“Do not try to influence your mind directly, because the mind is nothing but an extension of the body complex”
That’s a premise of Kundalini Yoga, the form of yoga which strives to attain a state of higher awareness through the concurrent stimulation of seven main nerve centres thus enabling a special flow of energy. The objective can be as ambitious as awakening a supernatural force that is deeper and more profound than mind, matter, personality, emotions. It can also be as mundane and non-spiritual as simply developing the head, hand and heart so as to intensify and ensure a better quality experience of one’s daily doings, in a completely secular way. Personally, I find this a relief. The practice of yoga disciplines, the devolvement from gym-going and protein-shake devouring, the divorce from conformist ideals of how to exercise and appear and become, those are all difficult enough in some societal contexts, e.g. telling friends, that I can do without being associated with some spiritual realm that may or may not exist and often manifests itself on earth in rather gaudy forms with bad haircuts and those trousers that look like you’ve shit in them. No need for this. Especially as my mind is capable of producing much more trippy, spaced-out and aesthetic images, feelings, sounds and associations. Just by closing my eyes.
This brings me to a second difference with meditation practices. While breathing meditation (anapassana) does stress that focussing on the in and outflow of air through the nostrils is the foundation for mastering concentration (Samadhi), I have never been told to ignore or overcome the firework of mental activity that manifests itself in a screen pulsating with images that is are my closed eyes. Kundalini makes the following remark while explaining the similar breathing exercise that’s meant to stimulate the nerve centre in the brain (Ajna chakra):
“If you sink into the unconscious sphere, you will only be aware of the vast store of impressions in the unconscious mind, and will completely lose awareness of the practice. “
So it’s a no-go zone. An interesting digression. Like playing facebook when one should be finishing an article and finding it impossible to fully regain concentration for another fifteen minutes (scientifically proven). Lots to see, always entertaining, an emotional sidetrack, which one is not in control of (though at least most of it’s sourced through one’s own senses and put on screen by one’s own mind, and not some Californian algorithm).
After achieving a solid level of concentration, the meditator now strives for insight, or vipassana. This he does in a number of ways; Buddhist meditation recognizes over forty manners. It’s important to note that this really goes hand in hand with concentration (Samadhi) – it’s like two sides of a butter knife, one can’t exist without the other. So the process is along the same lines – it’s mental. This stresses the fault line we have between Kundalini and meditaton: Kundalini emphasizes the physical, which will lead to all sorts of phenomena; mediation is a focus on the mental side, and this side only.
For the non-spiritualists, here’s a quote I’ve found from “What the Buddha Taught”:
“Two ideas are psychologically deep-rooted in man: self-protection and self-preservation. For self-protection man has created God, on whom he depends for his own protection, safety and security, just as a child depends on its parent. For self-preservation man has conceived the idea of an immortal Soul or Atman, which will live eternally. In his ignorance, weakness, fear, and desire, man needs these two things to console himself. Hence he clings to them deeply and fanatically.”