This article is an excerpt from my book, Bitten By The Energy Serpent: A New Perspective on Kundalini Awakening
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?
Ans: Kundalini awakening can indeed be traumatic. In the early days, spiritual teachers assessed 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 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 it did not help.
The institute staff washed their hands off the incident. Nobody was willing to take responsibility for what happened. These institutes make you sign a form saying that the institution will not be held responsible if something happens to the practitioner.
In India, people avoid legal proceedings for cases that 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 should have taken timely action. For example, a knowledgeable teacher should immediately stop all activities in such a case. There are different paths to reach the same destination.
Different people resonate with different approaches. There is no one-fits-all solution. A skilled master will spend a lot of time with the student to assess which method suits a particular individual.
I get many emails a month from all over the world with people asking me if they have triggered something too intense for their minds to handle, and they can’t get it to stop.
Some pointers are as follows:
- 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 a 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. Your 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 what 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.
Q. So what you’re saying is that one can’t do anything to awaken the energy? Then why even bother doing Kundalini Yoga?
Ans: 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 you know the will of energy. Let the energy do its work. Let go of the outcome.