Thursday, December 22, 2011

Involuntary Body Movements: Part II

This can be considered a follow-up post to this one. The previous post was on my experiences of involuntary movements during the start of my meditation journey 3 years back. It was quite intriguing to me, since it was clear to me that I was not causing the involuntary movements (by definition!). I could stop these movements at will, but it was as if a gentle hand would again begin the movements in precise directions and curves!
Fast-forward 3 years later,  I am a busy graduate student moving towards the end of my Phd, wishing for more time to do research every day - But at the same time balancing my life with meditation and physical activity........


I just finished a busy quarter where I set more goals than I could manage. However, I am getting better in planning and organizing my work to achieve my goals more effectively. No sooner did my quarter end,
I took off for a conference to Spain. I had a wonderful time there after which I spent a wonderful 4 days in Germany (specifically Frankfurt and Tuebingen). I consider this post-conference time a retreat time.
I meditated everyday for about 3-4 hours spread out through the day coupled with lots of rest and good food. Invariably, I would get up at around 3 in the morning most of these days. I was alternating Mantra based meditation (which activates my third-eye chakra) with Mindfulness of Breath meditation. I experienced quite a bit of:
a) Involuntary neck rotations: This seemed like a warm-up for what was to come!
b) Involuntary movements from the torso and above - Mostly circular rotations with center at the base of my spine.
c) Sinusoidal movements of my upper torso - Akin to a Snake standing up and waving about when it encouters something in its path.
d) Backward and Forward bends of my torso - This is amazing to witness. I am accustomed to rotations of the torso. But yesterday night, I felt an involuntary movement of the body where the torso started moving in downward spiral but then there was no rebound - That is I was just going down - This is the position I was finally in at the end of this movement: Yoga Mudra.

Although in the beginning, my focus was on the mantra and breath, as soon as these movements began, I could only observe what was happening - I was a witness to this cleansing process - To this rise of energy in my being. The sensations were usually pleasant. Even now as I type, I feel pressure at the center of my forehead and if I close my eyes, my body gently sways.
Where is all of this leading to? I don't know. However, what amazes me is the physiology of how this happens . In spiritual terms, these involuntary movements are associated with the awakening of Kundalini Energy.
However, what is the source of this energy? How does it act? What are some necessary conditions for this to happen? These are open questions for the scientific community, although the scientific community has a long way to go towards investigating these fundamental questions.
What I do understand from the 'spiritual perspective' is that the Kundalini Energy is inherent in everyone and starts to become awakened when the person has invested sufficient time in personal growth. What is the purpose of this awakening? In spiritual parlance, the awakening symbolizes the move towards a greater evolution of the human consciousness, towards inner peace and world peace, towards joy and greater fulfillment in life and beyond.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Music and meditation

I have experimented with a few different meditations so far: Breath-based mindfulness (Ana-pana-sati), mantra based (chanting a mantra in the mind), visualization based meditation (imagining balls or columns of light). With regard to meditation and music, I have tried meditating to slow devotional music with different degrees of success (in terms of calming the mind).

A personal experience
A couple of days back, there was a meditation group hosted by a bunch of UW undergrads with a good attendance. At one point, one of the people

present in the room started playing the clarinet. We had our eyes closed and just a few seconds before the music began, I started getting a pleasant sensation at the middle of the forehead (corresponding to the eye-brow or ajna chakra). The pleasant sensation stayed on throughout the time he was playing clarinet. I didn't want to come out of the meditation after the music stopped, just being absorbed in that sensation seemed good enough at that moment. Towards the end, the guy was surprised when I mentioned this to him and let me know that he had played the clarinet to the ``Bhupali Raag'' and that it was supposed to help stimulate the eye-brow point. I am not sure if this particular Raag is assoicated with this, but my meditative experience with the music was crisp and clear.

I have dabbled with the Native American Flute in the past and it has always given me a soothing feeling during the meditation. Perhaps I should start playing the flute more regularly.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

On Death

Death is a great leveller. Rich, poor, famous, average Joe - All kinds of people have to face one thing - Their own death.

My uncle, whom I greatly admired for his will power in getting things done and who I had a close relationship with, passed away recently.

I am sad about his death. He was in his 70's and he had helped a lot of my relatives with their personal problems including my own family. He was a man of great will power, was very organized in life and a stickler to his routine. He has helped and inspired a lot of people I know.

I understand that death happens to everyone. I believe in life after death. I believe that death is to the body and not to the soul. My belief in this has recently strengthened due to a few out of body experiences I have had. I believe my uncle has passed on to another realm, another place, another time. My prayers to him, that he be happy and joyful wherever he is.

Death of some one we know reminds us that we have finite time on earth.
Every moment is precious. Let us use every moment towards what we really wish to do in life. Towards our highest idea of what we think is a life worth living. Towards our greatest desires. Towards our greatest love. For there is not a minute to spare and we know not when death can come knocking.
If I were to live as if today was my last, I would have no regrets passing away tomorrow - I would have enjoyed my stay on earth and perhaps it was time for me to move on.

Let us therefore enjoy our stay on earth, devoting our efforts and time towards what we love doing in life whether that be research, music, hiking or one of the gazillion things one can do while on earth.