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Awakening Through Trauma

“If Nature (or ‘God’) has given you so much pain that you cannot do anything else other than be with it, then there is a message here: you are not expected to be doing anything else! In other words, spending time—even long periods of time—just feeling pain is a legitimate calling in the eyes of God and Nature. Assuming that you are making at least some effort to purify and evolve consciousness by being with pain in a skillful way, you are engaged in productive and meaningful work.”

-Shinzen Young

 

“Give me everything mangled and bruised,
And I will make a light of it to make you weep.
And we will have rain,
And begin again.

-Deena Metzger

Living in the world while undergoing such deep transformation processes is not easy. Our culture expects us to be productive, that is, to be productive in the material realm. We are too often judged by our material success. It isn’t until one goes deeper that one can truly see success at the different levels of consciousness. One simply cannot judge until one has been there or has touched it in some way. Thank God for those who have or those who sense and can offer words of encouragement. We owe tremendous gratitude to these soul friends and trauma therapists.

El Collie devotes a whole chapter of her book Branded by the Spirit to this topic, called “Surviving a Spiritual Crisis”. She lays out the challenges people face as they walk this path. Not only do people misunderstand, misdiagnose and misjudge the spiritual awakening process, they also simply don’t see it. For years, a person in process might feel that people have no idea what they are going through, that others have no idea how painful their process is.

El Collie states,

“Since so much of psychospiritual change is a deep inner process, the grueling effects can be invisible to others. Internally, we are ricocheting wildly, bombarded with strange and overpowering sensations and fantastic, overwhelming new perceptions. Our mental and emotional connection to the profane world may be stretched so thin it seems that at any moment we can lose hold and go spinning furiously into the Unknown. Yet outwardly, we may appear to be perfectly normal. Others may suspect us of exaggerating our condition.”[1]

It’s important to say that as one goes through this process, one both does and doesn’t feel that special. It is my belief that each of us is undergoing our own transformation. Most all of us have an awakened Kundalini process. Many of us, however, have fallen asleep in the cave or have left it altogether.

We desperately need more attention placed on the Kundalini awakening process. We need more people aware of the symptoms and the cures so that those in the throes of an awakening process can be held and supported. If one sees that these people are important for the evolution of our species and our culture, we would find it easier to take time out to lend a hand and provide time and space for them to heal and transform. Gopi Krishna, a well-known saint who went through his own deep Kundalini awakening process and wrote in detail about it, stressed toward the end of his life the need for a safe environment and special care to nurture people through the raging fires of Kundalini.

“The goal of such care would be to guide these individuals toward the altered, paranormal and transcendent states of mind to which the Kundalini process naturally evolves. No one would deny that the Kundalini process can be exceedingly painful. But if allowed to progress to healing, the results can be extraordinary. To this end, an entirely new discipline of medical care, in which nurses and physicians are knowledgeable about Kundalini, is imperative.”[2]

Darrel Irving, author of the wonderful book on Kundalini called Serpent of Fire: A Modern View of Kundalini goes further, calling for the establishment of Kundalini schools and universities, Kundalini medical facilities, Kundalini laboratories, Kundalini libraries, etc. While we may be a long way off from this, we can start by educating doctors, therapists, family members and friends about the process so we can provide adequate care when it is needed most. We can do this.

We can also begin by paying more attention to the signals in our body-mind. El Collie states,

“One thing that became apparent from all this study was that physical illnesses, specific symptoms, and pain itself were messengers—sharp or nagging, urgent of insistent voices from unknown parts of ourselves (or from other selves), demanding our attention. The messages are more than alarms that the body is in trouble; they are also an S.O.S. from the psyche, alerting us that something is amiss in our very way of being in the world.”[3]

However, paying attention to these messages and allowing the Kundalini process to unfold as it wants to do will mean facing pain, facing death and giving up things we hold dear. Evolutionary or spiritual change requires it.

Ultimately, what we must give up or sacrifice is our egos, our way of being in the world, our material possessions, what we hold dear. Something. And it will be unique to each one of us. Personally, I knew that when I made the commitment to myself that I would do anything to heal myself that this was my sacrifice.

There is a famous Jewish story that captures this well and has touched me in the deepest way:

The children of Israel were panicking — the Egyptians were behind them and the sea was before them. Where would they go? Moses stood in prayer. Meanwhile, while everyone else was deciding what to do, a man named Nahshon walked straight into the sea. He stepped out in faith, completely confident that God would take care of him. 

Tradition teaches that Nahshon kept walking until the sea was up to his nostrils. At that point God said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?” The time for prayer had passed and the time for action was at hand! God said to Moses, “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.” And so he did.

The Sages teach that the sea didn’t part so that the children of Israel could walk through; first, a child of Israel (Nahshon) walked through, and therefore, the seas parted.

With great sacrifice, there is often great reward.

The signs and signals and symbols are all around us calling us inward if we choose. These messages aren’t just signs or signals and the dreams we have aren’t just symbols. They are also doorways to the unconscious; they are doorways to higher consciousness.[4] When we stop and feel, when we allow, we begin to open up to deeper levels of our being, to deeper realities. Trauma can be one of those doorways.

Peter Levine believes that trauma underlies all diseases.

“Trauma is the great masquerader and participant in many maladies and ‘dis-eases’ that afflict sufferers. It can perhaps be conjectured that unresolved trauma is responsible for a majority of the illnesses of modern mankind.” 

I tend to agree. Many physical and psychosomatic illnesses do have trauma as a root, which when healed and integrated will provide great relief. But I would go further.

I believe that the Kundalini awakening process, or Kundalini Shakti, is what underlies all diseases and what uses all diseases as a doorway within. Kundalini Shakti is the great driving force that pushes and prods us into wholeness, the all pervading energy of Life that will use fire to burn through any impurities, any traumas that may exist in our subtle bodies in order to reunite with her Beloved, Shiva, the One True Self that we are.

Resolving trauma isn’t the end point—it is in fact only the beginning. It can be the doorway to our spiritual life, for trauma can shock a person deep within, close to God. One must, however, be ready to deal with the consequences, which can be done with education and inward and outward support.

I believe it is our task to bring Kundalini Science, the science of the subtle body, into a partnership with medical science, the science of the physical body. The subtle body is real; she does exist, and she has a nexus with our psycho-spiritual selves including, at the deepest and closest level, our traumas—and our inner child.

[1] Branded by the Spirit, El Collie, “p. 175

[2] Branded by the Spirit, El Collie, “The Exile of Sickness” chapter, p. “175”

[3] Branded by the Spirit, El Collie, “The Exile of Sickness” chapter, p. “181”

[4] The 2012 Story, John Major Jenkins, p.293