08 December 2014

Kundalini and Awakening

Whether you have activated kundalini energy through practices, meditation, or for no logical reason you can imagine, the most important thing to know about it is that this is a passage into  a new understanding of who and what you are. Perhaps the caterpillar feels just as shocked when it finds itself in a cocoon, nor knowing it was it’s own making.

Kundalini is a sanscrit word meaning coiled, an aspect of the prana or life force in every human body that is said in yoga science to be held at the base of the spine, an invisible energy coil holding the entire energy body in stasis while we live, and freeing itself from our forms when we die.  If it erupts during our lifetime it brings about a dramatic restructuring of our energy field and our consciousness.

This transformation of energy can feel blissful in some bodies and stressful or terrifying in others.  How we experience the changes depends to a great extent on how psychologically open and flexible we are, how traumatic or unhealthy our previous lives have been,  whether we have old injuries or toxins that need to be released from our systems, whether we have an understanding or spiritual support in our lives, and many other factors.  It helps if we know some techniques to balance and release energy, release stress from our lives and we learn how to take good care of our bodies.

Kundalini can feel  stuck in various parts of the body as it works to undo old conditioning or heal wounds, physical or psychological.  It can cause shaking, jerking,  vibrations, heat flashes, itching, tingling, appetite shifts, insomnia, mood swings and many other strange symptoms.  Since many of these conditions can also be signs of other issues or illnesses it is useful to consider factors that can be the source of a sudden arising of  kundalini energy. Usually a first arising is noticed, either as a dramatic force of geyser-like power moving up, or a swirling rolling movement through the body, or a sudden forceful rising from the base into the belly, heart or throat area. More rarely it opens through the entire body and seems to pour out of the crown of the head. Or it can be a steady jerking unlike anything you have felt before.

Usually kundalini awakens following energy or meditation practices, done seriously and consistently for a long period of time. It can also follow a near-death experience or a traumatic emotional loss in which you go the depths of  grief or despair.  It can arise when there is great devotion to a spiritual being, or while being  enraptured by chanting or focusing on inner sound.  Sometimes contact with another person with active kundalini will cause it to stir and activate.  It may happen following a profound shift of awareness, where you  momentarily do not feel your self to be your old identity, but rather detached awareness, presence, no one in particular or part of everything.

Kundalini is the subtle energy accompaniment to the shifts in conscious awareness that are known as Self-realization.  We are molecular structures infused with awareness, with consciousness that moves through these structures and moves our thoughts, feelings, sensations, knowledge and understanding from one point to another.  We have come to be identified as the condition of our body and mind – a certain race, sex, nationality, family style, medical history, education and emotional conditioning. Some of these characteristics are in our DNA, and many are part of our learned identity, formed of the particular opportunities and experiences we  have accumulated.  We each have a unique identity and it feels very separate from everyone else’s.

All of these aspects of identity are invisible, known to us as thoughts and flows in our energy body.  (No one will ever find your identity in an autopsy.) It’s as if we are a computer shifting all of this data around.  When kundalini opens and begins to move through the system it is challenging and disorienting,  as it clears away much of our identity,  opening our body to a different kind of experience, one we might call prior to identification.  It will eventually lead us to know ourselves as awareness without identity, which is a knowing that feels eternal in nature, and free of the stuck patterns in our history.  It can be very frightening to feel something in us letting go of us.  In western cultures we tend to believe this must be a sign of mental illness, but when kundalini is the catalyst it is a sign of spiritual awakening.

You will not lose your ability to know who you are, or how to behave, or where you live.  You will likely lose your attachment to it, and to anything in your life that is not wholly authentic for you.  So if you are in a toxic relationship, a job you hate, or a lifestyle that is not serving you these things will press upon you until you change. (It is a myth that if you are spiritually awake you can tolerate anything).  On the other hand, whatever arrives in your life for you to deal with you will address with more dispassion and clarity, whether it be change, illness, or loss.  Awakeness is simply being present where you are without resistance, but with greater clarity about how to respond.

Awakening does not mean you will have no moral compass.  It is just a different frame of reference – based on what is needed, and the understanding all of us humans are One in this creation together.  It becomes literally painful to steal, lie or harm another.  If you hold on to those types of old patterns you simply lose the awakeness and sink into a much darker place.  This is possible.  More than a few so-called spiritual teachers have succumbed to it.

You can’t use awakening to enhance the ego, and keep the awakening.  The part of you that will grasp to be someone special is not the true nature but the egoic nature, and if it gains a foothold you will be caught in a half-way world like limbo, having the energy and awareness to touch a few people but without any sense of an inner stability, and lacking  the clarity, love and compassion to help you navigate wisely in the world.  I do not believe such guides are internally at peace for if the egoic mind is ruling the life this is just is not possible.  The true nature known in the awakened state is at peace with itself and the world.  It is a natural relationship.  It feels pain when physically ill, and sadness over losses and the great disasters mankind brings upon itself, but it does not linger.  It knows how empty human preoccupations are and how spacious and limitless consciousness is.  It knows we are This.

So eventually if you have awakened kundalini this is where it is trying to go.  Along the way you may experience fear, challenge, beauty, joy, greater vitality, exhaustion, feeling out-of-your-body, and returning into a new enlivened relationship with it. Almost anything can happen.  It helps to trust the process, to see fear as only a random energy you need not put attention on, to take good care of your body, to find ways to be more grounded, to be willing to know yourself as energy and spirit, to sit in stillness or in nature every day.

I hope if you are in this process you will check out my two new books “The Kundalini Guide” and “The Awakening Guide”, self-help books based on conversations with many other people just like you.  When I first wrote about kundalini there was no web, and only obscure books spoke of it.  Today it is popping up all over the web. Not everything you read on the web will be accurate. Do not let it frighten you, and do not run off and join a cult.  Listen to your heart and gut and rest in the truth within yourself, and do what you must to support your life in this amazing and fortunate process.


If you have questions this blog is a place to ask them.  Please include your age and any spiritual or energy practices along with your question as it helps me better understand why you may be having the symptoms you describe.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello Bonnie! My name is Alexandra, I'm 31 and my kundalini awakened about three months ago. I joined kundalini groups on Facebook, read kundalini articles on the internet, but I never found what I was looking for: a group where people share experiences, give advice, listen. I search for dialog, not letter-like communications. I am amazed of how 'awakened' people post smart sayings and beautiful pictures about love and light, but they remain silent when asked questions. Can you quide me to find what I look for? And another question is: except for new feelings in your body do out of ordinary experiences go hand in hand with kundalini?? These kind of experiences I want to share and talk about with others. Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Bonnie, In 1974 I activated Kundalini through meditation, but I did not know what I was doing. It erupted big time and blew my mine away. It was terrifing for me. I was not flexible at all. I had a health problem in my ears so I meditated 8 Hrs a day . I first noticed Kundalini rising in my head. It slowly moved down to my tail bone. After that all hell broke lose, my heart stopped beating, I stopped breathing, and then I popped out of my body and had a NDE. The amount of energy flowing through me was a great amount...Namaste..Lou....Bonnie, here is my e-mail in case you have any questions.

Bonnie Greenwell Ph.D. said...

Dear Anonymous,
I know there are kundalini forums on the web but I do not know how helpful they have been. Perhaps someone else who reads this post can make suggestions. I offer an in-depth consultation by phone or skype to people who want to share their story and get some guidance. You can read about my services at www.kundaliniguide.com. Yes, many out of the ordinary experiences may occur including out of body experiences, apparent past life memories, emotional swings, visions, inner sounds, and many other phenomena you can read about on my site www.kundaliniguide.com or in my new book "The Kundalini Guide" (on Amazon). All of this will pass in time. Various brain centers are being activated along with the energy centers in the body, and a clearing of old patterns along with releasing of stress is happening. It can feel overwhelming but it is possible to get into a positive relationship with it, and eventually the intensity relaxes. I hope to start a group on the web eventually so I can meet with folks as a group. I will announce this on my website. You may want to watch Buddha at the Gas Pump on April 25 when I will be giving an interview, or catch it afterward and stream it.

lawyoga1 said...

Dear Bonnie
I would appreciate your advice, to determine whether I have activated my kundalini. I'm 49 years old and have been practicing yoga and meditation for 7 years. A couple of months ago, I became a case study for a friend who is learning to be a sound healing practitioner. Our first session resulted in me experiencing body vibrations, visions and profound dreams. Our second session produced the same experiences plus heart palpitations. I attended a yoga retreat a couple of weeks ago, which included meditation and sound healing. After this sound healing session I awoke the following morning with an intense headache, I vomited a lot and since then have had intermittent palpitations and internal vibrations. Nobody else who attended the retreat, was unwell. Having read lots of information on kundalini, I am sure that mine has been activated. I would be grateful for your confirmation or advice on how to control my energy. Thank you for your help. Namaste.

Bonnie Greenwell Ph.D. said...

Response to lawyoga,
It is certainly a possibility that sound healing could activate kundalini energy in someone who has done years of yoga and meditation. Sometimes it just takes a sudden new input to put someone over the edge and there is a yoga of sound (Shabda Yoga) used by some to awaken energy and consciousness. Chanting and drumming are also classic modalities for opening energy channels in many cultures. Often early experiences with vibrations, visions and dreams are preliminary indicators of kundalini stirring and preparing for a more complete arising. Headaches may arise during a kundalini process, but vomiting is very uncommon. Usually headaches are accompanied by a distinct sensation of energy flowing u the body into the head, or energy swirling about there. I would not expect your headaches and vomiting to be part of this process and would suggest you consider medical possibiities and if it continues to have a medical check-up. If you have activated kundalini I would expect you would experience the body jerking or vibrating during meditation, rushes of energy or heat through the body, spontaneous movements to occur, and shifts in your perception along with some of the other experiences described on www.kundaliniguide.com or in my book "The Kundalini Guide". Although there may be sensations in the heart temporarily if these are recurring and cause shortness of breath I would want a medical evaluation. For the most part kundalini energy cannot be "controlled" but by getting into a positive relationship with it, avoiding practices that stimulate it too much, avoiding drugs and alcohol and stressful situations, and coming to understand the full direction of spiritual awakening, which brings about a gradual (or sudden) shift in interests, beliefs and identity, one can live more comfortably with the changes brought on through the subtle body. My books (available on Amazon) are designed for people going through these processes and I hope you will read them and find them helpful and supportive,

Joan said...

Dear Bonnie

I have been practising TM regularly since 1970. Kundalini symptoms began in the first year and in the 2nd year I had a delightful heart chakra opening. I felt my heart physically turn in my chest like a jar lid opening, out of which poured divine love and bliss. I had this experience again during the 3 days of my mother's funeral 10 years later. Kundalini symptoms came frequently for about 10 years, with noise, pressure rushing up the spine, pressure in the head, bodily movements, and out of body experiences.

However, in 1986, while on a one week retreat, I began to experience severe pain in my spine at the heart level. This pain came and went for over 20 years, becoming very intense on retreats. My reading suggested that it might be associated with the piercing of the Vishnu granthi.

I discovered a breathing exercise in Iyengar Yoga which controlled the pain, and I was able to meditate comfortably again. However, regular practice of this breathing technique caused heart palpitations and heart vibrations, which were alarming and uncomfortable. You describe these same experiences on page 105 of your book "Kundalini Guide". I ceased the breathing practice and my heart returned to normal. Is there another way I can assist the process going on in my heart chakra?

I have no other symptoms at present. Nothing amazing or enlightening is happening to me :).

Bonnie Greenwell Ph.D. said...

Dear Joan,
It is not unusual for energetic phenomena to come and go following an awakening experience, or for there to be stressful feelings at the heart chakra prior to its awakening. But you have had a heart opening so I don't think you need to be concentrating so much there. Without knowing more of your practice, your life and emotional circumstances I can't give you a precise answer. But intuitively I am wondering if you might benefit from a more subtle form of meditation and giving up the mantra form of TM. You might want to get the book and tapes called True Meditation available on Adyashanti's website (www.adyashanti.org) or just read the free written download there in his writings that describes it. 45 years is a very long time to do the same practice and sometimes a shift in focus and letting go of all efforting and striving releases a person into a new stage of awakening. You might also try just visualizing energy moving up through the body and the head into the sky in a gentle way while walking or sitting in a comfortable chair (not in an efforting way, but more playfully) Ultimately awakening deepens when we get out of the way with our will and intensity and just become more present in the moment. I would not worry about the piercing of the granthis as this is more a symbolic term for certain shifts that occur spontaneously. There is no "me" to make this happen and it is the willingness to surrender the "doer" that allows the consciousness to awaken itself. The intensity of the personal me who works so hard at awakening can only take the system so far and then a profound letting go of all effort can be very beneficial to the spirit. Also letting go of any intention to repeat a previous experience, no matter how wonderful. Awakening is the sudden reaiization of what/who it is that has all experiences including the expansive ones -- it offers a great relaxation into being. If you haven't read "The Awakening Guide" you might enjoy the perspective it offers of further stages in this journey.