The Kundalini Reflex

Dr. Swami Karmananda Saraswati, MB, BS (Syd)

Dr. Itzak Bentov, a recently deceased American scientist, proposed a fascinating theory to explain the progressive evolutionary awakening and development of the dormant potentials of the human brain and central nervous system through the practice of yogic meditation techniques.*1 Using specially designed equipment called a ballistocardiograph, he was able to record extremely small bodily movements of experimental subjects while they were in deep states of meditation. Analysis of his results revealed that a small, rhythmical pattern of movement is established in the body as the rate and depth of breathing diminishes and meditative awareness develops.

Bentov termed this rhythmical movement 'micromotion' and found that it occurs when a standing wave form develops in the largest artery of the body, the aorta. This is the large elastic walled blood vessel (diameter of three or more centimetres) which emerges from the upper aspect of the heart to run down alongside the spinal column to the floor of the abdomen before entering the pelvis, where it divides into the two iliac arteries- one for each leg. With each contraction of the heart muscle, a powerful pulsatile wave moves down the aorta as an average volume of 65 mls. of freshly oxygenated blood spurts from the left ventricle of the heart and is pushed along the aorta under high pressure.

Dr. Bentov claims that at a certain threshold point in meditation, three individual physiological parameters- the heart rate, the respiratory rate and the depth of descent of the diaphragm with the respiratory cycle - reach a crucial balanced interrelationship which results in the setting up of a standing wave form of frequency 7 c.p.s. within the abdominal segment of the aorta. The wave follows a pattern known mathematically as 'simple harmonic motion' which is established when the rebound wave which is bounced back up the aorta from the point of division into the two iliac arteries, coincides with the next descending pulsatile wave moving down the aorta from the heart. As a result, a resonating oscillator is established within the heart aorta system, and in consequence the whole body, including the skull, begins to move to and fro very slightly at a rate of 7 c.p.s. as well.

Bentov claims this is the fundamental signal which subsequently sets off a number of other dependent resonating and vibrating systems within the body. Eventually, this chain of sympathetic, dependent vibrating mechanisms results in the production of fluctuating magnetic fields about the meditator's head.

How is this series of dependent oscillations established? Firstly, Bentov suggests that the micromotion of the skull causes the brain, which is floating in the cerebrospinal fluid within the skull, to slightly accelerate up and down, producing tiny reverberating waves throughout the brain itself. Because of the natural architecture of the skull, these waves are automatically focused onto the ventricles within the brain matter, and produce standing waves within them.

The physio-kundalini reflex

Bentov's theory also offers a workable explanation for various 'kundalini experiences' which are being increasingly reported throughout the world in association with consciousness expanding techniques practised without adequate and proper guidance.

He suggests the continuing rhythmical stimulus of the standing waves within the brain's ventricles mechanically stimulates the adjacent sensory cortex of the brain, producing a circulating stimulus or 'current' which travels in a closed loop about each hemisphere.

The sequential action of this sensory cortical loop current is conveyed to the consciousness of the meditator as a series of tingling and sometimes painful sensations in the physical body. Beginning in the toes, these sensations rise up the legs and back, spinal column and head, before descending over the face, throat and abdomen, completing the loop as it is mapped out in the sensory cortex.

Bentov called this the physio-kundalini reflex and compares it to classical descriptions of the awakening of kundalini within the human nervous system. He proposes that the subjective experiences of bliss and ecstasy which accompany higher meditation or samadhi result when the closed loop current flowing around the sensory cortex is coupled with an adjacent pleasure area within the cortex.

Establishing this series of dependent oscillating systems which result in attainment of a state of bliss consciousness normally occurs over years of regular practice of meditation, claims Bentov. However, the experience may occasionally occur spontaneously in some individuals, and may also be induced through direct contact with a yogic master or guru.

Cosmic consciousness

Perhaps the most fascinating of Bentov's suggestions concerns the realization of cosmic or enlightened consciousness. He proposes that the final oscillating circuit is established when the tissues of the sensory cortex have been electrically polarized to the point where there is a circulation of electrical current in the hemispheres. As a result, two pulsating magnetic fields of opposing polarities are formed about the meditator's head, and these pulsate in harmony with the rest of the oscillating system (7 c.p.s.). Bentov, as well as other researchers, experimentally verified and measured these two fields around the heads of meditating subjects. He proposes that the head of the meditator who has achieved the state in which these mechanisms are sequentially activated, begins to function as an antenna, by which the magnetic fields generated by the individual in successful meditation are coupled and integrated into both the geomagnetic force field of the earth below and the electromagnetic and other influences of the solar systems and universe at large.

The environment on the surface of our planet is known to be a constantly active and ever changing electromagnetic field. Bentov proposed that the meditator's head, tuned to one of the several resonant frequencies established in the brain during meditation, serves simultaneously as a transmitting and receiving antenna within this environment.

Changes in the environmental, planetary and universal fields feed into the brain by interacting with the magnetic fields of the meditating individual, thus continually modulating or modifying the frequency at which the brain is resonating. This modulation will be interpreted by the brain as useful information and will express itself automatically, manifesting as a greater cosmic awareness and sensitivity in daily life.

This may be why a yogi always maintains perfect health and vitality, adjusting to variations of season and other cyclical changes and coping with stressful and adverse situations effortlessly. Through cosmic attunement of his nervous system he is automatically pre-warned and forever prepared at a fundamental or preconscious level to cope with every change. Perhaps the state of super-consciousness is a basic magnetic and bio-electrical attunement with the universe.

Interestingly, no fewer than eight of the papers delivered in English before the 1st International Conference on Psychotronic Research in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1973, proposed this same fundamental idea of individual integration with the universal fluctuating bioelectric field. They used this idea to explain the phenomena of psychic perception, telepathy, clairvoyance and other parapsychoiogical and paranormal abilities by which added dimensions of knowledge become available by extrasensory means to suitably attuned individuals.

In yoga these psychic abilities, known as siddhis, develop naturally and spontaneously as meditation continues and cosmic integration occurs. The yogi, however, seeks full self-realization rather than isolated powers and psychic abilities as the goal of his quest.

Why shave the head?

Bentov's theory also offers a scientific explanation for the traditional practice of shaving the head, which is favoured by some spiritual teachers and mystical brotherhoods, including the sannyasins of Saraswati. It has long been claimed that this practice enhances receptivity to cosmic vibrations, however, this has never been objectively verified.

In accordance with Bentov's theory, shaving the head will make it a more efficient transmitting and receiving antenna, more finely tuned to the environmental electromagnetic fields, with less interference to reception. Removal of the hair from the head follows the same principle as that which places a radio transmitting and receiving station high upon a hill, where it can both pick up weaker signals and transmit to a greater number of receivers.

The sannyasin realizes that his hair is a small price to pay, when a shaved head enables him to draw closer to his cosmic purpose.


*1. Lee Sannella MD, "Appendix A- Itzak Bentov's Theory", 'Kundalini- Psychosis or Transcendence?' San Francisco, 1979.