The word ‘kundalini’ comes from the Hindu tradition and is used to describe a form of mysterious energy that lies dormant in all of us at the foot of our spine. When awakened this energy rises up the spine, purifies all chakras along the way until it reaches the head where it unites with its ‘ divine spouse’ and the person reaches enlightenment. Kundalini has been described as hot, prickling and brilliant white energy.
Kundalini experiences from all over the world
The concept of energy from our abdomen rising up to the head is not limited to Hinduism but has been known in many spiritual traditions all over the world. In Tibetan Buddhism it is called ‘tummo’ (literally ‘fierce woman’), in parts of Taoism it is referred to as ‘neikung’ and in the Christian tradition people have used expressions like ‘the holy spirit went into him’ or simply as ‘grace’.
The gifts of kundalini
All these experiences have in common that people feel more or less overwhelmed by some amazing energy rushing through their system and rewarding them with amazing spiritual visions, supernatural bliss or gifts like clairvoyance or the ability to heal others with the power of the mind. People may also get amazing insights to questions that are important to humankind, they may be able to create true works of art and help others in a profound way. At the pinnacle of these experiences people may feel that they are uniting with God or becoming enlightened.
The challenges of the kundalini awakening
Unfortunately, these wonderful gifts of kundalini awakening are rarely achieved through one amazing and powerful breakthrough but are the result of many years of working patiently through the challenges that are the inevitable by-product of even the most benign kundalini arousal. These challenges may range from inexplicable physical pain, to extreme emotional disturbances, up to a complete break-down of one’s functioning ego-personality. What makes matters worse, these painful experiences are usually exacerbated by a lot of mental confusion because the person who is going through them can not understand what is happening to them.
Traditionally, it is taught that kundalini awakening (or whatever people want to call it according to their cultural background) can only be achieved through years of dedicated spiritual practice. However, since the publication of Gopi Krishna’s book ‘Kundalini’ many people have come forward to report spontaneous kundalini awakenings, which occurred independent from intensive spiritual practice. During these spontaneous kundalini experiences often the negative and confusing aspect of the process are more pronounced than the rewarding aspects.
Why can kundalini awakening be so painful?
Kundalini basically is energy and works like an amplifier in our mental, spiritual, emotional and physical system. Basically, it amplifies all our experiences – and this can be a blessing or a curse depending on what is going on in our mind. If our life is well-ordered, full of love, spirituality and meaningful work then kundalini will make us even more loving, spiritual and even more successful in our work.
Unfortunately, this perfect scenario is rarely in place when kundalini strikes. Everybody has challenges in various aspects of their life and these challenges will be amplified together with the positive aspects of the kundalini awakening. As a result, we may find ourselves in a confusing array of weird symptoms, challenging emotions and confusing perceptions.
What’s worse, everybody has an unconscious mind and kundalini is like massive force that tears down the barriers to our unconsciousness. As a result, painful memories may come up – and even worse – our carefully suppressed antisocial drives may also come to the surface, for example, megalomaniac desires, racist or sexist thoughts, inappropriate sexual urges and violent impulses. For someone who is unprepared – this onslaught of our unconscious nature can be hard to bear. It may wreak havoc with their relationships and it may cause prolonged emotional turmoil.
How to deal with kundalini symptoms
In order to deal with worrisome kundalini symptoms it is beneficial to remember that traditionally these experiences were only encouraged in a spiritual and close student teacher relationship so that the teacher could guide the spiritual seeker around all the possible pitfalls and towards the true rewards of the kundalini process.
* So, the first piece of advice to deal with kundalini symptoms is to adopt a life-style as healthy and moderate as possible. Too much excitement though taking drugs, promiscuous sex or strong emotions can further tilt our life out of balance and should be strictly avoided. Instead, we should eat a very healthy diet, get enough sleep (if necessary with medication) and adopt gentle and grounding hobbies like gardening or walking in nature.
* The next advice is to slow down excessive spiritual practices because they can seriously exacerbate our symptoms and only continue meditating under the guidance of a meditation teacher who is experienced with kundalini.
* Unfortunately, kundalini symptoms rarely will ‘just go away’ because they represent our own problems that were previously hidden in our unconscious mind. Therefore, we should seek out help to work with these problems as much as possible. However, we need to be very careful with everything that is called ‘energy medicine’ like acupuncture, homeopathy or every other form of hands-on-healing. With our energy system already seriously out of balance these otherwise benign healing systems can upset us even further.
* We should also slow down reading too many spiritual books and instead read biographies of holy people from all over the world. In their biographies we can often find hints that everybody has to go through spiritual crisis before they can find God or become enlightened. Knowing this can be very comforting in our struggles.
* Last but not least, we need to remember that kundalini is only meaningful when it intensifies our spiritual quest towards uniting with God or becoming enlightened. If we have not already done so – now is the time to find a spiritual system to channel our heightened energy into. Even though it is advisable to slow down spiritual practice it is very helpful to adopt a more spiritual or religious outlook in life and meet people who are on the same path.
Tara is a Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist who has specialised in working with clients suffering from kundalini syndrome. She has successfully helped hundreds of people. Her approach is described in her books Enlightenment Through the Path of Kundalini and The Five-Minute Miracle.