I wrote bits and pieces on Kundalini here and there before, but want to capture key points in a single writing.
Some people known to me experienced Kundalini awakening in the last few years and I expect several more doing homa to experience it in coming decades. With much misinformation and indisciplined lifestyles, this age can be quite confusing for the few rare seekers experiencing it.
The intention of this writing is to provide some guidance and perspective to such seekers. Some may need to refer to this later.
Some people think that Kundalini rises in only people who do specific practices (e.g. so-called Kundalini yoga or Kundalini tantra etc).
For brain to work within one, one need not know or think about brain. It just is there and does its work. Similarly, for Kundalini shakti to work within one, one need not know or think about it. It just is there and does its work!
In most people, Kundalini is “asleep” (we will later see what it means) and yet works all the time. In some people, Kundalini wakes up and works differently. Kundalini awakening does not require awareness of Kundalini or thinking about it or following a specific path. It CAN happen in anyone.
Kundalini is nothing but the force that makes one identify with something as “I”. It is the force driving one’s self-identification and “I-sense”!
Though Scripture unequivocally declares that I am actually all-pervading Brahman, I identify with this specific body that is sitting in a couch and typing this. I identify with a notion of a scholar/sadhaka/engineer/person called “Narasimha Rao”, who does various things including typing this.
It is Kundalini shakti that limits/restricts one’s self-identification to a body and notions like that.
Due to its limiting/restrictive action, it is symbolically represented as a suppressed coil/spring.
We blindly identify with a body and various notions, without any kind of questioning at all. That is why Kundalini, force of self-identification, is depicted as being asleep.
When Kundalini awakens and rises, it is like a suppressed spring being released. The force of self-identification frees itself from the body and other notions that it was tied down to for a long time. One’s identification with (and awareness of) body and other mental notions of oneself completely evaporates (albeit temporarily). One experiences oneself as several other things.
At the end, one is Brahman/Self that has no appearance or form and is devoid of attributes/qualities. That Self also manifests as everything that exists. So there is no limit to what one can experience oneself as!
When awakened, the force self-identification may traverse the space of infinite possibilities in an unstructured manner. As a result, one may experience oneself as anything in the universe, or, at the extreme, even as the Supreme Being in whom the entire cosmos exists, or even as a state where there is absolutely NO notion of this is “I”.
While all this sounds cool, one has to realize that it can be quite unnerving to have one’s self-identification cut off from the body and other normal notions of self.
Just imagine: If you suddenly have no body and have nothing to identify with, will you be ok with it?
Body and other notions of self provide security and grounding. If that ground is removed, that can unnerve and shake one up.
Of course, it is supposed to bring Infinite Bliss and it indeed can.
Suppose one has zero attachment to body, zero sense of “I need to accomplish so and so work”, zero desires and cravings and, more importantly, 100% (and not just 99.9999%!) confidence that “I am infinite Self which is not limited to any object, which is never born and never destroyed and which will continue to exist for ever”.
When Kundalini rises in such a person, the force of self-identifications rises all the way without clinging to anything in the path and identifies with Infinite Self in the end. One is established in pure and limitless Sat-Chid-Ananda.
But Kundalini goes all the way to Infinite Bliss only if one lets go of all desires. If there is any latent desire, it changes things.
If the force of self-identification leaves its normal attachments, starts its journey and yet not prepared to go all the way due to some desires left, then it can desperately cling to something on the way and that can cause much discomfort, fear and anxiety. It will then come back and cling to body and other previous notions.
To give a crude analogy, a satellite leaving for deep space will need enough speed and correct direction. If not, it will fall back to earth and break into pieces (more later on the risks after coming down).
Some gurus, babas and Swamijis describe Kundalini experience as a pleasant sensation with light of certain colors in certain areas of the body. That is not Kundalini. Flow of prana vayu can cause such sensations, visions and experiences.
As long as one thinks “I am this body. There is a shakti at the base of spine. It is moving along the spine to so and so place within my body and it is right now at so and place within my body”, one’s self-identification is still WITH the body. Then Kundalini is still at the base of spine (corresponding to Mooladhara chakra or Bhuloka, i.e. physical realm).
When Kundalini rises, especially in the beginning, there may indeed be a sensation of large current flowing up the spine. But that only means that the force of self-identification (Kundalini shakti) is preparing to rise. Once it actually leaves Mooladhara chakra at the base of spine and rises up, one’s self-identification is NOT in the physical realm anymore. One’s identification with (and awareness of) physical body is cut off.
Exactly what one experiences as Kundalini rises is variable. It is dependent on the path Kundalini takes, which in turn depends on one’s prior conditioning (i.e. desires and views entertained and actions performed, in the past).
There are nadis or subtle channels of awareness, in one’s subtle body. There are “impurities” or blockages in these nadis as a result of conditioning. There are also chakras or realms of awareness that are at different levels of equilibrium.
Of course, one’s body is a microcosm for macrocosm (i.e. entire cosmos). These nadis and chakras within symbolize entities in the external cosmos.
An awakened Kundalini works its away through these nadis and chakras. Depending on the nadis traversed, the experience may be different.
Often, there is a strange experience that seems physical (though not) and then connection with the physical body is cut off.
One may experience that one is rotating at a tremendous speed (though people around one may see him as being still) and then lose regular awareness of physical body. One may experience that one is shooting up vertically at a tremendous speed and then lose regular awareness of physical body. One may experience that one has titled to the back or a side and then shoot up and then lose awareness of physical body. One may experience a tremendous bolt of electricity in the spine and then lose regular awareness of physical body. One may experience that one is shooting up and experience oneself as a form of light or some new entity and vividly see or hear some things or beings. One may hear sacred sounds that one never heard before, that one may later verify in some scriptures! One may see forms that one never saw before, which one may later verify described in some scriptures. One may see and hear non-physical beings and interact with them in various ways.
One may experience great pleasure and calm. One’s fears, sorrows and anxieties may take a back seat for a while.
These experiences are completely internal and others cannot see them. In a rare case where there are conducive rinas an desires from the past, they may rub on others (but one has to remember that this is not a achievement or something special).
To give an example, I know a newly awakened seeker who felt that he was floating in air while meditating one day and a visitor sitting with him felt the same way at the same time! I know a seeker who was meditating in front of fire after a lady’s homa and spontaneously thought “let me take others with me and leave this realm” just before his Kundalini rose. The lady who finished homa and was meditating, felt like Her life force was being forcibly squeezed out of the cave of her heart, felt like she was dying and experienced tremendous anxiety .
On that note, Kundalini rise is similar to death! When one dies, the force of self-identification is forced to cut off from the body. When a yogi meditates and Kundalini rises, it is like a dress rehearsal of death.
Of course, just as an actor may act very well in all rehearsals and freeze in the actual performance, a seeker may navigate Kundalini rise well many times and yet, when the final moment comes, may get stuck with some desire that makes one stuck and take birth again.
Should one make an effort to force Kundalini rise?
First, is it possible to force Kundalini to rise?
Kind of. If one sits still and meditates for a long time and ignores physical discomfort, it urges the force of self-identification to detach from the physical body. In addition, there are some bandhas like Moola bandha, Uddiyana bandha and Jalandhara bandha that may serve as catalysts for a Kundalini rise if there is good focus in the first place.
Second, is it useful to force Kundalini to rise?
Of course, not. As pointed out earlier, Kundalini rise is not the “be all, end all” of spirituality.
If Kundalini rises after one has overcome all desires, one can reach Infinite Bliss. But, if Kundalini rises before one is prepared, the force of self-identification will desperately cling to something or the other at some stage and there can be fear or anxiety. Eventually it will come down.
Instead of focusing on Kundalini rise, one is better off focusing on overcoming desires and developing 100% (and not 99.9999%) faith that “I am infinite Self which is not limited to any object, which is never born and never destroyed and which will continue to exist for ever” or that “I completely surrender to the power of Supreme Being. Whatever happens to me if his wish and his blessing, whether I like it or not. Whatever I do is an offering to Supreme Being and I have to do it as perfectly as I can.”
Suppose one never experiences Kundalini rise throughout one’s life and overcomes most of one’s desires and achieves an equanimous mind. That is far better than many mystical experiences.
After all, the force of self-identification will anyway leave the physical body at the end of life. If one has no major desires or cravings or misgivings, the force of self-identification can ascend quite high in the cosmic hierarchy and one can end up being liberated or in a very high realm of being!
Let me give a crude analogy. Instead of asking the teacher to give you a test, just study and prepare for the test. At the end of the year, you will anyway be given a test! Instead of praying for a test everyday, just prepare the whole year for the test that will anyway be given at the end of the year!
In fact, if one is given intermediate tests during the year and does well, it may make one proud, give false confidence and one may fail the year end test!
Similarly, one who experiences Kundalini rise may look at it as an achievement or an entitlement and feel proud of it.
This is quite ironic: Kundalini rise is after all about the force of self-identification transcending a limited identity. Unfortunately, if it does not go all the way and comes back, whatever it did will be used to enhance and densify the same limited identity that it tried to transcend in the first place!!!
From this point of view, one whose Kundalini does not rise before one is fully prepared, is fortunate.
When one experiences Kundalini rises, it is vital to keep telling oneself that it is NOT an achievement or an entitlement or a trophy.
Why does Kundalini rise before one is fully prepared?
The reason is simple: One desired it in the past! Nature gives what we want, when we put in enough effort. If one desired mystical experiences in the past and if one’s karmas allow it now, Nature will give it to one.
From this point of view, it is very important to NOT desire or fantasize Kundalini rise or mystical experiences. If one desires enough, it may come. If one is not prepared, it can destabilize one’s spiritual journey.
Leave Kundalini alone and focus on attitude and internal transformation. Focus on understanding the Scriptural teachings and imbibing them into actions, thoughts and instincts.
A few practical tips in case someone experiences Kundalini awakening:
(1) Do NOT think of it as an achievement or entitlement. It is a proof that what you cling to as “I” and “mine” are transcendable and transient, including the physical body and all mental notions of “I am so and so person - engineer, sadhaka, scholar etc”.
Do NOT fall into the trap of letting the experiences amplify those very notions!
(2) You may think “I controlled my Kundani shakti. It rose and went to so and so area. I experienced so and so thing”. But your very thoughts and notions are brought about by the force of your self-identification, i.e. Kundalini shakti.
Just as a person sees his own photo and says “this is I”, your Kundalini shakti makes you think that you are controlling your Kundalini shakti or making it do something. Your Kundalini shakti is behind anything you do or think and even behind your very being!
Instead of looking at Kundalini shakti as something within you or something you control, think of it as the Supreme Cosmic Power that is controlling you and which you are a part of.
It is also useful to personify it as a form of divine Mother that you can visualize. Think that she is controlling you and letting you transcend your limitations.
(3) When Kundalini shakti awakens, rises and comes back, it changes the equilibrium of the subtle and physical bodies. In the physical body, nervous system is especially affected. Irrespective of your original prakriti (ayurvedic body type), vata will be deranged heavily. Take precautions and keep vata under check. This is very very important, if you have more years to live.
(4) In the first several months after Kundalini awakening, mystical out-of-body experiences may happen spontaneously. They may happen even when you are not meditating or doing anything conducive. They may randomly and spontaneously happen.
There is no need for panic or anxiety at one end or anticipation on the other. When something happens, let it happen. Tell yourself constantly that “I am infinite Self which is not limited to any object, which is never born and never destroyed and which will continue to exist for ever” or that “I completely surrender to the power of Supreme Being. Whatever happens to me if his wish and his blessing, whether I like it or not. Whatever I do is an offering to Supreme Being and I have to do it as perfectly as I can.”
Let experiences come and go and do not cling to them or be fascinated by them.
(5) Eat moderately and try to eat saattwik food. Avoid vata aggravating food. Eat food that grounds you. Create habits that ground you and provide structure and security to your life.
(6) Spend some time thinking of your physical body and focusing attention on various body parts. As the force of self-identification is trying to totally detach from the body, this will force it to re-attach to the body.
This is particularly useful if you intend to spend some more years in that body.
Of course, even as you do what you can to sustain the body for more time, be genuinely prepared to let go of the body ANY moment.
Do your best to sustain it and yet be prepared to leave it!
(7) Remember that Kundalini awakening is only the beginning. The real challenge is after that. This is particularly true if some problematic conditioning and desires are still left.
(8) Appetite may reduce a lot (partly due to deranged vaata) over months. Spend some time praying to Fire as Jatharagni (digestive fire) and visualize fire burning in the stomach and digesting food.
(9) IMPORTANT: The basic nature of the force of self-identification is to amplify anything that enhances the notions one identifies with. If one identifies with “I am a great scholar”, “I am a special soul born for a great mission”, “I am meant to become famous” etc, Kundalini will try to amplify those notions and any mystical experiences one has may be used for that purpose! This can slow down or distract one’s spiritual progress.
So keep some people around you (guru, wife, husband etc), who are HONEST and BLUNT with you and feel free to criticize you. ENABLE them to watch for signs of ego inflation and give you a piece of their mind. Do not suppress their voice and take them seriously. Pick someone who is thoughtful and not frivolous.
(10) As Kundalini rises to different places, some special abilities MAY develop. It may give clarity and confidence in some matters. It may attract some people to one.
But do NOT crave for following or respect or demonstrating anything to anyone. Even if you want to work for Dharma and share some knowledge in the society, do it without any expectations and without a sense of self-importance.
After all, many awakened people make some progress, deceive themselves that they are now enlightened, get carried away by some mystical happenings, impress some people around them, create a following, get attached to it, deceive themselves that they are a great soul born for a great mission, let their ego get inflated and their spiritual journey gets distracted. They may do something useful in the society, but their ego gets inflated in the process and their spiritual journey derailed.
(11) If you can, install a watchdog at the back of your mind. It should analyze your actions, words and thoughts for hidden motivations and alert you when the motivation comes from desire, anger, greed, jealousy etc.
(12) Do not discuss your experiences with all. Pick one (or a few) that you trust and respect and discuss with only that person.
(13) Do NOT get attached to the experiences. Though they may feel nice and special, they are as fleeting in nature as the physical reality.
If Kundalini rises and you have some mystical experiences, so be it. Use the guidelines above to take care of yourself and to benefit from it rather than letting it derail your spiritual journey.
If your Kundalini has not yet risen, do not worry about it (be glad in fact!) and work on your attitude. Prepare yourself to go all the way when Kundalini finally rises. Even if that happens only once, i.e. at the end of life, that is perfectly alright.