"Letting go" doesn't work

When a new patient comes to see me in the clinic, they frequently say they want to “let go” of negative thoughts patterns or unpleasant emotions. These thoughts and feelings are seen by most people as things that get in the way of living the life they want to lead. And a lot of pop-psychology and pop-spirituality encourages this “letting go”. But as nice as it would be to just let those things go, in the long run it doesn’t work.

In the short term it can work, and it certainly helps people get through their day without having to a lot of emotional heavy lifting. But it is a mechanism of dissociation, and whatever we’ve dissociated from is never truly gone. “Letting go” creates an illusion of separation that prevents us from fully going into our feelings, which is the only way we can work really work through them. There are many ways we try to deflect or avoid our feelings, but “letting them go” is unfortunately very prevalent in a lot of spiritual communities and I believe it needs attention.

Here’s how “letting go” works. Someone or some thing triggers a painful memory or difficult feeling. And then our defense mechanism kicks in (what I usually refer to as the wall). The wall is the mechanism we’ve constructed to shield us from our wounded self. It encompasses the many dissociative processes we’ve developed to avoid feeling our inner wounds. The “letting go” voice is a particularly devious dissociative process. It sometimes appears to be a “spiritually advanced” inner voice that tells us we should not be bothered by such things, that we should we spiritually or emotionally evolved enough to just let go of the pain we’re feeling. Sometimes it tells us there’s no good reason to be upset, or angry, so just breathe and let it go. A lot of times it says that anger or other uncomfortable feelings don’t do anything positive, and we only want to cultivate positivity, right? Maybe after some practice we get better at “letting go” and after an emotional flare-up we get back to our emotionally balanced self.

But this is a mask and we are deceiving ourselves. The main thing I’ve been taught over and over again by my mentors is that whatever we react to externally is really only shining a light on an internal process. If we choose to “let go” of an emotion that arises during conflict we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity to heal the internal wound that is being triggered. In fact, our internal wounding will consistently bring about external situations to trigger us. Every triggering interaction we have is our own wound crying out for us to notice and be present with it. By “letting go” of emotions that arise during these episodes we are only pushing off their resolution till another day. Eventually a situation will come up again that triggers those same emotions, and then we’ll have to calm ourselves down again and “let them go.” It’s a vicious cycle.

The function of our wall is to prevent us from feeling the wound that is triggered by external situations. From the wall’s perspective, the problem is always outside of us. “There’s no need to get angry at my boss, that’s her issue” is what the wall may say when our boss yells at us and we get angry back at her. Paradoxically, it functions in the same way as a voice that says “My boss is the reason I’m so miserable” when she yells at us. In both cases, the wall is deflecting us from the internal work necessary to work through the internal wound that the boss is triggering. Even though they look radically different, each response is a manifestation of dissociation. This is why the wall is so tricky. It may bring us to radically different places, but it’s ultimate goal is to get us to avoid our internal self.

This is not to say that there are not external problems, far from it. But when we cannot understand the internal process that is arising in conjunction with the external issue then we are doomed to repeat the situation.

Instead of “letting go”, there is another way. If we take what we are feeling and go as deeply as possible with it, we can explore and eventually start healing our internal wounding.

From the earlier example— When your boss yells at you and for a split second you get angry at her, maybe you sit with it and feel into the anger instead of “letting go”. Maybe when you sit with it, you start to recognize that the pattern you have with your boss is similar to the one you have with your significant other, or one of your parents. Maybe you realize you shut down your anger with your boss in the same way you do with others. Maybe within that process you realize you’ve accepted a situation of not getting your needs met or your voice heard, and you recognize this pattern is present in many areas of your life. Then you realize that actually speaking up is really really scary and painful, and brings up all sorts of other issues. Maybe if you speak up to your boss, you’re afraid you’ll lose your job and then how will you survive?

This is just a theoretical example, which may or may not be applicable to you. But even if the exact scenario doesn’t fit you, I hope you can see that there is a very rich and deep emotional landscape hiding beneath your triggers.

But as long as we dissociate and disconnect from what is happening when we’re triggered we’ll never be able to explore the ways in which the triggers are reflecting back the parts of ourselves that need to be healed and integrated. When the healing and integration starts, we may even see glimpses of the harmony and beauty that exist within and beyond our wounds. But that is for another blog post!

This is why the “letting go” philosophy is so nefarious. It pretends to be an aspect of our spiritually evolved self yet in reality is based on fragmentation and dissociation.

This is what Kundalini Mediumship practitioners do when we’re tracking people during a personal session or workshop. We feel into and work with our clients’ wounds as if they are our own— because in a sense, they are. We have to be present with whatever our clients bring to us, no matter how painful. We have to know our client’s wounding and wall as aspects of our own wounds and walls. And in doing that we learn even more about ourselves and the human condition, propelling us deeper into our own personal healing.

I believe anyone can learn this type of tracking, but it takes real dedication to work through our walls and find the gods hiding within them.

Capoeira and Candomblé

The first time I played in a capoeira (1) roda (2) was after 6 months of training as a beginner. Even though I was scared to go in and play with the big boys, I felt pretty good about my performance. As soon as I jumped out however, I found Mestre Almiro (3) waiting for me. He brought me out of the circle completely and told me when I performed the negativa (4) I was staring at the ground instead of my opponent. “Do it correctly!” He shouted over the music. So I did it, watching him as if he was my opponent. Then he shouted “Do it on the other side!” So I performed the negativa going the other direction, never taking my eyes off him.. Then he said “Good! Don’t forget this.” And went back to the roda.

I can’t state how humbling this experience was. I had never seen him bring someone out of the roda before and correct them, and I haven’t seen him do it since. But from that point on I knew I had to work with him. I knew he was telling me this not to be mean but because he wanted me to be safe and stay focused. In capoeira, you never take your eyes off of your opponent. But it took me years to understand the spiritual truth at the heart of this lesson— total awareness of everything that is happening around you. When you are looking at the ground, you are unaware of what your opponent is doing. But more than that, a capoerista (5) must also be aware of the rhythms and music being played. He must be aware of the energetic flow in the roda, and how each person’s game affects that flow. He must be aware of his own obstacles, the obstacles within his opponent and the way each of us use those obstacles to gain an advantage— known as malandragem (6) . Above all, he must be aware of his own contribution to the dynamic flow— he must be aware that the spirit of the game demands his focus, attention and passion to create a jogo bonito (7).

I learned later that these same lessons can be applied to life, as how we play the game of capoeira reflects our interaction with the world. And the lessons I learned from capoeira taught me a lot about life.

My capoeira training started in 2002. At the time I wasn’t necessarily looking for spiritual guidance, but I was hypnotized by capoeira’s grace, beauty and power.

The first 6 months of capoeira under Mestre Almiro is all about learning and repeating the basics— the ginga (8), a few kicks, the cartwheel, negativa, and how to buy the game (9). Beginners practice these fundamentals over and over and at the end of class, we got to watch the advanced students in the roda. The roda is where the real action and beauty are. Musicians play their instruments, and everyone else is required to sing the songs and clap. Then, two participants play the game. When buying the game, one capoeirista jumps in and faces another capoeirista while the third capoeirista exits quickly, never taking his eyes of the action.

To do this requires a lot of discipline and dedication.  Mestre Almiro’s uncompromising style came from a dedication and respect to the art of capoeira. When he corrected us, it came from a respectful place but some people took Almiro’s criticism personally. If you could work through taking his criticism personally, and you could really devote yourself to learning from him, then you were in luck! We really did learn how to play a beautiful game, and his training allowed us to play with anyone

A lot of modern capoeira looks like two people breakdancing next to each other. There’s a lot of cool moves and acrobatics but frequently the interaction between the participants is lacking. This is not the capoeira that Mestro Almiro mastered in his youth. In Almiro’s class, we learned to have a lively conversation in the roda. This conversation was only possible when the participants spent the time and energy learning the structures and practicing them over and over.  The same concept exists in music; in order to play with others, you must first master the fundamentals of rhythm and melody. Without this formal knowledge, music devolves into a cacophony of individuals making noise rather than a concerted group of musicians influencing one another to create harmony. In this same way, the formal precision of every movement that Mestro Almiro insisted upon ultimately provided us the freedom to improvise with each other in the roda.

This improvisational game involves understanding your strengths and weaknesses and your habits and desires. You also have to understand those characteristics in the people you are playing with. The goal is to trap, trick and confuse your opponent, to get them out of their rhythm while maintaining your own joyous balance. This is a metaphor for life, where our “opponent” is the challenges and difficulties we face. When we understand how to respond to life’s challenges by staying in the flow of things, we can play our own beautiful game in this world.

The more I trained with him, the more I asked Mestre Almiro about his spiritual tradition of candomblé (10). I knew that candomblé was interwoven with capoeira in the rich tapestry of Afro-Brazilian culture.  I wanted to learn more and experience it for myself, but Almiro maintained an unwavering refusal to discuss it with me. He kept a stone wall around candomblé, and would consistently shoot down my repeated attempts to learn more. Just as he anticipated and deflected the moves of his opponents with mastery in the jogo of capoeira, he never let his guard down when it came to candomblé. And as I had learned to appreciate the reasons behind his strict capoeira, I later came to understand the reasons behind his intensely protective stance toward candomblé.

In Brazil, the white Brazilian authorities spent hundreds of years, thousands of lives, and millions of real (11) trying to destroy candomblé. This fight is not over. The desecration of temples is a common occurrence that rarely makes headlines even today. We have seen this same pattern with many other indigenous spiritual practices across the globe. And when the spiritual practices survive these attempts at destruction, we arrive at the finality of colonialism: exploitation. We eventually co-opt and re-sell the practices to ourselves, frequently by stripping them of their native identity and bypassing the traditional roots. This has happened to a lot of yoga in America, and its currently happening in the ayahuasca community.

By 2015 I was rarely training with Almiro anymore, but I began talking to him about how capoeira had influenced me, and how his teaching had shaped my healing work. With these conversations, his wall began to crack. When I asked him again about candomblé, he finally opened the door for me and invited me to go to Brazil and meet with a candomblé priestess named Dona Val.

That very summer I flew to Salvador, the birthplace and spiritual home of both capoeira and candomblé. Much of what happened during that trip is not appropriate to discuss here, but I learned something about myself that turned out to be critical to the trip I just took in December of 2018.  When I visited her, Dona Val told me that I had a negative entity attached to me called an egun (12) and she made it clear that this was a very serious matter, one that she wasn’t able to solve right then and there. Although I had a translator along to help overcome the language barrier, the vast cultural and spiritual differences prevented me from understanding exactly how and why this situation was so serious. But I felt the gravity of her words without question.

What I did not feel, however, was the presence of the egun itself. I had spent years cultivating a relationship with spirits as part of my healing practice - the concept and impact of spiritual forces was neither new nor lost on me. But I had no awareness of the malicious entity that Dona Val said was inside of me. Although I did not dismiss her assessment, I am not the type to accept the words of another without question. I have always needed to see and feel truth for myself, and this was no exception.  When I discussed this issue with Almiro, he insisted with characteristic passion that I take care of this problem, and soon. He warned that the egun are spirits of violence that would bring harm to me and my family if left unhealed. And again, I listened with respectful skepticism, but could not personally feel feel this egun’s presence.

Just as I didn’t understand the presence of the egun, I couldn’t possibly understand Almiro’s experience as a black man in America.   One thing that happened as we started preparing for this trip last summer was that he started to open up to me about some of his experiences being black in this country.  There was one conversation in particular during which Almiro described a racist experience he had and concluded abruptly with the assertion “I’m telling you this, Justin, but you can’t understand it.” And I knew that this was true. As a white man, I could listen with respect but could not truly understand his experience as a black man in America.

Amidst preparations for this trip I participated in a separate healing retreat where I had a deeply troubling vision. As I sat in meditation, I found myself replaying the conversation with Almiro and his closing remark.  Almiro’s last sentence about me not understanding his experience stabbed through my being like a dagger in my gut. With the dagger’s plunge came a vision, as clear as day, of a white man strangling and killing an African man on a slave ship. During the struggle their eyes met, and in that moment of intense violent connection, the spirit of the African man entered the white man. This was no metaphor. This was real, and I could feel it within me. My intuition told me that the murderer was my ancestor, and the victim was the egun that Dona Val had seen. This was the personal experience I had needed; I could now feel the egun for myself, within myself.  I began to speak to the egun, and to listen to him.  He told me that he wanted to end this generational curse, he wanted to be free of this cycle of violence.  He told me that to do that I would have to go to Brazil and let his people do their work, that they knew how to remove him from my being. And in that moment I promised the egun and myself that I would do whatever I could to make the trip happen..

This experience had many levels-- one being personal and familial.  I could now reflect back on how the egun had negatively affected my life at specific points, as well as my family’s. This sad realization opened my eyes and my heart to the effects of karma both within a family and over generations. And yet another level to this is societal. I began to see the egun that exist throughout our country. Our founding fathers spoke beautifully about freedom and human rights, while at the same time establishing our country upon the backs of African slaves and through the genocide of indigenous people. The egun are violent because they are borne of violence, and I now could see the reality of this spiritual vengeance.  Even if you can’t see the egun themselves, anyone can see their effect on our society— I believe that much of the current random violence as well as many people’s self hatred are two current egun-related issues.

And more layers are revealed through modern science. The study of epigenetics has demonstrated that trauma persists across generations through alterations in the expression of our DNA. Geneticists are rediscovering what indigenous spiritual practitioners have known for thousands of years: we inevitably reap ancestral karma in our own lifetimes, both positive and negative.

I met the candomblé priest Pai Edvaldo in the trip this past December and he confirmed my vision. He saw the same egun that Dona Val had seen and was willing to perform the ceremony to remove the egun - for a price. This price revealed more layers to the karmic knot. Any action towards another— positive or negative— creates a karmic debt. My ancestor created a debt through his violence that I felt called to repay. By paying money to this priest of an African religion I started to help pay the debt.  Through continuing the support of this spiritual practice I hope to continue the process. While the issue of cultural appropriation still concerns me, the topic of how to work with candomblé as an outsider is an ongoing discussion I have with Mestre Almiro and the priests and priestesses in Brazil.

My experience in Brazil represents a huge personal shift for me, and I feel a great deal of gratitude for the people in the terreiro (13) for opening their doors to me. Underlying my experience with the egun is an understanding that we are all connected to divine energies called orixás (14).  The orixás are divine spirits that are here for everyone. Instead of wanting violence and suffering (like the egun) the orixás want us to live a live of health, happiness and prosperity. The priests all stressed one important point - that everyone has a relationship with the orixás, regardless of race or belief. They are divine aspects of the natural world that are here for everyone. Behind my tragedy with the egun is actually my divine connection to my orixás, and I believe the deeper purpose in all this is for me to be a bridge to help others in my culture connect to these spirits. Underneath and interwoven with our karmic knots is a beautiful connection to the divine.

I am forever thankful to the orixás for showing me this truth, and for connecting me with Almiro, Pai Edvaldo, and all others within the tradition of Candomblé.

These trips into the depths of Candomble will be ongoing. I invite anyone that resonates with these words to reach out, and I hope you will join me as I continue my journey.

Glossary

1— Capoeira: the fighting method disguised as a dance created by enslaved Africans and their descendants to hide their martial training

2— Roda: literally “circle”. When playing capoeira, all the participants form a circle. Two participants play the game with each other in the roda. Every participant outside the roda must sing and clap.

3— Mestre: literally “master”. The highest rank in capoeira.

4— Negativa: a capoeira ground movement.

5— Capoeirista: someone who plays capoeira.

6— Malanadragem: trickery or deceit. Within Brazilian culture it has a negative connotation, referring to hustling or conning other people by playing on their weaknesses. Within capoeira, it refers to tricking or deceiving your opponent by understanding and capitalizing on their habits, personalities and how they play the game.

7— Jogo bonito: literally “beautiful game”.

8— Ginga: literally “to sway”. The fundamental movement of capoeira. It looks simple, but Mestre Almiro calls it the most difficult movement in capoeira.

9— Buy the game: entering the game of capoeira is called buying it.

10— Candomblé: the African based spiritual tradition with roots in Salvador, Bahia. It is a direct descendant of the West African Yoruba tradition, among others. It is related to the Cuban tradition of Santería and Haitian Vodou.

11— Real: Brazilian currency.

12— Egun: a malevolent entity. Egun frequently die from a violent act, and attach themselves to their karmic relations to encourage more violence.

13— Terreiro: temple

14— Orixás: Gods and Goddesses. Everyone has specific orixás that guide, protect and challenge them. An important part of life from the candomblé perspective is to get in the proper relationship with one’s orixás.




The Roots of Kundalini Mediumship

This work is called Kundalini Mediumship for a couple of reasons.  One is to honor the tradition of my first teacher Baba Muktananda, whose tradition was the direct transmission of kundalini from guru to disciple.  That transmission happened to me when I was a kid.

I added the word “mediumship” because I at a certain point I realized that working with spirits and energies was also something that happened at the same time that the kundalini started opening.  Working with spirits and energies was not really a part of his tradition, and I had to learn about that aspect from other teachers.

Some Hindu teachers talk about the difference between God with form and the formless God.  The formless God is pure infinite energy and consciousness.  It is beyond any of our understanding and incorporates past, present and future all at once. The God with form is all the spirits, gods and goddesses that are energy but also have characteristics, emotions, and personalities. The story is that because the formless God is so hard to relate to as a human, God has also chosen to appear to us in forms that we can relate to. These are the beings at the basis of many religions— the Hindu gods and goddesses, even Jesus. These gods and goddesses occupy a middle ground between our limited human self and the infinite God that exists beyond everything.  They are like a bridge that help us to remember that we are connected to and a part of the infinite.

Mediumship allows us to embody the gods and goddesses. To work with them, we have to begin working through our personal, family and cultural traumas and repressed emotions.  What started happening to me as a teenager was that the kundalini started clearing out some of my personal and family karma and allowed me to connect to theses higher vibrational energies. It was never a one shot deal though— it’s not like I had a couple of spiritual experiences and then all my work was done. Far from it. The process of clearing out the debris and then connecting to these gods and goddesses is a pattern that continues to this day.

Another part of my process was that I recognized that my personal healing was connected to others’ healing. I started getting the message that if I was going to grow and heal, I had to do healing work on other people. Kundalini Mediumship was born from that message.

The word kundalini can be uncomfortable for people. There are many misconceptions and issues around kundalini work and they fall into two distinct categories.  

First, there is the fact that kundalini transmission comes out of the guru/disciple relationship. Within that relationship (especially here in America) there has been a tremendous power imbalance and a lot of abuse from that imbalance.  This happened with my guru Muktananda, but it happened with a lot of other gurus as well.  The guru is someone you obey without question. He (or she) is God incarnate.  How are you going to say no to a guru’s demand?  How are you going to call out a guru who abuses his power?  If you look at what happened within Muktananda's tradition (called Siddha Yoga) it took some really courageous people to speak out. His institution responded in the same way as the Catholic church and other powerful institutions that protected abusers— deny, cover it up and intimidate those speaking out.

When I started doing healing work on people and could feel the kundalini moving through me and into other people I went through a crisis.  I didn't know how to handle it because the only template I had for kundalini transmission was the guru/disciple relationship and I knew I wasn't a guru or perfect being.  But there was something else I relied on for guidance— what Muktananda called the guru principle.  The guru principle is the force inside of us that guides the process of the kundalini awakening. It’s our own internal compass and our guide.

It’s taken me many years of self work and inquiry to get to this point. When I really started diving into Siddha Yoga, I thought I had found the answer, the TRUTH. Then when I heard about Siddha Yoga’s dark side I thought I had to throw everything out. But what I really discovered was that there were certain elements of the Siddha Yoga philosophy that resonated with me and some that didn’t. My job was to take what I needed and throw out the rest.

I believe that the guru worship in Siddha Yoga was in many ways a test— a test from God to see if I would really devote myself to finding my own internal guru or if I would give away my power and self knowledge to someone else. It can be really hard sometimes to really trust myself, especially when my ideas go against culturally accepted norms. But that trust is what allowed me to work with this energy on other people. Instead of a guru, I view myself as a facilitator. I share my journey and struggle and I want to help people connect with their own guru principle.  There is a tremendous empowerment that happens when we connect to our own internal guidance— when we recognize that there is no authority outside of ourselves that we have to obey.  But to do that we really have to examine our own wounds and shadow— all the places we’ve hidden and suppressed inside of us.

The second issue around the kundalini is the warning that the energy is inherently destabilizing and can cause all sorts of problems like demonic possession, mental illness and things like that.  While I agree that the kundalini is a tremendously powerful force I don't think its accurate to say that it causes any of that.  Mental/emotional/spiritual issues are caused by our own karma-- the kundalini may accelerate things that are already there but it won't cause them to arise from nowhere.  It will definitely find and open up the darkness we have inside of us, but as long as we are prepared to face our own demons and we’re really willing to heal then we have nothing to worry about.  That's a big commitment though.  For most people it takes something like a healing crisis or spiritual emergency to really force them on this path.  But of course these kinds of crises are exactly what the spirit uses to bring us back into alignment.  Sickness is really just a message from our spirit that we need to address our emotional, energetic and physical issues. Eventually whatever demons we are trying to avoid will come after us anyway. So my philosophy is to confront them now rather than later.

 

Zombies and Vampires: A Kundalini Mediumship Perspective on our Cultural Obsession

By Lindsay Wilkinson

 

Question of the day: Why are we (modern America) so absolutely, entirely, overwhelmingly obsessed with stories about zombies and vampires?  Admittedly, I’ve watched my fair share of True Blood and The Walking Dead, and I’m always asking myself why these gory images are so compelling.

The answer I’ve come to…the zombie and the vampire are both manifestations/symbols of a part of the collective unconscious that is literally permeating every part of our modern life.  The vampire is a symbol of manipulation, seduction and persuasion at its worst. Where is this symbol reflected in our outer world?  I see it in every fiber of our capitalist infrastructure, every marketing scheme, every advertising campaign, and in our relationships with others.  Ever had an “energy vampire” literally suck the life out of you at work or at home?  It happens in small ways every…single…day.

We are both manipulating others (the vampire) and being manipulated (unwitting victim) on a daily basis.  This perpetrator/victim cycle is reflected in our work relationships, friendships, family dynamics, everywhere.  It’s no wonder that we become obsessed with the overt and sometimes comically obvious symbolic images and storylines that these underlying archetypes represent.

I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing, it’s just an unconscious thing.  The more that we can bring these patterns of behavior and interaction into our waking, conscious life, the more opportunity the psyche has to heal from these hidden wounds.  Which is essentially why these images and archetypes exist.  They point to a particular type of energetic pattern that is part of the universal human experience.  It is universal for humans to feel seduced by a person, a product, a food, an idea…anything can trigger this energy in us.  It is also universally human for us to play a part in manipulation or control over someone else.  It can be very obvious, like trying to sell something to someone, or a subtle suggestion or innuendo, and anything in between.

What now?  Let’s assume you agree with me that the Vampire image is an unconscious symbol of the human experience of manipulation/control and victimization.  If we become conscious of this pattern in our lives, what then?  The first thing is to recognize this pattern in the outside world (like seeing it in The Walking Dead), the next step is to start to recognize this pattern in our own life, (like trying to get your honey to buy you something or feeling victimized by your boss), the final step is to integrate this pattern into your life and begin to make conscious choices around these energies when they pop up. Maybe that looks like saving up for that thing you want instead of trying to get someone else to buy it for you, or maybe you don’t need it in the first place.  Or instead of feeling taken advantage of or victimized at work, you schedule a meeting with this person to talk about the dynamic or quit your job and do something else.

Why is this effective? Because you literally begin to step outside of an unconscious pattern that’s controlling you (another example of the Vampire energy pattern), and integrate your need for control or to be a victim and make choices (maybe making the same choices, maybe not) which could literally change the course of your life.

Okay, now let’s talk about Zombies.  What are zombies? Completely unconscious. What do zombies do? They consume.  And guess what?  WE are unconscious consumers, all…the…time. We consume everything in sight!  Food, television, iphones, clothes, ideas, politics, news, the list could go on and on.

So, let’s digest (haha) the symbolism here.  Zombies were at one time human (aka conscious), and have degenerated into monsters (our inner demons taking over) and consume only conscious peoples’ brains…leading these new recruits into the same state of monstrous unconsciousness.  And the cycle goes on until there are no conscious minds left and we are left with a post-apocalyptic world of hedonism and chaos.

The other interesting thing about these stories is that there are essentially three groups of leftover humans…the fighters or heroes (think Michonne in The Walking Dead), the manipulator or tricksters (who take advantage of the chaos in order to gain control for themselves), and the quitters who either take themselves out or become listless and depressed, thereby adding to the unconscious group of zombies.

I think that most people have felt all three of these energies in the face of adversity at one time or another.  There have been times in my life that I have fought against the tide of pain and chaos that seemed too overwhelming to confront, I have been the person to take advantage of a chaotic situation, and I have definitely had times where I have given up and allowed the unconscious pattern to continue controlling aspects of my life and my behavior.

So, we are all zombies, all fighters, all tricksters, and all quitters.  Why is The Walking Dead so compelling?  Because often, in the face of an unconscious pattern we are all four of these archetypes/energies at the same time.  We would love to see ourselves as the perpetual heroes, but there’s a part of us (either unconscious or conscious), that lives out the other three patterns as well.

Now that we know we’re all zombies too, what do we do with this information?  We just start to track the pattern in ourselves and others. These patterns of consumerism are repeated in our lives in a million small ways every day.  For example, people often eat on the go.  We have a short lunch at work, we are on our way somewhere, we are exhausted at the end of the day.  So instead of being with our food, smelling it, tasting it, enjoying it, we just CONSUME it.  Quickly, thoughtlessly, and then we’re on to the next thing.  For some people, eating quickly and unconsciously is fine…they make a conscious choice to do it, it doesn’t affect them or whatever.  But for most of us (myself included), we get to the end of the meal, and either we didn’t enjoy it, we’re tired from stuffing it down, we get bloated and uncomfortable…something happens that we wish hadn’t.  So instead of being conscious humans eating a meal, we become unconscious zombies; consuming and moving on.

The vampire and zombie archetypes are here and now.  Every age has different patterns, stories, and archetypes that come to the forefront of humanity and these are some of the strongest and most common patterns we are dealing with in this century.

As a doctor and self-explorer, these energies are very important for me to keep close in my mind. On a daily basis, I come across patients who have literal eating disorders (zombie) and are struggling with what and how to consume.  And other patients who feel sick and victimized by their own bodies, or the medical system or their family or job (vampire).  So for me, these patterns are very real and are very much affecting mine and my patients’ health and well-being.

That alone is enough for me to continue to work with these energies in a conscious way.  I work on these patterns by recognizing them in myself and others (energy tracking), and by doing bodywork to release them from my physical being (Kundalini Mediumship bodywork). And like I’ve said before, there are a thousand, thousand ways to work on these energetic patterns, it doesn’t have to be the way I’ve chosen.  But I would encourage you to take a moment the next time you watch Interview with theVampire or iZombie, to find those unconscious, unintegrated places in yourself, and get to work!

Please feel free to comment, question, disagree, like or whatever this post and please share with anyone who you think would benefit from this type of work!  Finally, full disclosure, I recognize that my own projections and biases and patterns will come through in my writing, just know that I am “consciously” working on it!

From numbness to pain

I had someone come to see me a couple years ago with intense numbness in her left hip.  I don't know if it was from an accident or fall or if it just came on for an unknown reason.  So I start working on it and there was an interesting healing process that happened. Her hip went from numbness to an intense burning pain.  It lasted for a couple months and it was CONSTANT.  She was a little freaked out about it, but it was pretty clear that that was her healing process.  She kept coming in each week, and we kept working.  When I worked on her the burning sensation got more and more intense, but after a couple days it would get a little better.  And that was the process until finally the burning stopped and her hip returned to normal.

I brought her story up today with two different patients who came to see me for more energetic/spiritual work.  I told them both the story because even though she was healing from physical pain, their pattern was the same.  They were dealing with an emotional numbing, and their healing caused them to go through a painful process of actually connecting to their pain.  I decided to write a blog post about it because this same pattern is at work in most people that come in to see me. 

For most people dealing with trauma or "negative emotions" involves numbing out or checking out.  Sometimes people use drugs or alcohol for this, but most common is just disconnecting from their bodies.  Most people learn at an early age to dissociate, disconnect and shove uncomfortable and painful things down into some dark corner where they try to forget about them.  That dark corner is actually right in our belly.  Our culture reinforces this process.  Even our spirituality and psychology frequently involves "getting over things" and letting things go.  But I think that just encourages the process of disconnection and dissociation (in the spiritual community it's called spiritual bypass).  The more we disconnect, the more upsetting things get when we get triggered

This results in a cycle of numbness/pain cycle.  At the far end of this is almost total emotional numbness.  Sometimes when I ask people how or what they feel they are genuinely puzzled, as if its an unanswerable question.  What's happening is the question itself is bringing up an uncomfortable feeling, which causes the numbness mechanisms to kick in.  

But this numbness will eventually make us sick.  Numbing is only the illusion of disconnection, because we can never really disconnect from our pain.  It's a living part of us that over time will rot and decay and cause all manner of sickness.  We can't really get over it or let it go, we can only go through it and allow spirit to transform it.  But going through it involves a real surrender, a real fear about what happens on the other side of letting go.  I used to push people more into that space, but I do that less.  I have a really deep respect for the darkness that lives inside of us and I don't want to push someone into that space if they're not really on board.  

So I called this blog post "from numbness to pain" but that's only part of the story.  When the pain and rot and decay begins transforming it actually becomes the earth from which something new and beautiful grows.  Each person has a unique growth, unique to their life circumstances and their purpose for life on this planet.  But its beautiful to watch that process happen.

On Empaths and Gurus

There's spectrum that humans exist on as it relates to our emotional life.  On one side are psychopaths. These are not the psychopaths that you're probably thinking of that you learned about from the movies--  the evil people who's existence is based on tormenting others.  The clinical definition of psychopathy is a low or even non-existent capability for internal emotions and empathy.  Its as if their emotional self is stunted or muted.  In its place is a cold rationality motivated solely by self- interest.   

On the other end of this spectrum are empaths-- people that not only feel their own emotions very strongly but pick up the emotions of others too.  By pick up, I mean that empaths can actually feel what others are feeling and process it inside themselves.  There's a lot of interesting research on mirror neurons for more on this.  If you’ve read anything about Kundalini Mediumship or have experienced it, you know that emotions are the key to the whole process of accessing our kundalini.  

What most people have learned to do in our society (starting at a young age) is try to shut down, disconnect from and judge their emotions.  This process is actually at the heart of addiction, as people try to shut out or block out the pain and suffering arising from past karma and traumatic experiences.  Kundalini Mediumship is about actually connecting to and diving into what we feel, allowing ourselves to experience the totality of our emotions.  The emotions that most people disconnect from are like the outer layer of an onion.  The fear, shame, hatred, self-loathing, all of these “negative” emotions that we try to push out or medicate away are not symptoms that we can get rid of.  In fact the more we push them away the worse they'll be when they come back.

From another perspective, these emotions are actually manifestations of our divine self trying to communicate with us.   Our emotional self is intricately connected to our spiritual core.  There is a transformative process that happens when we don’t try to change our feelings, but when we actually own them.  Paradoxically, by not trying to change or do anything other than be with them they will start to change on their own.  This is what’s at the heart of any meditation practice.  By being with our emotions and the stories that come with them we can actually journey into deeper layers of our emotional onion.  Our emotions and sensations will shift, peel away, maybe even return in a different form.  When we allow ourselves to really experience the full range of our emotions we will see that all emotions are a part of us, and at the same time not us.  And, for those of us that are empathic, we will feel a thread that connects us to everyone and everything else.  This is the true gift and curse of the empath-- to truly feel the depth of emotional interconnection which is really spiritual interconnection.  

I mentioned gurus in the title of this blog post-- so how does this relate?  Well the guru is described in ancient texts as someone who awakens our inner knowledge.  But a deeper ability of a true guru (as explained to me by Muktananda and Bhagavan Das) is to actually take in and transform their disciple’s karma.  Bhagavan Das told a story of his guru Neem Karoli Baba about this.  Neem Karoli had a lot of disciples, and a lot of people that just wanted to see or touch him, because his power was so radiant and people just wanted a taste of it.  Muktananda and his guru Nityananda were the same way.  All these gurus had a reputation for fits of anger, constantly yelling at people to go away!  

There is even a story Bhagavan Das told where a rich guy came to Neem Karoli’s temple and tried to donate money.  Neem Karoli told the rich guy to get out and take his money with him.  But the guy later snuck his money into the donation box and left the temple.  When Neem Karoli found it, he had one of his disciples track the guy down and return his money.  This sounds totally ridiculous to people in our society, right?  Someone tries to give you money and you devote a ton of time and resources trying to not to take it?  But let's look at it this way-- the rich guy was trying to buy his way out of his karma.  By giving money to Neem Karoli, he was giving away a part of his karma to him.  In every energetic exchange there is a karmic thread that binds the actors.  Its as if the universe keeps track of every bit of karma, and in the final karmic accounting the giving and receiving have to add up.  It's kind of like the spiritual version of Newton’s third law of thermodynamics-- for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  There is no one-way transferrence of energy.  By giving money to Neem Karoli, an equal amount of his karma also had to be transferred to Neem Karoli.  At some level Neem Karoli decided that he would not accept the rich guy’s karma.  Maybe he thought the rich guy was an asshole or did not have a good heart and was self-centered.  As Bhagavan Das’ later said “this guru stuff is serious business” so don't play around with it.  I believe the same thing is true for empaths. On a certain level, by feeling and picking up others’ emotions, empaths are processing a part of others’ karma.  

There is also an interesting dynamic with empaths in that they frequently get tangled up with takers-- energy vampires, narcissists, and the aforementioned psychopaths.  So how do empaths navigate these areas?  Whats the lesson?

The lesson is to have clear and ferocious boundaries.  These boundaries are not walls that prevent us from empathy.  Some people try to build up a wall.  But you'll have to keep building and building this wall, because it will keep crashing.  Its not built on anything but a mental construct, and that takes a lot of work to keep up.  

Instead, the boundary is an intrinsic part of us based on our love of self and desire to keep ourselves spiritually healthy.  From this boundary comes a voice and a power that acknowledges the depth and seriousness of this work.  Empaths need to feel and understand others’ intentions very strongly.  We need to learn how to honor our own physical and energetic bodies and the process of karmic transference. And we need to be very clear when working with others' karma.  Just because we love someone very deeply does not mean we need to solve all their problems.  Empaths cannot be complacent, we can’t numb ourselves, we can’t check out.  We have to fully dive in and own our empathic nature.  We have to love very deeply, help people when the time is right and tell others to go away when its appropriate!  As deep as our feeling and our heart is-- that is as sharp as our claws and fangs need to be as long as we’re in a world that has deception, cruelty and hatred.

Kundalinimediumship.com is online!

This website has been over 20 years in the making.  My goal with this site is to provide a resource for people interested in kundalini awakening.  There is a lot of information (and misinformation!) about kundalini on the internet.  There are a lot of warnings, a lot of cautions, a lot of people saying it's a dangerous thing...

When I first experienced the kundalini energy as a teenager, it was a VERY destabilizing experience.  I had no resources, no one to talk to, no cultural knowledge I could rely on.  I felt very alone and very lost.

What happened was-- as a very young child I met a very evolved person named Baba Muktananda and received a kundalini transmission from him.  Nothing happened for about a decade, but then when I was a teenager, his energy hit me incredibly hard.  So many things came at me at once and I didn't know how to process them.  I reconnected with Muktananda's lineage (called Siddha Yoga) as a teen but had a lot of problems with it.  I then discovered the Afro-Brazilian tradition of capoeira, and then South American shamanism.  My devotion and dedication to learning the energies of those traditions, combined with my yogic practice provided the stability for me to engage with the kundalini in a productive way.

I started doing healing work in 2004.  Soon I realized that I was also a medium, or vessel, for the spirits that I had learned in my spiritual practices.  The healing practice of mediumship is something recognized in many parts of the world-- Latin America, and many parts of Africa and Asia in particular.  

I believe that we can all access the kundalini (and in fact many of you already have!) and I also believe we can be a medium for divine energy.  All it takes is a genuine commitment to working through our karma and trauma-- to reconnect to the parts of ourselves we've pushed away and disconnected from.

I also believe that this spiritual work is necessary for us as a species to navigate this incredibly difficult time on our planet.  The challenges we face are actually the call of the spirit world to re-engage with our own deep spiritual connection.  The spirits are using these difficulties to call us back home!

If you are having a problem navigating a kundalini awakening, please reach out.  You are not alone.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.