More than fifteen years ago, when I was twenty-two, I experienced something known as a “kundalini awakening”. When it happened, I had no idea what had occurred. I didn’t have a spiritual teacher or guru on the somewhat meandering spiritual path I’d embarked on a few years earlier. I’d started practicing hatha yoga, read voraciously everything from “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” to Carlos Castaneda, meditated alone in the desert, practiced deep emotional release, went to workshops and spiritual gatherings, and in the process met many others also reaching for a higher state of consciousness and a more meaningful experience of being.
It was still completely out of the blue and totally mind-blowing, however, when I experienced my kundalini energy awaken, or arise. There are many, many different types and expressions and experiences of spiritual awakening. Sometimes it’s simply a revelation or epiphany that leads one in a completely different direction, one focused more on spirituality and inner searching. Spiritual awakening can mean seeing angels, or contacting and channeling an alien entity. An experimental trip, such as in a teepee ceremony or sweat lodge, can lead to discovering and embracing a previously unknown part of oneself; or to communing with some aspect of the divine. Spiritual awakening can lead to the ability to see people’s auras, talk with the , or leave one’s body and explore the astral planes.
Kundalini awakening, however, is something else. It can come about as a result of some of these other experiences, as it did in my case. And it can also lead down the road to activating some of these otherworldly phenomenon, and others. In essence, kundalini is simply energy. Specifically, it is spiritual energy, which resides in every human being. Kundalini means literally “coiled serpent”. Figuratively speaking, the coiled serpent represents a reservoir of spiritual energy which lies at the base of the spine, in the root chakra, coiled up because in most people it is latent or potential spiritual energy which the person is for the most part unaware of.
Through yogic or other spiritual practices, or sometimes due to subconscious individual efforts or even completely randomly, this energy can be awakened in an individual; in which case the energy is tapped into and begins flowing upwards from the root chakra through all the chakras along the spinal column, culminating in unification with the uppermost crown chakra at the top of the head.
Like spiritual experiences in general, kundalini awakening takes wildly different forms for different people. The differences can range from experiences of pure bliss, to sheer . The unifying experience is that of this rising of spiritual energy that invigorates and activates the chakra system, those six or seven (depending on who you ask) energy centers located along the spinal column, each of which corresponds with some integral aspect of the human spirit.
To summarize the chakras briefly, the first chakra, or root chakra, is located roughly at the base of the spine, specifically at the perineum at the bottom of the abdomen, right between the legs. It is associated with the color red and with basic root power, pure potential energy. The second chakra is midway between the perineum and the naval. Its color is orange, and it is associated with ual and creative energy. The third chakra is in the naval and belly region. It is yellow and is associated with emotions, feelings and intuition. The fourth chakra is at the center of the chest, in the heart area. It is green and is associated with feelings of love, unity and balance, as it is the midway point between the upper and lower chakras. The fifth chakra is located in the neck and throat. It is a light blue and is associated with the voice and personal expression. The sixth chakra is at the third eye, in the middle of the forehead. It is indigo, or a deep blue, and is associated with the eyes and with spiritual sight and visions. The seventh or crown chakra is at the very top of the head. It is purple (a combination of red, the root chakra and deep blue, the sixth chakra) and is associated with oneness and enlightenment, and a connection to the rest of the universe.
Some alternatively say that the crown chakra is actually white, the unification of all the colors. And others say that there are further chakras, the eighth, ninth or tenth which are located above the human body, connecting us with various aspects of the universe or other dimensions, and which might be white, gold, silver or other colors. This is of course open to discussion and interpretation. It isn’t particularly important that everyone agree on the specifics. But it is significant that so many across so many spiritual disciplines agree with the idea of these energy centers in our own human physical forms that connect us to spiritual energies, and ultimately to the divine.
So, kundalini energy originates from the root chakra, and it is that base, pure power that invigorates our spiritual awareness and brings our full human potential to fruition. And as mentioned above, it can result in a wide array of sensations, from bliss or to and anger and everything in between, as it is a highly potent force.
In my case, the initial experience of kundalini was in the latter category, one of extreme inner challenges to say the least. One of the reasons this can be the case, is that kundalini energy is like a fire hose of energy whose innate purpose is to cleanse the chakras of any blockages or disturbances, and bring them back to their full, vibrating potential. And like a fire hose that has been switched on, it is a force to be reckoned with; and once switched on it apparently can not simply be switched back off. Once the energy is gushing forth, rising up the chakra system, it will come into contact with each of the chakras and if met with resistance in the form of blockages, past traumas, denied emotions and memories, guilt, judgments and all the various frozen energy we hold in our human souls that keep us from vibrating fully; then the kundalini energy will awaken these like a spotlight shining into a dark and dusty attic.
Kundalini energy has a single-minded mission, and that is to reunite with the crown chakra. I say reunite because it is also a matter of returning ourselves to our natural state; that of oneness between all aspects of our multi-faceted souls, as well as with the spiritual realms beyond our normal, waking perceptions.
The process of this reunification is where things can get difficult and frightening and for some can seem nearly impossible to resolve at times. The symptoms of kundalini awakening are extremely wide-ranging. Some people simply experience a stream of blissful energy invigorating their soul. Some might find themselves kept awake, unable to sleep and not needing to for days at a time, instead practicing art or music propelled by a constant flood of creative energy. Some people find themselves spontaneously assuming yogic positions or else reciting chants, perhaps in languages they have never spoken before. Still others might find themselves seeing other realms or dimensions, hearing voices or seeing before them non-physical entities, or perhaps having visions of the future, or peering into the ancient past.
For many, myself included, kundalini awakening is a more localized experience which brings about a barrage of assorted energetic symptoms on the physical, mental and emotional planes, that can be downright bizarre and highly unpleasant or even excruciating. In my case, I experienced a sensation as if a fire were burning at the base of my spine, raging up my spinal column. I had electrical shocks occurring all throughout my body, and flashes of light seemingly before my very eyes, as well as outside of my normal field of vision. I felt as if I were simultaneously being crushed, and pulled apart by a powerful force of energy that I couldn’t have previously imagined. For months after my experience of kundalini awakening, I was accosted by a constant onslaught of such symptoms, to the point that I was certain there was no way that what I was going through could be resolved.
Fortunately, I eventually came across a number of books explaining what I was experiencing, which also assured me that there was a purpose to it as well as some sort of resolution. However, resolution in this case doesn’t mean that suddenly the experience ends, and it’s all behind you. As one Buddhist teacher informed me at one point in the depths of these overwhelming sensations: “The energy will not lessen in its intensity. However, you will eventually change to accommodate it, and then it will seem that the energy itself has changed.”
Fifteen years later, I can say that he was exactly right. The purpose of kundalini awakening is not simply to give us an experience which we will then look back on and say that it changed us to some extent. Instead, its purpose is to awaken a source of spiritual energy within our souls which will connect us with our full potential and with the rest of the universe, and which will bring us into a new normal of expanded consciousness and heightened awareness of both the world around us, and the infinite and eternal realms within and far beyond us.
Ultimately, it is my understanding that kundalini awakening is the path to enlightenment and Christ consciousness. Maybe that’s not entirely accurate, and enlightenment is one of those things that itself has many different forms, depending on the seeker and the teacher. After fifteen years of walking this path, all I can say is that I still have a long ways to go, as it‘s a lifetime process.
But I do believe that contacting and awakening this energy is truly the most important aspect of healing that humanity needs to undergo during this time of monumental upheaval and transformation on our planet. Why? Because I have experienced with glimpses and brief moments of clarity and illumination the depth of blissful remembrance and all-encompassing wholeness which kundalini brings about. And in that state of oneness and knowing and connection with All That Is, there is no wanting for anything else, and the incessant problems that plague our world cannot continue to haunt us. Humanity has come to a crucial crossroads, where we can’t simply keep on going forward as we have been for the past several hundred years of accelerating technological progress, unguided by a true connection with our own selves and with the universe as a whole. Humanity needs to make a huge, critical leap of evolution and of consciousness in order to begin relating with our own world and with each other in a completely different way. And kundalini has the power to bring about this critical transformation of humanity, one person at a time.
Finally, I would like to offer a few helpful ideas for anyone who is undergoing kundalini awakening symptoms, particularly those of the unpleasant variety. First, I would suggest finding a range of books and other writings on the subject and read as much as possible so that you have a better understanding of kundalini, what the process is likely to be like and what some of the possible solutions and helpful practices are that go along with kundalini awakening. And if there is a teacher of some sort available who is experienced in the matter, either from direct experience or else from studying the subject for many years, then of course they might be very helpful with things.
But many people seem to find, as in my case, that ultimately you’re strapped in to a roller coaster ride alone, and you have to figure out how to deal with it to a certain extent by your own devices. Kundalini manifests itself differently in every individual, and so the solutions and path of healing can also be highly unique for each person. What I always suggest most of all, is to find some form of physical practice that will help to ground and anchor the energy into your physical body.
Yoga is of course closely associated with kundalini energy, and is perfectly designed to both arouse the kundalini initially, as well as help in channeling and processing the energy once it is awakened. But there are many other things that could be helpful as well, such as tai chi, chi gung, pilates or martial arts. Anything that combines some physical exercise with a focus on spiritual development, and especially attention to breathing is bound to be helpful. And even such things as walking, running, swimming, hiking, biking or other outdoor activities might prove extremely beneficial in helping the energy to make its way through the chakra system and the nervous system. Getting outside and connecting with nature in general is highly recommended. Although it is a non-physical force, kundalini works within and through the physical human form, and so one’s focus should be on the physical plane as much as the spiritual, especially during the early stages.
In other words, don’t simply lock yourself away in your room in a state of spiritual turmoil, thinking there’s nothing that can be done to change these oftentimes strange, bewildering and overwhelming energetic experiences. This will only insure that it will take even longer to go through the process, because the energy must be engaged with your body in order to bring about the changes that will eventually result in a profound transformation of your energetic and physical being. By making an effort to work with the process, you can make a huge difference in moving and guiding the process along. And when in doubt, keep in mind the advice from a wise teacher: “Ask, and ye shall receive.” Because the universe is indeed listening.
Gabriel Morris is author of the spiritual adventure story “Kundalini and the Art of Being”, which recounts his own profound experience of kundalini awakening and spiritual journey, all while semi-homeless and hitchhiking around the western United States during the mid-1990s. More info about his travels and writings can be found at http://gabrielmorris.bravehost.com.