What is Kundalini
What is Kundalini?
In Indian literature kundalini is a dormant force, a powerful reservoir of subtle energy or prana. It is likened to a serpent that lies coiled at the base of the spine. When awakened it feels as if it is moving snake-like in an uncoiling movement up the spinal canal (sushumna) through subtle energy centres to the brain.
As it passes through each centre it vivifies that centre and manifests the particular powers of each centre it moves through. The higher the kundalini rises, the more subtle the experiences become, culminating as transcendence when it reaches the chakra at the crown of the head - called "sahasrara".
The kundalini is a subtle energy, not a physical one. Just as the mind too is a subtle energy. The kundalini and the chakras all belong to this energy field through which we think, feel and imagine. So the mind, feelings, thoughts and perceptions are all affected by the movements of kundalini in this subtle energy field.
The kundalini is a blind energy that requires guidance for both its awakening and its movement into the central spinal canal or sushumna, through the chakras to its final terminus. It’s movements are directed by either an act of will, which may use a variety of postures, asanas, mudras and mantras in manual yogic techniques or by the introduction or 'awakening' of its conscious, living, intelligence known to Hindus as ‘Shakti’. This Shakti, without any assistance from the meditator, guides the awakened energy of kundalini to its goal. This awakened intelligence, combined with the force of kundalini is known as Kundalini-Shakti.
Is working with Kundalini safe?
Yes and no. One should either seek initiation and support from ones' initiator or one should learn manual methods from a competent teacher or guru. One gets into difficulties when experimenters foolishly try to raise kundalini without guidance. As an example, for those who don't know what they are doing, it is somewhat similar to trying to drive a high performance vehicle while blindfolded. For supported initiates it is as safe as any other non-kundalini meditation practice. I have been offering initiation and support since 2011.
Much of the hype revolving around kundalini seems to have emanated from Gopi Krishna's experiences, they have energised the thrill-seekers and scared the rest away from Kundalini. Shakti controls kundalini and allows it to awaken gradually and gently. Far more gently than trying to awaken Kundalini on ones own.
Why raise the Kundalini?
To experience the spiritual and ultimately the transcendental nature of Being. In brief, the higher the Kundalini rises the more refined the spiritual experiences one has. Whilst the lower chakras relate to the functioning of the body, the higher chakras manifest subtle energy experiences culminating at the crown of the head (sahasrara) where all notions of ‘self’ and ‘other’ evaporate.
The experience then is of the non-dual “I am everything, everything is me”. In various religious or yogic teachings this is known as being “one with God” or the attainment of “pure being”, “pure consciousness”, “cessation”, “pure self” or “realisation”, “infinite self” etc. Regardless of the religious or yogic terminology, kundalini reverses the normally outward flowing tendencies of the mind to the point where perfect equilibrium and balance allows the mind to subside into its source.
Does working with the chakras raise kundalini?
Kundalini is an activating and stabilising power. You can work with the chakras and have some very nice experiences but that will not necessarily budge the kundalini a single inch. The chakras will only remain energised when kundalini has pierced them and passed through those chakras. If kundalini has not passed through the chakras the benefit of vivifying them is just temporary as there is no stable activating force to keep the chakra functioning.
It is a common misunderstanding that any and all psychic manifestations are symptoms of an awakened and raised kundalini, this is most definitely not so. Chakras can manually be opened and energised by a focus of prana via an act of will or a prana-transmission from those who know how, but they remain open only as long as their energising force keeps them open. Once the prana has dissipated the chakra then closes as before.
What two approaches are used to awaken Kundalini?
Generally the two approaches used to awaken Kundalini are Yoga and Shaktipat. If one chooses the path of yoga one needs to learn the practices of yoga under the guidance of a qualified teacher or guru. The experiences derived from Shaktipat Diksha cover all aspects of yoga, therefore Shaktipat is sometimes referred to as “Maha Yoga” or Great Yoga.
To use an example working with kundalini yourself is like learning to drive a car and then learning how to negotiate the traffic. Raising kundalini via Shaktipat is like taking the bus, one only needs to be a witness to the process unfolding. Kundalini is a fire energy and attempting to raise it without knowing what you are doing is playing with fire.