Many of you write me, and I answer you. Occasionally, a blog will be inspired by your queries, but I do not share your questions and my answers with others. This post is an exception. It was inspired by questions from Sohumm, who has graciously given his permission for me to share our conversation with you.
° ° ° ° °
What I understand from your reply (and also from Swami Satyananda Saraswati’s books) is that various spontaneous kriyas (and even spontaneous asanas) may be wrongly inferred as a kundalini awakening while they are just an indication of pranotthana. I also understand that until the prana enters the sushumna it cannot be called a ‘real’ Kundalini Awakening. The problem now arises – how to identify whether Prana has really entered the Sushumna?
When kundalini begins an upward ascent through the sushumna, she pulls prana along with her. Kundalini can be awake before that, but this is not the same as ascension—evolution is trying but not really succeeding. This could be seen as an awakening that is not “real”.
I remember that over a course of time my rate of breathing decreased to 4-6 minute in normal waking hours and about 1-2 per minute (or lesser) during meditation. During such period of breathlessness (between two breaths) I could still feel extremely soft and subtle pulsating movements (something like a faint breathing, not the heartbeat which has quick and sudden movements) even though I wasn’t actually inhaling or exhaling.
This is an advanced state of pranayama, called kumbhaka.
A few months later I read a book by Swami Muktananda where someone asked him about a similar experience to which he replied that it’s a very good experience and indicates that Kundalini (or Prana, i don’t remember well) has entered your Sushumna.
There is a breathless state in which nothing is moving, not even a little bit. Everything is in stasis. In this state, which can last a short time or a very long time, if someone finds you, including a doctor, they will think that you are dead. This is one of the reasons I so strongly advocate absolute privacy during meditation. This is an advanced state of kumbhaka, a mudra (seal).
This leads me to another question – Do spontaneous kriyas, asanas, bandhas happen when Kundalini enters Sushumna too? – because then the only way to differentiate between Pranotthana and Kundalini Awakening would be to identify whether Prana is still in other nadis or whether it has entered Sushumna. If so then what are the symptoms that indicate Prana has enetered the Sushumna ?
Whether a kriya or an asana is occurring because kundalini is moving in the sushumna depends on the kriya and the asana. Both go through stages.
Prana can also be in the other nadis even when it is accompanying kundalini in the sushumna.
When mulabandha is trying to happen, a subtle kriya usually accompanies it. This indicates that kundalini is trying to wake up. When the primary bandhas begin to show up, kundalini is awake, in the Sushumna, and She means business.
Kundalini and Pranotthana
Think of pranotthana as very strong prana. Think of that strong prana as the thing that kick-starts kundalini, wakes her up. Kundalini herself is not perceptible. Her workings are too subtle.
People who talk about feeling something are mistaking the activities of prana (outside the sushumna) for kundalini (inside the sushumna). If someone talks about a vibrating chakra, for instance, this is the experience of the prana’s actions—it is prana activating the chakra from outside the sushumna. It is not kundalini, and may or may not be related to kundalini.
Think of pranotthana as the phenomena, like the heat, the kriyas, sensations, and so forth—it’s the thing that you experience. Think of kundalini as the functioning of the energy inside the sushumna unbeknownst to the practitioner. Kundalini functions in a sequential manner and is generally known after the fact based on its effects, and is rarely identified correctly. So how can I tell when it’s kundalini? I don’t always know. Sometimes I just have to wait until someone tells me something that makes it obvious.
OK, may be I understand now….does Pranotthana refer to the stuff that happens immediately after Shaktipat (which may cease to happen within 1-2 days) while Kundalini Awakening is the stuff that happens (may be after days/months) after the initial upsurge. So while, after receiving Shaktipat some people may immediately experience things like bliss, lights, yogic postures, etc – that only indicates Pranotthana. But if after these initial symptoms have subsided and then after few days they again experience things like spontaneous asanas or spontaneous meditation then that could mean that the Kundalini has awakened….
This varies from person to person. Either can happen before, during or after, but in sequence (pranotthana first), or even so nearly simultaneously as to be indistinguishable. The phenomena is prana-generated, evolution is kundalini-generated and subtle. Once the two are operating as one, it is useless to try to make a distinction.
An awakened kundalini and the ascension of prana-kundalini is noted when events associated with chakras are sequential. When events are not sequential, this is prana, whether it is “strong” (prahotthana) or not. With the awakening of kundalini, in time, the main bandhas will occur spontaneously.