I had done years of twice-daily meditation that had begun in a tai-chi class I took in the early 1970s. I had a big reaction while meditating in the class one day with rapid breathing, shaking, and sweating. It felt incredible having that burst of energy up my spine and moments of my breathing halting and my eyes filling up with light. I became addicted to this Kundalini response (it seemed exactly like descriptions recorded by students of Kundalini Yoga ) and kept it going daily for the next 5 years, meditating twice daily, at which point I developed insomnia, and began to question my “krias.” All of that meditation and shaking didn’t seem to have brought me any kind of enlightenment but maybe brought on the insomnia (my wife years later discovered it was garlic salad dressing that I consumed often). I gave up meditating, and entered an Alexander Technique teaching training program in 1985.
One morning, in my first year of training, while a teacher was working on me in class, I started to get that Kundalini sensation of energy shooting up my spine, and the rapid breathing started. My teacher stated “don’t harden your neck,” and continued with her hands-on directions and the flow of energy shot all the way up without causing the usual shaking. I started to cry and could barely stand up. I lay on the table and my legs jerked around like crazy. Observers were laughing as it looked like a slapstick routine. This eventually calmed down and I went to work and home for dinner and early to bed.
I awakened early the next morning, feeling like I had been beaten around the neck and shoulders. Getting dressed, the first shirt I put on was more than an inch too short in the sleeves… same for the next, and the next. By the time my wife had arisen, I had covered the bed with too small shirts and jackets — my shoulders were much wider. I could no longer wear the fleece-lined swede coat my sister had given me — I actually split it up the back reaching for a strap on the subway (I repaired it and gave it to a poor freezing student from Jamaica years later).
I realize that all those years of shaking and intense sensations during meditation were because, when the energy started to flow, it was encountering tight muscles, which brought about the incredible, orgasmic sensation that you read about in books on Kundalini. Had my use been better, no doubt I would have had a pleasant sensation of energy flow, like what we experience from gentle hands-on guidance in an Alexander Technique lesson.
Addendum: I would just like to add that such dramatic shifts were not unusual amongst my colleagues during our training years together. I remember one trainee had a sudden release in her lower back in class and was barely to get out of bed for days. She wanted to go to the hospital, but our teacher advised her to wait, stating, “We were working on opening up the region, and there is probably no injury caused by that opening.” The teacher had felt some movement restriction in the area, and worked on helping the trainee to release the holding. Her lower back had been arched. After she returned to class, she was clearly more mobile overall.
My training course director was Thomas Lemens. The teacher working on me when my Kundalini began to rise was Caren Bayer.
One of the great pleasures of teaching the Alexander Technique is how it motivates me to work on myself throughout the day – from preparing to teach, to teaching, and to taking the refinements of teaching back to the quotidian. If I am teaching in the morning, I work on myself from the time I get out of bed, through washing, dressing, and eating. If I am teaching a beginner, I may work on the basics of sitting while I eat; if my student is a violinist, I may work on how I hold my razor while shaving, keeping it firm and mobile while allowing it to follow the contours of my face.
The recent pandemic has left me with very few students, and thus, days in which work on myself is in short runs, skis, or in simple everyday activities in which it is easy to simply zone out and do what is habitual. Over this last couple of years of reduced teaching, I’ve experienced Kundalini-like body rushes occurring spontaneously, often awakening me from sleep. One may begin during waking hours when I am not alert to my use, such as when watching t.v., but these do not progress if I pause and direct. Those that awaken me from sleep and like mini-seizures – a flood of neuro-electricity up my spine and out my limbs, awakening all of my muscles and putting me into trembling extension. They are brief – only ½ minute or so – but are quite powerful. Afterwards, I feel open, need to get up and urinate, then easily go back to sleep.
I have described them to doctors and others without getting any coherent responses.