Kundalini

Kundalini Manifestions and Symptoms

So it has been quite a while since I have written about kundalini, and I get asked a fair amount of questions about it, so I thought I would write a (somewhat) basic blog about symptoms to answer the “how do I know?” sorts of questions that I receive.

I will say that I am “classical” in terms of my understandings. What this basically means is that new-age pop spirituality has taken the term “kundalini” and turned it into a basic meaning of anyone having any sort of spiritual experience has a kundalini awakening…. with of course the added on commercialism/competitive spirituality type stuff of If you could only have a kundalini awakening, you will have perfect health, be wealthy, immortal, and be more spiritual than your friends! 

Anyone who has done more than surface-level study of kundalini will know that there are many types of spiritual awakenings. You can read about the different types in my book: The Spiritual Awakening Guide: Kundalini, Psychic Abilities, and the Conditioned Layers of Reality

Basically, there are many paths up the mountain. A kundalini awakening is one of them.

To add a bit more complexity to that, at some point anyone who is spiritually awakening will have a kundalini awakening if they get to a certain point on that mountain. There is, of course, a question of how many actually get to that point on the mountain… but I digress.

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It is interesting, before I begin I will note that some people choose to look at my description of kundalini awakenings, or shamanic/spiritual awakenings and so forth as either I am describing them to state that those who experience them are “superior” because in our society if something is rare, or considered “advanced”, or intense spiritually we automatically with our monkey brains want to have it for our own.

This is completely contrary thinking to anyone who has ever had a severe awakening experience, such as a kundalini awakening. 

I have now been working with my kundalini awakening for 13 years (since full manifestations started, I recognize it as a force in my life prior to that now), and I still have days where I wish that it was something I didn’t have to deal with. On some days it is like a ravaging wildfire decimating everything in its path… and I think of the people who really, really want a kundalini awakening or think that they are having one and start to think about the reality of intense spiritual experiences vs. the sort of new-age gloss that makes everyone think that they want intense spiritual experiences.. and the sort of illusory nature of people stating that “kundalini”, which you can evidently acquire, will create some sort of perfected bliss state.

On my more difficult days with this energy I think about how leprosy is rare, but that doesn’t mean that anybody really wants it, and it doesn’t mean that anyone with any sort of wound says they have leprosy. Perhaps an obnoxious example, but full-blown kundalini awakenings vs. what many people describe as their “kundalini awakening” based on ignorance and some really bad writing out there by people who have clearly never experienced it are in two completely different ballparks.

I still don’t understand people wanting rare spiritual experiences, as I know from doing spiritual work for a long time that the people who have them struggle with accepting them for a long time, and struggle with having spiritual experiences that displace them from the norm… as we covet these sort of experiences, we rarely realize the reality that we are looking for them to make us feel special and significant… and the effect is almost the exact opposite. Kundalini is a destructive and purifying force. It releases the patterns and traumas and illusions we have been carrying.

Basically, any form of spiritual awakening will teach you how insignificant you really are. It is one of those “stops” on that mountain, an initiation of sorts, and it is one of those initiations that a lot of people fail… and that you can really tell how far “up” the mountain people actually are by their realization of their own insignificance… and their releasing of the illusion that they are the center of the universe.

Any full-blown kundalini awakening is intense. There is no such thing as a “mild” kundalini awakening.

Even people who have “purified” themselves through counseling, are physically in shape, mentally sound, spiritually aware through meditation… we always, always, always, have illusions that are coloring our world, that are pulling our world together, that pull together our concept of who we are.

And unless we are completely “perfected”, kundalini will be difficult for us mentally/psychologically, spiritually/energetically, and/or physically. There are phases in kundalini awakenings, and typical the physical is dominant at first (physical releases), which teach the experiencer that they are not in control in order to help them to release fear… but my point here is that if someone states that they have had a kundalini awakening, and it wasn’t that bad, or it was easy, 99.99 percent of the time it was not a kundalini awakening, or it was a stirring of the energy.

Kundalini awakenings are extremely rare.

And by that I mean full-blown kundalini awakenings. 

Most people who experience kundalini have experienced either a stirring (a feeling of heat going up their tailbone and spine like in yoga class). Stirrings happen once or twice, and that is it. This temporary experience can forward you on your spiritual path, but a lot of people state that they have had a kundalini awakening and they are referring to this.

When having a stirring you can act normally, you can be around people. You feel some energy go up your spine, basically.

Kundalini experiences are temporary experiences of the energy. They can happen in the presence of a guru giving shakti, or at meditation retreats, or via drugs. They can happen over the course of ten minutes or of a few months.

In a kundalini experience someone will have intense shaking, go into yoga postures spontaneously, and the energy flowing through you will be strong/intense enough that people around you will know what is going on. There is no hiding this– it is an incredible rising of energy through you.

A lot of people have transcendental experiences that are not kundalini experiences. They may channel energy or have an influx of energy. Kundalini always rises (caveat: at first). 

Our bodies hold on to trauma. They have a lot of held energy. In order to release kundalini our bodies move into spontaneous postures, mudras (hand positions and body positions). They can do this sort of statically (into one position) or you can flop around on the floor for half an hour or so going into all sorts of different positions.

The purpose of this is to get energy flowing through your body, to unlock kundalini. Energy has difficulty flowing through the joints of our bodies. We tend to hold energy in the crevices of our form. Spontaneous movement allows for this energy to flow through.

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So we get to signs and symptoms of full kundalini awakenings.

A full kundalini awakening is permanent. 

There is this idea that kundalini just rises up the spine and goes up the top of the head and somehow is complete. This is simply untrue. This comes from people typically who either have had a kundalini experience… or even more typically… who have read a bit about kundalini and learned that this is how it is supposed to go, and then create an illusion/myth about their lives that they have had this experience.

I have had letters from people who have gone to teachers/gurus promising a “kundalini awakening”, and they typically have this thought. Because when you purchase, or believe you can purchase kundalini, your teacher is going to tell you that your process is complete.

But on to the symptoms.

A lot of people I have run across believe that the intensity or “heat” aspects of kundalini are a metaphor, or as if that they were somehow above those experiences, or that their mild experiences equal a kundalini awakening.

Kundalini is hot. It is fire. It is the constant presence of fire. This fire goes through “purification” cycles where it releases specific aspects of the body. We need this fire to burn through our illusions, patterns, traumas, and so forth. This fire is often hot enough to not only be palpably experienced by others around you, but can do things like melt holes in pants.

I have never met anyone who is authentically having a kundalini awakening who does not have a huge layer of volcanic heat in their energy field.

Kundalini is permanent. It is always felt. It may be more subtle at times, it may go into a sort of remission of sorts (but it can still be felt), it will go through cycles and phases, but it is always there. It is always working.

Kundalini creates spontaneous movements, twitching, vibrations. There is some confusion about this one, so I will say that some vibration or twitching happens to a lot of people. We release trauma and energy (qi/prana, not kundalini) through our bodies, and our bodies will twitch or vibrate. Spontaneous movements, body positions, vocalizations are different than some twitching.

I will say that once you have gotten out of the first “stage” of kundalini (generally past the first few chakras), and learn to work more in concert with the energy, that the spontaneous movements stop, or cut down… or at the very least you can work with them.

This is because the energy rises, and most people get stuck in the first few chakras. Our first few chakras are where we hold things like fear, and control, and many people just can’t, or aren’t ready, to surrender to the realization that they are not in control.

People experiencing kundalini rarely realize that what their “ego” is creating is fear, and that their need for superiority, or more aptly put, the reason that they are creating an illusion that they do not need to progress further, or something more terrible would happen if they did, comes from fear. Which comes from kundalini emerging in the first chakra, and will lessen if the person is willing and able to move beyond that fear.

Immense electrical force circulating the body. When kundalini used to really surge for me, it would interfere with the lights in the house, as well as with automatic doors in shopping centers. It really feels like lightning coursing through your body. This is again palpable by those around you. Mild electrical force, known as qi (or body energy) can be cultivated and used in a variety of ways. This is much stronger, and the force is intense enough that people worry that they may spontaneously combust or split open.

Digestive issues. It is not unusual for people experiencing kundalini to need to completely change their diet. This happens in other forms of spiritual awakening, so I will say that in kundalini awakenings people may need to eat only rice for periods of months (their body will not take anything else in) when kundalini is working through the digestive organs… or they may need to drink things like soup (if it is in their throat chakra). The digestive fire of the body is rerouted with kundalini, and complete changes in diet are often necessary.

Again, this is not a “choice” thing… like people deciding not to eat gluten or go Paleo or similar…this is the body having a violent uprising of heat and intense symptoms if the wrong things are eaten for someone experiencing kundalini.

Emotional Lability. Intense processing (releasing of emotions and traumas) as well as the overwhelm that come from kundalini create intense waves of emotions. These can be as huge as a crashing wave, and it can be difficult to tell the source/where they came from when especially intense.

Hyperactivity and Fatigue cycles. In the beginning, burnout and extreme fatigue (sometimes to the point of not getting out of bed) are really normal. Later, period of hyperactivity and feelings of heightened creativity, as well as the ability to get a lot of things done in a short period of time (I once wrote a book in four days, for example) occur. In later periods (after the first phase) less sleep is needed, and more restful sleep is necessary.

So I would say that what I have written above is what I look for in a full kundalini awakening. These happen in everyone I know who has authentically experienced a kundalini awakening. Some of these symptoms will begin to lessen, or change, with time. Basically one of the questions I always get from people who are authentically going through a full kundalini awakening is when they symptoms will stop and/or change, and the answer to that is always that I do not have a specific timeline, because it has to do with how much you are willing to surrender. To give up the idea(s) of who you are, to let go of the idea that you are in control, to let go of any sort of ego-type awakenings (this is often a trick, or more kindly, a spiritual initiation, for the experiencer to see if they are ready to let go and truly move on to the next phase/heart and upper chakras).

Kundalini awakenings are always intense, no matter how you prepare for them. Kundalini experiences are also always intense, no matter how much you prepare for them. Kundalini stirrings are often not terribly intense, are are actually fairly common for people on the spiritual path.

I am so specific about my definitions because while people can call their experiences whatever they like (I have given up the sort of control/fight, and if people want to call themselves kundalini awakened, or a Shaman, or the Pope, they are welcome to), there are people out there that are authentically and fully experiencing kundalini, and it does a disservice to them for there to be so much inauthentic or overly-intellectualized information out there (without any experience to back it up).

So the symptoms I have written about above I would look for in any case of a full kundalini awakening. And to be clear, I would look for all of them. Kundalini can in some cases be cold, but if you are not feeling a force strong enough that you occasionally have thoughts about spontaneous combustion, you are likely experiencing a different spiritual phenomena.

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Other things that can be experienced by those going through a kundalini awakening include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Changes in sexual desire (lack of it, typically at first, then quite a bit of desire)
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Left foot and leg pain, or feelings of that leg being sort of static
  • Back and neck pain
  • spontaneous eruptions of noise or emotions (laughing, weeping, singing, speaking)
  • inner sounds, such as bells, choirs, and vibration/flow type sounds (hard to explain)
  • Mental fog
  • Physical feeling of where kundalini is “working” (for example, pressure in specific areas)
  • Feelings of immense joy, bliss
  • Sudden shifts where you are not the same after (your beliefs about yourself change in an instant, or fairly quickly)
  • Drug addiction– being in overwhelm/lacking resources causes many having severe awakening purposes to utilize drugs and alcohol to stop or numb the experiences
  • Spiritual knowing, increasing psychic abilities
  • Dreaming of snakes, visions of snakes

So in the next blog, I will talk about the symptoms and experiences of what happens when you go beyond these experiences. All of what I have written above is basically the first “phase” that everyone goes through when kundalini awakening. This is what most people get stuck in, and what is written about by a lot of people who have studied kundalini experiences or work with kundalini-bitten individuals, but as surrender and reconciliation with the energy occurs, the symptoms I have listed give way to very different experiences.

Therapy, Medication, Kundalini, and Spiritual Awakening

So I occasionally get asked by someone to talk about my feelings of “standard treatments” and Spiritual Awakenings, such as Kundalini awakenings.

I am generally a reasonable person, and so my response to the person is that each person is individual and must do what is right for themselves in their own life. Which is the truth. I am not you, and I cannot decide if therapy, hospitalization, medication, and so forth is the right trajectory for you. Sometimes it is. But what is more often the case is that the current treatment options for anyone who is acting out of the “ordinary” and admits to it, or is not functional in their daily lives is medication and/or hospitalization. Basically, if it is not physical, it is mental.

That is where we are as a society, and where we still are in terms of treating diseases. Our society as a whole is just now really (well maybe for the last decade or two) understanding that mind and body are connected, and their are a gamut of new-age authors who were former doctors (or something like that) who say that they truly understand the mind-body-spirit and have discovered how they are connected. Most of them are talking about the mind-body connection, and their understandings are really surface but palatable to a wide, mainstream new-age audience who is just discovering the same surface understandings, but I won’t go there in this blog.

Most of the material about spiritual awakenings that has been introduced to a mainstream audience (well, an audience that has been interested in it, so not exactly mainstream) has been through psycho-therapeutic models. Meaning that psychiatrists and psychologists became interested in the subject and have written books, and done studies and programs about it. A lot of this material is still enormously helpful and insightful, by the way, even if it was written decades ago by this point. I do not wish to castigate this material, suggest it is not important, or that it is not essential readings and understandings for anyone going through a spiritual awakening.

But the psychotherapeutic model has its limitations.

Mainly because it considers anything deviating from “normal behavior”– meaning anything that the “normal” sleeping person (the person that just goes about their life in the repeated behavior/loops and is under a lot of conditioning and never really questions it, or gets upset if they have to) wouldn’t do is considered aberrant behavior because it diverges from that state. Meaning that anyone who is actually going through a spiritual awakening has something wrong with them because they are not acting or living their lives how a “normal” person should act.

There are all sorts of words for this– Qi gong sickness, or Meditation Related Problems, or Problems Related to Spiritual Practice. All diagnosable (some questionable diagnoses by the mainstream of psychiatry still, by the way) issues.

The difficult with this is that the Spiritual Awakening process is an aberration, but it doesn’t mean that something is wrong. In fact, it often means that something is really right. That someone is awakening beyond conditioned reality. And what happens is that the psychotherapeutic model defines this aberration as wrong, bad, medication or hospitalization worthy so that the person can return to “normal”– meaning the sleeper state.

I have read countless studies, for example, of well meaning physicians who became interested in “meditation related problems” who have blamed meditation for the cause of the issues presenting. In some cases it very much is an issue, by the way… we tend to focus on meditations that are too advanced for us (going from A to Z in one leap), make contact with spiritual truths that are too much for us to process, or focus on meditations that open us up psychically (open your third eye!) without processing any of our lower chakra stuff first. But even in those cases, what the person needs is someone to help them process, not someone to diagnose them and put them back to sleep.  

And many times, even if it is the “wrong” meditation, what is actually happening is this… the person is going through an Awakening. It is uncomfortable. It is causing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual issues. It is causing the person to become non-functional in their daily lives, or to realize that their former, sleeping lives are not who and what they want to be now. 

And this is certainly an aberration– a deviation from the norm. But we have a tendency to want to put back to sleep anything that is uncomfortable, anything that causes pain or dis-ease or difficulty in our lives. 

And many times what is happening in spiritual awakening is a healing process. A rapid, uncomfortable, healing process. 

But that is not how it is treated in the psycho-therapeutic model. 

We are so used to medicating anything that makes us feel. Any emotions that are coming up (and there will be a lot in the awakening process) that we cannot define as “our own” are treated as dysfunctions, and something to be medicated or treated.

This is because psychotherapeutic methods have only “awakened” to the family system level. It is still news, and not accepted– that ancestral patterns, past lives, societal, world, cosmic patterns (for example, there are others… you can read about them in my book) live within us and can be expressed, processed, worked through. So when someone is coming upon a pile of rage, or a huge amount of grief that does not come from early childhood, psychotherapeutic practitioners do not (by and large) have the knowledge to know how to identify these patterns or work with them. So typically what happens is that the person under their care will go through therapy (talk therapy) to go over their early childhood again and again to solve the mental aspects of this (which certainly can be helpful) or to give the person some tools to help them in their daily lives be a bit more functional… or in some cases medication or being told they will “just have to live” with things.

Because most psychotherapeutic practitioners typically have a great deal of ignorance about the spiritual awakening process, or about anything beyond early childhood type trauma or energies. Some do, by the way, and are exploring ancestral work (family constellations) or spiritual awakening (transpersonal, some jungian, for example) but even many of those still define the spiritual awakening process not as a process of growth, of unfolding, and of healing… but of one of deviation from societal norms that must be stopped. 

We do not like to feel, to experience, to grow. Growth can be painful, it can be brutal in fact. And our current society, our current cultural mindset is to make anything painful, out-of-the ordinary, or difficult simply go away. To sweep it under the rug, to put it back to sleep, to drug, drink, and screw it away until we no longer remember our existential pain.

SO I WILL SAY WITH A LOT OF CAVEATS: I am not a physician, I am not a therapist. I personally do not find those models helpful, and never particularly have. Personally, I have needed much more work on a spiritual level vs. a mental level, and have worked far beyond the context of any early childhood pain that I have experienced… and don’t feel the need to talk about it much anymore.

BUT I WILL SAY THIS: There currently is not a model in place to keep people in Spiritual Emergency safe. This is, unfortunately, the hospital systems and psychotherapeutic models. It is the limitations of our current cultural mindset that causes this. But I digress. There are some points in the spiritual awakening process that someone may need hospitalization or medication or they will harm themselves, or someone else. They are so broken down that they need someone to watch over them, and their family or friends are not able to.

I very much understand this. I also wish it was different, but for people who are in such a state of emergency, this is their only option, and it is often life-saving.

The difficulty with this option is that it goes on your “record” and you are given medication. Medication that is hard to titrate off of (despite what clinicians might say, all anti-depressants and/or anti-psychotics are extremely difficult to work your way off of, some more than others… but Acupuncture can really help with this by the way if you are wanting to do so in concert with your physicians knowledge). Once you are on medication it is intended to be for the long-term, and you are also expected to be in therapy for a long time (typically).

All of these methods may be life-saving, but medication in particular stops the spiritual awakening process. It just does– again, some more than others (I work with plenty of people on medication, by the way, and don’t pass judgement on people who are taking it, as I have mentioned, these are simply my thoughts). This may be exactly what you want or need if you are reading this, by the way. I do understand that, I have compassion for that. I talk to people weekly who I tell truthfully that I cannot help– they are too far gone into an emergency state that they need someone local (at the very least) because I work through teaching people tools and understandings to work through their stuff, and if they are not in a place to be able to process something (or anything) that I say, there isn’t much, quite frankly, that I can do.

My last caveat (I promise): Again, I am not a physician, but as someone who has gone through a difficult process I know that one of the biggest difficulties in this world is that people think that their own experiences, their own opinions and insights need to be had by everyone else. Basically, what this means is that (like I mentioned above) I do not personally suggest medication for people going through Spiritual Awakening, and I think that therapy is helpful only to a certain limited point (see limitations above) because the Spiritual Awakening process is spiritual, not mental… But I am not you. I cannot decide for you what you should do with your life. You can read my thoughts to family members of people going through Spiritual Awakening here, but I am not living your life and cannot decide what the right trajectory for you is. I am the first to acknowledge that hospitals can be life-saving. That is what they are there for. If you are at that point, that might be the best decision for you. But if you are not, you may want to consider things a bit more deeply.

Ideally, some day there will be treatment centers focused on giving people who are experiencing Spiritual Awakenings a place to really process what is coming up for them… instead of pushing it back down to the depths of their subconscious (Anyone want to give me funding for this?) But until that day, we must live in a world that all of us have co-created, and do the best that we can. There are ways to work with Spiritual Awakenings so they are not treated as a diagnosable process, an aberration, or something to be put back to sleep. There really are. The Spiritual Awakening process, despite its difficulty, allows for you to release what is not whole– what is broken, traumatized, and conditioned in you– so you can awaken to who you truly are. Just imagine if we could have that basic understanding… or if the whole world could (or at least the allopathic world could).

If you are interested in working with me, you can contact me

Fear of Life

We are inhibited by our fears. We let them cloak us, color our world, and whisper things to us that break down our self-worth, convince us that we will never succeed, that we are not worthy of succeeding.

Deep down in the dingiest places of our subconscious we fear being alive, we fear being well, vital, healthy, and happy.

In the spiritual awakening process this fear comes out full force. Fear of ourselves. Fear of death. Fear of the unknown. Fear of not being in control. Fear that there is something wrong with us. Fear of fear.

These fears multiply and restrict us until fear is all we see, fear is all we know.

We can have everyone around us tell us not to be afraid, not to fear. But still we do.

The single most oppressive thing we can do to ourselves is fear. 

When we come in touch with our fear we begin the self-creation process. We create circumstances, events, and our lives around this fear. We create fear monsters, fear demons, aspects of ourselves and the outer world that we are so afraid of that we significantly restrict ourselves from experiencing anything new out of life. We stop living. We stop experiencing. We no longer get well, or we get sicker. All due to fear.

When we fear we shut down. We stop ourselves. We restrict ourselves. We immobilize ourselves. It is the classic fear response– to be so afraid that we are no longer able to move.

Many of us do this in a subconscious, gradual way. We are afraid of the unknown, and we are used to our lives (even if they are miserable, unhealthy, or we simply wish for more) so we would rather go through our patterns of fear again and again because they are known. We know them intimately. We are in an almost erotic relationship with our fear, and we feel sexual release when we conquer it… but few of us do.

Because we are used to telling ourselves no. We are used to stopping ourselves. We are used to fear ruling our lives, stopping us from being who we are and who we want to be.

In the spiritual awakening process, especially in the case of significant awakenings (like Kundalini) fear is the number one thing holding people back from moving past fear, pain, and the difficulties of the process… into a place of joy, light, ease, and peace.

People are generally doing the best they can… or the best they think they can. They do not realize that this fear is ruling their lives. Or, they may be conscious of it to the point of being fearful of everything (such as what can happen in the Kundalini process) until they break down physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

No matter what you say to them they will always go to the side of fear. Because that is what they know. Breaking up with fear is like breaking off a relationship with a lover. Even if we can hear logically from friends, from therapists, and others that this person is no good for us we are used to our lover. We live with them, we know them intimately, they are there for us.

And who would we be without fear?

Fear is a choice, like most things are in this world. It is natural to be afraid in frightening situations. It is natural to feel fear.

But we do not need to let it run our whole lives, to whisper to us quietly from inside our minds. We do not need to let it destroy us, to ruin our health, to ruin our mental balance, to destroy what we have and hold dear in this world.

In the spiritual awakening process a breakdown of what we knew– everything from beliefs to emotions to traumas to our physical daily lives– occurs. This is natural. Believe it or not, it is worth it (although I very much know that it doesn’t feel this way at the time).

Because when we release all of the patterns, break down all the issues they can clear. And we can become who we are.

But most people do not go willingly into this. They fight, they allow for their minds and egos and their fear monster to whisper to them, to create difficulties for them, and for most people the experience of spiritual awakening is like trying to grab on to the edge of a cliff with their fingernails with high winds surrounding them.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Yes, spiritual awakenings are difficult. But they do not have to be torturous. We have a choice. We can listen to the monster of fear which is telling us that we need to stay the same, that everything needs to stay the same… or we can decide to surrender to who we are becoming. To do the things we need to do, to break up with the fear, to move forward despite the fear… to be and accomplish what we want and know to be right in this world.

We can constrict, lock down, and break down… or we can expand, move past, and become.

Clinical Treatment of Kundalini Awakenings utilizing CranioSacral Therapy

One of the first blogs I ever wrote was about how helpful CranioSacral Therapy could be for Kundalini awakenings. When I was going through a Kundalini awakening my ability to process all of what was coming up (which was a lot, and is for most people truly experiencing a Kundalini awakening) my exploration of body based practices, such as CranioSacral therapy was of immense help… and I believe got me through the difficult aspects of the experience much more quickly. This is especially evident because I am frequently contacted by people who have been undergoing difficult Kundalini awakenings for decades who are still stuck at a certain stage of awakening. I truly believe that if many of them received CranioSacral therapy their physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual situations would drastically change.

It is eight years since I first wrote that blog, which you can access here (and could use a bit of updating on my part). The first blog is intended for the layperson who is going through a Kundalini awakening and would like to hear about CranioSacral Therapy as a treatment option. Since I have many clinicians who have had some, or a lot, of CranioSacral or Osteopathic training who are getting clients undergoing Kundalini awakenings, and who contact me seeking advice, I thought that I would write a general blog about how to approach Kundalini awakenings clinically utilizing CranioSacral therapy.

You can read the basics about what a Kundalini awakening actually is, including basic signs and symptoms here. If you would like more details about the Kundalini process, you can simply type in “Kundalini” into the search function and find a fair number of my blogs on it. Or you can buy my book through Amazon, which details many different types of spiritual awakenings, including Kundalini.

But to be brief, Kundalini is a latent energy in most people located at the base of the spine. It is coiled up like a snake between the area of the tip of the coccyx and the perineum. When it arises, or awakens, it uncoils from latency and rises up the spine, clearing physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual blockages that are in its path. As people versed in bodywork and CranioSacral therapy know, we store unprocessed, or unresolved physical/emotional/mental/spiritual issues in our bodies. When someone experiences a Kundalini awakening all (or much) of the unprocessed material begins clearing out. This is because Kundalini has risen to the area of the body where these issues are stored.

Kundalini arises through the spine until it hits significant blockage, in which case it will go back to latency (in some cases), but in the case of the full Kundalini awakening (rather than a temporary stirring of the energy) it will be a wave-like energy, rising again and again in sometimes gentle waves, and sometimes with the heat and urgency of an exploding volcano.

Clinically, the rising of Kundalini brings up unresolved physical and emotional issues. Physically, the release of such a large force locally in the perineum (called the Kanda point) and at the coccyx where the energy is coiled will create a lot of heat and discomfort locally. It is well known that people have a variety of pelvic floor issues, as well as low back (sacrum/coccyx) imbalances, and these will be exacerbated while the energy is uncoiling. It is important clinically to not only focus on the area of discomfort, but to support and release the entirety of the reciprocal tension membrane, the dural tube, and the structures that comprise the entirety of what is known as the “craniosacral system” including the associated osseous components, meninges, and soft tissue/fascia.

Of particular importance in working with Kundalini awakenings is the fluid systems of the body. Since Kundalini is such a “fire” based energy (except for rare cases where it presents as cold… but for most people it is like having an internal volcano) having the ability to work directly with the flow of CSF as well as the tides of the body, such as balancing the mid-tide and allowing for expression of the long tide and the embodiment wave (for biodynamic practitioners) will allow for primal elements (fire and water) to balance and find expression… and will allow for the client to resolve in utero experiences in a profound way (they may not realize this consciously of course) and come to a positive place with the idea of their Kundalini arising as well as experience energies coming together to support them, instead of the fatigue and fear that typically come with Kundalini awakenings and the feeling of it being an antagonistic force.

If I were to put this simply, while treating the physical pains that inevitably come up while “clearing” during the Kundalini awakening process, the craniosacral system must be balanced as a whole, otherwise the energy does not have a clear pathway up and will just create further physical issues, and the chief complaint of the client during the session is likely to be resolved as the energy can temporarily move in a freer manner, but without balance as a whole the energy will re-stagnate in the area again.

It is extremely important while treating Kundalini to realize that the physical and emotional are inseparable. It will not be shocking to anyone that is an experienced bodyworker that emotional issues arise during bodywork, or that emotional issues create physical blockages. While working to resolve the whole host of physical issues that the client is presenting with, it is very likely that emotions will arise and need to be tended to. The purpose of a Kundalini awakening is not to create physical pain. The client has physical pain as a result of past physical blockages (broken bones, injuries, physical imbalances and stressors) and the energy is simply trying to get a clear pathway through.

But beyond physical reasons emotional issues, past trauma, and even emotions not of the immediate lifetime (family patterns, ancestral issues, societal emotions/patterns, and so forth) arise during Kundalini awakenings. These are fully present and in fact are the likely cause of many of the physical issues that are presenting. Without creating a safe place in the treatment room where the client can fully release difficult and strong emotions alongside the physical aspects of care, the local area where Kundalini is attempting to clear is likely to be fully, or somewhat unresolved. This means that the energy cannot rise further because it still needs to process emotions and experiences in a localized area and it has not been able to yet. When an area is clear of emotions and somewhat clear of physical issues (enough so there is a clear, or somewhat clear pathway to rise further up the spine) it will do so. If Kundalini is stagnated in a particular area creating severe issues that are not able to be resolved, there needs to be a questioning of if you are the correct practitioner for the person, or if they may need another modality, such as psychotherapy, to release some of the emotional issues.

Beyond balancing the system and creating space and neutrality for the expression of the physical and emotional components of Kundalini awakening, the most important thing is to remember not to “do” anything to your client who is having a Kundalini awakening. 

What does this mean? It is typical for people undergoing a Kundalini awakening to go to all sorts of gurus and meditation/yoga teachers at first in seeking to understand and resolve this energy. Since most (if not all) of these practitioners/teachers are not body based, they will teach them meditations and breathing exercises, or if they are unfamiliar with the energy will tell them that they cannot help them (or that it is all in their head). It is rare for any of these teachers to know what they are talking about, and many of them cause further detriment and confusion to those that they guide. This is especially true because their work is not body-based and is focused on the mental constructs, not the emotional. Any work that seeks to force this energy to do anything will cause issues for those experiencing a Kundalini awakening.

Kundalini is a conscious energy, meaning that it knows what it wants to do. It has an agenda. It wants to rise up the spine (at least at first). It is easy to impose ideas, understandings, and philosophies onto the energy. If this happens Kundalini views this as resistance, and will not respond kindly. Any type of forceful physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual work that does not happen in concert with the energy will be viewed as antagonistic, and is likely to cause a lot of issues for the experiencer. This is why many people truly experiencing Kundalini do not seek out help… because they are afraid that a practitioner will make things worse for them… because they likely have gone to a guru or bodyworker or whomever and their situation has become worse.

So neutrality and listening to the inner consciousness, the inner silence of the body is what is needed. Holding space is what is needed. This energy knows what it wants to do, it knows how it needs to do it. It does not need to be told, scolded, or directed in what to do and how to be. All the person with a Kundalini awakening needs is someone to hold space for an immense amount of release and rebalancing. For someone to be okay with crying, with grief erupting, for anger to arise that they might not know where it came from. For the body to twist and move and torque and vibrate with releases and to be in a safe place to do so. For a practitioner to be experienced enough to recognize why the Kundalini is not arising more- to be informed enough of the physical body and the craniosacral system that you understand what the fascia might need, what the dural membrane is doing, that the coccyx is out of alignment, that the fluid systems of the body would like to be heard, that the wave forms and energies of the body can be seen/heard/felt.

When a practitioner deeply understands the physical body and its many components to be able to really listen and work with the varying layers and expressions, when the CranioSacral practitioner is experienced enough that their abilities shine through, when the practitioner is confident and experienced enough to know that holding space and creating silence for the body to reorganize in a profound way is more than enough to do without “doing” anything else because we feel we should as practitioners, and when we have enough experience as practitioners in our own inner work that we can hold space for emotional releases with maturity and safety, we can help people undergoing difficult (or even not-difficult) Kundalini awakenings in a profound way.

Craniosacral really is one of the best modalities I have come across for Kundalini awakenings. I have explored many, many modalities, meditation/breathing techniques, spiritual work, thoughtform/mental constructs (you catch my drift) and the ability of CranioSacral therapy to directly tap into the organizing energies of the body, the wave forms, the in utero experience and fluid systems of the body, the physical body as a whole (instead of its parts) with the focus on the spine (where this energy arises, at least at first), and the ability of it to see the spiritual-energetic-emotional-mental-physical simply as a continuum instead of separate things allows for us, as Craniosacral practitioners, to truly help people through this experience.

If you are someone who is experiencing Kundalini and is reading this, know that CranioSacral therapy can help you. Like any modality/expression, it is important to find someone who is experienced (I suggest people who have been through a 2-4 year training in Biodynamic Craniosacral therapy or have reached Advanced coursework with certification through the Upledger Institute… there are unfortunately a lot of courses out there and a lot of practitioners who have minimal training in this modality and think it is a series of steps to do). It is important to find someone who is interested and able to hold space for you to rebalance in the manner that you need to. It is not necessary for your practitioner to have experienced a Kundalini awakening themselves (although that would be incredible, of course) but just that they have the experience listed above and that you feel safe with them.

 

Opening the Deep Heart

Our hearts are very wounded places. In Chinese Medicine, the heart is thought of as the emperor (at a time when Confucian militaristic themes were being translated into the medicine). All other organs and energy of the body is intended to protect the heart physically, energetically and spiritually.

This is especially true of the Liver, which is known as the “general” or “leader of the troops”, as well as the Pericardium, which is the physical and energetic protector of the heart. But really all areas of the body are intended to keep the heart space and the heart itself as calm, peaceful, and loving… like a gently moving stream of water rippled with sunlight.

Most of our hearts are not like that peaceful stream. We have either exhausted our “army”– the general/Liver and all of the other organs intended to protect the heart or store emotions (like the intestines and pelvic cavity), or we have endured deep or sudden traumas that have caused our hearts to break or not be whole.

Most of us are in a state of overwhelm in terms of emotions and experiences we have yet to process. When we are unable to process the emotions or circumstances of our lives they enter our physical body to be stored for later processing. This creates pockets of unprocessed energy and emotions in our bodies. Unfortunately, what happens is that many of us do not go back to release these emotions (or do not know that we can) and so our bodies become stockpiles of unprocessed rage, grief, fear, and difficult experiences. This causes us fatigue, because our bodies are having to exert energy to keep these emotions and experiences sectioned off… and to attempt to keep our bodies as a whole functioning without the blocked off part(s).

Additionally, we most likely (as in all of us do) have experiences, traumas, and emotions that were handed down to us that are creating issues without us realizing it. Our family patterns, ancestors, past lives, and even societal and world emotions are somewhere in our system, creating issues. Many of us (especially those of you reading my blogs) are also sensitive, meaning that you pick up on the emotions and traumas of others. Many of you may not fully understand this, or what it does to your very real physical system (this could be a whole new blog, but typically receiving stimulus from outside sources that we cannot process starts to pile up in the digestive system, the stomach, liver, intestines, then the head, then the pelvis/genitals/legs, then effects the heart for sensitives). Being sensitive has real and physical consequences, and any sensitive should learn how to properly process energy that is not theirs… but I digress.

Our hearts are a sensitive and often wounded place. We often will harden our pericardiums, or create all sorts of energetic structures surrounding our heart in an attempt to not show the world that we are wounded… or that we deeply feel. This world prides itself on being a thinking, logical place (believe it or not) so feelings, sensing, and emotions are relegated to be something abnormal, something that should take place in solitude or in the privacy of a therapists office.

If we are able to open our hearts in the spiritual awakening process something wonderful happens. We are no longer in that state of brutal negativity the rest of the world is in (just look at any comment thread online for this… to see how miserable people really are), we no longer need to gossip or concern ourselves with others. We look at the world and begin to see what is right with it, and the inner divine spark or inner light of people. This is quite a switch from seeing the pain, the stupidity, the anger, betrayal, and so forth that are happening consistently in this world.

As many of you may know, I am a realist, and the experience of seeing this inner light does not mean that we do not also realize that the person is wounded, or doesn’t know what they are talking about, or is filled with hatred, self-disgust, misguided anger, and so forth. It is just a switch in identification… from first focusing on that stupidity, or that anger, animosity, violence, sleep, and so forth… to seeing who and what they are beyond those layers of sleep and chaos. If you are able to see this inner light first, the chaos that surrounds every person like a wind tunnel can be looked at from the eye of the storm– a place of neutrality, compassion, and recognition of what they are struggling with. 

The Deep Heart

If we are able to get to a point of clearing our own heart of wounding we come to a place known as the deep heart. In Kundalini awakenings, the access to this point happens after energy has fully reached through the tops of our heads (as a solid stream, not a burst of violent energy) and energy starts coming back down again and into our heart space.

This is a space deep within the heart, and also to the right of the heart. There are nodules (not in a physical way, it is the best way to describe them) that are lit up within our deep hearts like a constellation of energy. Experiencing these allows for us to experience deep self-love, forgiveness, and to clear our remaining emotional heart patterns. It also allows for us to finally lift that veil of separation. This means that we can see the entire world and all of the people within it inside of us (and yes, they are also not a part of us as well, such is the paradox of awakening past a certain point). It allows for us to expand in love– not the cheesy, illogical love perpetuated by self-help books– but a calm and flowing love that will flow from us and out of us. 

This love expands and unfolds from us until we are filled with love. We are also at this point willing to feel love. Not the human, frail type of love, but love from source/God/the Universe itself. We are willing to be held… to let go of our individual identifications with suffering, with pain, with the sort of rugged individualism that creates isolation and separation… but to realize and experience that we are held by something much greater than ourselves.

If we do not close ourselves off to it (receiving this love is frightening, since it is an experience of us giving a minuscule drop of love to be greeted by love ten thousand times that in return) we consistently open our deep hearts, and our entire beings, in this love.

Many of us do not experience this type of love because we simply would not allow for it. We are so used to suffering, to rugged individualism, to competitive “me first” type of behavior (yes, even in spirituality), to isolation, that the idea that we could be held and loved to this extent is not something we would even allow. We hunger for this type of love… the love of the divine mother, of divinity itself beyond labels.

We all have this part of ourselves– the deep heart. I am not writing my experiences so they sound extraordinary. I do not wish to be yet another “guru” who is fulfilling a “chosen one” illusion in spiritual literature. There is so much of that, and it is not needed yet again. My point is to tell you that there is a space within yourself beyond the chaos, beyond the hurricane of trauma and emotions and experiences… beyond the rugged individualism and the isolation and the fear… beyond the brutal negativity that is perpetuated in this world as a pericardium type mask to the devastation most of us have locked within our bodies from prior experiences of this world.   

We all have these nodes, this place of the deep heart. For most of us it is latent, meaning that no energy flows through it, no energy is lighting it up. But even realizing that we have this place within ourselves is the first step. We can move beyond our pain and our chaos. We can see the inner light before the outer chaos in others, or in the world. Simply recognizing that we have the capacity for that inner light, or trying to see that inner light in others, will do us as an individual, and the world as a whole, an immense amount of good.

 

Kundalini, Spiritual Awakening, and Control

One of the most difficult aspects of Kundalini awakening, or really any spiritual awakening, is reconciling the idea of control.

When we are still asleep we think that we are in control of much of our lives. Many spiritual communities and new-agers constantly speak of how “in control” we are– in fact, everything is a reflection of us and we “chose” our parents and our lives and the people and events in it. If we just think positively enough, or are “spiritual” enough we will have total and complete control over every aspect of our existence.

A Kundalini Awakening quickly breaks through that delusion. Kundalini awakenings are like a volcano of not-control, ripping through our lives and destroying any false notion of control we may have. Of course, some of you reading this may have gone through gentler awakenings and are merely pondering how much control you have, or if the memes and “secrets” about how when we awaken we have total and complete control over our lives is true.

It is not. The funny part about “waking up” is that you realize how much you have scrambled to believe things that are false, what illusions you have suffered under, and how frequently the opposite of what you once thought is the actual truth of the matter.

Control is an illusion. None of us have control. We have outer control of our “mundane” lives to a certain degree. If we sit on the couch and eat chocolate cake binge watching Netflix rather than going to yoga class that is (at least somewhat) on us. But did we even really make that decision? Maybe we were intended to eat chocolate cake and watch Netflix instead of going to yoga class.

As long as we think that we are in control we will always feel out of control. It is an odd paradox. In a Kundalini awakening most of us desperately want control… and we are taught a brutal lesson about control as our bodies are twitching and contorting and our beliefs and understandings about the world are ripped away from us. The desperate need for control causes us to clamp down, to attempt to stop the process, which only succeeds in making things much worse.

We do not have control. We never did, and never will. If we give up this idea of always being in control, of needing to be in control, and all of our mental constructs about control we can fully just be. No more planning, no more endless mental constructs about how we are going to be so much in control in our lives, or if we only were in control this and this would happen, and if we could just think hard enough or be enough or do enough we could finally have control.

We obsess about control. We let it rule our lives. If we are undergoing a spiritual awakening like a Kundalini awakening, we want to control the process because it seems to be happening despite us. The end result of this is that in the rare moments things may be going well in our lives and we feel in control we feel in power. And all the other times we fall victim to the endless thoughts of what would only happen if we had control and how our lives would be different.

None of us have control. It is incredibly freeing to let go of control, to let go of any illusions that you have control. In a Kundalini awakening it is crucial… it is one of the big tests and initiations in fact… to go beyond control, to realize that you do not in fact have any control over your existence.

Once you let go of this control you realize that you do, ironically, have some control. Of external circumstances, in a certain regard. But for the big stuff, the huge choices and “if only” and all of the stuff we obsess about we can simply let it all go. We can simply be. We can simply allow. And when you do that what flows into your life does to a higher degree, and when you make a decision you simply make the decision that you should make. The endless mental chatter is gone.

When we let go of control we allow for people, things, events, and everything in our life to be orchestrated by the divine. It flows through all of the layers of “reality” to our external, mundane, every-day reality. We become who we are meant to be, do what we are meant to do, and eat chocolate cake if it is the right time for chocolate cake.

By participating in life this way we know what opportunities, what energies, and what paths we should walk. We seize on opportunities when presented to us because they are the right opportunities. And when something “bad” happens to us, we do not think that “if we only did something differently” or beat ourselves up for not being a different person. It happened, it was intended to happen, and we move on (with the right sort of help or support system if necessary, of course).

By letting go of control, or our ideas about control, we can simply be. And if you are going through a significant spiritual awakening, such as a Kundalini awakening, it was intended to happen. You cannot stop it, you are not in control of it. Stop thinking of it as an adversarial force, stop stopping it and restricting it. Get to know what it is doing and why. Learn how to work with it.

If you are interested in working with me, you can contact me

The Three Phases of Kundalini

It has been my direct experience as well as from hearing hundred of client experiences that there are three distinct phases of Kundalini. Most literature is focused on the first phase either because it is an intellectualization of the Kundalini process without direct experience (there is a lot of this out there) or because the author or experiencer has not reached past the first phase themselves.

The first phase of Kundalini is talked about a fair amount. This is in general the processing of the first three chakras. This is what 90 percent (yes, I made that number up) of people who are experiencing Kundalini are working through (if they are actually experiencing a Kundalini awakening and not a stirring or different type of awakening such as a Top Down awakening, channeling, psychic abilities, etc). When Kundalini arises out of the base of the spine it does so with a primary objective- to clear a path so it can flow. What is blocking it you may ask? Well, all of the emotions, traumas, physical experiences (such as that nasty fall on your tailbone, broken bones, whiplash, and repetitive stress for example), and physical processes (such as diseases) that are causing issues in your body. This is obviously a lot of material.

During this first phase you begin clearing your own material… and then find yourself coming into contact with bigger flows of energy. And bigger blockages. The traumas, wounds, and energies from our family, our ancestors, and past lives are processed- or come up for clearing. This is a deeply physical, emotional, spiritual process. It results in a lot of physical and emotional pain, existential crisis when your belief systems suddenly shift after you have cleared a big ancestral pattern (for example), and a lot of the symptoms discussed here of twitching, lack of control, changes in the body/mind/spirit and even near-death experiences.

The first phase of Kundalini awakening is a very difficult process. Even though you may flicker– or realize “higher” experiences of oneness, bliss, peace, and all of the wonderful things of being in flow and having the direct experience that you are in divine flow– these are temporary as you sludge through the layers and layers of un-awakened Self. It is also true that Kundalini may flow up the spine higher temporarily as you realize the possibilities of the second and third phases of Kundalini. When Kundalini courses temporarily with great force, we get a lot of symptoms (like a great wave crashing on a rock) in the midst of it, and then our Kundalini becomes less active or forceful and returns to the first, second, or third chakra processing. So we may realize a further state (such as the second phase of K rising) but then we go back to what we need to process in the first when the energy becomes less of a tsunami and more of a gentle flow.

The second phase of Kundalini is not talked about much. This is because most people have a tremendous amount of work to do in their first three chakras, most people truthfully do not get beyond the first phase of Kundalini awakening (or even go beyond Kundalini stirring which is a temporary experience of Kundalini that you can read about here), and because talking about “higher” spiritual experiences can be difficult.

In the second phase about Kundalini we begin to move beyond the physical and emotional experiences that were locked in our first three chakras. We obviously still have work to do with energies in the first phase… we always will. Some of the patterns that are in the first phase of Kundalini awakening simply cannot be released or cleared before we explore things from a deeper layer of Self (such as a karmic or societal level). In this phase we begin to move beyond the self and direct experience. Sort of…

The next phase takes us through the societal, world, community, karmic, and other patterns such as sex, race, and sexuality. We begin noticing not only that we are reflected in others, and how others may be showing us our patterns, but we actually move beyond this understanding. This means that we begin to notice things outside of ourselves and our patterns. This means that when we find someone in our community who really angers us we can have the perspective of understanding if it is a result of something unhealed within ourselves or if it is their own trauma (or both).

Similarly, we begin to notice that most of the world, our community, and the people who surround us are asleep. This can be difficult to process. We begin to see and experience how most people have fairly expected lives, and experience the same “loops” or same behaviors again and again due to their traumas and societal expectations. We may begin to see/feel/experience the grids or fields of energy that make up society and the world. Most importantly we begin to release our mental conditioning, societal conditioning, and the feelings of rugged individualism that we all carry. We realize that we are not in competition with others. We realize the ability to see exactly where people are in their journey– whether that be further unfolding or completely asleep in comparison to us– and let go of judgement and comparison. People are who they are, and are under lots of conditioning. Most people do not want to change out of patterns of conditioning and fear. And that is okay.

As we get to the mid-point of the Second phase it becomes less about clearing. It becomes about gaining. Those mini-insights or direct experience of flow become greater. Instead of the emotional, physical, mental mess that we were… constantly in crisis and focusing on spiritual awakening (or just our process overall) we begin to gain things like peace, bliss, happiness, and love. Although that sounds cheesy, there are periods of happiness and love for the Self as well as the world that come through in this level that allow for us to have a deep level of peace. Gone is much of the existential crisis, the mental chatter… although physical problems may still remain they become what they are without drama. We enter a period of deep rest. 

Sometime during the Second phase we truly resolve our own death. In the first phase we may have had a near-death experience, we may have had dreams of dying, we may have had Kundalini energy temporarily burst above our heads (which is a really frightening experience when you are still in the first phase, or even in the second). But at some point we feel a constant, consistent stream of energy flowing above our heads, which allows for us to lose fear of our own physical death and to truly get in direct touch with divinity. We begin to cast off or break away from most of our conditioning and the chains that bind us from understanding that we are truly free, and happy, and peaceful beings in divine flow.

If I were to sum up to this point, I would say that the first phase is about letting go, about realizing that you are not in control, and about clearing. The second phase is about clearing societal, karmic, and world conditioning and patterns, but also about beginning to realize the depths of love, bliss, and peace that can be had, and the resolution of our own fears about death. The second phase is also about realizing as a person that you are not that important, and realizing that there are grids and energies that you are simply a small part of. This also extends to people, where we are one with them, but their anger or wounds may not have anything to do with you. Basically in the first phase we identify as ourselves and our own process, even when we are looking at other people. We can only see them as a reflection of us and can only consider our own spiritual process. In the second phase we lose this identification and begin to see that there are energies that we are simply a small part of. This allows for us to break through the rest of the conditioning that holds us so we can have direct experience of peace and divine flow.

In the third phase we simply unfold. And rest. And learn. Gone are the feelings of having to “do” things, the existential angst, the fight against letting go of control or needing to be in control. Gone are the words of others, the constant mental chatter, the constant chatter of the world. In this stage we have peace, we become happy, and we learn how to love ourselves and our lives. This continues to deepen and widen, even as we go back and release traumas, conditioning, or basically to create new pathways through every organ and cell in our beings. Gone are the endless quoting of others, the taking on of others knowledge as your own. You can simply speak from your own direct experience of spirituality. There are still things to work on, but it can be done from a different perspective. Energy now continuously flows through you, you consistently realize that you are a part of divine flow. Your life becomes quite simple. You realize new depths, go through further unfolding, and welcome the new knowledge and understandings, knowing that whoever you are and however much you understand, you can always understand more.

The objective of revealing these phases is not to make anyone who is experiencing a Kundalini awakening in the first phase to think that they are not far along, or to judge themselves. It is let you know that there is more beyond the pain, the discomforts, and the endless existential crises that occur and seem to dominate the serious literature on the subject… I would suggest my book, The Spiritual Awakening Guide  (by Mary Shutan) for more information on the subject.

Guidance for Family Members- Spiritual Awakenings and Kundalini Syndrome

One of the more frequent emails that I get are some basic variation of these:

I have a family member (son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, cousin) or friend who is going through a Spiritual Awakening. How do I help them?
or
How do I know if my family member/friend is really having a Spiritual Awakening or is just crazy?
or
How should I know if I should put my family member into counseling/therapy/medication or hospitalization? How do I know if it is the right time for my family member/friend/loved one to get off their medication?

Although different in scope, many of these are really the same sort of question. What you are really asking is if Spiritual Awakenings are real, and if they are, what the hell do we do about them, especially in a world/culture where any sort of mental or emotional deviation from the “norm” is medicated so we can return to the normalcy of what is to be expected of most of our lives.

The biggest issue here is actually not if the person is “crazy” it is if they are functional. This is important to understand. If someone is going through a spiritual experience, no matter how big or mind-blowing or Jesus-talking, Kundalini feeling volcano-ing, seeing stars and communicating with the depths of the universe it is, the person should be reasonably functional in their daily, mundane lives. If they are not, they need help.

Basic Types of Spiritual Awakenings and Functionality
There is then a question of what sort of help they need. Many people have spiritual experiences that can temporarily cause issues in their mundane lives (and by that I mean going to work, going to the grocery store, etc. I certainly do not mean “mundane” as a negative). But even the highest, most intense spiritual issues should be able to be integrated after a period of time. If someone is still reeling from a spiritual experience after a week or two to the point that they are no longer functional, it may be time to take next steps.

Many others have long-term spiritual experiences that are incredibly destabilizing and too overwhelming to process. These are the people that end up hospitalized, medicated, and so forth. Unfortunately what happens in our culture is that once someone is stabilized they are rarely titrated off their medication so they remain medicated and partially stuck in the midst of a spiritual awakening for a good portion of their lives, if not their whole life.

Others have spiritual experiences that are difficult, destabilizing, and are difficult to integrate at times but remain reasonably functional in their lives. This group, if they do not know what is going on, may enter talk therapy, get on medication, or are more likely to seek out a spiritual worker or spiritual counselor, do bodywork or energy work, or seek out a guru who can possibly help them.

Many others are having mild spiritual experiences that they can seek out on weekends, in workshops, through meditation and other means. They are able to go on with their lives and suffer little to no repercussions physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually for having an interest in a spiritual path.

So what to do? What are next steps?
Generally my guidance for this is entirely individualized. But if I were to generalize I would say…

1. If they are reasonably functional in their lives, simply let them be. So they talk about weird stuff, let it go. Support them the best you can even if you do not know what they are talking about. Again, the question isn’t if a psychiatrist in a room with a bunch of ink blots would think that they deviate too far from the “norm” but if they are functional and reasonable in their daily lives. If they are, let them be.

2. If they are reasonably functional typically, but are going through a hard time… consider waiting or other options. This is more individualized. If your loved one is typically a stable, peaceful, and logical individual who is having an intense “wave” of Kundalini, is reliving a trauma in order to process, clear, and heal it, or is dealing with a physical sickness that no doctor can figure out, I would again suggest giving them a bit of time. In spiritual awakenings old events, traumas, and even physical sicknesses come up to release. This can be quite difficult to deal with. In spiritual awakenings an immense amount of energy can get activated and cause a whole range of odd symptoms and behaviors. This can also be difficult to deal with. But if you are dealing with a normally functional, reasonable human being who is having a rough weekend of Kundalini activation, I again would consider letting them be and telling them that you are there for them if they need you. Treat them as if they have the physical flu- ask them if they need anything, make sure they are safe, and offer them some soup or to come over and hang out with them. Suggest that they see an energy worker or spiritual worker familiar with spiritual awakenings so they can develop tools to deal with rough times. If this lack of functioning continues for a period of time (such as over a week or two) or you are in fear for their personal safety, or you cannot get them to see a spiritual worker, you may need to consider next steps.

If your loved one is in the same scenario as above (having a rough week with a lot of symptoms, basically) but they have a background of being emotionally unstable, traumatized, or were not very functional to begin with, you may also need to consider next steps.

3. Medication, Hospitalization, and Psychiatry
I would love if every person experiencing a spiritual awakening could find a spiritual worker or healer that actually knows what they are talking about or doing, or a psychotherapist who wouldn’t judge the person as “abnormal” and tell them to get medication. I would love if every person who was going through a spiritual awakening had loving and available family members to take care of them during the times that they were unable to function (this is, of course, a lot to ask). I would love if every person experiencing a spiritual awakening would take personal responsibility for what is going on and begin learning the tools in order to navigate their experiences, to go to healers to help them through the trauma and issues coming up for processing, and begin meditating, walking, or doing whatever activities were necessary to make them feel whole.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Spiritual awakening is disorienting and it is likely at some points to make the person non-functional. In cases where the person already has a background of trauma or emotional instability it can break them. Many times people undergoing spiritual awakenings need to be able to work, to be a part of their family, or do not have loved ones able to care for them for whatever reason. This is totally understandable.

In mild to moderate cases, or in cases where a normally stable and emotionally sound person is temporarily destabilized, these are always the first steps I suggest. I first suggest bodywork, such as CranioSacral therapy, as well as Spiritual Healing and Counseling to anyone going through a spiritual awakening. I suggest meditation, learning and practicing tools learned through the Spiritual Healer, gentle to moderate exercise, reducing television and Facebook/internet time… but sometimes symptoms are so severe or the person is so traumatized that these “first steps” cannot happen.

In this case I suggest a Transpersonal therapist or a Jungian therapist if you can find one. They are aware of the spiritual dimensions of care but are also part of the typical “Western” allopathic framework- they can suggest medication, hospitalization, and so forth. I would work with them and their suggestions.

In severe cases medication and psychiatric interventions, such as hospitalization, may be necessary. If the person is in danger of hurting themselves, cannot tell where they are, and is completely non-functional they are in need of drastic care, even if it is temporary. In my experience medication (in very few, but still some) cases is necessary- it puts a stop to the spiritual experiences so the person can become more functional. Nobody likes hospitalization, but if it needs to happen it needs to happen.

The “trick” here is even if drastic intervention is necessary, it does not need to be necessary for the rest of their existence. So if someone is destabilized enough that they need hospitalization or medication, allow for that care to save your loved ones life. When they are out of danger, even if they are still in the care of a psychiatrist, even when they are medicated, start working with a bodyworker, Acupuncturist, and a Spiritual Worker so they can process the trauma and experiences they have had and through the Spiritual Worker learn the tools they need.

In some cases, long term medication, or life-long medication needs to happen. In many cases, this does not need to happen. Titration of the medication can occur when the person learns tools and re-stablizes after their experiences. It is up to you, as an advocate for your loved one, as well as your loved on themselves, to express (or unfortunately demand in some cases) a plan for doctor supervised titration of medication, and to make a plan for the side effects of titration (such as acupuncture appointments and herbal medicine) as well as to come to a new sense of normalcy after being medicated for a while.

Spiritual awakening is a healing process. At some points it can get overwhelming, especially for friends and family who have no direct experience or understanding of what is going on. For very few, it is a process that needs to be stopped, medicated, and treated long-term through psychiatry and hospitalization. Although I am not an advocate for allopathic approaches such as medication and hospitalization, I recognize the need for it to happen in some cases, but would like for them in the vast majority of cases to be thought of as temporary and/or life-saving rather than a permanent solution to spiritual awakening issues. The vast majority of people undergoing spiritual awakening may just need the right tools and understandings to navigate their experiences, as well as the right practitioners and loved ones to help them through, before the experiences get to be too intense.

Mary Shutan, L.Ac, CST-D, CZB, ABT offers mini consultations (20 minute phone/Skype calls) and full length consultations (60 minutes) via Phone/Skype to people who wish to find out how to help their loved ones through a spiritual awakening, or wish to have a better understanding of the process. You may contact her here for appointments.

Spiritual Emergency, Therapy, and Hospitalization

Generally when we get sick most of us go to a doctor. If the sickness is physical we are put through blood tests, various proddings, and scans to assess what organs or systems in our body are not working well. If the sickness is not physical, or is primarily considered emotional (even if it has significant physical components), or the doctor simply cannot find anything wrong despite complaints of pain and decreased functioning they will either give pharmaceuticals or will advise the patient to seek out a mental health professional.

In cases of spiritual issues the modern allopathic community still defines anything not physical or mechanistic as being in the realm of psychiatrists or psychotherapy. If we were to put this in basic terms, spiritual emergency or issues stemming from a spiritual process would not fit into any paradigm they know so they typically consider it “other” and tell people what they are experiencing is all in their heads- that they need a shrink.

I have personally never found therapy helpful, so I can be a bit biased on this subject, but I have certainly treated and worked with numerous mental health professionals who are quite lovely and competent at their jobs. Here we encounter a bit of difficulty. Psychotherapy, although on its fringes is invested in interest in the spirit, interest in the soul, by and large is interested in the mind and emotions. This may be a fruitful endeavor for some of you, as going through spiritual issues brings up past traumas and emotional experiences that are overwhelming and having a safe space to discuss them can be helpful.

However in a spiritual process the actual spiritual process must be understood. The emotions and mental experiences coming up are significant, of course, but unless the spiritual process is fully understood and the reasoning for the emotions coming up is understood, the therapist will be placing significance on the mind, on the mental, on the emotional, and the processing of the lower emotions rather than a focus on the greater spiritual process occurring. The focus in therapy is a return from “aberrant” behavior to normalcy (wake to sleep) in order to make the person functional according to manuals, commonly accepted paradigms and considered normal behavior by a society that is mostly asleep and feels the need for such rules and control. The truth is that someone who is awakened will not fit into any manual of what is considered “normal” or “proper” for society. They should be able to function reasonably according to societal conventions (going to the grocery store, etc) but beyond that experiences of someone who is spiritual awakening are so far off from what is commonly understood and accepted by conventional society that efforts to stuff them into a diagnosis and treat them as imbalanced, insane, or ill will prove futile. There is a cognitive dissonance for people who are still asleep to understand anyone who is not, and the efforts to bring someone back to the implicit rules, patterns, thoughts, and energetic grids of constriction that restrict most of us into sleep when someone has broken free from them by the psychiatric profession, therapists, and counselors who simply are ignorant of the process is quite sad and at times harmful to those who could really use spiritually-based help.

In cases of spiritual emergency, where the individual is so overwhelmed by their spiritual process that they have lost the ability to function and may be experiencing a wide variety of severe and even life-threatening physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and spiritual symptoms, therapists are part of the system set up- they can advise on the need for hospitalization when necessary (and yes, for some hospitalization is necessary). Although hospitalization is necessary in some cases there is a basic lack of understanding of spiritual emergency. Although I will write about this in another blog post, there is a huge difference between someone who is genuinely going through a psychotic break or is severely mentally ill and has such a fractured sense of self that they will require extensive hospitalizations, medication, and so forth, and people who are going through severe spiritual crises that may require long-term or short-term hospitalization, medication, and care. In many cases individuals going through spiritual awakening are medicated and treated as mentally or physically ill when their issues are spiritual and would best be treated by a spiritual provider or healer who deeply understands the spiritual awakening process. Unfortunately this differentiation is not understood at all, and so people undergoing short-term severe spiritual issues are medicated and hospitalized long-term because of improper care, and the genuinely mentally ill fractured soul who may require medication and/or hospitalization may believe that they are going through an intense spiritual awakening and will not receive proper care, and the person who is reasonably functional but going through a spiritual process may find themselves medicated or engaged in therapy that doesn’t help them.

And on its fringes therapists and other mental health professionals have been interested in spiritual emergency, a term coined by psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, and many therapists who have studied with him or consider themselves “transpersonal” or Jungian are invested in working with the spiritual through the lens of modern psychiatric and therapeutic doctrines. There are therapeutic networks, research, and other interesting work being done (and that has been done) for decades now enmeshing the spiritual with the psychiatric with varying degrees of success.

The difficulty with working with spiritual awakenings, spiritual emergency, and spiritual processes of all sorts through the lens of modern therapy, psychiatry, and the various lenses of mental health is that they define spiritual processes and spiritual awakening as an aberration, a disease, or at the various least something negative that has occurred. They have a paradigm- one that can be helpful in some ways… if you are so non-functional or ill that you require 24/7 care or are in severe mental, physical, emotional danger hospitalization may be the way to go.

However while the ability to diagnose someone as needing intensive medical care such as hospitalization can be important and even life-saving in some cases, spiritual awakening is not an aberration, it is not a disease, it is not an imbalance even. It is so easy to put things into the DSM-V (the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders) or to conduct studies blaming everything from too much meditation to drug usage to fragile mental states in the issues that present with spiritual awakenings. What is not understood by modern therapy, even those included in “spiritual networks” or who work with those undergoing spiritual awakenings is that it is not a negative process, even though it can result in issues that outwardly seem negative. By this I mean that spiritual awakenings are difficult. They bring up physical issues, pain, in some cases near-death states, mental and emotional issues, there will be strong energies that clear out our bodies, bring up the past traumas and issues not only from our lives but from our ancestors, our families, our community, the world. It is an isolating process, it is difficult to function, and the spiritual understandings and sheer amount of material that come up in some of the stronger awakenings (such as Kundalini awakenings or Shamanic callings) can be nearly impossible to integrate into daily functioning and interaction with a world that is not awake.

But this is not a negative, it is not an aberration that has occurred, it is not pathological, and it should not be treated as such. If anything it is a biological process of allowing for us to wake up to our highest potential. The intent of any type of spiritual process is to allow for us to process all of the energies, all of the traumas and emotions, all of the physical issues… everything that is weighing us down so that we can remember who we truly are and claim our power. In our world anything that is painful, any emotions or experiences that are not considered “normal” or are outside of the understanding of the mainstream are to be treated so that we can return to a state of sleep, a state of numbness. Many of us may wish to go back to sleep, to return to “normal”, to not feel pain physically or emotionally, to not have the spiritual understandings and separateness that those understandings mean. We are a culture that fears power, that fears individuation, that fears the unknown. We do not want to surrender, we do not want to let go and allow for the pain, the processing that true spiritual awakening creates. Instead we treat the process as a pathological state, numb our physical, emotional, and energetic sensations. In the early stages of spiritual awakening we are unable to have much of the bliss, the ecstacy, the love that comes from clearing all of our gunk out. We are so mired in sleep, in gunk, in conditioning and trauma and patterns and they are so painful to remove that we are ignorant and cannot see that we are gaining power, we are becoming more ourselves, we are achieving greater understandings, we are having sneak peeks of bliss, ecstatic states, and profound peace.

Some of us may be going through such an overwhelming process that talk therapy with an experienced therapist, medication, and hospitalization may be required. If we are reasonably functional and have a bit of knowledge we can understand spiritual awakening as a process, a positive process at that, rather than something that necessitates numbing through the current allopathic paradigm. By understanding that this is a biological process- that we are “waking up” to our true selves, our true potential- and that we are processing everything that stands in the way of that we can learn to work through it and come out the other side instead of putting ourselves back to sleep or focusing on the negative aspects of the experience.

Since this is an experience that is difficult to understand unless experienced directly, and many people who are in the beginning stages of “waking up” simply create more illusions (of control, rules, saying, belief systems, fears, and practices) that serve only to constrict and do not allow for deeper levels of surrender and processing, much of the information on spiritual awakenings is rather meaningless, feel-good sort of information that most of us truly going through spiritual awakenings will find frustrating or will see through as illusory. By learning simple tools, by understanding what you are going through, and by surrendering all of muck and grime and conditioning can be cleared. The more grime and conditioning we clear the more we become ourselves, the more joy we feel, the less symptoms we have, the more we understand what is “true” for us and claim our own power. It is a beautiful thing to witness when someone makes it through the storm of the spiritual process to feel the sheer amount of peace and flow that lies beyond.

Awakening Kundalini: Fate and the Cosmos

It is a common understanding that Kundalini, the spiritual force that remains dormant in most of us, can be awakened through meditations and breathing practices, movement practices, and mind-body focused exploration and other spiritual practices. It is also a common understanding that states of “spiritual emergency” can be created if Kundalini is triggered too early in an individual. Spiritual emergency basically means that the spiritual process we may be undergoing is so massive that we are unable to integrate it or work through it in our daily lives. A wide variety of physical and mental imbalances are said to be from this “early” triggering of Kundalini.

These understandings- that Kundalini is something that we can control or awaken ourselves, and in fact can do it to great detriment to our own existence- I have found to be false. Let me explain. When I was nineteen I began experiencing spiritual awakening issues. This first began with shamanic dismemberment dreams. A shamanic calling is another type of awakening but not the focus of this post- so I will just say that these dreams are quite frightening. Before this time I had always been called “sensitive” or “artistic”, “ethereal” or “otherworldly” but I also lacked understanding or context for my psychic sensitivities. I had begun meditating at the age of sixteen. Like any teenager it was an interest that I picked up for a month or so and then promptly forgot about. I would then rediscover a book at a later date and launch into the practice again. Also like a teenager (or most adults) I wanted the most intense and powerful meditations possible. I wanted to be advanced yesterday, and feel and experience powerful things without doing much of the basic or intermediate work required.

I found out about the microcosmic orbit and began practicing it around age 22. The microcosmic and macrocosmic orbit along with taking several Reiki classes in a very short period of time quickly erupted my Kundalini, and by age 23 I was in full-blown spiritual emergency. You can read about signs and symptoms of Kundalini here.

For years I blamed myself for the suffering that I endured. I called myself stupid, I blamed the writer of the microcosmic orbit book, I blamed my Reiki teachers… I blamed all of the teachers, gurus, and others who I contacted for help with Kundalini and found that they knew nothing about it or could not help me. If only I had not done that meditation, if only I had not taken those Reiki courses in such a short period of time, if only…

Several years ago I went to an astrologer who did an in-depth chart reading for me. I had never had a reading like his before. My only understanding of my chart was from a basic computer generated one I had done previously. Without knowing anything about me this astrologer pointed out the fact that I had a strong spiritual awakening that began between the ages of 20-25. With the knowledge that came from this session as well as other understandings that formed in later years I began to see how all of the people who came to me with Kundalini awakenings and other spiritual awakenings were supposed to have them in the course of their lifetime.

So what does this mean?
We like to feel as if we are in control, as if we as mere humans going about our mundane days can control the spiritual forces of the cosmos. We can trigger Kundalini, we can become a shaman if we want to, we can be in control of all of our spiritual experiences. In fact, we are to blame if we cannot control the spiritual experiences that occur in our lives. This blame helps no one. Most people who truly have spiritual experiences go through long periods of time where they do not want them, or hate them, and have intense difficulties accepting them. Most people who have are interested in spiritual matters want these experiences or claim to have experienced Kundalini, want psychic abilities or to become a shaman… because they do not understand the ramifications and the real-life experiences of people who are having them. In a nutshell, it is the “grass is always greener” syndrome. Without the direct experience it is difficult to describe to someone the difference between feeling energetic currents in the body and Kundalini. They will not understand, will not believe you, and may even get angry if you tell them that there is a difference between what they are describing or feeling and what Kundalini symptoms or experiences are actually like. We simply live in a time where either way it stands- having spiritual experiences, callings, awakenings or wanting to have them- we desire to have control over our experiences.

But we do not. Every single person that I talk to that has undergone a spiritual awakening of some sort was meant to have one in this lifetime. They were not triggered, they were not because the person did something or did not. In my case it would have likely been better if I had not “triggered” my experiences at 22 and they happened at 25 instead (as my chart read). In many other cases people have had decades of preparation where they sensed subconsciously that something was going to happen so they began meditating and doing other spiritual preparations. Even for those people the awakening of Kundalini can be difficult. Others have had no preparation- no spiritual practice of any kind- and have even more difficult experiences such as cases of intense spiritual emergency requiring hospitalization. And for most people- Kundalini or other drastic spiritual awakenings are not meant to be a part of their lifetime so they simply will not happen.

It is difficult to understand and be okay with the fact that there is a flow of divinity, a sort of cosmic consciousness, a higher power, that creates the larger events of our lives. We have certain events, certain experiences in our lives that are simply meant to happen. As human beings we have little control over these larger events and experiences. Having a full Kundalini awakening can be one of the more intense spiritual events that someone can go through. It is a way to be quickly propelled forward into that flow, that understanding of the cosmos, or the arms of a higher power. Having the understanding that if you are going through a spiritual awakening that it was and is meant to happen and that there is little you can do to control it is one of the best pieces of advice I can give anyone. Surrendering makes things so much easier. 

Do not blame yourself– if you are having a spiritual experience like a Kundalini awakening, or a calling to be a shaman, or a near-death experience, or whatever the case may be- it is because of forces much larger than you and very likely predestined. So give yourself a bit of a break, empower yourself to understand what you are going through, and learn the appropriate tools to deal with and even thrive while navigating your world.

If you are not in the throes of a state of spiritual emergency, or not experiencing a Kundalini awakening or other spiritual experiences know that spiritual emergency or a Kundalini awakening or a spiritual calling of any sort is not something most people would want if they knew the ramifications of the path. The grass truly is greener. It is wonderful to enhance yourself, to gain spiritual understanding, to meditate, to heal… I wish for everyone that they become more whole and gain more spiritual understanding in the course of their lifetimes. But to the countless people who email me asking how they can “start” or “trigger” a Kundalini awakening, know that if it supposed to happen it will. Otherwise simply strive to be the most conscious person you can during the course of your lifetime.

You can check out Mary Mueller Shutan’s books, including The Spiritual Awakening Guide, through Amazon and other booksellers.