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The following article is a continuation of the Kundalini Awakening QnA series. If you’re a new reader or have missed the first part, you can read it here. This QnA series is a compilation of discussions I’ve had with various people over the past few years. Here, I attempt to answer some of the questions that seekers commonly face on the path of spirituality.
Precautions On The Energy Path
Q. Kundalini awakening is not always a pleasant experience, and in some cases, it induces psychosis. What precautions can one take before embarking on this path?
A. Kundalini awakening can indeed be traumatic. In the early days, spiritual teachers used to assess the physical and psychological state of Yoga practitioners before giving information about Kundalini. But nowadays, we have people offering weekend courses claiming instant results ranging from overnight financial success to spiritual freedom (whatever that means).
A couple of years ago, a young girl, probably in her mid-20s, came to an institute for Kundalini Yoga. Everything was going fine, and she was following the curriculum (all the kriyas) as per the instructions. Until one day, she started experiencing fits, and then onwards, her condition began deteriorating.
Her entire body was shaking, and the situation got out of hand. Her condition deteriorated so much that she could not recognize anybody – not even her parents. They showed her to a psychiatrist, but there was no improvement in her condition.
The institute staff washed hands off the incident. Nobody was willing to take responsibility for what happened. These institutes make you sign a form that we’re not responsible for if something happens – something most people ignore.
In India, people avoid legal proceedings cause cases drag on for years. Such incidents are not uncommon. I’m not trying to create fear in your mind, but one must be cautious while embarking on this path.
The institute knew about her deteriorating condition, and they should have taken timely action. For example, in such a case, a knowledgeable teacher should immediately stop all activities. There are different paths to reach the same destination.
Different people resonate with different approaches. There is no one-fits-all solution. A real master will spend a lot of time with the student to assess which approach is suitable for that particular individual.
I get many emails a month from all over the world with people asking me that they have triggered something too intense for their mind to handle, and they can’t get it to stop. I try and answer most of their questions, but how much can one explain in the mail without knowing the details?
I spend my Saturday mornings speaking to people through Zoom conferences. I don’t charge, and I help wherever I can.
- If you’re planning to undertake Kundalini Yoga, make sure to do proper research about the teacher or the institute. If possible, talk to the master and ask how they handle a situation when a particular method does not suit the practitioner.
- The master should be available and be able to guide the practitioner at every step.
- The master should be compassionate and should be willing to give a bit of individual attention. Don’t expect the master to be with you all the time, but they should be willing to listen and understand.
- Be cautious of people or institutes that ask exorbitant amounts of money for teaching Kundalini Yoga. This one is a major red flag. This teaching is not for the profiteering of an individual or an organization. While charging money is okay, as every establishment has to pay the operational expenses, it should be reasonable. I don’t think one needs to spend thousands of dollars for kundalini awakening.
- STOP when you are uncomfortable with a particular practice.
- Don’t be obsessed with Kundalini. The energy chooses to manifest itself at an appropriate time. You trying to speed up the process is likely to cause trouble. The energy has a will and intelligence of its own. It knows where and when to strike and with the appropriate intensity.
- Don’t attempt to do this on your own. Although it is possible, it’s always better to take the help of an expert teacher. People who do it by themselves are usually those who have spent years in self-reflection.
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Q. So what you’re saying is that one can’t do anything to awaken the energy? Then why even bother doing Kundalini Yoga?
A. See, the ego has a way of interpreting things in its own way, i.e., it sees events in the light of its own ideas, beliefs, and biases. People who get experiences start believing that they are unique.
The ego in such people strengthens itself by saying, “I’m special,” “I’m the chosen one.” Such beliefs in and of themselves create the greatest roadblock in the movement of energy. This is the subtlest trap of the ego that most people fall into.
Most of the Kundalini Yoga mishaps happen when the practitioner pushes hard for awakening or to sustain a state of mind, not realizing that the serpent, in the end, will bite to dust, the one that is so eager.
The ego thinks it can manipulate the energy, and this is doership. That said, I’m not suggesting inaction. So do what you do with the thought that you have complete free will, knowing that the outcome is not in your control. That’s all I’m trying to convey.
In some people, the Kundalini awakens on its own, without the individual asking for it or following any spiritual practice. It can even happen in those individuals who have no spiritual inclinations whatsoever. Some people experience unease and discomfort, while others don’t even get to know.
Most spiritual masters have their Kundalini fully awakened without them knowing it. It’s because their energy channels are clear. We only get to know about Kundalini because of the blockages. Blockages create psychosomatic symptoms.
You know about Kundalini because the energy chose to do that in you, not because you are special. Nobody is special. I remember a saying by the Advaita teacher, Ramesh Balsekar, “The created object (us) can never know the will of the creator source (energy).”
Therefore, if you think of not doing anything (your practices), you assume that you know the will of energy. Let the energy do its work. Let go of the outcome.
Q. How long does it take for the Kundalini to awaken fully?
A. It differs from one individual to another. In the majority of cases, it takes years of work only to get it moving. But again, don’t assume anything. I’ll share an open secret with you – the fastest and safest way to raise Kundalini.
Learn to relax. Spend as much time as possible in deep relaxation. Unfortunately, most people find it hard. We are so used to the idea of work and effort, and it seems counterintuitive that something as simple as relaxation can raise energy.
Relaxation is being comfortable with one’s mind. A meditative mind is a relaxed mind. A meditative mind means “no-mind” – the absence of the one meditating. Don’t worry if this is hard to grasp. By the end of this series, you’ll have a clear understanding of what I’m pointing at.
Q. Can you tell us a little more about your spiritual journey?
A. While I tell people that my spiritual journey began after my father’s death, but in reality, I had been a seeker since childhood. I used to spend a lot of time thinking about life, death, and time.
I started meditating after my father’s death. It was not that I was trying to overcome the trauma of his death. Meditation just happened to me. It was like the energy was waiting for the right moment.
Before I go further, I humbly request all the readers not to emulate what I did under any circumstances. I was crazy and ignorant (I still am), who was experimenting on himself without understanding the consequences. Call it grace, luck, or whatever you want, that I survived.
In August 2014, two things happened: I lost my father, and I lost my job. Subsequently, there were three deaths in the family, shortly one after the other. All of it happened so suddenly that I didn’t know for whom to grieve.
My whole family was in shock. It intensified my search for learning life’s mystery. Why are we here? Why is there pain and suffering? What’s the purpose of life? What is God? Is there really a God out there somewhere, or we’re victims of our own imagination?
My mind was racing faster than the speed of light. I became depressed. Therapy did provide temporary relief, but it didn’t help much. I was experiencing extreme outbursts with mixed emotions. I often hit myself on the face or bang my head on the wall in anger.
Day by day, I was becoming difficult, and this was adversity affecting my relationship with my wife and kids.
I decided to isolate myself and spend time in self-reflection. I know it sounds selfish, but there was no other option cause my condition was getting worse. I was scared that I might harm people around with my aggressive behavior.
I shifted to a tiny room on my house terrace and spent hours entirely alone – no entertainment, no phone, no watching news – only a handful of books. I would come down only for food, sleep, and spend some time with my wife and kids. Think of it as self-imposed solitary confinement.
I would watch my mind for hours and go through all the monsters of my imagination. At times it was so bad that I used to bury my head in the pillow and screamed out my lungs. The pain was unbearable. I rarely went out of the house and did not meet anyone for a long time.
It continued for almost four years, till 2019. People called me crazy, depressed, selfish, and all kinds of things. I did not meet friends and other relatives. While the onset of the pandemic was traumatic for most people, for me, it was regular.
Over the years, my mind had started settling down, and I had become a lot calmer. To me, the realization didn’t happen suddenly. It was a gradual process with moments of awakening. At that time, I didn’t even know anything about Kundalini Yoga.
I had heard the term, but I didn’t know what it meant. I had multiple experiences over the years, like sleep paralysis, nightmares, swirling sensation in my stomach, pulsating sensations on my forehead, tingling sensation on the top of the head, and so and on and so forth.
At times, these sensations were so intense that I felt that I’d be thrown out of my body. The nightmares kept me awake most nights. I used to encounter dark entities in my dreams that used to overpower me.
But all of it stopped affecting me after some time. I knew that I was not the limited mind-body complex I thought of myself to be. I used to go so deep into meditation that there were no sensations of mind or body. There were no thoughts. I saw myself as this “conscious presence.”
The closest feeling I can associate with it is peace—something like we experience in a deep sleep. There was no individual “me” anywhere.
It transformed my relationship with the world, and especially with my wife and kids. The notions of duality broke down, and there was an unconditional acceptance of “what is.” I did not become a better person, but there was complete self-acceptance. I feel comfortable with myself.
I’m still introverted, reclusive, and have my likes, dislikes, and preferences like others, but I have lost my ability to hate people. I do react emotionally sometimes, but I’m aware of my reactions, which dissipates their intensity.
So anger does not lead to rage or hate. Sadness does not lead to depression. Satisfaction does not lead to pride. And pain does not lead to suffering. There are times when I do experience pain in the form of the aforementioned emotions, but with the awareness, they don’t lead to prolonged suffering. The mind becomes silent, and all that is left is the impersonal awareness or emptiness, and that is what I call bliss.
[TO BE CONTINUED …]
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