Making contact with the deepest dimensions of the central channel activates powerful energies within us that will purify our entire psychic system. Due to that enlivenment, we may have to be patient and allow the rippling effects of that process to change us.
To understand why working deeply may cause some volatility in our lives, we first must explore the nature of the suṣumṇa, the central channel. The suṣumṇa is the core of who we are. Śakti, the dynamic power of God, expresses our life through the descent of kuṇḍalinī into this channel; it creates, sustains and nourishes every aspect of us.
Accompanying this individuation is a forgetting of who we really are. We experience separation from God and become consumed by our mind and emotions. We get caught in trying to control life by changing the conditions we face, which only reinforces the perception of duality.
The purpose of sādhana is to remember that we are not separate from divine Consciousness. The awakening and liberation of kuṇḍalinī in the central channel is the means for the ascent of individual consciousness back into universal Consciousness — which is really the movement of unbounded Consciousness returning to Itself. There is only one experience taking place, all within God’s Consciousness.
Dimensions of the Central Channel
The foundational practice of Kuṇḍalinī Sādhana is the Double-Breath. Using it, we open our heart and begin to bring our awareness into the suṣumṇa. Over time we discover that this central channel has several dimensions, like a telescoping antenna, one within the other, each extending farther up.
The suṣumṇa, the outermost dimension, goes from the base of the spine to the ājñā cakra (between the eyebrows, but still along the central axis). The next dimension, the vajra nāḍī, extends to the center of the head, and inside that is the citriṇī nāḍī, which goes to the top of the head. Practices such as the Single-Breath meditation help direct our energy and awareness into these spaces.
The subtlest dimension of the central channel is the brahmānāḍī, what I call the “Divine Thread,” which extends out of the physical body to dvādaśānta, the space 12 inches above the head. That is the womb of Parā Śakti, the place from which our individuated experience is birthed. The Divine Thread is the channel of pure Consciousness connecting our individuality back to its source.
Why Depth Can Stir Volatility
The liberation of individuated consciousness back to unlimited Consciousness happens in the deepest levels of the suṣumṇa. As śakti rises, deeper currents of energy are released, which are not only more refined but more powerful. Therefore, you might experience some volatility as this energy purifies the psychic system.
This turbulence may result in kriyās, which happen when energy meets constriction. Some people may experience physical kriyās that cause the body to move. Mental and emotional kriyās can also happen as the energy begins to open and purify the pathways of the central channel, meeting the contraction of consciousness in the mind and emotions.
As the energy rises through the central channel it is trying to release our limited perceptions and misunderstanding. It takes some time for the system to adapt, and any turmoil we feel is a normal result of this release and is only a problem if we get caught in what arises.
Become a Spiritual Warrior
Ideally, spiritual life is a joyful offering of ourselves into the fullness of God. Yet the journey doesn’t always smell like roses; sometimes it smells more like manure. Many traditions use the term vira, which means “spiritual warrior.” This suggests that courage is necessary — as well as maintaining an intensity and conviction of practice. This is necessary because when this energy is awakened in us by God’s grace, we encounter all our resistance and misunderstanding. In fact, we exert tremendous resistance to having our misunderstanding dissolved!
Never struggle with the challenge or with any tendency to contract. Recognize that the upheaval is a natural part of the process of burning through misunderstanding and put the energy released from the constriction back into the flow in the suṣumṇa. Continue cultivating a capacity to focus on the deeper inner work, such as the internal breath or Single-Breath meditations. If that’s shaking things up a little bit, understand that you’re not doing anything wrong; you’re doing something right.
Engaging in a kuṇḍalinī practice that focuses on the liberation of individuated consciousness will generate some heat. It’s important to understand this and to trust that there is an intrinsic inner intelligence that brought you to this type of practice, exactly because you need it. A powerful practice is required to dissolve and dislodge the constrictions and density of consciousness that have accumulated over lifetimes of willfulness and karma.
Śakti is the Key
Although many earlier traditions focused solely on Consciousness, a key recognition of Tantric practices is the discovery of śakti as the secret to attaining higher consciousness. As the ancient Tantric scientists turned within and began to connect with the psychic body, they found that the vital force of śakti is the pathway back to its Source, which is Consciousness. Nondual scripture specifically says that we must become one with śakti in order to become one with Consciousness.
Along with this understanding came the unveiling of the deeper dimensions of the central channel, which the Tantrics discovered as their practice matured. I hadn’t heard or read about it, but over time I discovered that there was a deeper current within the central channel, and by establishing myself in that, even more subtle dimensions were revealed. It was only later that I found a 16th-century text that described my experience.
This is the power of Kuṇḍalinī Sādhana, of practices that focus on śakti. Let the energy do its work. Understand that śakti is clearing out all the debris in the psychic system so we can know the God who dwells within us, as our Self. All we can do is not get caught up in the turbulence and be extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to grow spiritually.