Kundalini arousal can take place with awakening of any Kone of the chakras, though the won awaken of an the opening of mooladhara chakra which is stimulated by moola bandha. Thus it is said that moola bandha is the trigger which activates the arousal of kundalini. The word kundalini is derived from two Sanskrit words, kundala and kunda. Kundala means ‘coiled’ and kunda means ‘a pit’. Thus kundalini is symbolized as a snake, bhujangi, residing in a deeper place, mooladhara chakra. It is coiled around a shivalingam, the symbol of creation, and represents the potential energy residing in man. In English, kundalini may be translated as the ‘primal power’ or as Sir John Woodroffe calls it ‘the serpent power’.
The concept of kundalini is well-known through various world cultures. Some African tribesmen known as the Kung people refer to it as ‘n/um’. To the Chinese it was known as ‘spiritual fire’, and to the American Indians as ‘hurakan’. More recently it has been referred to as ‘universal electric energy’. No matter what it is called the underlying principle is essentially the same.
In The Serpent Power by Sir John Woodroffe it is stated that: “Kundalini is sabda brahman or ‘the word’ (vak, nada) in bodies and is in her own form (svaroopa) pure consciousness and is all powers (sarva-saktimayi) She is in fact the cosmic energy in bodies and as such the cause of all, and though manifesting as, is not confined to any of her products. She is called the serpent and she sleeps in mooladhara. She sleeps because she is at rest. Then man’s consciousness is awake to the world, her creation in which she is immanent. When she is awake and yoga is complete, man sleeps to the world and enjoys superworldly experience.”
The mind is illuminated in stages as the kundalini rises through the spinal cord, piercing the chakras. It does not actually travel through each chakra one by one, but ascends the sushumna to the brain and sahasrara chakra where all the chakras are situated. It actually works on them at a psychophysiological level, that is, on the brain and mind simultaneously.
The scriptures indicate that in order for kundalini to achieve its final upward movement to sahasrara it must first pierce through three major granthis (psychic knots) These are brahma granthi, vishnu granthi and rudra granthi, situated in mooladhara, anahata and ajna chakras respectively. Each granthi represents a particular state of consciousness, or attachment, which acts as an obstacle on the path to higher awareness.
- Brahma granthi, situated in mooladhara chakra, symbol izes attachment to possessions – body, material objects, etc. It is associated with feelings of lethargy and ignorance, and manifests as severe limitations in the ability to act.
- 2. Vishnu granthi, situated in anahata chakra, symbolizes attachment to people including relatives and friends.
- 3. Rudra granthi, situated in ajna chakra, symbolizes attachment to psychic visions and powers (siddhis). Kundalini cannot begin or continue to rise until the granthis are pierced or, in other words, attachment is broken. The scriptures go on to state that by the practice of the
three bandhas (moola, uddiyana and jalandhara) the sixteen adharas are closed. Adhara means ‘a support, a vital part.’ The sixteen vital parts are the big toes, ankles, knees, thighs, prepuce, organs of generation, navel, heart, neck, throat, palate, nose, the middle of the eyebrows, forehead, head and brahmarandhra (the aperture in the crown of the head through which the soul is said to leave the body at death). When the sixteen adharas are closed, the consciousness becomes completely introverted with no means of escape, and meditation spontaneously takes place. Thus moola bandha helps us to gain deeper internal meditative states. It also pierces brahma granthi, liberating us from attachment and taking us inward.
Conversely, moola bandha can occur spontaneously in meditation. If this happens, feel no concern, do not attempt to consciously control the activity in the pelvic floor. Simply be aware of the sensation (both physical and mental) and continue with your meditation. Spontaneous moola bandha is more likely to occur whe the breath becomes very slow and shallow. As the min grows tranquil so too inhalation and exhalation tend to equalize until at the point of perfect balance the breath stops; kumbhaka and moola bandha occur and expansion of consciousness takes place.
Through the practice of moola bandha the yogi attempts to reach the source or ‘moola’ of all creation. His goal is the complete restraint (bandha) of the patterns of consciousness (chitta) which include the mind (manas), intellect (buddhi) and the ego (ahamkara). Through controlled restraint, he achieves union with the universal flow.
In the words of Wilhelm Reich: “Once we open up to the flow of the energy within our own body, we also open up to the flow of energy in the universe.” The spine is often symbolized in yogic literature as a lotus with its roots at the base and flowering in the brain. Kabbalistic and theosophical literature is also based upon the concept of the ‘tree of life’, which was normally depicted in a similar fashion. Sometimes the kriya yoga practice of tadan kriya (beating mooladhara chakra against the ground while performing moola bandha) is interpreted as stimulating the roots of the tree of life, thereby injecting the body and mind with the vitality of kundalini.
56 the roots of the tree of life, thereby injecting the body and mind with the vitality of kundalini. 50 As long as kundalini remains in the chakras, it gives energy to various organs of the physical body. But once it ascends to the level of the brahmarandhra quite another process and a very interesting one begins. This is when one gains vivid insights into the various constituents (said to be 17 in number) of the subtle body and the deeper knowledge of these entities unfolds. Thus, after kundalini awakens and illumines the various chakras, another process of illumination starts. Although we are preparing for the awakening of the chakras and the kundalini, this is only the first stage. It is not the end, it is only the beginning. One must go on higher and higher into the realms of spiritual illumination.
Two classical yogic accounts of the experience of kundalini are offered here by Swami Narayananda and Paramahamsa Ramakrishna. In The Primal Power Swami Narayananda describes the experience: “There is a burning up the back and over the whole body. Kundalini’s entrance into sushumna (the central spinal canal) occurs with pain in the back… One feels a creeping sensation from the toes and sometimes it shakes the whole body. The rising is felt like that of an ant creeping up slowly over the body towards the head. Its ascent is felt like the wriggling of a snake or a bird hopping from place to place.”
In A Mythic Image by Joseph Campbell, the experience of Ramakrishna is given in strikingly similar terms: “There are five kinds of samadhi (spiritual rapture). In these samadhis one feels the sensation of the spiritual current (kundalini) to be like the movement of an ant, a fish, a monkey, a bird or a serpent. Sometimes the spiritual current rises through the spine, crawling like an ant. Sometimes, in samadhi, the soul swims joyfully in the ocean of divine ecstasy like a fish. Sometimes, when I lie down on my side, I feel the spiritual current pushing me like a monkey and playing with me joyfully. I remain still. That current, like a monkey, suddenly with one jump reaches the sahasrara. That is why you see me jump with a start. Sometimes again, the spiritual current rises like a bird hopping from one branch to another. The place where it rests feels like fire. .. Sometimes the spiritual current moves up like a snake. Going in a zigzag way, at last it reaches the head and I go into samadhi. A man’s spiritual consciousness is not awakened unless his kundalini is aroused.”
In the kundalini yoga tradition, Swami Muktananda has published an autobiography in which he gives graphic descriptions of sensations, involuntary movements, flows of energy through the body, unusual breathing patterns, inner lights and sounds, formed visions and voices and many other extraordinary experiences, leading on to intense rapture and bliss.
Swami Yogeshwarananda, a well-known and respected Himalayan yogi, in his “Address to the 5th Convention of the International Association of Religion and Parapsychology”, (Japan), gives the following account of his experience kundalini arousal: “… and then came the great moment my life. My guru performed trataka, that is he fixed his ga… on my forehead, and I went into a trance. I forgot about my body, about the surroundings. I forgot even the presence of the great yogi before me. I do not know how long I continued … it was a state of timelessness, but at one stage in this experience there was at the base of the sacral plexus, mooladhara chakra, the emergence of a great light which showed me in clear detail the whole anatomy and physiology of my body, as if someone had opened up my skin and with the help of a torch was showing me every nook and corner of my physical body. After this experience, the gross physical body retreated into the background of consciousness and the next stage started, the experience of the chakras… At the second stage there emerged at the base of the plexus another sort of light. The first, which showed me every detail of the anatomy, was yellowish. Now this was a bluish-white colour During that seven hour trance I experienced various things: one was a light which illumined a triangular shape another was a light in a spinal cord, it entered the sushumna nadi and moved upwards illumining every chakra which appeared to have petals like flowers.” Descriptions of the kundalini experience are becoming increasingly more common in modern scientific literature. Likewise the phenomena of kundalini awakening is becoming much more apparent in technologically developing countries. However, due to the personal intimacy of the experience, it is difficult to objectify. Lee Sannella in Kundalini – Psychosis or Transcendence gives the following collection of sensations and happenings culled from the many personal experiences he has documented.
• Spontaneous movements: unaccustomed body postures, or even classical hatha yogasanas. Any part of the body can be affected by smooth, sinuous, spasmodic, jerky or vibratory movements. Occasionally the body may lock into one position, but this is usually temporary and ceases when the meditation is over.
Breathing pattern: spontaneous pranayama, breath retention, shallow breathing, deep breathing, rapid breathing, may all occur.
• Body sensations: throbbing in mooladhara chakra area; the spontaneous contraction of moola bandha; tingling; vibration; itch or tickle; orgasmic, all-embracing sensations; heat and cold of differing degrees; pain in the spine, eyes, head and other body parts occurs
especially when the body is not adequately purified. Internal sounds: whistling, hissing, chirping, flute-like sounds, ocean, surf, thunder, brook murmurs, the crackle of fire, drums, conch shell sounds, bells and roaring have been reported.
Changes in the thought process: thoughts may speed up, slow down or stop altogether. They may seem out of balance, strange or irrational. Some people report that they feel close to insanity in this experience or may enter trance states devoid of all thought. These experiences are only temporary however, representing cleansing of mind and body.
Detachment: the individual may feel that he or she is watching what is happening, including his or her own ideas, thoughts and feelings from a distance, like one detached. It differs from aloofness or anxious withdrawal in that it is a dissociation of the separate observer self from the mental activities that it observes. One’s activities may continue as usual, and thus this condition may not interfere with normal functioning.
Dissociation: when the withdrawal of the self from active involvement or identification with what it perceives is attained, a state of detachment occurs. But when it is not in balance, due to deep psychological resistances, to fear and confusions, or to social and other environmental pressures, then negative aspects of the experience may be emphasized. However, given time and the proper environmental support, the imbalance is overcome and one finds a more suitable focus for his or her energies as the negative symptoms vanish.
. Unusual or extreme emotions: feelings of ecstasy, bliss, peace, love, devotion, joy and cosmic harmony may occur, but also intense fear, anxiety, depression, hatred and confusion. Especially in the early stages of the process, any of the normal emotions may be experienced with much greater intensity than usual. Later on feelings of peace, love and contentment tend to predominate. Psychic experiences: out of the body experiences, seeing oneself as larger than the normal size of one’s body, ESP (that is obtaining information through means other than the known physical senses), divine smells, divine touch, divine visions (of one’s guru or of gods).
Single seeing: this interesting variation in the visual function can be easily identified as a separate and distinct state by the typical and graphic metaphors used to describe the experience.
In An Experience of Enlightenment Flora Courtois writes: “My sight had changed, sharpened to an infinitely small point which moved ceaselessly in paths totally free of the old accustomed ones, as if flowing from a new source. It was as if some inner eye… which extended without limit. . . had been restored . . . focused on infinity in a way that was detached from immediate sight and yet had a profound effect on sight… there was a sharp one-pointedness to my attention now rooted into some deeper centre so that by everyday sight, my eyes, were released from their need to see the world outside… no matter where I looked no shadow (image) of my nose ever appeared in the clear field of sight.”
This experience is also described in the New Testament (Luke 11:34): “The light of the body is the eye; therefore when thine eye is single thy whole body is also full of light.”
To the uninitiated and those lacking experience in such matters, the above symptoms may sound like those of a psychotic experience. Many people undergoing an ‘awaken ing’ have been suspected of going ‘insane’. Now, however, the medical profession is slowly becoming aware of the differences between derangement and expansion of mental faculties and many doctors are setting up clinics to help people through such times of crisis. It is easy to understand that a person experiencing spontaneous breath retention (kevala kumbhaka), the eyes fixing on the eyebrow centre (shambhavi mudra), or a sensation of absence of the physical body, may experience fear which would then distort and disturb the process.
There are a few facts to be remembered when we consider the above manifestations of kundalini shakti. They are very rare.
- When the aspirant is under the guidance of a guru or master such manifestations are easily held in perspective and handled.
Utilizing the proper sequence of practices, training under a master, and going slowly along the spiritual path makes the process of bodily purification easy and simple. The attendant manifestations are thereby reduced and may not occur at all before the stage of enlightening peace and wisdom.
After the manifestations have passed, the subject is left in the state of bliss, peace and higher consciousness. The aftermath of this experience is such that all doubts disappear and your body becomes as light as air. You possess an inexhaustible energy for work, a balanced mind amidst all the trials and tribulations of life, and you understand the hidden secrets of life. All this is attainable through the use of moola bandha if it is used correctly, with discrimination and combined with other practices.
For kundalini to rise, the body must be able to cope with its force and the nervous system must be strong, healthy and mature. This is attained through yogic practice. When preparations are complete, kundalini will rise spontaneously of its own accord, liberating and expanding the conscious ness. When you awaken your kundalini you stand on the threshold of infinity.
Carl G. Jung, eminent Swiss psychiatrist, sums up this experience in his Psychological Commentary on Kundalini Yoga where he states: “When you succeed in awakening the kundalini so that it starts to move out of its mere potentiality, you necessarily experience a world which is totally different from our world. It is a world of eternity.”
Kundalini represents the underlying unity of all creation. It is the medium of existence and the final fulfilment of truth. Concerning its awakening there are two important points that every aspirant should keep in mind. Firstly, it is possible to manifest similar symptoms to those mentioned above during the practice of moola bandha. The same may also be hallucinated under the influence of drugs, therefore one should carefully and honestly examine experiences that may arise.
Secondly, the arousal of kundalini involves psychic phenomena, but is primarily a spiritual experience. Many people assume that kundalini awakening leads to psychic abilities, powers and supernormal phenomena. Though this may be true in some cases, it is dangerous to overemphasize psychic powers and to play with them. Psychic ability is not a prerequisite for kundalini awakening and the growth and evolution of consciousness.
One must always keep in mind that this energy is the key to spiritual rebirth and brings about a dramatic change in one’s life. It is a force to be respected and revered, and was for millennia treasured as the secret elixir of immortal life unavailable to the masses. Today, through practices such as moola bandha, its awakening is within the reach of everyone. Kundalini is the hidden key to the realization of one’s own essential nature and may be actualized through the perfection of moola bandha.
In Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man, Gopi Krishna says: “This mechanism, known as kundalini, is the real cause of all genuine spiritual phenomena, the biological basis of evolution and development of personality, the secret origin of all esoteric and occult doctrines, the master key to the unsolved mystery of creation, the inexhaustible source of philosophy, art and science and the fountainhead of religions, past, present, and future.”