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.