At some point on the spiritual path we will experience the rising of the kundalini (snake energy) that merges our feminine and masculine energies.
For some people this will be an intense awakening that shifts their subjective experience in an instant, for other it’s a slowly meeting of these energies.
In this post I wanted to discuss what a kundalini awakening is, why it happens and how to navigate it.
What is a kundalini awakening?
Kundalini is a Sankrit word for ‘coiled snake’; it refers to the divine feminine energy or Shakti which is said to be located at the base of our spine. In Hinduism this is an important concept in Shaiva Tantra.
More specifically this energy rests where the three nadis, ida, pingala and sushmna meet.
When this energy is activated it makes it way up towards the crown chakra, uniting with the divine masculine energy or Shiva, which brings about a complete transformation of our consciousness, deep bliss and connection.
A kundalini awakening is associated with enlightenment; practitioners spend many years diligently working with this energy, moving the Shakti up the spinal cord. This is a connection with the divine, the soul, the higher self etc.
Why does kundalini awakening happen?
An awakening of the kundalini happens for many reasons. Often because we are undertaking a course of kundalini yoga, specifically focused on this energy. However more and more people are experiencing these symptoms through general energy work, breathwork, meditation and other spiritual practices.
Although the kundalini is said to be dormant at the base of the spine and we might view this as a energy which is ‘asleep’, it is really in a state of continuous awakening.
You can view this as a seed which is implanted in the root chakra, that you are gradually watering over the course of your life with awareness, love, openness. It’s the energy that consistently swirling, moving, vibrating, whether we are conscious of it or not.
When we go through a spiritual awakening a lot of stuff comes to our awareness at once. We get more in tune with our energy and our body. Therefore we become aware of the kundalini and as a result it becomes stimulated.
This can come as a shock because we have no idea what we are experiencing, the physical symptoms that come alongside this are intense and can be difficult to manage.
I’m writing this article in big part to my experience with ‘kundalini syndrome’. This refers to a set of psychosomatic responses which come about in the body when the kundalini rises prematurely.
I didn’t try to raise my kundalini deliberately but I was working with my energy centers in an unbalanced way. I was bringing energy up to my third eye and crown chakras without working on my lower chakras. I was raising my energy without considering my physical, emotional or mental wellbeing.
For a period of time I experienced a great burning sensation that would shoot up my body at the point of sleep, muscle spasms and vivid imagery in my mind’s eye.
Before you go trying to awaken this energy, be honest with what your intentions are.
Symptoms of kundalini syndrome
- Muscle cramps
- Intense heat or chills through the body
- Involuntary body movements
- Disorienting shifts in sleep
- Gut & digestive issues
- Itching, tingling, vibrations
- Emotional mood swings
- Headaches or pressure in the head
As you can see there are a lot of very unsettling symptoms listed. There are two main reasons this ‘syndrome’ occurs.
One is that our spiritual practices are incomplete in some way – we are neglecting some mental, emotional or spiritual aspect of our being.
What works here is to slow down, ground (timeless advice) and focus on the areas we’ve neglected.
Another reason this happens is because we are neglecting our physical health.
When we bring more energy into the body we inevitably make it more sensitive. A lot of the stuff we’ve ignored or simply weren’t aware of in our body, comes up to be addressed.
We might have to focus on our physical health a lot more, making sure we are getting enough sleep and eating well, but we also might want to address some underlying health issues that we’ve been avoiding.
This is where it helps to have guidance from both spiritual teachers, but also doctors or physicians that you trust. Taking care of our physical health is taking care of ourselves spiritually.
Is kundalini safe?
The kundalini can rise prematurely if we don’t have the right guidance, if we go at this alone and try to skip ahead – which I recommend against.
Kundalini will naturally rise as we clear our energy, strengthen our energy system (nadis) and purify our vision. It’s a completely natural process when we go deep within ourselves for this energy to become unlocked and rise upwards.
You’ve probably seen horror stories of people being sent to the hospital for physical injuries or experiencing psychosis after a kundalini rising.
Kundalini itself is safe, and the process of raising kundalini can be safe. However, many of the more intense symptoms associated with kundalini occur due to these incomplete practices. When our energy systems have not been properly cleared, the rising of the kundalini exposes any imbalances and heavy energy.
When we do spiritual work it’s important to consider the emotional and psychological element. Often we approach things from a mental level, without considering the recurring emotional issues we still haven’t faced – thinking we can somehow bypass them.
When we go through any type of awakening, all of that stuff is brought up to the forefront. We can ignore it but it will still be there when we come back to earth.
Kundalini awakening symptoms
A kundalini awakening encompasses our entire being – nothing is untouched. Below I go through the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual effects that you might experience.
This represents the physical side of this awakening, and these will likely be the most noticeable symptoms at first.
- Surges of heat through the body
- Tingles, vibrations and energy movement
- Changes in appetite
- A shift to your sleep schedule
- Increased sexual energy
A kundalini awakening will make it clear just how connected our energy is with our physical body. Often we see these two sides of ourselves as completely distinct, operating side by side by not necessarily as one.
The most common symptoms we experience is intense heat through the body, often accompanied by tingles or vibrations.
The kundalini burns through all of the energetic impurities in our system, making us aware of where we need to release, heal, detox. The level of intensity we experience will be in line with how much work we have done to clear ourselves beforehand.
If you are experiencing this energy you are likely to notice large shifts in your sleep schedule. I know for me this energy is most active at nighttime where we are in a more receptive brain state. Shifts in your diet and daily routines will follow.
This represents the mental side of this awakening, our entire outlook on life and our roles here can shift drastically.
The reason this shift is so dramatic is because kundalini awakening is associated with the dissolution of aspects of our ego or ‘ego death’. The ego is what helps us to maintain an identity in this physical world, it keeps us protected.
When aspects of our ego are dissolved, we struggle to find our place in a world that is very physically focused. This can either be an opportunity to reconsider everything and create a life that is more aligned, or we can become arrogant, convinced of our spiritual superiority.
On another note, this shift in perspective can be a life-line for us. We see things differently, and are prompted to make healthier choices in relation to all aspects of our life – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
Don’t be surprised if you are prompted to make changes to your daily habits, diet, social circles and what you do for work.
This represents the emotions side of the awakening.
- Deeper sensitivity towards others
- Deeper sensitivity to your triggers
- Strengthening of psychic abilities/senses
Kundalini gets us in tune with our bodies on a deeper level, and so for some time after we’re going to feel our own and other’s emotions more intensely too.
You might notice that you are feeling more solitary, needing more alone time and self care, and that you might be hyper-sensitive to certain behaviors.
This can be a lot to handle at first, but if you remain cognizant of how you are feeling and how you might be projecting that outward, you’ll develop your sensitivity in a more balanced way over time.
This represents the spiritual side of this awakening.
- Heightened intuition and deeper ‘knowing‘
- A deeper sense of connection and peace
- Spontaneous mystical experiences
- More frequent synchronicity
Spiritual and kundalini awakenings are connected, kundalini offers us a deeper integration of the spiritual concepts we’ve taken in on a mental level.
Feeling deeper states of joy, bliss and peace are all characteristic of a kundalini awakening. When our energy system is clear, we release blockages and face different shadows, but we also experience a joy which represents our natural state.
There are a lot of dark symptoms associated with kundalini because our energy systems are so often clogged up, blocked, filled with heavy energy. When the kundalini rises we are confronted with this all at once.
What cannot be understated in how willing we’ll be to embrace our joy because so much of our shadows are tangled up in that. It can be difficult to be positive, to embrace uncertainty and to allow yourself to feel happy.
We’ll be prompted to make changes in our life in accordance with this.
What to do during kundalini awakening
Remain calm, notice the sensations you feel and keep in mind that a lot of the more extreme symptoms go back to an unclear energy system. Seek out support and community. This will pass.
Take care of your nervous system: take a warm bath with Epsom or Himalayan salts, practice some light, calming breathwork (nothing too stimulating), eat more heartier foods like root vegetables.
If your kundalini has awakened prematurely, ground your energy and take some time away from your spiritual practice. When you come back, focus on cleansing your energy and building a better foundation for yourself in all aspects of life. Spend time in nature or doing focused activities such as writing or drawing.
Take a step back and evaluate how you are approaching spiritual development. Are you trying to reach a specific goal, are you rushing ahead? Go back to the basics and notice where you are neglecting more basic self care.
What’s the difference between a kundalini & spiritual awakening?
Looking at what happens during a kundalini awakening, you might be wondering, ‘How is this different to a spiritual awakening?’ A lot of the symptoms overlap.
A kundalini awakening can come alongside a spiritual awakening, working on our energy will naturally bring about both. However spiritual and kundalini awakening tend to activate different sides to us.
Spiritual awakening leans mentally, kundalini awakening leans towards the physical and emotional of things – although there isn’t a hard line here. As I mentioned before, the physical effects of the kundalini are intense and demonstrated quite clearly, how our energy and physicality are related.
How to cultivate kundalini energy
A kundalini awakening tends to occur some time after a spiritual awakening, and can come as the embodiment or integration of so many of the concepts we’ve internalized on a mental level.
I don’t recommend raising the kundalini energy on your own, find a trusted teacher and be diligent with your practice under them.
The approach I take with this is similar to the third eye, we don’t need to activate this directly.
Balance masculine & feminine energies
The kundalini energy is a union of our feminine and masculine energies – energies which we all possess internally, rather than the external mannerisms or behaviors associated with each gender. The polarities such as light and dark, structure and flow, intuition and logic.
We can work with the kundalini through honoring and balancing these energies within ourselves. Where we are rigidly in our masculine, seeing where we can lean into the feminine and vice versa.
Face your ego
Kundalini awakening involves the dissolution of the ego. When we notice the ego appearing in everyday life, observing it, accepting it and creating some distance from it.
Kundalini energy burns through all of the impurities in our seven major chakras, we can encourage this process through cleansing each chakra in turn and practicing shadow work.
Similar to what I recommend for the third eye, you can ask ‘What is stopping me from seeing clearly?’, ‘What is stopping me from feeling clearly?’ Go through each trait associated with the seven major chakras. Pinpoint where you are holding resistance, and work on clearing those blockages in order to give the kundalini a clear pathway upwards.
Open your heart
This rising happens when we open our heart. Kundalini is intertwined with our creative and sexual energy (which the sacral chakra governs).
We can use this energy in a way that is conscious or unconscious. We can use our creative power to destroy or to build, the same with sexual energy. This is why kundalini can spontaneously rise when we are in a state of deep receptivity, to a creative urge or to a loving partner.
Generally speaking, you want to allow a kundalini rising to come naturally, once your body and mind are ready. This is an awakening that yogic and spiritual practitioners spend many years diligently preparing for, not something to be forced.
What has your experience with kundalini been?
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