In an earlier post I wrote about applying a new lens to interpret my previous spiritual experiences in a charismatic church setting. Psychologist Peter Levine’s research suggests that when we discharge trauma energy we can experience a wide variety of responses (i.e. shaking and trembling, violent releases of emotions, and intense heat) which are very akin to those that can occur during a spiritual encounter in a charismatic Christian church. Since most people have some degree of trauma energy trapped within their bodies, I think it is possible that the discharge and release of trauma energy could explain some of the extreme bodily reactions that people undergo when having a spiritual encounter.
However, I was thinking today that perhaps these types of bodily reactions could also indicate some type of energetic activation which is a common phenomena in many religions and spiritual practices.
For example, Kundalini is a Hindu term that refers to an instinctual, primordial energetic force that lies at the base of the spine in every human. Kundalini yoga works to awaken and activate this coiled energy, sending it up through through the 7 chakras and enabling the person to reach a higher level of consciousness. The physical effects of this awakening? They can include…
- • Involuntary jerks, tremors or shaking – As Kundalini energy moves through your body to clear away your physiological blocks, you might experience intense involuntary jerking movements of your body. These movements can include vibrations, shaking, muscle spasms and contractions.
- • Intense feelings of pleasure
- • Emotional purgings in which particular emotions become dominant for short periods of time.
- • Intense heat in the spine, or a particular chakra, as if molten metal were flowing in the spine
- • Striking flows of energy, like electricity or internal lightning bolts
- • Feelings like snakes or ants crawling on the body, particularly along the spine, or between the feet and head (ie. ‘tingling’)
- • Increase in the experience of inner colors and lights
- • Inner sounds, such as musical instruments, buzzing, roaring, or thunder
- • Waves of creative, intellectual, or spiritual insights (source 1, source 2, source 3)
The ‘Holy Spirit’ (a part of the Christian Trinity – God, Jesus, & HS) is usually credited with being responsible for supernatural Christian experiences. Unlike God and Jesus, the HS has never had a face attached to it as far as I know. It is usually visually represented in the abstract, as spirit, wind, or fire. The Holy Spirit supposedly became accessible to humanity shortly after Jesus’ death. Acts 2 is famously entitled: The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost. Jesus’ disciples are gathered together praying in a house when suddenly… BAM.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. (3)They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. (4) All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4)
In this case ‘tongues’ does not refer to gibberish, but actual other languages the disciples had never spoken before. Things got kinda crazy… and some people thought they were drunk (Acts 8:17)… hence the term ‘drunk in the spirit’ which is a popular term in charismatic circles. Once the disciples had received this infilling and blessing of the HS (i.e. activation), they all went out and activated others by laying their hands on them (Acts 8:17, a common practice in energy healing modalities).
Once activated the person often received supernatural abilities, including psychic and healing powers. The physical symptoms of the HS activation are not really detailed in the Bible, but I find the descriptions of the wind and the fire in Acts 2 really interesting. Perhaps the flames of fire are signs that the Kundalini had managed to activate the 7th chakra in the disciples, the Sahasrara, the highest level of consciousness? Please note the depiction of Sahasrara in the chakra diagram above… See any similarities between the depiction of flames over the disciples and the blossoming of the 1,000 petal lotus of the 7th chakra? Certainly from what I have witnessed of the manifestations of the HS in current day Christianity, it seems very similar to the physical symptoms of a kundalini awakening.
Since Kundalini is attached to a spiritual practice rather than a religion, it freely lends itself to various religious experiences. On the universality of Kundalini:
The early Christians might have referred to the concept as ‘pneuma’, and there are some recent parallels in contemporary Christian Charismatic ‘Holy Ghost’phenomena. Religious studies also note parallels in Quakerism, Shakerism, Judaic Shuckling (torso-rocking prayer), the swaying zikr and whirling dervish of Islam, the quiverings of the Eastern Orthodox hesychast, the flowing movements of tai chi, the ecstatic shamanic dance, the ntum trance dance of the Bushman, Tibetan Buddhist tummo heat as practised by Milarepa, and the Indically-derived Andalusian flamenco. (source)
For me, it all comes down to energy. This seems like the most logical, neutral, universally applicable explanation for many supernatural experiences. Energy is powerful. No where is this more evident than in the discovery of nuclear energy. Energy is at the source of life and being – the atom. It seems logical to me that if the human body were to suddenly experience very high levels of energy within itself, either due to a discharge/release of energy or an activation of innate unconscious energy, that the human body would react quite dramatically with any mixture of the symptoms described earlier.
I think the following quote summarizes my thoughts exactly…
Kundalini Awakening is for all: Regardless of what religious, spiritual, or meditation tradition one follows, the awakening of this Kundalini energy, by whatever name you call it, is a most innate and essential part of spiritual advancement, unfoldment, or realization. It may seem different when colored by different cultures, but the fundamental experience of the energy is there nonetheless. (source)
Image Credit: HalfDan