Kundalini. The buzz word in tantric circles.
Kundalini refers to a powerful life force energy that awakens from the root of the spine, can rise to the crown of the head and above, and animates a person into an embodiment of the divine creativity. Because of its profound manifestation of the divine, the ancient tantriks actually worshipped this energy as a living goddess. They called Her: Kundalini Shakti Ma.
In modern-day tantric circles there is plenty of kundalini activated; but there is plenty of misunderstanding and misuse too. Sadly the reverence of worshipping the energy as a living goddess is often replaced by party tricks, power manipulations and even traumatising experiences.
Shaking or Shuddering?
Because the energy can be strong, it is known to shake the body when it rises. However, counter to common assumption, it is not meant to be a harsh jerky movement. If the movement is more like jolting or looks like an epileptic fit, then this is a sign that the energy channels have not been properly prepared first (with yoga, qigong, breathwork etc) and can actually disturb the nervous system (not to mention disturbing everyone else in the vicinity).
Tantric master, Daniel Odier, who was initiated by a genuine Kashmiri tentrika in the jungles on India, frequently warns his students to be wary of such jerky energetic movements. Daniel teaches the “Tandava”, a freely flowing movement/dance that invite energy to flow through a deep surrender to a higher consciousness.
So take up a free energy flow practice such as the Tandava, tantric yoga or qigong, and if you feel energy jerking then take deep breaths and stretch your body to try to allow a smoother energy flow.
Tantra or Trauma?
As kundalini rises it has the ability to transform contraction in our body into expansion; for example transforming the contraction of fear into an expansion of energy and aliveness. It has a healing power and also an awakening potential. If the energy rises all the way to the crown and above, then the person can experience higher states of consciousness and profound states of meditation. This is why Kundalini is so sought after in ancient tantric practices.
However, when energy is raised either too fast for the recipient to handle OR in a space that is not safe, then the result can be more traumatic than transcendent.
Symptoms such as people flailing around on the ground having a fit, overwhelming emotional release, excessive fear and confusion, heat in the head or headaches, and even going crazy are the common signs of an unhealthy kundalini rising. Healthy energy rising should look like beautiful dance (“Tandava” means “the dance of Shiva” or “the dance of God”) or a body animated by life force energy. If it looks more like a demon exorcism, then there is most likely a lack of preparation, a forced rising or a badly-held space.
Jerky movements are often compared to water going through a kinked hosepipe. Your energy channels may also be kinked, but there are many ancient yogic practices and qigong forms that can gently unkink the pipes! Using breath is the most common preparation…before activating large amounts of strong energy, the practitioner opens the channels with breath. First breath; later energy. Stretching the body is also an ideal way to open up kinked channels. it’s all quite simple when you think about it!
Raising Heaven or Raising Hell?
Shakti needs Shiva to hold Her. What does that mean? It means that awareness and presence (Shiva) are needed to hold a space for energy that activates (Shakti). Ancient tantriks would meditate and use carefully designed rituals to hold space for raising energy. Without enough consciousness, too much energy can create overwhelm, or even chaos and trauma.
Think of Shakti like a liquid and Shiva as the container. If the pot is too small, then the fluid will pour out everywhere. It creates a mess and all of the potency is lost. If a practitioner forces energy to rise, or if someone creates a group energy experience that does not have enough space-holding, then the energy can create havoc, leaving people confused and unable to integrate. Old traumas and negative emotions can arise and people can start feeling crazy. It is far from enlightening.
Ancient Tantriks discovered that if consciousness is made strong enough by meditation, then Shakti will automatically arise into the presence of that consciousness. This is completely different from an ego trying to make something happen, or trying to move energy through will and force. The difference between creating heaven or hell can be traced back to this: are you coming from consciousness or from ego? Ego is the unhealthy masculine (in all of us) and awareness is the divine masculine. Correspondingly, chaos is the unhealthy feminine (in all of us) and pure energy is the divine feminine.
The shadow side of Tantra is manipulation of energy in place of worship of Her living presence. The shadow is when the ego-self runs the show. There is a whole strand of “black tantra” in India where some Aghoric tantric babas plague on prostitutes to steal their energy, and even the horror of beheading women to capture their energy for person use. This energy is usually used for black magic and personal power. It is a sad and extreme example of serious violation and abuse of the feminine.
In Western Tantra, though such despicable events do not happen, there is still sadly some abuse and misuse of energy going on. The ego loves to have a sense of power and control over life, and to control energy can be a tempting power trip for many a modern-day tantric. There are some schools that violently push the energy to rise in other people, forcing pressure into their bodies or assuming power over them to get their energy to move. There are others who delight in being seen waving their hands over another’s body to get their energy to move. Are they serving the person’s awakening, or are they serving their own image as a great master who can move energy?
Kundalini is not a party game.
She is a living Goddess.
How can we awaken Kundalini with respect?
- Stay connected to the higher purpose of awakening; we are raising energy to elevate consciousness (not to boost our egos!).
- Are you humble or proud? Simple question to check in on yourself. If you are a tantra facilitator or practitioner, ask yourself are you being humble and devotional towards your practice, or do you want to impress others by moving a lot of energy?
- Learn the practices. There are plenty of great kundalini practices and breathwork to ensure an effective kundalini awakening. Don’t be tempted to short cut to the dramatic stuff before you have learned the foundations.
- Start to think of energy as a living embodiment of divinity, or as the Goddess (in a man or a woman’s body) and treat this energy with the respect that this calls for. Watch all your old conditioning about owning, controlling and possessing the feminine (energy/women/money/power). Tantra invites you to to worship instead of trying to possess. Have gratitude rather than greed.
- Meditate. Meditate. Meditate. It is Shiva that holds space for Shakti…or in other words it is awareness that holds energy. when we raise more energy than the awareness can hold, then everything from overwhelm to complete chaos can arise.
- If you are raising energy (through dance, shaking, tantric lovemaking, energywork etc), then create a sacred space. There are many great tantric and shamanic ways to make a space feel really safe and well-held. Ideally, a space should be opened, held and then closed.
- Get consent. You don’t always need a verbal agreement to raise energy…after all, many of the people we meet on the dancefloor we raise energy together. But for Goddess’ sake, make sure the other person is connected with you and open to you. If there isn’t a sense of mutuality, then there is most likely a power game.
- Be devotional. Worshipping Kundalini Ma is not just about lighting candles under a picture of the Goddess. Worshipping Kundalini Ma comes from a deep reverence for life. Go for a walk in nature and notice how much energy is flowing there compared to in the concrete pavements. Once you start to see that this is the source of your life and your joy, devotion naturally arises in your heart. Notice how beautiful energy is when it flows in other people. If your beloved is in orgasm, worship that lifeforce coursing through their body! Jai Ma! (“Jai Ma” is a a term used to worship the flow of energy as a living Goddess)
Thank you for wanting to understand the mysteries of life, of sex, of energy. We may all get misguided upon our path now and again, but may we seek out the highest guidance to enable us to awaken without harm to ourselves or others. When you find good wisdom, share it with others. Let’s all learn to raise energy and consciousness in harmony.
I am currently reading “Awakening Kundalini” by Lawrence Edwards and LOVING IT! This is one of those books I just cannot put down (luckily I have my kindle with me at all times!).
So if you are interested in Kundalini, then I highly recommend grabbing a copy of this book. Unlike many of the old Indian style writings I have come across in the past, this one is very accessible and informative.