For many years my work as a therapist has specialized in people having challenges with an activation of kundalini energy, or the many shifts of consciousness that come with a spiritual awakening. These events have a profound impact on what we experience and how we think about it, and cause changes in the body, brain and spiritual orientation, as well as the lifestyle.
Sometimes people write to me wanting to know how to awaken kundalini energy, believing it will help them in some way to overcome personal issues or improve their life. While in the long run (over years) this may be true, the intensifying of your energy field is likely to intensify whatever is happening in your life, making it more difficult, before you experience the peace of spiritual awakening. There are many ways that kundalini can change things and not all of them feel wonderful. Here are a few possibilities to consider before you opt into intense practices for awakening this energy.
The Honeymoon Period
A few people temporarily experience a great high when they begin taking kundalini yoga practices. I was once in a kundalini yoga center in Hollywood where beautiful women floated around in white caftans looking disconnected but radiant, although their teacher was serious incapacitated by a stroke and could not walk nor talk coherently. (Kundalini does not mean you will never be ill). Kundalini energy causes your energy to sometimes feel high and more flowing, even blissful, and you may break old habits like using alcohol or sugar, and make healthier choices. You might feel more alive and limber, and disinterested in the problems of the world. This is usually a “honeymoon” period before you enter what I have called the deconstruction state of transformation. Just as when you remodel a house you first do a tearing down, as you move toward transformation you begin by experiencing the falling apart of old constructed or conditioned patterns.
The Deconstruction Phase
Many people who activate kundalini without any guidance, e.g. on the internet or with a teacher who does not have the whole picture, or spontaneously, seem to enter the tearing down faze immediately – their body shakes involuntarily, there may be rushes of heat, painful old memories arise spontaneously, their brains are foggy and their head aches so it is harder to concentrate on work that involves thought, they feel sudden shifts as if out of their body so the feel unstable in the world, their moods shift inexplicably, and family members may become alarmed and have them hospitalized. They may fear they are dying or going insane.
Kundalini awakening is not a panacea for a life that is not working well. It amplifies whatever needs to be seen and corrected. In a few cases it feels as if life is stripped of its stability, and its meaning. If you are in toxic relationships you will likely feel an imperative to leave them. If you have been living a life that is not aligned with your authentic needs and interests you will feel pressured to change it.
For all of these reasons it is good to be prepared before you enter a practice that might activate kundalini. This energy is your own life force. You already have energy, but when kundalini awakens and moves up from the base of the spine it strengthens the energy field throughout the body, vibrates through 72,000 lines of energy throughout the body grid and runs into blocks wherever a contraction is met. All of us have many contractions from moments in life when we held back our response or expression or locked into a false belief. This heightened energy is trying to make us more open, empty and flowing. It is breaking down our holding patterns.
Here are some of the ways you can prepare yourself for the changes kundalini brings.
Clean up your diet and loosen up any holding in your body through yoga, Tai Chi or stretching.
Find the calm center within through meditation or deep relaxation practices.
If you know you have trauma in your history do some therapy to heal the impact of any beliefs you have acquired related to the abuse.
Question your beliefs and thoughts – they are not truth, only habits.
Have a stable income, basic security and work habits. You may change your work if it does not feel congruent with new values, but if you are homeless or impoverished you need to find a way to meet basic needs before plunging into physical changes that may disorient you. There is no practical advantage to awakening kundalini – the point of it is to open you to a deep realization of your true nature, whatever the cost to your peace of mind. How it will impact you along the way is an unknown, differing greatly from one person to another, and often chaotic for an extended period of time.
How to Awaken
The best way to allow kundalini to awaken is to forget kundalini and seek Truth through a simple and sincere meditation practice. Then, if your energy is going to change and open you to live from an awakened place, it will happen in a natural way, and you will have a stable interior place to rest while it does its work.
People with long-term meditation practices and stable lives have the best experiences when kundalini arises, even if it is strange and disconcerting. They are able to establish a comfortable rapport with this life force and accept the challenges of the process, which gradually helps them clear away the debris of past history, opening them to new possibilities in the way they live their lives. Kundalini is the energy aspect of spiritual awakening, which is a radical shift of how consciousness is known. It is the way we embody the knowing that we are not the separate self we thought ourselves to be.
For a more full description of how spiritual awakening evolves, and ways to cope with the phenomena it brings, look for my new book “When Spirit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening.”