Kriyas and Mudras
Since early 1991, I've been living with Kundalini manifestations twenty-four hours a day.
The most constant of these varied symptoms are the kriyas. Kriya is a Sanskrit word that means "action."
In the context of the risen Kundalini, kriyas refers to involuntary movements which result from increased life
force --pranic energy -- in the body. Those who meditate or do yoga regularly may also experience kriyas during
For me, the kriyas began with a slight palsy-like shaking motion of my head. At the time, I didn't realize I was
having a Kundalini awakening and this uncontrollable movement worried me. I thought it might indicate a serious
neurological problem, although the many medical tests I'd had in the previous weeks revealed no abnormalities.
A short while later, I began to experience little muscle twitches all over my body. These were painless but also
worrisome to me. They occurred sporadically throughout the day and night. Soon after this development, the twitches
became outright muscle contractions. These were deep and achy. For awhile, they occurred randomly, mostly in my
arms and legs. Then they took over my entire body. This time they were agonizing. From the soles of my feet to
the top of my scalp, muscles I didn't know I had were convulsing and wrenching as if trying to rip loose from my
skeleton. This was accompanied by a horrible burning sensation that felt as if my very cells were broiling in acid.
Fortunately, this excruciating condition only lasted a few days. It was a week after this that I became aware that
my mysterious affliction was the result of a spontaneous Kundalini awakening.
Then came the most wild of the kriyas. They continued day and night, but were most vigorous when I was lying down
at rest. I hardly slept at all during this period. My body would jerk around in radical, spasmodic movements. These
often involved very specific muscle groups, such as those in my feet, hands, stomach, back and so forth. The kriyas
would involve only one of these bodily areas at a time. I would feel the soles of my feet tighten and my feet clench
and relax over and over. Then the energy would move into my ankles, flexing my feet up and down for long periods
of time. Later it would reach into my calves, rigorously kneading and contracting the muscles there. I felt as
if I were being intensely rolfed by an invisible force.
After some days of this, the "calisthenics" began. The joints of my body were more pinpointed in this
phase. My limbs would begin to twist and turn in wrenching, repetitive movements that at times were so violent
it felt as if the joints were being dislocated. As these kriyas continued, my body seemed to be slowly loosening
up and each phase was less painful than the preceding one. I entered a period of "piano exercises" in
which my fingers would one at a time bend and straighten, very rapidly and rhythmically. Sometimes each finger
would flex a set number of times -- one-two-three-four -- before the next would begin to move. These movements
were far faster than anything I could have done myself.
Then my arms would fly up and down in a similar kind of rapid and rhythmic motion. My legs would kick up and down
in the same way. These movements were hard and martial, as if I were practicing military marching while lying in
bed. With my body going through these gymnastics, I felt like a marionette whose strings were being controlled
by a hyperactive child. By this time, the only discomfort I was feeling from these kriyas was the moderate electric
shock sensation that preceded each physical movement. Also, the longs bouts of kicking and arm flailing (which
would sometimes continue unabated for hours) were tiring to my body and made my muscles ache.
When the muscles of my back became involved, I would be abruptly arched forward and back, so that I bounced on
the bed. If I was standing or sitting, these movements were like greatly exaggerated hiccups. No part of my anatomy
was spared in these strange exercises. My head would go through its own workout, twisting sharply left and right,
or vigorously nodding forward and back. These movements were so swift they made me dizzy, and so powerful that
I feared my neck would snap. My facial muscles moved also. My jaw would "lock" or slide back and forth;
my nose would wriggle like a rabbit's; my face would contort into weird expressions. My tongue would take on a
life of its own, causing me difficultly eating and making me bite my tongue when I was speaking. My scalp muscles
moved too. My forehead would crease up, then stretch so tight I thought the skin would rip. The most frightening
of all these movements were in my eyes. They would roll around furiously, feeling as if they would burst out of
their sockets. Sometimes the movements were rapidly back and forth. Or my eyes would rotate cross-eyed, or up into
my head so I couldn't see. These severe movements were painful. I could feel and hear tissue popping and tearing
around my eyeballs when these sessions occurred. I had read that such violent eye kriyas sometimes caused temporary
blindness; this did nothing to diminish my fears. Luckily, I suffered no visual damage during this period. After
about two months of this, the mudras began. Mudras are sacred hand movements described in some yogic texts. They
can be seen in classic statues of Buddhist and Hindu deities. They are also the basis for hand movements in certain
ancient dances, such as temple dancing, belly dancing and the hula. For me, they began with significant finger
movements. My thumb would be drawn flat across the palm of my hand, or extended outward at a right angle from my
palm. Each finger would be pressed and held down at certain points on the palm. I would often feel corresponding
sensations in my body when these points were pressed. Whenever the thumb pushed at the base of the ring finger,
I would feel a sudden, ecstatic little ripple in my chest. I called these sensations "heart orgasms"
and was sure this mudra had a positive effect on the heart chakra. The most frequent mudra I experienced was my
thumb and index finger of the same hand being drawn together as if by a powerful magnet. I would actually feel
a streaming electrical current flowing through this mysterious circuit. It seemed to be regulating and balancing
the energy in my body. This specific mudra often would be held for a long time, once over sixteen hours straight.
I learned quickly to be very protective of these joined together thumb/finger mudras. If I accidently jarred them
apart -- usually when turning in my sleep or trying to use my hands to do something -- I would immediately go into
a seizure and shriek with a sensation of being electrocuted. Conversely, I learned not to play around with the
finger mudras myself. When I experimented with this, I found that when I tried to imitate the mudras, there were
none of the sensations I felt when they came automatically. Worse, sometimes I would get stabbing little electric
shocks when I tried to put my fingers in these positions myself. Out of curiosity, when my husband tried placing
his own fingers in the mudra positions, he felt no reaction whatsoever. Then came the most astonishing spontaneous
movements yet. One afternoon, the kriyas began to come on hard and strong. I had by this time learned it was better
to relax into these movements and let them take me over. Otherwise, if I stiffened or resisted, I felt pain in
my body. I had also become accustomed to the rhythmic jerking of my arms, which sometimes caused them to swing
to and fro like pendulums or flap like bird's wings. But now something different was happening. The arm movements
were becoming more sinuous and complex. As these arm motions became more fast and furious, I went to a full length
mirror to witness what was happening. All at once I had the most eerie feeling, as if my body was "remembering"
something. My hips, knees and legs began to sway and undulate as the intricate arm motions continued. These arm
movements were dynamic, but unmistakably graceful and choreographed. I stared at the mirror in awe. My body was
performing some kind of exotic dance. Then my arms came forward and my hands met, palms pressed together in a prayer-like
pose, and drew up to the center of my chest. A force pulled me over into a bow and held me there an instant. Then
my knees buckled, and I found myself kneeling prostrate on the floor. The thought hit me: "I'm worshipping
something." But worshipping what? Then I knew: I had just performed a sacred temple dance. This was the first
time that I seriously questioned my sanity. I wondered, with alarm, if I had become schizophrenic. This suspicion
was short-lived. My rational mind laughed: schizophrenics don't suddenly break out into beautiful, exotic dances
and then realize they're schizophrenic! The temple dancing continued to occur for the rest of that day, and by
evening there were also episodes of what seemed to be some sort of tribal dancing as well. This went on for hours,
even though I was in a state of physical exhaustion. Although the temple dancing recurred daily for several weeks
after this, it never again pushed me to my physical and mental limits.
It was during this time that I also began being thrust into spontaneous asanas (yoga positions). These would happen
at night, sometimes in my sleep, or when I meditated. I would awaken to find my body contorted in unusual postures.
When sitting in meditation, my body would suddenly be thrown forward into a cobra pose, or other unexpected positions.
Eventually, whenever I arose in the morning, my body would be pushed into a series of exercises which would go
on for about an hour. These were everything from toe touches to hatha yoga postures to Tai Chi movements. I realized
that I was becoming more flexible than I had been in over fifteen years.
[A continued account of my personal experiences with kriyas and mudras will appear in the next issue of Shared
Transformation: KRIYAS AND MUDRAS Part II.]