For many years during my twenties while working on my doctorate, I was seeking a deeper understanding of individual, human progress on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual plains of existence. I studied Christian, Buddhist, East Indian and Zen spirituality, as well as traditional Western psychology. I meditated, I practiced Kundalini Yoga, I did body oriented therapy, and I led a very healthy lifestyle. I was seeking a process that combined and integrated a Western understanding of psychology and emotional health with Eastern concepts of enlightenment. At the time, Western psychology had a distrust of Eastern spirituality based on Freud’s Future of an Illusion, while Eastern practices encouraged the controlling of emotions and thoughts. That apparent conflict seemed limited, because the human organism was one integrated, organic functional system. Was it that our understanding was limited by our mental tendency to fragment and compartmentalize human experience and behavior?
A couple of experiences along the journey gave me a glimpse of the goals of individual progress. Half way through doing a 33 day melon fast, I experienced extreme clarity in every cell and experience of my being: a feeling of integrity, harmony, and an absence of anything that might impair my internal and external vision. I became cloudy again after I resumed eating regularly. I had a similar experience with a very strong addition of a golden brightness of everything around me as a result of a very early morning yoga and meditation session—it seemed to fit the description of enlightenment, satori, nirvana, but it lasted about 48 hours and then it faded away. The overall feeling of wellbeing in both instances was astounding.
I thought that these experiences must be the goal of individual progress, but they did not last. “ Why not?”, I asked myself. I attempted to replicate the yoga and meditation session in every detail, but to no avail. The attempt of my mind to control the process and the outcome precluded any success of attaining the goal because the experience was beyond mere ratiocination and the limitations of cognative functioning. It included my whole being, including the 99% of my brain, the workings of which I have no awareness—we call that spontaneity or divine inspiration by default as we cannot understand how it comes about. It became apparent to me that the human organism and particularly the brain were an evolutionary mystery that I was not going to be able to control.
Getting back to my question: what was preventing me from being in this state all of the time? Eventually the answer came to me: Fear, only fear interferes with and inhibits that clarity I was seeking. If I could dissolve old, irrational, dysfunctional fears, then I would be left with the feelings of harmony, integrity, and brightness. For many years thereafter I struggled with the question of how to eliminate unnecessary and unwanted fears from the human organism.
After many years of meditating and doing yoga and therapy, and completing my training in Reichian Therapy, I began practicing. I was aware of what the yogis said about the rising kundalini. Swami Vishnu Tirtha said:
When throbbing of mooladhar (base chakra) begins, the whole body shakes, involuntary kumbhak (filling in of the lungs with air) starts beyond control, …hair stands on roots..when you feel currents of Prana, rising up your cerebrum within you,…electric like currents seem flowing up and down the nerves and have convulsions,… your body rotates like a grinding stone…et cetera. “Some Characteristics Symptoms of Awakened Kundalini”, in Devatma Shakti, Delhi, 1948 pp102ff.
Wilhelm Reich had identified peculiar somatic sensations during therapy sessions, such as involuntary trembling, jerking of muscles, sensations or hot and cold, itching, crawling, prickling sensations, and goose flesh which he thought resulted from the loosening of the rigid muscular armor. He called these vegetative manifestations. Cf. The Function of the Orgasm, 1942, p. 242.
These physical sensations in the Christian spiritual tradition were believed to be either the presence of the in-dwelling Holy Spirit in Medieval spirituality, (or the Devil), and were the basis of more modern Protestant practices such as the Quakers, the Shakers, and the Holy Rollers.
In the medical environment, these manifestations are called clonisms or fasciculations and are generally seen in the pathological context of serious diseases.
In our civilized society, these manifestations are to be controlled—they are not cool.
I observed all of these phenomena in my training and with my clients but I was still in the questions about what these meant physiologically, emotionally, and functionally. I saw clearly that they had therapeutic value as my clients improved and made changes in their lives. The answer finally came to me: One of my early clients was an educated pharmacist happily married with two children but he was plagued by social phobia and an inability to converse in social situations. His father had been domineering, critical, and verbally abusive. He was referred to me by a talk therapist because his paralyzing fear obviated any conversation with her and was preventing any progress. He could hardly talk to me, I said that would be fine, and I said let us give the therapy a chance and see if we can go through the back door, so to speak, rather than the cognitive, verbal front door.
Once his body adapted to letting go during the therapeutic process, his body shook, trembled, vibrated and sweated (so much sweat, that I had to place plastic under the mat because he would soak it) for the entirety of each session. We hardly spoke, but he patiently allowed the process to unfold. After about six months, he reported that he had been at a party; he found that he was less frozen with fear and actually capable of carrying on a conversation. I was of course gratified about his progress, but I was perplexed about the connection between what his body was doing and this diminution of fear. It came to me that the shaking and the sweating was the release of old fear from his body and brain.
Through observation of hundreds of clients releasing in myriads of ways over many years, I have come to the following conclusions about fear. Fear is an important survival mechanism of all animals. It detects risks, danger, and threats and prompts us to take action in order to survive. In that respect it is a healthy function in the human organism. But, there is toxic fear that is dysfunctional and unhealthy. For the sake of simplicity, healthy fear is that which is processed, released and resolved. It is released in the moment or shortly after being triggered. Toxic fear is that which gets blocked into the organism, is not