Carl Jung’s Exploration of Chakras and Kundalini

It perhaps comes as little surprise that psychologist Carl Jung – the forefather of analytical psychology and creator of Jungian psychotherapy – was the first westerner to explore Kundalini, a part of yogic philosophy which denotes a form of “corporeal energy”.
In 1932, Jung presented a series of lectures on Kundalini to the Psychological Club in Zurich. These lectures would go on to form the basis for Jung’s book, “The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga”, in which he combined the concepts of Kundalini with his own ideas (Jungian psychology).

Jung viewed his scientific role as being that of a “phenomenologist”, an individual who remains at all times open to the ambivalent and the multifaceted, ambiguous intrusions of the unconscious mind into the conscious ego. Jung saw this ego as being attached, like the tip of the proverbial iceberg, to the vast impersonal realm of the Self—a realm which Jung would later come to see as being the only objective and fundamental reality human beings can connect with. Jung therefore believed that the Western fixation on mastering externals has produced a sort of widespread psychic dysfunction, as the values of internal reality have been neglected.

Jung listened to Indian thinkers and noted that they spoke not of Personal/Impersonal, Subjective/Objective, but instead focused on the ideas of personal consciousness and Kundalini, neither of which were deified. Jung ascribed to their belief that it was necessary to live through, and establish, a presence of stable consciousness within the world before one could develop the detachment needed to permit the other objective reality to meet in true connection with one’s conscious mind.

Jung’s various journeys to Africa and India aided him in developing and validating his own experiences of the unconscious. This is evident in his description of how, in the myths of the Pueblo, the conscious first emerges from a dark and obscure beginning, then moves through a series of caves, ascending from one to the next, until reaching a state of full awakening on the surface of the earth, enlightened by the light of the sun and moon. The system of chakras described in Kundalini Yoga mirrors this same process in basic essence during the development of the impersonal life.

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The Journey to Awakening

It  always  starts  with  profound  discomfort,  or  a  nagging  psychological  itch,  or  a  genuine  crisis.  Something  within  us  becomes  aware  that  there  is  something  more,  something  we  are  not    figuring  out,  something  just  out  of  our  reach  but  its  there,  very  surely  there.  It’s  like  our  heart  knows  something  that  our  brain  does  not  and  that  creates  an  imbalance  that  makes  us  very  uncomfortable.  What  is  it  that  I’m  missing?

When  the  question  becomes  powerful  enough,  the  answer  arrives  in  the  form  of  a  book,  a  discussion  with  a  friend,  or  a  teacher.  Usually  this  first  level  answer  is  some  sort  of  “fix  it”  type  answer.  We    find  some  solution  to  our  crisis,  or  we  learn  how  to  deal  with  our  anxieties,  how  to  make  more  money;  or  we  are  trained  in  the  language  of  psychology,  success  coaching,  self improvement  or  personal  development.  Some  people  jump  into  more  spiritual  matters,  but  even  then,  usually  in  the  beginning,  the  answer  is  “ fix  it”  variety.

At  this  point  we  usually  become  happy  for  a  while  thinking  we  have  found  our  solution  to  all  our  questions.  However  this  happiness  rarely  lasts  very  long,  usually  no  more  than  a  few  months  to  maybe  a  year  or  so.  But  it  serves  its  purpose;  it  whets  our  appetite  and  shows  us  the  path  to  our  inner  world.  The  Seeker  has  been  born,  now  the  seeking  begins.  The  Seeker,  in  all  its  varieties  of  seeking,  has  one  ultimate  agenda:  how  to  become  One  with  the  true  Source  of  power  (some  call  it    finding  God,  some  call  it  returning  to  the  Source,  some  call  it  becoming  enlightened).

The  Seeker  looks  around  and  sees  the  world  in  its  appalling  misery,  his  or  her  own  less  than  per  perfect  life,  and  says,  “There  must  be  a  solution  to  this!”  and  the  heart  concurs  “Yes!  There  is!  Keep  seeking.”

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Meditation: Focusing Your Mind vs. Opening Your Awareness?

While meditating should we focus entirely on just one sensation, and if so wouldn’t this be restrictive? It seems that this would replace being mindful of the experience as a whole since we would only be concentrating on one aspect. When we are feeling so many different sensations how can we be mindful of all our feelings?

Mindful attention can work in two different ways, one way is to focus more narrowly and the other way is more open. Although different in approach, they’re both worthwhile.

Narrowly Focused Mindful Attention

When someone is narrowly focused they’re paying close attention to just one thing at a time. Just because all your focus is on just one thing, excluding all others, does not indicate that you’re unmindful.

You are deliberately focusing your attention in this manner. You’re fully aware of what it is that you’re doing and the reasons for doing it.

You most likely have an awareness of the major connections between the focus of your attention and what else is going on, specifically how you’re feeling. This is what mindful attention is. The truth is that we do have the ability to be mindful and be focused at the same time. When Buddhists meditate they employ techniques which allow them to flow towards a state of jhāna/dhyāna, or meditative absorption.

This approach involves focusing our attention on one particular thing. The practice of jhāna meditation will progressively narrow your scope of awareness until your mind reaches a state of contentment, is less distracted, becoming totally absorbed in one thing.

The “one thing” we’re focusing on while we meditate or are absorbed in during other mindful activities can change. We focus our attention on different experiences as they unfold or become more important, or we deliberately seek them out. And we do this mindfully such as when we body scan or are involved in a walking meditation, or mindful eating.

Without a doubt we certainly have the ability to focus our attention on one thing in an unmindful way as well. This is what we do most of the time. We don’t do this consciously and are not even aware that our focus is on just one thing. We’re also not probably even aware of the associations between the object of our focus and other aspects of what we’re experiencing – for example we might be totally focusing on a certain thought, and this thought is stressing us out but we really aren’t making the connection so don’t realize we’re actually causing the stress ourselves. Because the focus of our attention changes we can jump from one thought or idea to another and another and not realize we’re doing this. The common term for this is “monkey mind”.

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Kundalini Awakening and the Basics of the Spiritual Path

Kundalini is a word in Sanskrit that translated into English means coil. We are all born with Kundalini and in most of us our Kundalini remains dormant inside the perineum wound into 3 ½ circles, forming a coil. This is not something most people are aware of but those who seek to live on a more spiritual plane know of the Kundalini within us. Many people who study and practice yoga seek to develop their Kundalini because the belief is that harnessing the power of your Kundalini is needed for attaining a union with the divine (Yoga), the ultimate achievement of spirituality. In this article when yoga tradition is mentioned it refers to the various spiritual pathways that strive for Yoga, which is union with the divine, as its final goal.

Traditional beliefs claim that after it’s been awakened, our Kundalini is capable of removing the blockages in our major chakras, cleanse, open and help our chakras grow until they’ve fully bloomed into full lotus forms. When our Kundalini completes this process on all our chakras the innermost core of our Kundalini will arrive at the chakra at the very top of our head, the crown chakra. When this is fully, cleansed, opened and developed we will attain our highest achievement of spirituality, that of Yoga.

This is no easy task as it’s very difficult to awaken our Kundalini. There are those who have practiced yoga for decades and still have not awakened their Kundalini. Many believe that very few have actually been able to fully awaken their Kundalini. Those who were able to achieve this have then gone onto spend decades in the cleansing process. This can take many years to fully cleanse, open and fully develop a chakra. The process begins at the base chakra and moves upwards in order. The Kundalini will spend years at each chakra working its way up to the 7th chakra, the crown chakra taking decades. Because the time for this is so long many people will pass away before reaching their final goal in the process. Just having your Kundalini reach the crown chakra doesn’t mean you’re finished, it’s only the start of the true journey of the Kundalini.

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