By Kara-Leah Grant, author Forty Days of Yoga
It can be scary, disorientating, dislocating and downright awful when Kundalini awakens.
Sometimes a Kundalini Awakening will look like mental illness, physical illness or emotional difficulties.
It can be difficult to figure out exactly what’s going on, all you know is something freaky is happening.
My own awakening began in 2000 and proceeded more or less unnoticed by me, except for strange jerkings of the body and poppings in the spine.
A dangerous mix of emotional avoidance and LSD tipped the process over the edge into a full-blown psychotic episode.
At the time, committed to the Lions Gate Hospital Acute Pysch Ward in Vancouver, I knew that what I’d experienced wasn’t just mental illness. I knew it was something spiritual.
I also knew that if I attempted to explain this to the doctors… well… they’d think I was crazy! Which, apparently, I was. So I kept my mouth shut, and did what I had to do to prove my sanity and get released from the hospital.
If you have had an awakening, I hope it wasn’t as dramatic and awful as this.
However, as one yoga teacher once told me, psych units are full of people who’ve had spiritual experiences (often mixed with drugs) that have blown their circuits.
So if you suspect something is going on, here’s what I would suggest you do, in order of importance:
1. Seek professional help
Really important! Find someone who knows about Kundalini, preferably local, who can be a guide and hand-to-hold through this process. If you’re in a big city, there’s likely to be a yoga teacher, meditation teacher, psychotherapist or otherwise knowledgable person you can turn to for assistance.
If you’re in a small town or rural area… it’s going to be much harder to find help. Think outside the box. In religious terms, a kundalini awakening is a dark night of the soul, and there’s many written accounts of various mystics experiencing this process. The right minister, rabbi, or priest may be able to assist.
Many native cultures also have their own understandings of this type of experience, often referring to it as a shaman’s calling, or shaman’s illness. So don’t get stuck on thinking you need to turn to the yoga world. In my experience, other yoga teachers are the least likely to know anything about Kundalini.
Find someone who understands that it is a core part of the human experience to go through a spiritual awakening that often involves a purification process of body, mind and soul.
2. Attend to any physical, mental or emotional needs with professional help
You may be all blissed out and on cloud nine, but you need to make sure you look after your physical body, your mental well-being, and your emotional state. Get the right kind of help.
If you’ve got any kind of physical symptoms, find a knowledgable, compassionate doctor with understanding of the mind/body field and get the right tests and procedures done. If you’re having issues with mental stability, find a good therapist or psychiatrist or psycho-therapist etc. Sometimes drugs may be necessary to stablise you in the short-term. Don’t rule out anything just because it’s not all rainbows and light sabers.
I was prescribed Epilim, based an a diagnosis of bi-polar. I refused Lithium, the usual drug of choice for treating bi-polar because I knew it had serious side-affects, but I didn’t refuse medication because I knew my psyche had been blown to bits. I needed support to get the new wiring in place! I took it for about three months, and then with the full knowledge of my flatmates and Mum, began to half the dose weekly while monitoring my mental state. Six months later I was drug-free, and my mental state had stabilized.
It’s prudent to be this practical. Kundalini Awakenings often throw us totally into the La La Sphere, and keeping our feet on the ground as well as fronting up to the actuality of our physical, mental and emotional state is really important.
Fellow Kundalini Awakener poet Dorothy Walters says:
Try to locate a Transpersonal Therapist who knows what Kundalini is and understands spiritual transformation.
You are not just undergoing extreme adjustment of your nervous system and physiology, you are (whether you know it or not) experiencing a profound spiritual awakening, for you are getting in touch with Source at its deepest level–you are discovering that in a very literal sense you and It are one.
3. Get grounded, get well, get clear
A Kundalini Awakening is a spiritual process that impacts our physical body. We’re getting re-wired on a DNA level to handle higher levels of prana moving through our system. Handling those increased levels of prana means focusing on what you need to do to bring yourself into physical balance.
It means cutting out all intoxicants (although alcohol in small amounts seems to be ok). If you’re still using drugs of any kind, your number one priority needs to be STOP. You’re risking your mental sanity in a big way.
Pay attention to the food you’re eating. Cut out the processed foods. In my experience, eating meat can be a way to ground and come back to earth. This can be useful! Other grounding foods include root vegetables, or certain nuts like brasil nuts and almonds.
Exercise is great – especially walking outside in nature. Get to the beach, or the bush and move. This helps to harmonise you with a grounded, sane environment and gets rid of any excess energy in a really safe manner. Even something as simple as sitting on a big rock can do wonders for your sanity!
Anything that takes care of your physical body and makes you stronger and clearer is generally a YES.
4. Accept and embrace the process
This can often be the toughest thing to do. A Kundalini Awakening shatters the ego and can make it difficult, if not impossible to function in society – at least for a while. It’s not unusual to even have to stop working.
When I came back to New Zealand, my system was so sensitive to light, sound and other people’s emotions that I found it really hard to even go to the supermarket. The whole experience would just trip me out. Driving was freaky because there were so many lights on the roads – especially in Auckland! For me, it was like the perception filters that make it possible for us to function without being overwhelmed with stimuli had stopped working.
What was worse was that I couldn’t talk to anyone about what I was experiencing because people would have though I was crazy. If you’ve never experienced a dramatic shift in the nature of your perception of reality… it does sound crazy – especially coming from someone freshly released from a psych ward!
On top of this sensitivity, all the hidden parts of my ego had been thrown up for me to deal with. And because I didn’t know what was going on, I wasn’t able to accept or embrace the process. I didn’t know there was a process even happening! I thought I’d had an experience of enlightenment, and now it was gone and life was awful.
So. How to accept? I can’t tell you that. You’ll have to figure it out by yourself. Suffice to say that what we resist, presists. Once you’re on the path to awakening… there’s no turning back, nor getting off. So you might as well embrace and work with whatever arises.
5. Build a support crew of like-minded friends
It really helps if you can talk to other people about what’s going on. There are Kundalini Support groups on line, but having a real-life friend is good too. They don’t necessarily need to have experienced an awakening, just be able to empathise and understand what you’re going through.
It’s good too if they can call you on your bullshit and help keep you grounded in reality. I’ve found this kind of support in the yoga and meditation community, and am forever grateful to my friends who can see when I’m getting caught up in the ego, or identified with all the lights & whistles of Kundalini and gently remind me to come back to centre, that which is unchanging within.
6. Get a daily spiritual practice going
If you don’t already, start a daily practice. This is part of grounding yourself, and helping the excess energy to move.
However, meditation is often the one thing you don’t want to do when you’ve had an awakening as it can make things far too intense, and only unground you.
Better to choose a practice that brings you squarely into the body – like Yoga or Tai Chi. It doesn’t have to necessarily be overtly spiritual either – dancing, or playing music when done every day for a set time can work just as well. So too can journalling. This can help you work through all the shit coming up!
What’s important is that you are taking time each and every day to be truly with yourself – in mind, body and soul.
7. Study and learn about Kundalini – take everything with a grain of salt!
It’s easier and easier now to find information on Kundalini, and it can be reassuring to read accounts from other people who’ve gone through the same process. However, don’t believe everything you read! What’s true for one person, might not be true for you. Plus people can have all kinds of agendas when they write books or articles so be discerning always.
Reading widely can help you to understand the process though, and realise that it’s all normal with Kundalini, and nothing’s normal with Kundalini.
One book I’ve really enjoyed is Kundalini Rising: Exploring the Energy of Awakening. A collection of essays by some very experienced and learned people.
- Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa (The Eight Human Talents; Collins Living, 2001) on kundalini as the most powerful form of yoga.
- Ken Wilber (A Brief History of Everything; Shambhala, 2007) on the true nature of the chakras and how kundalini yoga seeks to “untie” them.
- John White (What Is Enlightenment?; Paragon House, 1995) on the challenges modern psychology faces in the context of the kundalini experience.
8. Watch out for grandiose thoughts and ideas
Sure, something pretty magical has happened to you, and you may even have had a taste of enlightenment… but you’re not special.
Oh no, this kind of experience is available to everybody. You are not the chosen one, you are not the next Buddha, although you may be on your way to becoming a buddha. That is, a person who is awake!
By all accounts, it seems too that the number of people experiencing Kundalini is on the rise. It is just part of the human experience of evolution.
9. Recognise that there is a process of purification in place and whatever you’re currently experiencing will pass
All awakenings are different, and progress at different paces, with different symptoms. If you’re hating it, it will pass, if you’re blissed out, it will pass.
I suspect mine got a turbo-charge through my drug use, and I was damn fortunate that the circuits in my brain didn’t totally blow out. It did take me seven years though to return to a place of equilibrium and general awesomeness. I had some serious shadow-work that needed to be done… and at times, this work threatened to overwhelm me. However, I always took comfort from the fact that every single day was always a tiny bit better than the last. I could see a change happening.
So, when your experience is totally sucking, just keep looking after yourself, seeking help and being supported and know that this too will pass. And if you accept and embrace the process, while studying up on what’s going on, you can likely make it a much smoother passage.
In the end, that’s what an awakening is all about.
The Divine inside wakes up and says, right, time to come to life. And what the Divine wants to do may be different from what your ego/mind wants to do.
You can fight it as much as you like.
You can resist as much as you like.
You can go after the things in life which you want even though you know that’s not what your heart & intuition is telling you to do…
And you will suffer. How much depends on the how big a fight you put up.
In my experience, a small, quiet part of us always knows what we need to do. Kundalini is asking us to listen to that small quiet part of us until it becomes the only part of us we ever hear.
One last thing… there’s all kind of products and programmes scattered around the internet promising to awaken your Kundalini.
Before you spend money on such a thing, ask yourself if you’re truly ready to face the darkest, most awful parts of who you are. Ask yourself if you’re willing to surrender your life to the Divine. Ask yourself if you’re willing to experience all kinds of weird wonderful and not so wonderful physical, mental and emotional symptoms and signs.
Ask yourself if you really want to do the work that’s required when Kundalini awakens.
And if you’ve still got a burning desire to do whatever it takes to awaken Kundalini, good luck to you. May that desire be heartfelt and true.
- A full blown Kundalini Awakening
- Signs & Symptoms of a Kundalini Awakening
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- Another story of Awakening