Kundalini & Diet
The process of Kundalini ascension involves animation of Higher brain functions, development of the entire nervous system, which requires reconstruction of the existing organism.
This process is supported by our entire biology, expansion of the cardiac and acceleration of endocrine network. Digestive system problems are prevalent with kundalini awakening as the energy and enzymes are being diverted away from the digestive system and into the transmutation process. It is not just counterproductive to overburden the digestion but also harmful to overall health during the years in which metamorphosis occurs.
The energy required to fuel the transformation is provided by a nutrient rich Diet, which does not tax the system, as well as fulfills the essential requirements of the metabolism. Diet is one of the most important factors propelling the awakening.
Since metamorphosis assumes precedence over other life processes all the nutrients and enzymes are diverted from other functions. Thus it is self destructive to limit the process by eating heavily and using up our energy in neurotic self-indulgence.
The ego will tempt us with these consolations and comforts, because the alchemy can threaten the ego’s sense of control and the known. Until the ground of the Self is well established, the ego feels threatened by the sense of groundlessness that emerges as the dissolution of former conditioning proceeds.
The science of Ayurveda is particularly useful in helping us maintain our awareness of nutrition as the interaction between the forces of food, our own dynamic forces, the seasons, our life cycle, and spiritual life.
According to Ayurveda, the five-basic elements of creation are air, water, fire, earth, and ether, manifest in the human psycho-somatic complex as three dosha essences: vata (air and ether) the principle of movement in the body and the energy that governs biological movement; pitta corresponds with light and contains qualities of fire. It is the force that governs metabolism and digestion; kapha corresponds with matter and contains qualities of water. Kapha is responsible for biological strength, stability, and gives energy to the heart and lungs. Kapha is the healing and rejuvenative energy of the body.
The three doshas mix together to make up the substance of the physical, mental and emotional functions. Each human contains a unique mixture, and the predominant dosha(s) determines that person’s unique constitutional mind-body type.
We are all born as the constitutional combination of the three, and they govern all our biological, psychological, and spiritual aspects. When they are in balance, they maintain the body in a healthy physiological state. If the doshas become unbalanced, the result can create disharmony in the body-mind complex.
TRIDOSHA – VITAL ESSENCE
For each dosha there is a vital essence.
For vata, the vital essence is called prana, the life-force energy, the wind that blows the fire.
For pitta, it is tejas, the electrical energy (abundant in live food with its enzymes and biophotons) which is the inner radiance or inner fire, also deeply associated with the fire of Kundalini.
For kapha, the essence is ojas. Ojas is defined as the subtle energy of water and earth. It is the stored-up energetic life force of the body, or primal vigor. It involves the integrity and stored energy of protein, fat, and reproductive fluids, as well as the healthy gross tissue mass. The amount of ojas a person has correlates with the amount of physical, sexual, mental, and spiritual endurance that a person has.
The teachings of Ayurveda help us understand a basic principle of nutrition, and even more so of live foods: the prana, tejas, and ojas need to be completely balanced to be able to hold the greater energy that is generated by a spiritual life and by a live-food diet.
Our physical and subtle physical foundations and balance depend on the strength of ojas. Tejas is the heat and light energy of ojas, it is the fire and electricity. The foods that are highest in tejas are, of course, live foods because they maintain and have the highest amount of bio-electron energy and actually electron energy.
Prana is the energy that radiates from ojas after it has been set on fire by tejas. Tejas can be understood as the fire of the Divine, or as the Kundalini. The subtle nervous system, in the Ayurvedic system or in Yogic understanding, is known as the nadis. There are 72,000 nadis, and three main nadis: ida, pingali, and shushumna, through which the Kundalini flows.
The nadis interpenetrate all the layers of the system, and take the spiritual energy deeper into the koshas, which we call the layers of the mind. The nadis are lined by the ojas. They are the conduit for tejas and prana, tejas being fire and prana being air.
When they are put together, they move through the nadis. The ojas is the lining the keeps the nadis from being burned out.
The burning of the ojas by tejas activates and amplifies the energy of prana. This is the key to the proper application of live foods. Live foods are highest in prana, tejas, and ojas. However, if the forces are not aligned, live foods can indeed create imbalance.
If we do not have enough ojas, the fire of Kundalini can, metaphorically and actually, burn up the nadis. When we are walking the path of spiritual nutrition, if we don’t have enough ojas, which is similar metaphorically to logs in a fire, and we just simply increase the prana with purifying live foods, asana, and pranayama, we create a fire that is so strong that it rapidly burns up the logs of the ojas.
The result is a potential harm to the subtle nervous system, or nadis, which had been previously protected by the lining of ojas in the nadis.
Thus it is important to emphasize live foods that sustain and build ojas. The task is for spiritual aspirants to increase all three forces, prana, tejas, and ojas, in a balanced way, so that we can have maximal energy that helps us go to our highest spiritual potential.
The key to success on a live-food diet is to eat pure, live foods that build ojas.
GUNNAS- FOOD QUALITIES
Ayurvedic physicians and yogis have been aware for thousands of years that a dietary pattern specifically affects the state of a person’s mind.
They divided the types of foods and the states of mind into three categories (gunas):
Rajas (activity, the process of change);
Tamas (static, inertia) and;
The three Gunas encompass all existence, all actions. In all people, one of the three Gunas has predominant strength and is reflected in all they do and think. Only in enlightenment are the Gunas completely transcended.
A sattvic state of mind is clear, peaceful, harmonious, and interested in spiritual life. Sattvic foods help to create this state. This is typified by the mental states of monks and nuns of many religious traditions.
A rajasic state of mind is active, restless, worldly, and aggressive. Rajasic food creates this mental state. It is the diet for warriors and the stereotypical corporate executive.
A tamasic mental state is lethargic, impulsive, cruel, violent, and morally and physically degenerate. It is the state of the stereotypical drug addict or criminal. Tamasic foods help to create this state of mind.
Consciously or unconsciously, people tend to choose the diet that rein-forces and reflects their own mental and spiritual state of awareness.
Sattvic means pure essence. This is the best diet for physical strength, a peaceful mind, good health, and longevity. It is excellent for those individuals who desire to live a quiet, peaceful and meditative life. It comprises the diet of many sages, yogis, and spiritually evolved beings, they naturally gravitate towards these foods as they keep the body-mind complex clear, balanced, harmonious, peaceful, and strong.
Sattvic foods are easy to digest and result in a minimal accumulation of toxins in the system. In the Ayurvedic system of medicine these sattvic foods include all fruits, vegetables, edible greens, grasses, beans, raw milk, honey, and small quantities of rice or bread preparations. It is basically a vegetarian diet with approximately 80% raw and 20% cooked foods.
It is a diet with an abundance of different sprouts of legumes, grains, seeds, baby greens, and grasses; fresh fruits and vegetables; soaked nuts and seeds; grains, legumes, and honey. It consists of light, soothing, easily digested food.
Rajasic foods are more stimulating to the nervous system. Rajas is this energy, which we need to accomplish, create, and achieve. It represents worldly power and the sex drive. A Rajasic diet is good for “householders” who aspire to maintain a meditative mind but need to live and work in the world as well.
It has been recommended by the ancient Rishis teachers that a combination of Sattvic and Rajasic foods for those who practice demanding disciplines such as endurance athletics, martial arts, sports. They disturb the mind-body equilibrium, feeding the body at the expense of the mind.
Foods that are very hot, bitter, sour, spicey, dry, or salty are rajasic. They include coffee, green or black teas, tobacco, fresh meats, and large amounts of stimulating spices, such as garlic and peppers. These foods are sought as stimulants by people who consciously or unconsciously use them to help carryout worldly activities.
The unbalanced stimulating effects on activity level may propel the eater of primarily rajasic foods into a state of agitation, restlessness, and eventual burnout as these foods push the mind and body beyond their natural limits.
Coffee addiction and hypoglycemia are typical imbalances that may result from a rajasic diet. Rajasic foods include flesh foods and spicy cooked foods with rich oily sauces. It is a diet that includes butter, cheese, eggs, sugar, and oily, fried foods.
The taste-stimulating effects of these foods tend to distract one from inner, somatic messages and propel one outward into stimulating physical, emotional, and mental activities, but often in an unbalanced way.
Tamasic foods are dark, and dull. A tamasic diet benefits neither the mind nor body. Prana, or energy, is withdrawn, powers of reasoning become clouded and a sense of inertia sets in. The body’s resistance to disease is destroyed and the mind filled with dark emotions, such as anger, jealousy, and greed.
Tamasic foods are stale, decayed, decomposed, spoiled, overcooked, left-over, heavily processed, and fast foods. They basically include what one might call synthetic foods. These foods are chemically treated with preservatives, pesticides, fungicides, artificial and processed sweeteners, artificial colors, sulfites, and nitrites, etc.
Alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs of today’s addicted society fall into the category of tamasic foods. Any flesh foods that have not been freshly killed are tamasic foods because within a short time they begin putrefying. This includes almost all meats found in the supermarket.
These foods have almost no positive energetic life force left in them. These foods do, how-ever, supply us with the toxic chemical breakdown products that adversely affect the functioning of our mind and irritate our nervous system. These foods accelerate premature aging and chronic degenerative disease.
They tend to bring out the worst psychological characteristics because of the irritable, negative, lethargic state they create in us. The tamasic state is experienced when they overeat as well.
While in this unbalanced energy condition it is difficult to meditate or be in harmony with one’s self or the environment.
If subtle channels of the body are not blocked due to undisciplined habits of eating and an immoderate lifestyle, the spiritualizing energy is able to act with its full force. This is a key connection between nutrition and spiritual life.
With an appropriate diet, the transforming and purifying action of the spiritual energy takes place faster and more easily than if one is not on a supportive diet. It is just that a primarily live-food, vegetarian diet enhances the awakening of, sensitivity to, and flow of the spiritualizing process of God’s grace and light.
Sattvic living is for one purpose: to transcend into the One. Some people think sattva is the goal. While it is simply a precondition, it sets the stage for us to wake up. We can’t eat our way to God. However what we eat, supports our turning inward and toward the grace transcending. As a quality of mind, sattva is developed through right lifestyle.
Meditation develops sattvic qualities in the mind, which build coherence in the individual and help guide decision-making to the best possible choices for spiritual growth. This purification of the mind is critical for development of good habits, healthy relationships, and a loving, coherent attitude.
INFORMATION IS STRUCTURED IN CONSCIOUSNESS
For thousands of years different cultures have been aware that the types of food we eat have subtle effects on the mind. Herodotus, the Greek historian, reported that grain-eating vegetarian cultures surpassed meat-eating cultures in art, science, and spiritual development.
It was his view that meat-eating nations tended to be more warlike and more focused on expression of anger and sensual passions. It is said that the ancient Egyptian priesthood ate specific foods to increase their spiritual sensitivity and awareness.
In India today, the Brahmin priests still prepare their own food and eat separately from people of other social classes. They also keep themselves on a vegetarian diet that is aimed at enhancing the subtle spiritual qualities of the mind.
The implication of this practice is that the dietary patterns of a social group affect the spiritual consciousness of that group. The logical extension of this is that the type of diet a whole nation follows may affect the mental state of that nation.
Rudolf Steiner, the founder of biogenic gardening, the Waldorf School, and Anthroposophical medicine, felt that the spiritual progress of humanity as a whole would be enhanced by a progressive increase in a vegetarian eating pattern.
Conversely, he felt that overemphasis on a flesh-eating diet would exert a negative influence regarding an interest in spiritual life.
When we eat animals, we are consuming the energy of death. This is counterproductive to our Yoga practice. Yoga asanas open the layers of the mind, the koshas. The energy of death goes into the nadis and koshas; you are layering the koshas with the energy of death, fear and misery of the animal.
Our relationship with the animal world is important. There are consequences to our spiritual life when we violate or exploit the sacred feminine. The animals consumed in the modern capitalistic mass production factories do not consider animals as souls.
When you eat this meat, the death, cruelty, misery and fear goes into you and creates disease in you as the karmic result.
Non-vegan food blocks the flow of kundalini. It deadens the koshas, the nadis and negatively impacts our spiritual physiology. The energy of death goes into the koshas and blocks the flow of life.
When we practice Yoga we are opening the nadis and we become more susceptible to what we take in. A benefit of Hatha Yoga is that the body become stronger and more flexible, but the goal of sadhana is to open the nadis and activate the koshas; to open the three granthis (psychic or pranic knots) and to balance the chakra system.
We have a Yoga system that works but when you take death in, it causes blockages at every level.
At the same time when we cook our food, we change its electron energy, cooked food looses most of its nutrition and enzymatic action. There is a significant decrease in Biophotons, which is what opens us to the cosmic flow and makes us super conductors for the divine.
Enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and pranic fields of energy are just several invaluable structures in our food. When a seed is planted its consciousness potential is embedded in its cellular codes.
Its knowledge is formed in the structure that unfolds when it is grown and ripened. The more one can eat foods closest to their natural ripened state, the more “knowledge” they will gain. This consciousness knowledge is the deep value of live-food nutrition.
RAW LIVE FOOD
Raw, living foods are the most abundant in vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, which are some of the most important tools our bodies need to function. Cooking, from the perspective of living foods, almost always reduces the living vibration of the energy we eat.
Hence, a balanced diet based on raw, living foods is the most effective way to feed the mind-body-spirit and help to realize their highest expressions.
There is no doubt that as modern human beings in an industrialized society our connection to the life force of food has been diminished. Our general lack of awareness of the subtle energy of food makes it harder for us to understand the great spiritual potential of a pranic-sattvic diet high in raw, living foods.
In our modern era Kirlian photography has been able to capture the pranic field of raw food as a bioluminescent aura around the food. The aura significantly diminishes after the given food item is cooked. Eating a sattvic-pranic diet high in live-food is the most abundant in terms of vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
In essence, minerals are frequencies of light, information, consciousness, and potential, they are essential for plant and human life. Enzymes are the cogs that make the wheels turn in the human body. Enzymes are living proteins that direct the life force into our basic biochemical and metabolic process.
The quantity of enzymes we have in our system is the equivalent to what we call life energy or vitality. Unfortunately, cooking food usually results in the destruction of all active enzymes and 70-85% of vitamins are destroyed, including coagulation of proteins making them almost 50% less assimilable in our bodies.
Adopting a largely raw diet will tend to bring on a kundalini awakening through release of repressed energy which was earlier usurped by digestion of cooked food and its subsequent detox.
Although converting to such a diet while in the process of an awakening might cause digestive disruption if a lot of bulky fibrous material is eaten when the digestive system is not used to such cellulose intake.
The fact that the digestive system is already compromised by the kundalini itself means that we have to be twice as mindful and intelligent about our diet.
A diet based on raw, living foods is usually only recommended to aid in short term detoxification. A long term diet based on raw, living foods generally aggravates vata dosha causing an imbalance in vata-types.
From the perspective of Ayurveda, a diet high in raw foods generally increases the air and ether elements in the body-mind, and may increase digestive disturbances and decrease digestive fire. Depending on the qualities and elements that are predominant in the individual body-mind, too much raw food could cause a person to feel physically, mentally, and emotionally imbalanced.
Ayurveda seeks to understand a person’s imbalance through the biological humors, vata-pitta-kapha which make up one’s unique constitutional type. The humors arise from the forces of energy, light, and matter. Vata dosha corresponds with energy and contains qualities of air.
Thus the digestive fire can be supported with the use of spices such as ginger, cayenne, cinnamon and basil, or the Ayurvedic formulas trikatu and agnitundi. Herbs are best for vata-types when taken with warm milk or raw honey. Sesame oil is particularly warming, and regular body massage with sesame oil can help the flow of prana through the nadis.
Vata-types can also benefit from tonic herbs for improving energy and nervine tonics for calming stress in the mind and nervous system.
Since we often use food as an escape mechanism to reduce the vividness of reality, returning suddenly to our full physical and spiritual senses can be extremely disorientating.
The adjustment would be too great for most people and negative coping mechanisms or digestive imbalances might result. Further, increasing agni through the proper use of asana and pranayama are internal practices to increase the digestive fire to be able to process more raw foods; these lifestyle regimens have been utilized by yogis throughout the ages who have lived on wild food rich in prana.
In traditional yogic texts we do find an emphasis on raw food. Many human beings who have earned the titles of Yogi and Sage have made the transition to a diet high in live foods. This is indicative of the great energetic value of raw, living foods; raw food increases prana in the body and mind, and cleanses the nadis or channels.
Yogis have traditionally been medicine men and masters of Ayurveda, they understood that the Ayurvedic concept of the body’s energy includes not only vata, pitta, and kapha, but also the subtle or higher forms of the doshas called the three vital essences: prana, tejas, and ojas.
These energies are the purified forms of the doshas and they are forces of the physical, subtle, and causal bodies. The powerful energetic nature of these essences provide support for the “inner limbs” of yoga practice: Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.
Thus, the yogi seeks to increase these three forces through the development of right lifestyle and a pranic-sattvic diet.
Moving toward a diet high in living foods is a holistic process; it involves forming an intimate relationship with one’s body, mind and emotions. One must learn how to listen to the body as an energy being, sending and receiving messages of cellular coherence or incoherence through symptoms of body, mind, and emotion.
UNIQUELY TAILORED REGIME
When it comes to eating for balancing the doshas Ayurveda considers many factors, such as the quantity of food, time of day, geographic location and time of year, age and gender, appetite and digestive fire, elements and temperature of food, spices and herbs, food combinations and the 6 tastes, ama (toxic byproduct due to improper digestion), and the sattvic, rajasic, or tamasic qualities of the food.
Whether we are fast or slow oxidizers, parasympathetic or sympathetic, what is our life work, worldly responsibilities, and the level of detoxification that we need to be going through at a particular time.
One of the important things to understand is that there is no single diet for everyone, nor a constant diet throughout the year for an individual. The diet includes being aware of the interfaces of the seasons, our own personal dosha, the time in our life cycle, and the time of the day.
All these levels of awareness help us maintain the highest amount of energetic balance. It requires creating a harmony between our inner needs, the external play of nature, and our life cycle.
Ayurveda emphasizes cooked foods based mainly on cooked whole grains, beans, root vegetables, seeds and nuts, with only secondary amounts of raw food items.
One may go way beyond the classical Ayurvedic understanding from India of live food to eat an incredible array of smoothies, spirulina drinks, seed and nut milks, soaked nuts and seeds, seed sauces and salad dressings, blended food, sea vegetables, and bee pollen, which create a powerful vata-balancing live-food diet.
Vatas have less vata imbalance from gastric stress if they eat simple meals because the dryness and the instability of the vata digestive system prevent it from handling a lot of different food types at once.
Blended foods and soups help with this. Food-combining practices and mono meals have the most relevance for vatas. Uncooked living food provides the body with significantly more nutrients, particularly phytonutrients, so less food is required for the body to get what it needs.
WHAT TO EAT
Many of these high ojas- and vata-calming foods include: bee pollen; live foods high in oil content such as avocados or soaked nuts and seeds; sprouted or soaked grains; slightly warm blended greens; raw soups; and blended vegetables.
All should be at least room temperature. Foods that aggrivate vata include: cold foods, carbonated drinks, ice water, an excess of dehydrated foods, salads with light salad dressings, but vata may have the full range of vegetables and salad, particularly if they are combined with high-oil-content food such as avocados, soaked nuts and seeds, or seed and nut salad .
Increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids builds ojas. Purslane, a common herb that grows everywhere, is very high in the long chain omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA. Moringa has a very high level DHA, the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that are very good for nervous system protection and development.
The blue-green algae is very high, not only in omega-3’s but also in what’s known as the ormus elements, which seem to also expand consciousness. Flax seed and hempseed provide most of the short chain omega-3 fatty acids.
Coconut oil is a great oil, and can be used instead of ghee. Coconut oil is great for building ojas, as are hemp seeds and macadamia nuts. Coconut oil increases the conversion rate of short chain omega-3’s to long chain by up to 10%.
Certain tonic herbs, in general and in particular ashwaganda, shatavari, ginseng, aloe vera and licorice are good for building ojas. These are widely known as soma-producing herbs. Spirulina and chlorella, which are high in protein, and fatty acids like GLA, sulfonyl lipids, minerals, vitamins, and elements are both tri-doshic and excellent as ojas-builders.
Bee pollen, as the semen of the plant world, is an incredible live food for building ojas. Once we, again, apply these principles, we are able to get the advantages of a high prana, tejas, and ojas diet, which is what we get with live foods, in a way that will support our spiritual lives.
When we have high prana, tejas, and ojas, we naturally expand consciousness, which is why the ancient rishis chose this as their primary diet.
We have lots of vegan ways to build to ojas (coconut milk, ground flax, blue-green algae and anything high in omega 3). Soaked nuts and seeds, when ground and blended, will build ojas.
We can take the yogic principle of building ojas by eating sattvic food which no longer includes dairy, now tamasic due to poisons in the environment and utilize ojas-promoting vegan food like goji berries.
That includes nut and seed milks, nuts and seeds, juicy and oily vegetables such as avocado, low-glycemic fruits, especially berries such as goji berries, and other foods with a slight sweetness in taste, like apples, carrots, coconuts, and sprouted grain.
Goji berries and bee pollen are not only high in anti-oxidants, but they are tremendously rejuvenating. More oily, creamy, soupy types of food, such as smoothies, are also good for building ojas.
LIST OF NATURE’S SATTVIC FOODS
Apples, Kiwi, Prunes, Apricots, Loquat, Tangerines, Bananas, Lychee, Pomegranate, Cantaloupe, Mango, Papaya, Cherries, Melons, Nectarines, Cranberry, Honeydew, Oranges, Grapefruits, Watermelon, Pineapples, Grapes, Peaches, Plums, Guava, Pears, Persimmon
Artichokes, Eggplant, Lettuce, Beets, Mustard, Greens, Asparagus, Daikon, Onions, Endive, Fennel, Maitake, Parsnips, Bok Choy, Peas, Broccoli, Green Beans, Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Radishes, Cabbage, Leeks, Lima Beans, Shallots, Carrots, Celery, Spinach, Cauliflower, Chard, Chanterelles, Sprouts, Corn, Squash, Shitake, Mushrooms, Watercress, Turnips, Yams
Sprouted whole grains
Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Bulgur, Millet, Quinoa, Rice: Basmati, Brown and Wild Rice.
Olive, Safflower, Sesame, Sunflower, Garbanzo, Lentils, Mung.
Asafoetida (Hing), Coriander, Basil, Cumin, Nutmeg, Black Pepper, Fennel seed, Parsley, Cardamom, Fenugreek, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger
Nuts & seeds
Brazil nuts, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts
Seed/nut milk & cheese
Seed milk, Hemp milk, Almond or other nut milk
Cane juice, Raw honey, Stevia, Fruit Juices, Maple Syrup
THE PART CONTAINS THE WHOLE
If we don’t care for the body, we’re not going to be in the vibrant, flexible strong place to do sadhana. A live food, vegan diet is an optimum diet for health so that we can actively be involved in sadhana. That’s the bottom line.
Diet doesn’t make you wake up but it does create the precondition, if you stay with it, to wake up. Appropriate sattvic food is one of the most important preconditions for going beyond the mind, along with a proper Yoga practice.
Live foods get you so high and full of energy but, without sadhana, you don’t know how to direct it. When you combine sattvic diet with spiritual practice, you have a powerful sadhana engine.
We are what we eat. Food is not just physical; food is energy. The cosmic force, or prana, in various levels of density, is the basic nutrient for our bodies, and in this context all levels of energy available to use are considered nutrients.
This includes sunlight, prana through breath, food, sexual energy, electromagnetic energy from the earth, and direct cosmic energy through the crown chakra. From where one draws their energy and how it assimilates into the body are two of the most important factors in our level of health and vitality throughout our lives.
If one truly understands that the whole is contained in every part, it will be easier for one to understand the consciousness potential that exists in living foods. But whether we cook our food or eat it raw, love is ultimately the most important ingredient.
Because when one realizes the whole is contained in every part, her consciousness expands to embrace everything compassionately as if it were herself.
Text: Rohan Kapur
Art: Mark Henson (top)
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