kundalini workshop

Energies of Evolution

If you are having experiences of energy winding or rolling up your spine, creating involuntary spasms, and rippling in strange ways through your body, you are possibly one of thousands each year experiencing what is known as a kundalini rising or awakening.  You may feel frightened or disoriented by this non-ordinary shift, but if you can relax with it and understand it as simply a dynamic of your own evolution it can become a treasured ally on your spiritual path.

When we understand that all of creation is formed as molecular structures, mostly space and energy manifest in a multitude of forms, it becomes easier to meet the empty/spaciousness and the enhanced vibrational energies that appear in our bodies, and face all the changes they invite.

There are many reasons people suddenly have these shifts and awakenings.  Often an intense spiritual or energy practice will open the body to the heightened energy known as kundalini by the ancient founders of the yogic system.  Sometimes an intense concentrated period may activate this sleeping power, even such innocent practices as biofeedback, meditation, prayer, love-making, or the charge projected by the touch of another person who has this awakened energy. In the thousand reports I have collected over the last 30 years many people write of spontaneous awakenings, sometimes in moments of great interior stress,  or while using plant medicines or psychedelics, or while sitting in silence at retreats.  So if you are feeling as if your energy field has jumped from 110 to 220 or even 2200 you are not alone, although unfortunately you live in a culture that is totally unprepared to understand the power and potential of this experience.

If your experience plunges you into fear and anxiety, if it explodes you into ecstasy, or if it hits the brain centers that produce imagery you will likely be afraid you are losing your mind, and if you meet up with the wrong therapeutic model others will support this interpretation.  But some part of you will know this is real and it is meaningful, even while the mind freaks out about it. If you can just be curious and open instead of afraid and contracted this will help it calm down considerably. You need to nourish the witness within you, that which is simply aware.

Kundalini energy is an aspect of your own life force.  It is what happens when the normal pranic energy field or bioenergy of the body is infused with a powerful rush of energy from the base of the spine, the feet, or occasionally pours down into the body through the top of the head.  Naturally you are startled.  Even people in spiritual communities who have longed for awakening for years can be both astonished and terrified by this new dimension of interior activity.  It was a naive assumption that spiritual awakening would be a sweet, simple release into peace and harmony and improved character and life would be forever blessed.  It is true that awakening leads ultimately to peace and harmony, but it does so by stripping away every identification we hold dear, and releasing every old bit of suffering and confusion, all of which was held in our minds, bodies and subtle energy fields.  It tries to release all stressors and heal all wounds, in the process freeing us from our assumed self image and personal history.

I have come to see kundalini as essentially a clearing out process, and then an opportunity to live from clear seeing and presence, which doesn't change the content of life itself, but profoundly impacts our relationship to it.

Whether kundalini activation is sudden and traumatic, or slow and gentle, it is almost always a factor in a full spiritual realization process.  It may initiate the process of consciousness awakening, or it may fall into place after an initial shift of consciousness into the recognition of It's true relationship with what we might call Source or Universal Consciousness, (that which cannot truly be named, but we try!)  This might be called the non-dual experience, and to the mind it might feel empty and unbounded while to the spirit it is felt as unlimited spaciousness and dissolution into the whole (or some such image).  Utimately awakening is the stable recognition of what is awake in every moment here and now, and not the dramatic experiences, visions, insights, dramas and traumas that may accompany it for awhile.  All experiences will pass.  More will appear. Life is awakeness moving through experiences. Awakening helps us to take it more lightly, to feel peaceful even when we're not, and to find beauty in the every day forms we encounter.

If you are in an energy awakening process you may also find helpful my books "The Kundalini Guide" and "The Awakening Guide", or “When Spirit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening” available on Amazon and Kindle.


Accepting the All of Life

No matter how our health and spirituality function, even when we are perfectly well, struggling with poverty makes life more difficult. But certainly in the east many who have spiritual awakenings are very poor, and live as sadhus moving among ashrams or living on the streets. This activation of energy is about the transformation of consciousness and the opening of the body into a very simple and natural relationship with nature and life. Rather than the external life, it is more about an inner process that has the potential to make someone more okay with how things are, more attuned to the flow of life as it is, more peaceful. It is the mind that struggles and rages with the inequities of life. This process is trying to pull one into a part of themselves that is quiet, open, compassionate and simply present without all the intense feelings generated by thought.

If there are severe physical difficulties it is usually due either to mental anxiety or fear of change, an underlying physical difficulty or limitation, an underlying psychological challenge (e.g. long term depression, anxiety disorder, eating disorder, PTSD), an unhealthy diet or the use of drugs. I have met many people from all levels of society with kundalini activations, and the energy itself can be confusing, shake your body up, take you into altered states, and cause heat and odd spontaneous movements at times. But it does not by itself cause pain and illness. It can aggravate an underlying condition, and it can cause adrenal exhaustion if there is too much energy intensity too often, and it can cause headaches. (you need to bring energy down, more into the heart or belly if there are headaches). In a few people who are very sensitive it is very draining and debilitating. If the energy is stuck in the lower chakras it can cause sexual preoccupation or stomach discomforts. It needs to move up and through the whole system.

If one has an income source or someone in their life to support them it is a great blessing when the need is to rest and be away from the intensity of the working world. Many people find they cannot sustain the kind of work environment they had been adapted to prior to awakening, and seek ways to simplify their lives. It is essential to find a lifestyle that is authentic for you. Although triggers that seem to cause awakening can be identified, no one can say exactly why some people activate this transformation and others never do, but it seems as if it was just meant to be in this lifetime. The intention of this process does not seem to be about destroying your life so much as opening your consciousness to feel itself as one with all things, relaxing into just being, and awakening to the unlimited potentiality and expression of consciousness. Your identity is challenged and those things you think you are (female, male,child, parent, worker, profesional, rich, poor, inadequate, smart, healthy, ill --everything) are seen to be temporary appearances while underneath it all is a quiet spirit and presence that is the true "I" and knows it is only temporarily playing this role. This awakening is not something the mind can decide or understand,and certainly not control when it happens, but it is something consciousness itself realizes as part of the whole experience of spiritual awakening. The kundalini is the life force trying to make realization possible. It doesn't care if you are rich or poor -- it wants you to become awake.

There is very little opportunity in the west to find understanding and support for this process. It is totally out of the mainstream direction and thinking of our culture which is built on the glorifying individual success and accomplishment. So people experiencing it can become very frightened and alone and this makes the struggle even more difficult. But what is needed is an internal meeting of the process, time to ground yourself walking in nature and being quiet inside, a simple diet with a protein source that helps you ground, an ability to listen deeply to your own inner guidance and to trust the process. None of these things cost money. You can also find companionship on the journey on the web, read the teachings of spiritual masters like Ramana Maharshi or modern teachers like Adyashanti, and if you are well enough you could do some service in the world that you feel called to. You can do a simple meditation of just sitting in presence. There is much access to resources today that did not exist even 15 years ago.

I know it sounds crazy to the mind but there is an old saying "What you resist, persists" Once we stop resisting our circumstances, and stop "arguing with reality" (as Adyashanti puts it) all that energy that goes into anger, disappointment and longing for something to be other than it is can be released. Then we can find a new deeper creative energy within us and begin to take small steps in the direction our heart is leading us, and positive changes can happen in our life. Sometimes our old patterns of how to make things happen just don't work anymore but we keep looking at life from an old position and can't see other alternatives. Awakening to your true nature, and relaxing into just being-ness, can offer a whole new perspective.

People enter this process with many issues -- not just limited resources or poverty. Some have disabled relatives they care for, or alcoholic partners, or cancer, or abusive situations that need to be addressed. I have known people whose homes were flooded or burned to the ground. Anything in our external life can be a hurdle that feels like the kundalini process is just too much to deal with, but it is actually an invitation out of that identification and into a realization of the part of us that is not suffering, that is awake and present in the now of living. From this place it is easier to see what needs to happen and not be overwhelmed by it and thus to make changes that serve our lives. It is not thought and mental activity that frees us-- it is spirit.

How we Deconstruct in Awakening

The arising of kundalini energy can be a life-changing event. For some it is felt as a very positive and beautiful opening which heightens the senses and the ability to clear the mind and feel great joy and gratitude in life. But eventually for most it triggers a de-construction of our way of perceiving our world, our concepts and belief systems. It supports a shedding of old ways of being and old patterns locked in our system from our conditioning and the difficult experiences of our past. We can feel like we are coming apart and losing our sense of self -- which we are. In some people this energy movement and the subsequent deconstruction is a very gradual process, supported by our meditation process and even psychotherapy if we are involved in that. But for others it seems sudden and chaotic and therefore frightening.

It helps greatly to have an understanding of how this process works to our greater benefit, and to discover that at the core we are not the personal self we have tended to identify with. When we realize what we truly are it is called "waking up" or "self-realization" -- it is the realization of what really exists behind the personal self that is not ever going to change or dissolve.

But it can be very disarming for the mind to get glimpses of this because the mind's functioning as director of our lives is threatened. We begin to see we are not our thoughts and become less inclined to believe them, less likely to be distracted when they arise. Something else that is indefinable arises within us that is much more attuned to the moment, to the impersonal experience of now.

When someone awakens out of the dream of the separate self the kundalini process works more subtly in the background, and if there are energies releasing, or burning off old conditioned blocks in our psychic system we feel appreciative and curious rather than frightened, because we can clearly see the function is to make us more free and open and harmonious withinEastern spiritual systems set up this process of awakening as a goal of all practices, and see it as the greatest gift in any life. Buddhist monks take a vow to liberate all beings. Why would we need to be liberated? Because this is the only way to clearly see the source and radiance of all existence and to live in harmony with it. This lack of clear perception, and our entanglement in all the fears, rages and greed that overwhelms the planet, is the cause of suffering. Getting free of it is not an easy task, but our energy bodies are designed to lead us there. Eastern practices deliberately aim at opening these bodies along with shifting us out of our mind so that we can see the Truth. But thousands of people have this energetic opening without any conscious attempt to trigger it -- it happens for many reasons that the energy activates and begins the process of transmuting itself into a new clarity and presence in the world.

It is clear that some people write about kundalini as a danger or a dark force. This is because they do not understand the highest potential for transformation that it offers, and instead see only the destructive experiences it brings for some. Also, like any energies on the planet, a few people work to use it for power and manipulation of others. There are specific dark techniques for this, and those who use them generally end up in trouble psychologically, spiritually, physically and karmically. They are not happy and useful contributors to the society. They have twisted their lives out of fear and a drive for power, in the same way that nuclear energy has been used for total destruction out of fear and a drive for power.

If you are in an experience of intensified and rising energy it is not inherently dangerous. It is a neutral force of transformation and change. If your intention is health, well-being, freedom, love, and above all the longing to know what is True this energy will support those changes.

If you are driven by fear, anger, revenge, and a need for power over others the energy may end up wearing you down completely and distorting the true potential of your life. This is not to say that some fear in the process is natural. But to the extent you can turn it to curiousity, or even trust in the vast potentiality of the universe it will become only another energy to release, letting you become vulnerable to the grace of knowing who you really are.