout for the better.  He experienced an even more profound loss of identity.  The great gift that came amidst this chaos; however, was the loss of emotional memory:  he could come to new situation without negative memories or bodily sensations triggered by past negative experiences of something similar -- giving him the clean, open and unfettered state of mind similarly described in Zen Buddhism.   His longstanding bouts of angst and background anxiety began to fade away.

 

The Crown Phase concerns the tingling and electric shock-like sensations St. Romain experienced which oddly resulted in leaving him in a state of mental clarity and calmness.  He noticed also a "communing" between his head and his stomach, indicating transfer of energy and intelligence between these two parts of the body.  He then realized that his body was sloughing off stress and emotional pain, again one of the great gifts and hallmarks of kundalini energy.  Another feature of this stage which was connected to this clearing was the twisting dagger, claw-like pressure in the center of his brain making any ordinary task or even thinking difficult.  St. Romain noticed that the pain increased when he thought too much, or did anything in extreme.  He found two things helped relieve the pain: learning from his body what caused his pain, and learning to observe his pain with loving detachment.

 

The Adjustment Phase which came two years into St. Romain's kundalini experience involved many more odd physical sensations which eventually "worked themselves out," again something often the case in kundalini.  It was the beginning of an uncomfortable pressure in the ears, and heat and cold sensations in various parts of the body.  Particularly noticeable was the sensation of "energized fluid" in his head, making him feel as if his brain was very much alive.  At this time, St. Romain also felt he was being led by a higher self, who was teaching him to proceed under these conditions.  As he notes, "Higher self promised to act as my guru." 

 

The Emergence Phase is marked by the free flow of energy, no doubt a development of all the work of releasing emotional and physical blockages of the previous stages.  This phase is marked by an acceptance of the process that was transforming him.  He realized he could not consciously control this energy and so finally accepted the process and began truly to "go with the flow."  The kundalini condition was no longer an emergency but signaled the emergence of a new person growing out of this experience.

 

The Regenerative Stage characterized a new awareness of kundalini's relationship with sexuality, and energy going from the genitals to the brain via the cerebrospinal fluid.  A gift of this stage was a feeling that the internal energy body was living in harmony with the physical body.  It felt like a realization of the True Self, with the understanding based on experiencing this energy as having primary significance over the physical.  He wondered if this energy body is "a glimpse of the resurrected state."

 

Psychology and Kundalini

 

Dr. St. Romain summarizes the effects of kundalini energy on the psychological growth of the person by essentially observing what he experienced as psychological change.  He begins by defining ego as a "marriage between self-awareness and self-concept."  He noted that he underwent the following four psychological phases:

 

  1. Mental Ego Stage:  Developed by the teenage years, the individual's identity, for better or worse, is tied up with information and valuation of parents, peers, and community -- the outside world.  This self-concept builds and holds in place a strong repression of the original state of "Am," unless temporarily released by an ecstatic experience.
  2. Spiritual Ego:  In this state the ego is still bound up with self-concept but defenses have been lowered a bit to accept energies from Spirit and from the unconscious. It is almost like a preparatory state to living outside of the boundaries of ego.
  3. Regression of the Ego: Repression of unconscious forces eases up as these forces are healed of emotional pain, breaking the need for the bond between self-awareness and self-concept.  Eruption of deep energy freely takes place as the "I" watches, secure in the reliance on Spirit.  While it is a time of difficult disorientation, the recipient feels that something important is happening.  St. Romain notes two phases of this regression: the releasing of all emotional pain from the body and a profound connecting with the true "I", the Ground, a term he borrows from Michael Washburn in The Ego and the Dynamic Ground.
  4. Realization of the True Self.  When self-awareness is open to and is now connected with its Ground or soul, the '"I" experiences itself as an energy body within the physical body.  It is like a return to the primal source, and a knowing of whom one really is. 

 

St. Romain makes the interesting comment that the Church doesn't go beyond the Spiritual Ego level of development, and for those who do; it is a pioneering journey with very few supporting structures, especially for the lay person.  Since a kundalini awakening can be a major life disrupting event affecting all areas of life, this can present a real problem when there are no ashrams around to take care of the person.

 

Reflecting upon what kundalini does to Ego, St. Romain states that it is literally "shattered" by the experience, yet the ultimate positive outcome is the bringing an end to fear and thus dropping barriers which prevent closeness to God.  What remains of an Ego acts out of a much larger frame of reference than that defined by the Mental Ego alone.

 

Kundalini's work upon the Unconscious, on the other hand, has made St. Romain realize that the body itself is the container of the Unconscious, holding and embedding emotions within its physical substance.  The purpose and power of the kundalini energy is to cleanse all negative energy and memories associated with it from the body.   While this is a difficult concept for adherents of Western science to imagine, anyone who has experienced kundalini energy release negative emotions intimately knows what is going on.  This cleansing of past baggage eventually allows one to be non-judgmental and more accepting of situations.  One does not compare past situations to this situation.  Conscious awareness is not distorted by the past.  St. Romain calls this state the kundalini Child state.  It is an adult Child state that is fully aware with an adult's knowledge and yet is now open like an innocent child, without filters of fear, allowing for greater spontaneity of intuitive wisdom to freely emerge.

 

Of significant importance is the comment that St. Romain makes when he says modern psychologists, even the Jungians, don't know much about kundalini.  While Jung himself thought that kundalini had rarely been seen in the West, St. Romain doesn't think this is the case.  It was not "seen" because it was not recognized as a phenomenon unto itself and possibly because Western theologians and the great saints who happened to experience kundalini were more interested in the spiritual and psychological aspects rather than the physical -- not putting value on what was happening to the body. 

 

The Physio-Kundalini

 

This section draws heavily on Dr. St. Romain's unique academic background in biology, psychology and spirituality.  For reasons noted above, he says that most models of spiritual or psychological development, especially in the West, don't put much emphasis on any attendant or consequent physiological aspects.  Kundalini is a unique model of spiritual development in that the physiological effects are spectacular.  However, in yoga as it is practiced in the West, there is a disassociation between the spiritual and physical aspects, to the point that kundalini is unheard of, even by many teachers.  Based on his experience and academic understanding of the power and all encompassing effects of kundalini, St. Romain specifically does not recommend the pursuit of kundalini outside of a spiritual context.   He raises a very important question: with so many people in the West now teaching and practicing yoga for reasons such as relaxing and stretching, and without any knowledge that yogic exercises are meant to release and manage powerful kundalini energy, how can teachers really help the students if the students experience kundalini release?   

 

In this section, Dr. St. Romain also summarizes two scientific points of view from Western experts who have studied and commented on the physiological aspects of kundalini.  The first, Lee Sannella, M.D., suggested in his book, The Kundalini Experience, that the physical changes undergone by the body in the kundalini process may be heralding a change to another state of consciousness in the evolutionary nature of humans.  One then wonders if what is now occurring in some people may become commonplace in the future.  In that same book's appendix, Sannella includes a publication by Itzhak Bentov called Micromotion of the Body as a Factor in the Development of the Nervous System.  A highly scientific work, St. Romain summarizes for laymen the gist of this publication which explains the anatomical and physiological basis for the kundalini energy.  St. Romain notes that "certain breathing practices, mental silence, and yoga stretches" create sound waves which become stronger and can enter the skull, causing profound change to cerebral energy patterns circulating through the brain and radiating out to the rest of the body.  He concurs with Bentov by saying that what he experienced during the progress of his kundalini process certainly felt as if the cerebrospinal fluid acts as the medium bringing the energy up to the brain, and may even work as a coolant to the charged circulation of energy.  It is interesting to note that Edgar Cayce, in the '30's and '40's through his trance-inspired readings, also stated that kundalini rises through the cerebrospinal fluid to the brain.  For examples, see Cayce readings 2334-1 and 4087-1.

 

Kundalini also affects the autonomic nervous system by moving up and outwards from the spine, thereby stimulating the glands, organs and other tissues.  How the energy travels, and how it is balanced without too much energy either on the left or right side of the body affects the well-being of the person.  Apparently it helps to imagine the energy moving up the center of the spine. 

 

Eventually, the energy moves throughout the body bringing healing and higher energy vibrations to the tissues affected by the previously mentioned release of stored emotional pain -- a beneficial result that has great implications in healing the physical body.  Also, the kundalini energy does not tolerate any new emotional pain and forces the person to let it go as it happens. The resulting situation provides much freedom from emotional pain as well as a certain ego-transcendence, an expanded awareness and a heightened creativity not hampered by past negative experience.

 

As for further physiological effects, kundalini is closely connected with the sexual organs and the energy is often sensed there in varying degrees, depending on the person.  In many cases it invigorates sexual activity, and can interfere with spiritual inclinations.  From a Christian point of view, what then becomes important is how the energy is used in conjunction with sexual activity.  St. Romain candidly stated in his experience that when sex is practiced in a loving and moderate fashion it did not present a problem in any way.  Doing otherwise, however, brought on headaches and other physical symptoms reflecting a state of unbalanced energy.

 

Another physiological feature of kundalini is the experience of perceiving light in new ways.  Dr. St. Romain describes the lights, colors and swirls seen behind closed eyes or the silver hue that outlines objects when the eyes are opened that make things seem clear and sharp. 

 

Spirituality & Kundalini

 

Dr. St. Romain noted that his kundalini experience was rooted in and grew out of contemplative prayer.  For him, contemplation was a channel to the unconscious that needed to be open for nurturing this energy experience.   He saw the primary value of his kundalini experience as being a significant way to bring him closer to God in the context of this prayer life. 

 

Unlike the Hindu view which holds that the human soul is a localized expression of the divine (Atman) and that kundalini is that divine expression, St. Romain takes a Christian view that kundalini energy itself is not God or the Holy Spirit but is a force of the Soul which can be used for good or evil.  Consequently, kundalini outside of a spiritual framework could be quite destructive.  It is interesting to note that Edgar Cayce said the same thing -- both about the energy and the use of it.  

 

St. Romain referred to Michael Washburn's theological concept of the Dynamic Ground (1989,) noting that kundalini is an energy coming from the Ground, where the energies of the body and soul are one.  Therefore, its force can impact the soul, the mind and the body and is the signal that the Soul's power is awakening within the body -- available for serving God or for serving evil. 

 

In this section, Dr. St. Romain also provides two charts which show the seven chakras in relation to other categories.  The chart called The Chakra System: A Developmental Process lists categories such as focus of awareness, body organs, energy systems, etc. corresponding to each of the chakras.  The other chart called Developmental Associations lists the chakras as they might compare to other models of social/psychological development such as the Piaget's Cognitive Model, and Maslow's Needs Model.  Dr. St. Romain thinks that chakras are not actually centers of consciousness literally existing in places of the body but are part of a spiritual model to structure the expanding consciousness of spiritual experience along physical lines.  While states of consciousness and their associated psychic gifts are important, what is most important from the Christian perspective is the deeper union with God.  If kundalini does this by helping the person to grow in love and surrender to the divine, then it is a very helpful spiritual path. 

 

 

Christianity & Kundalini

 

Dr. St. Romain observes that every religion has accounts of experiences that indicate the work of kundalini energy.  While acknowledging that coiling snakes are a common religious motif in the early Middle East, he gives certain scripture passages, Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3: 14-15, that have the ring of kundalini about them.   In the first passage pertaining to people being bitten by snakes while Moses led his people into the desert, St. Romain notes that people would have had sense to avoid snakes in the desert so these snakes must be of a different kind.  The snakes that bit them were the energies of kundalini perhaps awakened in the stressful journey in the desert of not having enough to eat and drink.  When these snakes appeared, it caused some people to curse God, which St. Romain notes is a refusal of the Ego to give up control.  The resolution of this problem is God's suggestion for Moses to put a bronze seraph serpent on his staff, an image deeply symbolic of the rising of healing kundalini energy.  Anyone would be cured of snake bite if they would just look upon this pole -- a practice very similar to the meditation of looking upon one's inner process with loving detachment.  The second passage refers to Christ who is lifted up on the pole (the cross) that all might have eternal life.   It is the fear of death that contributes to the split between the Ground and Ego.  Looking upon Christ who has conquered death through the cross opens up the possibility for the rest of us of being released from the stranglehold of fear, allowing energies from the Ground that were repressed by fear to emerge.

 

St. Romain notes how certain physical phenomenon as described in the lives of mystics such as sweating blood may have been associated with kundalini.  St. John of the Cross, in his Dark Night of the Soul, is referenced as displaying kundalini in action.  He said the best advice he ever got for coping with kundalini energy comes from St. John: be passively alert to the unfathomable work that is going on within.  This will bring serenity and a feeling of God's presence. 

 

St. Romain makes a comparison of Siddha Yoga and Pentecostalism by showing similar features.  In Siddha Yoga, kundalini is awakened by shaktipat, the transmission of power from the master to the disciple.  In the disciple, there can be a wide range of responses from the mild to the most intense, and spiritual virtues such as love and devotion are the result of this graceful transmission, not the cause of it.  It is this new grace of the guru that continues to work in the disciple.  In Pentecostalism, there is also a transmission of energy through the laying on of hands by a spiritual figure such as a minister.  As a result, there are bestowed gifts of healing, speaking in tongues, prophesying, etc., and all prompted by the work of the Spirit.  St. Romain has observed this happen so much that he wonders if it isn't a form of kundalini arousal.  He also notes that kundalini is truly a Baptism of Fire for anybody who has had a full blown awakening.  He wonders that while the Holy Spirit is not the kundalini in the average person, could it be the kundalini of the risen Jesus Christ?

 

The last chapter of Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality is a very useful summary answering six basic questions concerning kundalini.  He says kundalini is the energy of the Soul involving the libido, psyche and spiritual consciousness.  It is the very life force which animates all bio-energy systems of the body.  While everyone has kundalini in dormant form, it can be awakened to a powerful degree by the breakdown of Ego's defenses through positive means such as through spiritual practices or by negative means such as drug experiences or trauma. 

 

St. Romain considers the significance of kundalini to lie in lifting Ego's repression of the deep psychic forces, thereby reconnecting the body with its source or Ground.  The inflow of new energy jump starts and transforms the psycho-physiological makeup of the person, eventually redirecting and diffusing sexual energy throughout the body and releasing the body from the memories of emotional pain.  Ego's hold continues to break down under the surge of energy causing the awareness of the True Self to emerge.  From the Christian spiritual viewpoint, kundalini's value lies in making more energy and attendant new psychic gifts available to the service of the good.

 

St. Romain gives a very useful list of signs and symptoms heralding the onset of kundalini which will help validate the experience for anyone undergoing similar symptoms.  These include the many classic kundalini sensations such as feeling:

  1. Electrical energy or tingling in parts of the body
  2. Hot and cold currents
  3. Intense emotional release
  4. Not being oneself
  5. Drowsiness when the energy is entering the brain
  6. Loss of affective memory.

 

His suggestions for coping with the energy are very practical, essentially telling the reader to go with the flow, get advice when needed, and see the process as an indication of growth.  He emphasizes the need to surrender oneself to the power of Christ, and to act in love -- practices also recommended by Edgar Cayce.

 

Appendices

 

The book has three appendices.  The first is a description of kundalini and the chakras from a Hindu perspective.   The second is a reflection by James Arraf on the psychological and philosophical aspects of kundalini from a Western perspective.  The last is St. Romain's depiction of the Cosmic Egg.

 

The Hindu perspective is largely derived from Swami Vishnudevananda's book The Complete, Illustrated Book of Yoga which says that the body-mind is made up of sheaths of energy which allow the soul to manifest in mind and body. These sheaths of energy communicate with each other through the chakras, revving up or down the energy.   The chakras each have their own location and associations such as color, sense and motive.  Awakened kundalini arises through these chakras, necessitating that the person conform to this process because once fully awakened, the process is an on-going transformation whereby the force of higher energy continually breaks through to lower levels of energy.  Kundalini awakening is an awakening to the divine life.

 

James Arraf's Western perspective presents a Jungian view of psychic energy as it works in the process of individuation.  While this psychic energy has similarities to kundalini, Arraf doesn't think the two are the same because the individuation process is not usually accompanied by the arousal of kundalini energy.   Also, the individuation process indicates a strong integration of the psychic forces which doesn't necessarily go hand in hand in kundalini.  Nevertheless, Arraf feels Jungian psychology or St. Thomas Aquinas' teachings on the soul may help Westerners understand what kundalini is all about.  If kundalini is taken as a form of enlightenment, then it can be seen as a process which awakens the deepest intuitive powers of the soul, a good thing in that the more the soul experiences its own true nature, the more it will be united with God.

 

St. Romain's Cosmic Egg is a drawing which shows the realms or states of consciousness between human beings and God, going from the physical to the spiritual.  The center point between the two polarities is the "I am" point of freedom, where the True Self is realized.

 

 

*Fran Kramer is an Intuitive Heart Trainer, certified by the Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies. Fran works as a life coach, educator and writer who experienced a powerful kundalini awakening in 2007.  She holds a MA in Asian Studies (Religion & Philosophy) and is a lay leader at St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church, Honolulu, where she teaches classes on intuition, dreams and spirituality.  She lives in Ewa Beach, Hawaii.   Email:  fran_kramer@healingdreamgarden.com

 

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