Pioneering Christian Kundalini
Pioneering Christian Kundalini
A Book Digest
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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
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
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:
Electrical energy or tingling in parts of the body
Hot and cold currents
Intense emotional release
Not being oneself
Drowsiness when the energy is entering the brain
Loss of affective memory.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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