by Rachel Zelaya: Lately, there has been a buzz around the word kundalini and what it means to have a “kundalini awakening”…
Is it dangerous? How do I know if what I’m experiencing is kundalini, or something else entirely? What do I do if my kundalini energy is waking up? Having owned a Kundalini Yoga studio and being a psychotherapist, I get a lot of phone calls and questions around these topics.
Lots of “symptoms” get blamed on kundalini – from muscle spasms to seeing colors vividly to not being able to sleep. In my view, it’s not the kundalini energy itself that is causing problematic symptoms, but the physical, energetic and mental blockages that are not allowing that energy to flow. Kundalini energy is just the basic force of life, the energy of awareness, that exists in all of us. When we experience kundalini “symptoms”, that energy is knocking on the door to get our attention and awareness so that we can make positive changes. When that happens, we can become who we are meant to be and wake up to our destiny.
The soul has taken a body and come here for a reason, and if you are not living out that purpose, kundalini can show up as disruptive so you can change course. It’s a (sometimes not so gentle) reminder so that we don’t sleepwalk through life.
EIGHT SIGNS OF A KUNDALINI AWAKENING
My own awakening started in 2008, grew in intensity through 2012, and has been continuing on, if a bit more gently, ever since. I’ve witnessed a similar process in many others. Below are eight signs of a kundalini awakening.
1. THINGS ARE FALLING APART, YOU HAVE A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN OR YOUR OLD LIFE ISN’T WORKING
In 2008, it became clear that I needed to let go of a dependency on alcohol. This was not at all easy, but I see it as the early stages of my system clearing out old habits that would not serve me in my life, and not allow my kundalini to awaken. After getting sober, my life as I knew it really started to fall apart. My job was so stressful that I had insomnia due to anxiety, my marriage was disintegrating, and I was contemplating how I might escape the whole disaster. The structures that I had put in place to prop up my unhealed self were no longer functioning, and I was becoming aware that the whole thing was a lie. This part of the process can look similar to a mid-life crisis, or a Saturnreturn in your astrological chart, where everything that you had committed to previously begins to dissolve or be taken away.
Old habits and addictions, relationships, family connections, diet, work and career – everything comes up for review. If it’s not in alignment, it will most likely be removed from your life.
We can resist this process out of fear, but usually that only makes the changes more painful. This is the beginning of a journey that will take courage, discipline, and support to make it through.
2. PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL AND ENERGETIC SYMPTOMS
Some people will experience physical and energetic symptoms at this point. Mine tended to be emotional rather than physical (anxiety, depression, despair), but many people speak of very obvious signs (shaking, visual disturbance, inability to relax, a major rush of energy, a near death experience).
The nervous system is unable to handle the amount of energy that is wanting to move, and this can show up in a myriad of ways.
For some people, the experience is slow and steady, for others it’s intense and immediate. The important thing is not to obsess over the symptoms, but find ways (discussed below) to allow the energy to move by healing the body and opening up the channels of energy. Don’t focus on the particular symptoms, but find ways to heal the body and release the blocks. Doctors and the medical establishment don’t know what to do, and will either tell you that you are crazy, and/or prescribe medications that do nothing to address the root cause of the blockages.
3. COURAGE, WILLINGNESS AND DESPERATION TO TRY NEW THINGS
The intensity of these experiences will often be enough to drive people to try new things.
People seek changes in diet, seeking out healers, leaving relationships, changing jobs, all done in an attempt to respond to what is happening on the inside.
For me, I was shaken up enough to call in sick from work, go for a hike in the middle of the day, and try a form of yoga I had never attempted before. That Kundalini Yoga class ended up being the breadcrumb that I followed which would change my whole life. When what we know isn’t working, we tend to become more open to doing our work.
4. MIRACLES AND SYNCHRONICITIES APPEAR AND YOU RECEIVE SUPPORT FROM UNEXPECTED PLACES
Once we are desperate enough to be willing to try new things, we become available to receive support and miracles from unexpected sources. For me, it started with that first Kundalini Yoga class. Soon, I had the courage to request to work part time. Giving myself more down time to heal my nervous system, allowed me to get in touch with what was truly going on underneath my anxiety, stress and despair. Within months of practicing this form of yoga, I saw very clearly that my marriage was ending, and I had the courage to let it go. Gurmukh, a Kundalini Yoga teacher, came to my town to offer a workshop, and I was given a 40 day meditation, which gave me the daily support to accomplish all these changes. We meet the right people, attend the right workshop, stumble across the right book, find the right yoga studio…whatever we need ends up showing up at the right time in the right way.
5. INCREASED SENSITIVITY TO EXTERNAL THINGS (FOOD, MEDIA, PEOPLE AND PLACES)
Once we start to make these changes, we can expect to become more sensitive to things that we used to be able to tolerate. No more hot dogs and frozen peas for me. I learned how to cook wholesome, vegetarian food, and became more aware of the media and entertainment that I was consuming. During this phase, many of us find that we have to change our “playmates and playthings” as our system adjusts and we learn to find and stabilize a new homeostasis. Perhaps we realize we need to move out of the roommate situation and find our own apartment, so that we have space to take care of ourselves, do our work, eat right, and minimize chaos. Or we can’t watch violent TV shows, or be around large crowds of people. The nervous system is undergoing changes to be able to handle more energy, and this leads to increased sensitivity. This isn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of increased awareness and potential.
6. AWARENESS OF INTERNAL ENERGIES, INTUITION AND INNER TRUTH
Not only are we more aware of what’s happening around us, but we become more sensitive and attuned to the thoughts, feelings, and energies within us. We know when our old habits are starting to sound enticing, or when our heart is beginning to shut down. We pay more attention to our intuition, and begin to develop a relationship with our soul, our Inner Teacher. What other people say or think about us becomes less important to us, because our inner compass is more reliable and clearer. Perhaps we become aware of areas of the body that need some attention, especially in the lower chakras. If we feel ungrounded, we tune in to what we need to feel more stable and connected to our body and the Earth. If we feel a lot of shame, and that our creativity is blocked, maybe we need to work on past sexual trauma or wounding. If we feel blocked in moving forward with our life, maybe we need to work on our core, our navel area, to feel more connected to our personal power.
We become our own healers by becoming aware of what we need in the moment, and learning the skills to take care of ourselves.
For many people, this includes a daily yoga and/or meditation practice. We need time on a daily basis to work with our own energy, clear blocks, quiet the mind, and give ourselves an opportunity to look beyond ego and personality, to our deeper selves. In the Kundalini Yoga tradition, this time is called Sadhana, meaning a daily personal practice or discipline. Knowing the tools that lead to inner transformation is a first step, but in order to actually heal and evolve, we need to use them regularly.
7. INCREASED COMPASSION, DESIRE TO BE OF SERVICE AND RECOGNITION OF ONENESS
When we become more aware of ourselves, we become more aware of the world around us. Our energy has healed through the lower chakras, and now it can move into our Heart Center. Our compassion for our self leads to compassion for others. We wake up to the suffering of others, and because our heart has been opened, we feel it more intensely. This naturally leads to a desire to help, to give to others the help we’ve received along the way. The age-old truth of the interconnectedness of all beings becomes an inner knowing, instead of just a thought.
Knowledge has become wisdom through our experience, and we desire to use our wisdom and compassion in the service of others.
Once we feel more settled into our own body, we feel a closer connection to Mother Earth, that which supports our bodies and lives in every way. We can no longer turn away when we see injustice or environmental degradation. The task becomes, how do we continue to practice self-care, while we also act to protect and preserve what is sacred to us.
8. SENSE OF PURPOSE AND DESTINY
The final indication of the kundalini awakening, is a growing sense of purpose. The master of Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Bhajan, called it destiny. When we have worked on ourselves to heal our past, when we know the tools to clear the energy in our body on a regular basis, and when we have made a connection to our heart and our Soul, we are ready to “deliver our destiny.”
We can express who we are, and feel our connection to the Divine more and more. We can begin to do what we came here to do.
Maybe that means we become a yoga teacher. Or we write. Or we create art. Or we run a non-profit organization. Or we become a great parent. Or we volunteer in our community. Yogi Bhajan said, “By giving from the heart, we reconnect to that source, elevating our soul and fulfilling our destiny.” It can show up in countless ways, but when we are living out our destiny, we feel a sense of purpose and energy, a willingness to do whatever it takes to be of service and show up with our gifts. And the Universe tends to support us in doing this, giving us opportunities to share what we have learned and experienced. The point of a kundalini awakening isn’t to be able to see people’s aura colors or have esoteric powers, but to show up and be of service to our world. To become who we were meant to be. To live in integrity with our own spirit.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING A KUNDALINI AWAKENING
Try out a Kundalini Yoga class. This ancient technology was designed to clear out the energetic blocks and stimulate your own healing potential. If you are experiencing anxiety and uncomfortable symptoms, stay in the body, not in your the head. Pay attention to what bothers your nervous system, and avoid those things, especially before bed or upon waking.
Increase self-care. Watch the mind’s tendency to overthink or get obsessive. Take it easy. Decrease stress. Find ways to serve others. Trust the process. Find others who are like-minded, either in person or through a virtual community. Develop your daily practice of yoga and meditation. Eat well, let go of old habits and addictions. Know that you are not alone, and that more and more people are being called to leave their old lives behind them, and step forward into the life they are meant to live.