What is Kundalini?
Kundalini is a sacred energy, often called Shakti, stored at the base of the spine. For most people this energy remains dormant. As humanity continues to evolve, more and more people are experiencing the awakening of this Kundalini energy.
Once upon a time this energy awakened through intense spiritual practices in select settings such as monasteries. Today, it is being spontaneously awakened not only by spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation, but through art, intense study, peak states and other unpredictable triggers.
We are waking up in the midst of western life.
What is happening in my body when it Awakens?
When Kundalini awakens, it releases the flow of energy up the spine and through the energy centres of the body. The way in which it moves through each person’s body is unique and dependent on their personal history, and physical and psychological wellbeing.
The purpose of this process is to free up the movement of prana (energy) through the body and subtle channels to support the awakening of consciousness. It eventually produces change in both the organic structure and function of the nervous system, the brain and the body.
As the Kundalini energy encounters knots of energy or blocks in the body, the subtle channels and energy centres such as chakras, it will dissolve the resistance to create easeful, energetic flow.
The side effects experienced in this unblocking process can be mild and barely noticeable, or they can be uncomfortable and extremely challenging. In some people, it can trigger a spiritual crisis or ‘dark night of the soul’.
The whole process of opening to Kundalini energy may only take a few months, or it could continue for several years.
Kundalini is causing me to feel unwell, anxious and overwhelmed
Some people may have very few side effects as Kundalini prepares and opens their bodies to hold higher and more refined states and stages of consciousness. Generally, though, it is almost always accompanied by unusual or abnormal body and mind experiences, and psychosomatic symptoms.
Such effects can include heat, feverish like burning sensations, intense insomnia, restlessness and the feeling of electric currents flowing up and through the body. On a psychological level, Kundalini can generate much anxiety and sometimes a predominance of fear, and bring up long forgotten issues, challenges or even traumas to be re-processed.
Why are these amazing states of peace and clarity occurring?
While Kundalini produces difficult psycho-physical states, it simultaneously allows you to experience access to new states of consciousness, such as deep awareness, bliss, peace, and acute intuition.
Your body is being transformed, both physically and energetically, into a conductor of higher states of consciousness. These states gradually consolidate, during the awakening process, into more ongoing experiences of expanded consciousness where you may have a semi-permanent or, for some rare people, permanent uninterrupted access to experiences of vast awareness, peace, openness, or what the Buddha called ‘empty mind’.
It is not, in fact, emptiness, as the everyday mind would name it, but a limitless field of open, clear, intelligent and alive awareness.
This is often called the ground of being, though most mystical traditions have their own names for this experience of pure awareness. Rumi called it ‘his Beloved’ in his beautiful, sacred poetry. Lao Tsu elusively named it ‘being immersed in the Tao’. Christian mystics describe it as an ecstatic state, and other indigenous traditions describe it as being in a state of wholeness.
Along with such experiences, ongoing states of joy, ecstasy and experiences of intoxication and exaltation (without ingesting any intoxicants) are indicators of active Kundalini taking root in your body. You can feel ‘drunk’ on such states, or profoundly moved to be both quiet and still, resting for long periods of time without speaking, or without any significant activity at all.
For long periods of time, the latter was my deepest longing, allowing the Kundalini to gently work through my being.
If you are experiencing ecstatic states, it is supportive to remember they are states, and will come and go.
Do not seek to extend them, or grasp hold of them, for this is not possible. If you find yourself caught up in such grasping just relax and let your awareness notice and accept the very natural impulse to attempt to cling to positive states.
Can I stop my Kundalini awakening?
Once Kundalini has been activated it cannot be stopped or turned off.
One of my favourite sayings is by Gopi Krishna, who suggested that often once ‘the aspirant’ had experienced the difficulties of Kundalini they would fervently wish to return to the state before it was ever activated.
I laughed with recognition at this statement, as this was a desire I was familiar with, in the intense times, during my own Kundalini journey.
At best, the Kundalini flow can be slowed down to reduce the intensity of its symptoms, and make the experience more mild and tolerable. Sometimes this can be difficult to achieve, but it is the approach I recommend greatly.
It is important to never force Kundalini to go faster as this can create extreme instability in the body-mind system, and intense suffering, especially mental suffering. It is not recommended by any wise teachers of Kundalini.
Other side effects include kriyas, where the body makes spontaneous jerking or shaking movements as energy releases suddenly and the nerves are stimulated by currents of electric-like energy passing along them.
It is quite normal to experience periods of intense sensitivity, as if all your energetic protection has failed you and you are excruciatingly aware of your environment, and the moods and emotions of those around you. I experienced a year where I was unable to travel easily into the heart of the city. I was overwhelmed by everything in an acutely hypersensitive way – other people, the noise, busyness, pollution, and radiation. Eventually, because my process was so intense, I moved out of Melbourne altogether to live in the countryside. This move gave me a critical breathing space from the suffering of over-stimulation, as Kundalini did its work within me.
Cultivating some trust in the process is also important.
One familiar experience is that of ongoing insomnia. This may leave you feeling like you will be unable to perform the tasks of everyday life due to fatigue, and can generate a lot of anxiety.
Yet, overwhelmingly, most people who experience insomnia during Kundalini awakening find that, despite the lack of sleep, their body and life somehow flow in such a way that everything manages to get done anyway. And this is a great relief.
For people experiencing an intense Kundalini process, it can seem very difficult to maintain one’s normal everyday life, to go to work, self-care and care for others.
It is important to be as calm as possible, as you go through the process, in full knowing that Kundalini may be contributing to feelings of fearfulness and anxiety. The support of a psychotherapist or counsellor can be helpful during this process, especially if it is bringing up lots of emotional material from the past. This was useful for me.
It is common to wish that the Kundalini process was over, to make it stop, to get to the end, and to feel like you may not be able to cope with continuing to move through the process.
It can be useful to cultivate a detached capacity to witness to the suffering and challenges, in order to generate some inner space for calm. I do not say this lightly though, knowing I had to continually remind myself to be detached and accepting, and go with the process.
At such times it can be helpful to remember that Kundalini is a natural, organic and intelligent process.
How can I slow my Kundalini Process down?
This is a personal process, appropriate to where you are in your unfolding and the symptoms you are experiencing in mind and body.
I recommend really staying in touch with your body and intuition about what you may need, and to trust yourself. If uncertain, seek advice or help from others who have an awareness of heightened sensitivity.
Be aware that during the Kundalini process you can become hyper-sensitive to foods, supplements, environments, and even holistic treatments. Listen, within, to just how much you may require.
Due to your vulnerable state, you may experience more benefit and stability from smaller doses of any treatment, or reduced exposure to activities you once loved. There can be a tendency to experience these things more intensely, so you may find ‘normal’ doses overwhelming.
For example, after attending regular one-hour Chi gung classes, I went to a one day workshop. As the Kundalini had so deeply cleared the subtle channels, I finished the class with an intense fire within, which took three weeks to subside. I was anxious and nervous, while my body energetics buzzed away. It was very uncomfortable, to say the least. I was fortunate that it eventually calmed down and have refrained from Chi gung since then.
Yet, I am also aware that, for others, Chi gung may be perfectly supportive. Thus, we are called to build our own relationship with the guidance within, and very gently experiment.
You can also slow the process down by taking a break from, or reducing the amount of, stimulating Yoga or meditation activities. For me, some meditation practices, which had once been useful and supportive, became high octane fuel for Kundalini and needed to be omitted for long periods of time. Instead, I learned to listen to the rhythms and flows of my body.
This increasing self-awareness is, in itself, a useful and important part of building the foundation of self-care needed to successfully honour a more sensitive, awakening system in the midst of modern life.
It can be helpful to undertake grounding exercises and eat heavier, energetically and physically grounding foods, such as baked vegetables, root vegetables, meats, eggs, and vegetable based proteins like legumes and nuts.
I eventually left being a devoted vegan and returned to a mixed diet, both for health reasons and simply to be more grounded. For me, this was the right choice, though difficult to follow at first. It was the best way to stay grounded and reduce my over-sensitivity significantly. Again, I respect that it is a very personal decision.
It is human nature, when midstream in a long journey such as Kundalini may be, to seek to hurry it along and get to the end product. Sometimes, we may not be aware that we are pushing the process. Often, it can be slowed down simply through recognising this impulse, letting go and trusting, and being vigilant about not grasping for the finale.
Some people may have the blessing of a living awakened teacher to guide them through the awakening journey.
Such a teacher is able to give expert advice based on their own Kundalini journey and an understanding of their student’s progress. This can be of great benefit if such a teacher appears or is already within your life.
Thank you Myree for guiding and showing me with great grace and direction to claim my human right to life! It is through your profound awakening that I have discovered my own light.
With this light I now receive and share my spirit with delight.
With divine Light, Love and Wisdom,
Sean Jago, Holistic Practitioner Melbourne Australia