Kundalini Rising: the Experience
by Jesa Macbeth
"This is in two parts: first, how to recognize and take care of ourselves in a kundalini rising experience, and second, some tips on working with a client with kundalini rising. There will be a link to the second part at the bottom of this page.
It has been many years since I went through my own kundalini rising experience, but it isn't the sort of thing one forgets. An explosion of energy in my root/sacral center hit my feet and the top of my head hard enough to throw the masseur who was working on me against the wall. He clung to the wall with both hands, I clung to the massage table with both hands and all my toes - and I think I remember biting the sheet. Have you ever put an Alka Seltzer or other effervescent tablet in your mouth by mistake? It foams madly and has to run out because you can't swallow fast enough. Well, I felt like that everywhere inside, and there didn't seem to be any place for the wild energy to go.
John, the masseur, spent the next hour holding my feet, trying to earth us both, while I lay there and fizzed and fizzed and fizzed. It was months before people stopped getting electrical shocks when they reached out to touch me. And other exciting things happened as well - books leaping off of shelves, lights turning themselves on and off, that kind of thing. Nothing harmful, just a lot of busybody activity from ungrounded psychokenetic energy.
I was fortunate. I knew things about kundalini energy; I'd been reading about it for some months (intuition tries to guide us, if only we will follow). Since then I've worked with a number of people going through this process, and learned quite a lot both from them and from other sources. The experience itself is rather like waking up one morning and finding yourself on a roller coaster just headed down that first long dip. Exciting! It certainly can be alarming if you don't know what to expect, and if you don't realize that this is a part of a healthy evolutionary development process.
Kundalini usually rises as a result of different events or processes. First, and most likely, is the strengthening of the subtle energy system through meditation, yoga, the practice of healing, some martial arts, or other practices aimed at developing that kind of psychic energy strength. The second most likely cause of arousal is as a result of releasing emotional/structural blocks in the body/mind that have served to repress the energy. Either of these things may, by themselves, result in the rising of the "serpent power". There is a third possibility as well. Sometimes kundalini rising is triggered by trauma or misguided exercises in a person completely unprepared for it. This can be an extremely difficult experience, as you will understand from the explanation below.
Kundalini rising experiences vary a lot from person to person. They can happen in a sudden, drastic whoosh, or in repeated bursts extending over a longer period of time. Or both. The important thing about recognizing it, is to remember that it is very powerful, a radical change in one's energy. If a person has managable energy surges and can cope with them with a little extra earthing, it probably isn't kundalini - or they have been practicing one of the disciplines like kundalini yoga , which often make the process more managable. If they think that they may be having heart failure, becoming psychotic, developing a severe neurological disease, or similar symptoms, it may be kundalini rising. On the other hand, it may be heart failure, psychosis, etc. Tricky.
Often the "main event" of the rising is preceded by a series of "precursor dreams" and by the experience of strong, but unstable energies. The dreams are usually symbolic of the sudden movement of vast energies - such as tidal waves, earthquakes, burning heavens, et cetera. The unstable energies are often powerful surges. They may be experienced first in the legs and pelvis, resulting in strong sensations there. Sometimes this triggers powerful sacral center energies, which may be interpreted by the unprepared as strong sexual drives (that one, as you might suppose, can create a whole range of problems and confusion all on its own). On the other hand, there may be a temporary loss of interest in sexuality while the process unfolds through the higher chakra. There may be sensations of intense heat and/or moments of loss of motor control. There may also be emotional disturbances (see more on this below). What is happening is that the energy in the root chakra, awakened by meditation or healing or whatever, is trying to move upward, where it encounters a block (often in the sacral or solar chakra), and it earths itself through the legs until the block above is released. At that point, the energy may rise explosively and very powerfully.
In traditional yoga, a balanced program was followed to prepare the adept for the kundalini rising experience, which they consider to be an evolutionary step forward for the human nervous system and subtle energy field. Several yogas (body, emotions, mind, and devotional) were all practiced under the close supervision of an experienced teacher. This meant that the student was prepared for the radical changes that occur and also that they were more clear - there was less emotional and mental and physical "pollution" to be stirred up by the rising power. Unfortunately, in the West many have not yet fully accepted that healing, meditation, and practices like yoga and other exercise systems that affect the subtle energies also require continuing personal growth work in order to avoid the worst of these emotional disturbances with the precipitous rising of kundalini.
When the energy rises through the subtle channels and the chakras, it tries to radically open and cleanse the chakras. If a person has been prepared for this by the resolution of emotional blocks and traumas and by the strengthening of the subtle energy channels and physical body, the process is simply a very wild, but often enjoyable ride. However, if the personal growth work has not been done, great emotional disturbance can result - in some cases going so far as to appear to be an acute mental/emotional breakdown or psychosis. If the strengthening of the subtle energy channels and of the physical body has not been adequately accomplished, there can be alarming physical and energetic symptoms, especially in the heart and nervous system. Modern Western medicine is not prepared to cope with any of this, and in fact, may offer treatments (aimed at relieving the symptoms) that work against the real needs of the client. For example, people experiencing kundalini rising will not usually be helped by tranquilizers, beta blockers, anti-depressants or sleeping pills.
There are some standard, routine things we need to do to take care of ourselves in this situation. Most of them are common sense, but a couple are less well known. It helped me to think of what was happening in terms of electricity. Suddenly there was 220 v. running around in a 110 v. system - and the grounding was inadequate. Whatever you have been doing for centering and grounding yourself needs to be done a lot more, and you need to do it repeatedly during the day and when you wake up at night. You may even need to learn or invent some new and better earthing techniques. I spent a lot of time paddling in the sea, which helped wonderfully but is not necessarily practical for everyone.
In such an experience we can expect all sorts of bizarre sensations of energy, trembling, shaking, muscle spasms, et cetera. Dreams of earthquakes, tidal waves, and so on are also common and really have nothing to do with our psychologicalstate. Also, we must expect all sorts of emotional disruption. Don't take this too seriously (I know it's hard not to!) because much of this is quickly alleviated when we become more earthed. There is a kind of wackiness (technical term) that goes with unearthed energy that can seem like real psychological disturbances, but disappears as soon as we are grounded again. That is stuff that doesn't have to be dealt with, because it isn't "real". What remains once we are grounded probably isreal, but until we are solidly earthed, we won't really know which is which.
As I said above, this process is very individual, so some of the things I'm suggesting may not be appropriate in specific cases, but this is just sort of first aid.
First, one of the important things is meditation. It is very helpful to meditate15 minutes a day. This helps to earth and stabilize the energy, especially if you begin and end your meditation with centering and earthing. For this purpose, I recommend a meditation that focuses on the breath as they tend to be inherently grounding.
The "15 minute rule" is very important. That gives just about maximum relaxation, stabilization, and integration. After that, the energy in the system starts to increase, which is just exactly what you don't want. So 15 minutes, no more, and preferably no less each day helps a lot.
Diet is also important. Are you a vegetarian? If so, it makes it a bit harder, because meat is grounding, and you will need to include more earthing vegetables in your diet. We need to avoid stimulants like sugar and caffeine. Using minimal salt is also a help, because salt and acids (like vinegar in pickles and salad dressing) stimulate the adrenals. Red meat does too, so the lighter meats like poultry and fish are better in general. I've been told that a vegetarian should eat a lot of root vegetables - at least, that is supposed to help. (I can't say from personal experience because I am carnivorous and didn't have to pay a lot of attention to the grounding qualities of vegetables.)
Exercise helps, but it needs to be moderate and regular. A rule of thumb in dealing with kundalini is to avoid overdoing anything. The system is already overdoing things, and it needs moderation and calmness.
The primary requirement in dealing with this experience is to learn to earth and to integrate this enhanced energy flow. To do this we may, especially at first, need help with earthing the sudden release of these powerful energies. We may also need help with the emotional/mental patterns and malfunctions brought into increased activity and under increased pressure by the rising of kundalini.
In cultures where kundalini is known and understood by many, people undergoing the experience will usually be encouraged to work closely with a teacher who understands the process and probably to take time from their ordinary life for a retreat while the energy rebalances. In our Western society, we often do not realize that we need to do this and attempt to carry on with all the demands of ordinary life while we try to integrate the kundalini changes. This can be done, but it requires special attention to the things mentioned above like diet, exercise, and meditation. It is also very helpful if we can get time for mini-retreats - occasional days of solitude and quiet. Things like long outdoor walks or working in a garden also are helpful, as is paddling in an ocean or a river. Time spent with nature is never wasted and you may well discover new aspects of nature with your enhanced subtle senses.
The one thing I can say for sure is that the kundalini rising experience is worth having (but I like roller coasters), and the end results of enhanced psychic strength, increased stability, and greater healing ability are well worth going through the turmoil of the transition period. Full integration may take several years - two or three is not excessive."
This article originally appeared in Otherworld Arts, 1997,
a bimonthly magazine published by Jessica Macbeth.
Copyright © 1997 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.