It has been my direct experience as well as from hearing hundreds 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 first phase is much more common than the second or third.
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 symptoms like 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.
For a current (updated, at least as of 2021) perspective on the first phase of kundalini awakening, here is a post…
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, Working with Kundalini (by Mary Mueller Shutan) for more information on the subject.