The Truth About Kundalini

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 images-4life.  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.

Preparation

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.IMG_4186

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.”

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The Blessing of Impermanence

An advantage in seeing impermanence as the nature of existence is in the knowing that all things pass. lightning While we often grieve over this passing, there are many blessings to knowing that we are in movement, life is in movement, so even the difficult problems of our culture are in movement.

Many people are stressed by the choices being made by the US, and especially the President, at this time in history.  They seem to be permanently destructive to the future of our country and the world environment.  And yet there have been many dark turning points in this country – beginning with the Indian massacres, forcing Mexico out of California, slavery, the civil war, the depression and the dust bowl, two world wars, Vietnam– to name just a few. Our ancestors have all been through events similar to those that cause us fear.  Nothing has ever been permanent.

 

As a country we are often in turmoil because of the push for power, greed, and the division of minds. Yet there have been gradual improvements in human care and responsibility – freeing slaves, laws against child labor, allowing women the vote, social security, education,  easier transportation and communication,  etc. etc.  Historically, most other countries have known the same or worse turmoil  over centuries (e.g. Germany, Japan, China), but experienced gradual movement to support their people.

It is paradoxical that most of the individuals we know personally long for peace and love within themselves and the world, and are generally kind to one another. They value families and friends. And yet as a collective this is rarely reflected, and positive change seems to be so slow.

We live in a world of opposites, continually shifting and emerging with new perspectives.  An awakened mind can see a larger picture – an expansive, never-ending but always changing movement through time.  We are the movement, the life that brings transformation.  Our pain forces us to see what is needed, and brings many into positive action.  Just as when we are wounded physically we must seek help for the body, when we are a wounded culture we must seek solutions.  It does not serve us when our minds only bring us to despair, and our thinking is clouded with anger and fear.  It does not serve us personally or serve our culture when our hearts close down with bitterness.

Negative thoughts are rarely real and true – they are based on emotional reactions and our accumulated convictions of what ought to be.  They are neurons firing stored information interwoven with our discomfort.  Our awareness becomes entangled with thought, and limited by it.

This is why awakened people often stress living in the now. Now is what is in front of you this moment, and is always present as Now. It may be a beautiful garden. Today for me it is a smoky sky in Oregon hovering over a pond and garden. It is difficulty breathing outdoors. It is the computer before me.  It is also good neighbors and a safe house and good health. Tomorrow it may change.

For you today it may be work that needs to be done, or a child that needs to be fed and dressed, or a piece of art you are inclined to create, or a desire to help in a political campaign. We each stand in a unique place in the Now.  Look around and define what is here for you in this moment. Your presence is part of this Now. Your True Nature is always Now!

We are always in motion in this Now-ness.  The question to ask yourself is will you move from your own center and for the greatest good (either your own inner peace or to assist another) or be contracted by a fearful mind? Will you be what you are fully in this moment, or be entangled by thoughts that bring you down? Yes, you are impermanent, but change can be positive and where you are Now has a big impact on what happens next..

We cannot afford to let the world issues, even those created by our own government, block our freedom to love, enjoy and create a meaningful life.  In our choices and movement we can respond in a way that feels authentic to us, and trust that slowly, since all is impermanent, change will come. When there is smoke in the skies remember that it will be clear again. Be like those firefighters who meet it in service to all of us.