Kundalini Awakening Facing a Spiritual Emergency by Geo Grant
“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest: a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us…our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty…striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.” — Albert Einstein
I wish to relate the story of an ecstatic experience that dramatically changed my life. This was by far the most intense, frightening, and eventually blissful event I have ever been through. Shortly after this event unfolded, an energy healer told me that I had gone through what is known as Kundalini rising. Prior to this experience, I had never heard of Kundalini, much less understood what it meant. I was a rational skeptic, to the point of being somewhat cynical about peoples’ spiritual claims. But after my experience, I have no doubt that a powerful, super-intelligent energy infuses the universe and ties existence together in unimaginable ways.
Kundalini is a Hindu term that means “coiled up,” and in terms of the human body refers to a divine energy that generally lies dormant near the base of the spine. The goal of many serious spiritual practices, including yoga and various forms of mediation, is to arouse or awaken this energy to produce profound changes in consciousness. More generally, Kundalini is seen as the creative, life-giving energy of the universe—the force that animates matter, gives rise to evolution, and intelligently orchestrates the dance of life. This energy goes by various names in different spiritual traditions. Since ancient times, this primal energy has often been symbolized as a cosmic snake or serpent. Symbols of Kundalini are seen even in modern times. An example is the staff and snake symbol of the American Medical Society.
Hindus believe this reservoir of intel-ligent and powerful energy is present in everyone, but generally remains dormant. Sometimes, however, it may spontaneously “awaken” and travel up the spine toward the brain, eventually making a circuit. This is the best description that I know of for what happened to me.
This spiritual supercharge is beyond description, but can also be quite traumatic as the energy burns through a lifetime (or perhaps lifetimes) of emotional and cognitive blockages created by the ego, and formed as the result of emotional and physical trauma. Sometimes Kundalini may be partially activated, giving rise to psychic and clairvoyant abilities.
My experience occurred while I was on “vacation” visiting with my mother in rural Michigan. It began with a series of dreams that served as a foreshadowing of events to come. In the dreams, I was shown that fear had manifested as a physical force in my body, in the form of frozen, stagnant energy. In one dream, I was charged to round up the population of a small town into a town meeting (bringing the force together). Another dream was filled with beautiful, energetic music. The dreams were amazing in terms of both content and significance. The most prominent message in the dreams, and in my waking life at the time, was that an “invitation” was being extended to me. I intuitively knew this invitation was the opportunity to travel into an indescribable force. It was made clear that I had to lock into this force, and follow it. If I refused, I would miss my redemption, at least for the time. Because of this impending spiritual emergency, I took all of my intent to the task. This meant surrender of all preconceptions, as well as rigorous attention to the matters unfolding. I was about to learn that spiritual surrender requires great concentra-tion, as well as the courage to journey into unknown territory.
Along with the dreams, my waking life began to take on a surreal quality. For several days and nights, I followed the intent of the dreams, and what had become my waking dream. Then something very strange began to happen. Just below my solar plexus, I began to feel a ball of energy. It felt hot and powerful. This was very alarming, and there was no rational explanation for what was happening. I became quite disturbed, thinking that I might be possessed. I did not know what to do, and considered a trip to the emergency room. In retrospect, I’m very glad I did not choose this option! Stories abound of people having a spiritual emergency who are admitted to a hospital, given drugs and labeled as having a psychotic episode. This is a tragic consequence of an overly rational, closed-minded medical community. I was very fortunate to have had a guide during this trial, a good friend who had experienced something similar. If it had not been for my guide, I might have landed in the emergency room, or worse.
As the ball of energy settled in, breathing became difficult. I found my breath shallow and quick, and my mind racing. I began to speak to the ball, as if it were an alien force, which I believed it was. I told the force that it could not have my body, and at best it would have to share it with me. I became unable to sleep, which concerned me greatly. In true Western fashion, I tried to drug myself with sleeping pills. Fortunately, this did not work. In a strange twist, I was unable to obtain more powerful medication to help me sleep, despite having an active prescription in another state. My attempts at calmly contacting perhaps ten doctor’s offices, and requesting a visit to get a very small amount of medication, all met with nearly immediate failure. I found this to be rather bizarre.
It seemed clear I had to confront whatever was happening. I called my guide in Oregon, and explained my situation. He spoke of venturing into the things that make us the most afraid. He said that we run from what we need the most. Gradually these things began to make sense, but how was I to face my greatest fears?
While feeling desperate with my difficult breathing, I asked my mother, “What’s happening to me?” She quickly replied, “You’re being tested.” My mother is not a spiritual person, and I will never know what led her to say that. Amazingly, she also knew what I was supposed to do. She suggested I move the ball of energy directly into my solar plexus, a couple of inches from where it was located. This proved to be the most difficult and terrifying task I would ever face.
With tremendous resolve, I set myself to the task at hand. In a dreamlike state, I attempted to move this force to my solar plexus. This was a terrifying process, accomplished millimeter by millimeter. It felt like I was putting my entire personality into a position of absolute vulnerability and potential annihilation. It may have meant risking psychosis, but at this point I did not care. Ultimately, I was charged to move into, then beyond horror, to discover another world beyond the greatest fear. Finally, the ball of energy reached my solar plexus. When this happened, an automatic power began to take control of my body and emotions. My heart beat furiously and everything started to speed up. Fearing a heart attack, I again considered a trip to the emergency room, but my guide soothed my fears, advising me that a greater power was now controlling matters—one that knew exactly what it was doing. I was unable to sleep for the next four days.
Those four days involved a series of visions, sounds, and incredible physical sensations. Each day, new visions and new ideas presented themselves. In one vision, I experienced the Earth as a living being. I saw the blood of the Earth in the waterfalls, rivers and oceans. In another vision, I saw my core essence as an invincible drop of energy that no force could ever penetrate. I saw my spirit, along with others, moving toward something huge. As the experience progressed, I became unable to have a negative emotion of any kind. This was so amazing that I had to test it. I tried very hard for a long time to imagine the most horrible things, and to be as afraid as I possibly could. Instead, all I could do was laugh! Life had become a divine comedy. The sense of relief and power this brought was incredible.
As the days passed, my entire body felt like it was being cleansed and purified. I felt like a tiny light bulb being plugged into Hoover Dam. Eventually, my ego identity separated and was placed aside like a small toy, while my consciousness became part of an ocean of bliss and awareness. A long dream had ended, and I had awakened. I knew I had been here before, and that this was truly home. What a nuisance my pathetic and frightened little self had been! Life began to take on the quality of a cartoon or a fairy tale, in which actors take the stage and act out an amazing play. I no longer cared about being able to sleep, and my trust in the processes unfolding had become complete. I eagerly awaited each new day and night, and the visions and lessons to come.
I began to know thought and emotion only as physical energies that exert considerable force on the body, and developed an ability to understand others’ energy. I intuitively understood the fears that had prevented my parents from reaching their full potentials. At this point, I could rapidly and easily move my own small piece of ego consciousness about my body. Once I sent it into my foot and told it to stay there!
The final night was by far the most fantastic. My visions became cosmic. I knew the universe was alive! I felt the power of the living stars and galaxies, and witnessed the massive forces of chaos and order that shape everything that exists. I could hear a huge echo, like I was standing in some colossal room. I could also hear a giant ringing sound, which seemed to emanate from something hidden yet incredibly big. That night, intense waves of love force descended on my body, which felt like a bath in liquid metal. This went on for hours. That night, I no longer hoped to believe in God—I knew God absolutely.
At the culmination of the experience, I had a final vision. I was a small child travelling on some sort of cosmic train. I watched images through a window with awe and wonder—images of a universe that was so fantastic, powerful and creative that my mind could not possibly comprehend it. All of life was the dream of this fountain of creative energy. I have wept while writing this. I cannot possibly convey the majesty of this experience, or how fortunate I feel to have gone through it. Einstein once said that all human thought and effort stands as nothing in comparison with the mystery of the divine. I do believe this, and it often gives me comfort.
One hundred and sixty hours after the Kundalini force had risen in my body, it began to slowly withdraw. I wondered why this was so. Perhaps I would have died if it had continued much longer. The toll on my body had been immense. I had not slept or eaten much for five days. Afterward, I felt like a robotic toy that had its power cord unplugged. I descended into normal consciousness, and was finally able to sleep. I did not dream, but I was uncontrollably happy.
Over the next few months I pondered some difficult questions. What did this experience mean? Was there a reason it happened to me? Could it happen again? How could I keep from slipping back into my old fears and ways of thinking? In retrospect, I needed spiritual counseling and training, but I did not know where to find it. Beyond the fantastic memories, I knew that I had learned how to move energy in my body. I also remembered that on another level, thought and emotion are nothing but energy. Many months later, and with great effort, I taught myself a form of meditation that involved concentrating my own energy and moving it into my head, which would bring me to a state of profound happiness. I later learned that this is called Qi Gong, an ancient spiritual practice. This is still a challenging practice for me, and I have by no means mastered it.
Clearly I cannot re-create the fullness of that week, however, I now practice meditation every day, which gives me considerably more peace and strength than I had before. I also learned a great deal from this experience. I now believe there is a larger reality that encompasses our world, and that everything is connected and alive. Every person, animal, plant, grain of sand, drop of water is part of a fantastic living universe. Thoughts and emotions are manifested as strong physical forces in the body, and may have considerable impact in the larger reality that we consider the “objective world.”
My experience was highly personal, but it appears to fit in nicely with the changing paradigms of our age. As science moves into the 21st century, it is becoming clear that consciousness plays an integral role in the functioning of the universe. Quantum physics paints a picture of the cosmos that is stranger than many of us can imagine—a world where influence is not restricted by the speed of light, where “objective reality” does not exist, and a universe where matter itself may be considered merely a reflection of a greater dimension. Scientists can no longer stand back and objectify the world, without being considered active participants in its creation.
If, as a culture, we are beginning to realize that our conscious-ness impacts the world, we may begin to understand the power we hold as creators of our own reality. As a result of my experience, I am more mindful about what I say, how I say it, and my actions toward myself and others. I visualize my thoughts, actions and behaviors like ripples on a pond— waves that propagate across an endless sea of consciousness that influences all that is. Some thoughts and actions are destructive, some are creative and loving. I believe that love is a powerful force that is everywhere and ever-present. Love can be used to accomplish great things; however, love requires courage and faith, and an effort to make the self more vulnerable.
On the opposite end, fear and self-hatred are the greatest limiters of human achievement and well-being. Negative emotions cause physical blocks in the body that limit the reach of consciousness. Psychotherapy, massage, acupuncture, meditation and other healing techniques can help release these blocks caused by longstanding cognitive and emotional patterns. So can lifestyle changes. I practice meditation because it puts me in greater touch with the subtle but powerful energy that regulates my mind and body.
And as we heal our own bodies and spirits, it is empowering to make a commitment to heal and nurture the greater bodies of our society and the Earth. How fantastic does it feel to march for peace in solidarity with thousands of others! How much better than watching television! How great it is to drive an economical vehicle! What a wonderful and empowering thing it is to tell our friends, family and coworkers that we oppose exploitive aggression by our government in foreign lands! What do we have to lose by expressing our views? If the powers that be don’t manifest compassion and common sense, let them hear the voice of truth from us. The less we practice being silent and afraid, the less we will be those things. Let us stand for love and truth at the risk of our own annihilation. What greater thing can we stand for?
As a final note, those who are interested in learning more about the Kundalini experience may wish to read Kundalini: Psychosis or Transcendence, by Lee Sannella, M.D, a short but highly informative book. There are many other books on the subject at Powell’s in Portland, and of course many resources available on the Internet. Finally, if you find yourself or someone you love beginning this kind of experience, get help and guidance! Find someone who has been through or understands this experience. Above all, try to let it flow!
Geo Grant teaches for Portland Community College. He can be reached at [email protected]