or How Temporary Discomfort Can Precede Renewal
What do noradrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, Amazonian shamanism, spiritual awakenings and Ramesh Balsekar have in common? Nausea. Before we travel any further down this line of thought, please understand that this entry isn’t attempting to be a definitive statement on the relationship between spiritual awakening and nausea, but is instead a childlike exploration down a path of inquiry that has intrigued me for some time. Numerous experiences and repeated sightings of this phenomenon in other cultures have profoundly changed my relationship to nausea from one of trepidation and resistance to one of increasing welcome and rejoicing. It is in this spirit of the promise of renewal that the following observations are made.
Some Fun Facts About the Neurotransmitters Associated with Nausea
- The neurotransmitters noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine are associated with nausea.
- Noradrenaline and serotonin possess anti-depressant qualities, which eventually act upon the mesolimbic dopamine pathway to brighten mood.
- The serotonin system has been found to be significantly involved in spiritual experiences and spiritual awakening.
- Swedish researchers have discovered serotonin to be significantly involved in the capacity for transcendence, the ability to make life-affirming sense of phenomena that otherwise defy logical explanation.
Nausea and Purification
- Food poisoning, diarrhea and gall stones often involve nausea as well as the human body’s attempt to cleanse itself of impurities.
- Numerous cultures indigenous to the Amazon purposefully induce nausea and vomiting in children to prevent parasitic illnesses.
Nausea and Spiritual Awakening
- One of the three pillars of Amazonian shamanism is the process of purging preceded and permeated by nausea.
- Shamans from many different cultures have reported instances of nausea before, during and after the performance of shamanic rituals.
- Nausea has often been associated with the awakening of manipura, the third primary chakra in various forms of Hinduism. It is located in the solar plexus, where nausea is felt most intensely. This is also the location of the enteric nervous system, the “brain” in the stomach. Diarrhea, vomiting and nausea are said to occur within this chakra sometimes as the result of a disparity between individual will and collective well being, selfish power and love, ego and selflessness.
- Amazonian shamanism sees nausea and the purging that it precedes as the spiritual heart of healing and insight, particularly with the use of shamanic plants, such as ayahuasca and datura. In fact, the strongest and most life-changing visions are believed to occur both immediately before and after purging.
- Ramesh Balsekar, a well known Indian jhana yogi, claimed that he experienced pronounced nausea for several days after his spiritual awakening.
My Own Experiences with Nausea
- After a two-week period of intense releasing of emotional and shadow material, I noticed strong nausea for several days.
- After a particularly powerful shaktipat meditation late at night, the resultant bliss was so thick and palpable that I became acutely nauseated. It appeared as though my mind and body were resisting the light of my own being, resulting in nausea and discomfort.
- After experiencing a liberating energetic shift over the course of three days, I found myself waking in the middle of the night with extreme nausea. Interestingly, the nausea was permeated by a much larger sense of bliss, as I had by now come to realize that this was the sign of a potential breakthrough.
- Each of these experiences of nausea was followed by periods of renewal and healing.
- Nausea is often a sign of anxiety, fear and resistance in response to something that threatens to penetrate our personal armor. The higher the resistance, the more acute the nausea.
- In the instance of spiritual awakening, nausea can be the sign of a potential opening to renewal.
- In spiritual terms, nausea can be a signal to surrender ourselves utterly to the flow of letting go.
- Nausea can be the physical doorway to welcoming and releasing shame, guilt and fear.
- Nausea in spiritual awakening often signifies our immanent contact with the fear of losing our ingrained and contracted sense of self.
- By recognizing this aspect of nausea as the potential opening to freedom that it is, we can embrace it and give ourselves over to liberation.