Busy week! Oh my. But one thing I am noticing some folks searching for on my blog is the role that adrenaline plays in awakening. There are posts there, but this one adds a new chemical wrinkle to the story.
And boy, did I have an experience with adrenaline during a stage of awakening! I also have a family friend who went through her awakening some years ago and her struggle with adrenaline was about as bad as my own. I say “bad” because I have never in my life experienced the crucible of awakening quite like I did than during this particular period of awakening. For years I examined, thought, and wrote about this experience. But lately, I have come across more about the physiological and chemistry tied to what might be felt as adrenaline (hint: there is more to it!). So quickly, let me lay it out because things are rapid paced right now in my life…
1) Buried fear can bring up strong adrenaline responses in awakening. 2)Everything is magnified in the awakened state. This is good in one way, hard in another. You get to see things you may not have known were there before, rising or peeking up from the subconscious that you didn’t know were even there. 3) If there is buried fear, well, the chemical compliment to this is most often thought of as adrenaline. My friend wound up having to go to the doctor because of adrenal burn-out, so this can be pretty serious when dancing through the garden of a full kundalini awakening. I was myself very concerned about what effect that this constant pounding of adrenaline was going to have on my body. This is no picnic! A few moments of adrenaline is enough to quicken your senses and give you fast reaction time, but adrenaline for months at a time is simply dreadful. It’s a very real concern physiologically.
The solution for me was to find those moments in the loud clanging of adrenaline when I was not feeling adrenaline so powerfully and try to figure out what it was I was doing internally to create that moment or period of relative peace amidst the maelstrom….and slowly, by doing this, I was able to unravel this even as I wanted to just jump out of my skin. I found that what was driving the adrenaline was nothing more than fear. And fear itself is nonrational. Let me tell you, that most of what you are feeling in awakening related to fear is almost always related to something that has happened in the past. Its irrational, and its in the past. Seems obvious, but try telling that to someone caught in the grip of the vice of adrenaline.
Fear only serves you when you are realizing that there is a clear and present danger and you do something to avert it, otherwise, most of it is simply reflecting on the past. It is fear for the sake of fear. And you have to purge this fear from the very cells of your being. I am not speaking figuratively here. Fear can be wound deep within the substratum of our bodies, down into the cellular structure where all of this chemistry begins. This might sound like an insurmountable beast to tackle, but I am living proof that it can, and must, be done.
The way I was able to do this was to learn to simply change my body chemistry by how I chose to feel. I simply chose to feel differently. I wish I could say I hummed a mantra to make it all better, but I knew that this was all in the vicera, in the root of my being and I had to dig it out by those roots. So I had to dive deep. I had to face whatever this thing was, and in the end, the answer for me was to change my mind. I had to work on just changing how I operated, how I reacted, and how I was at a deep down level. I also had to keep at this and not give up. My meditation and the insight that kundalini brings into my life showed me clearly what the problem was, and in many ways it was simple, but it required a willingness to simply give something up that was very fundamental about my being and feeling state. Here is an important piece of the puzzle that has applications for any other emotion that you can get stuck in a “dark night of the soul” over, which is that this is how you erase the program that is running your mind, your emotions and your physiology or chemistry. Yes, this is a very important key; you can erase the program so that it is gone forever!
I knew that I had had bliss before all of this started, and I sought every avenue I could to bring that bliss back into my life. To do this, though, I had to really calm my mind. It was sheer will. It was also a deep state of surrender. Surrender then signaled my body to produce more of that lovely dreamy calm-inducing dopamine. If dopamine is a calm purring cat, adrenaline is nearly it’s opposite.
This creature called fear is not rational. Fear also begets fear. You have to realize that there is no reason anymore to fear unless you have something coming after you that is a clear and present danger. In my case, I knew that I had so much fear because I was concerned over a spouse demonizing me for being the crazy parent. And well, she did it anyway. I had no control over that. I had to let it go and let the chips fall where they may. I was later able to talk about this with one of my children and she was able to observe that I was in fact quite sane. Truth bore out truth through simple observation. Things have a way of working out. But nothing like the threat of someone trying to take away or destroy the things that you care about most (like your beloved children), or some other thing that you unknowingly are holding on to. But see, you can’t control that. People will do crazy mean abusive things. But truth is truth. You have to begin living in that truth. And truth has a way of being seen. It is the one thing that Buddha said can’t be hidden for long. Its true.
The other side to adrenaline that I think bears mentioning is that I have written about the link to dopamine in awakening. This does a lot of very positive things, but what is interesting is that dopamine is involved in the creation of another adrenaline like compound that might actually have as much a role in the fear cycle as adrenaline, which is something called norepinephrine. It turns out that dopamine is used to create norepinephrine, and while dopamine is a necessity for feeling bliss, the kind of bliss that makes it possible for you to surrender deeply and physically enough for awakening to do its magic on you, it also is firing and catalyzing this other compound that, when in too large a dose, is difficult because of the fear it induces….or better yet, the association that we have made in our minds of the emotion with the compound. It’s pretty wild when you can unhitch the association that you have with fear and adrenaline…but that is a post all on its own.
This compound (norepinepherine) is not made in the adrenals, but is instead made throughout the body, and its effects might be felt more acutely than even adrenaline alone in some cases. I suspect that it is possible, too, that these two chemicals might go hand in hand in the fear response. Now all of this is troubling at first glance, but it is in truth a matter of balance and finding that balance. This is nothing short of learning to master your own physiology (and that, dear reader is the very soul of what alchemy is all about: turning a base metal, or state of being, into gold). If you have read about my work with dopamine and its linkage with kundalini, you will know what an important role it plays in awakening from a physiological perspective. Learning how to be even-keeled during awakening is a balance of your chemistry (which is driven by the choices being made moment by moment in consciousness).
The question is can you deal constructively with the norepinephrine and adrenal cycles in the body? Yes. If so, then how? You do so by realizing that you are driving this chemistry and that you have to let go of those fearful or anxious thoughts, even if they seem to be buried within you, or even if they seem beyond your control (they aren’t). Inquire within, use your inner guru. If you are having trouble with adrenaline in awakening, then the force of it will force you into dealing with it. You have to. The higher self knows, but to know or touch this self, it seems you have to let go in order to assume it or sink into its presence. All the greats have said that its already in you.Letting go sounds like an irrational non-rational thing…because you will never deal with the irrational fear by coming at it with a rational strategy. Let go. To many people this sounds like giving up, or not working at it. In a way, this is exactly the point; you are giving up on feeling a certain way. The need to control has been the problem all along.
In the movie Shakespeare In Love someone asks Geoffrey Rush’s character, who is the owner of the Globe Theater, how things were going to turn out when they began to fall apart unexpectedly. He said simply, “It’s a mystery.” By letting it be, you can also soften and let it go. You just don’t need to know, or worry, how its going to play out. And that’s the healing balm that you need to turn this around. I know that what I have described to you doesn’t give you mantras to chant, but what I have given you instead is a direct glimpse deep into the physiology of the experience, and once you are able to change the mind that drives that physiology, you will likely find that you are actually learning how to master your own body chemistry at a level that you never thought was possible before. This is liberating and empowering. What can’t you do after such a trial as this?
Seek the balance, fellow seekers! And be well!