Karin Harrington (1), in her article, "Kundalini and the Awakening of Spirit," defines a spiritual emergency as:
"When spiritual seekers or even those who do not consider themselves to be on a spiritual path find themselves experiencing levels of energy and awareness that they are unable to handle and for which they have no reference, then the result can be a state of emergency. In this state a person feels highly vulnerable and oversensitive to incoming stimuli. Typically they feel overwhelmed, fragmented, fearful, confused and disoriented. With their absorption in inner processes, they may not be able to look after even basic self care."
In her article, "Branded by the Spirit," El Collie (2) describes her own terrifying experience with the Kundalini Shakti:
"In 1991, my life imploded. I was overtaken by strange and frightening physical symptoms heralding a process, which would change me in ways I never could have imagined. As my symptoms grew increasingly bizarre, a series of synchronicities as uncanny as the illness itself led me to the dumbfounding discovery that I was in the midst of a Kundalini awakening. I had not been doing any practices designed to arouse the Kundalini, nor had I ever personally known anyone who had gone through this experience."
The article goes on to describe her many crippling and terrifying physiological and psychological experiences as kundalini awakened in her. She warns us of both the blessings and dangers of the awakening of the kundalini:
"Kundalini is a process of revelation and spiritual renewal which radically alters our sense of self and our awareness of life. Because the benefits of Kundalini are widely touted in metaphysical and spiritual circles, many people are unaware of the difficulties it can present. Spiritual seekers (and teachers who give methods for awakening Kundalini) often assume that the only difficulty is in triggering the release of this transformative energy. Few are aware of the prolonged and sometimes arduous process that follows Kundalini arousal."
El Collie identifies a variety of methods through which the kundalini can be awakened:
"Long considered the most secret and sacred intent of yoga, Kundalini can also be awakened by meditation, prayer, bodywork, psychedelic drugs, a life crisis (such as extreme physical or emotional trauma, a near-death experience or the death of a loved one), childbirth, menopause, certain ascetic or esoteric sexual practices, or it can occur out of the blue. Kundalini is most likely to rise spontaneously in people who are spiritually inclined, creative, sensitive, open minded and open hearted—all risk factors I knew nothing about until after the fact."
El Collie (3), in her article, "Kundalini signs and symptoms" lists an entire array of symptoms that occur when the kundalini is aroused. I quote her list in its entirety below:
"The following are common manifestations of the risen Kundalini:
Physiological and Behavioral Markers
- Muscle twitches, cramps or spasms.
- Energy rushes or immense electricity circulating the body
- Itching, vibrating, prickling, tingling, stinging or crawling sensations
- Intense heat or cold
- Involuntary bodily movements (occur more often during meditation, rest or sleep): jerking, tremors, shaking; feeling an inner force pushing one into postures or moving one's body in unusual ways. (May be misdiagnosed as epilepsy, restless legs syndrome (RLS), or PLMD.)
- Alterations in eating and sleeping patterns
- Episodes of extreme hyperactivity or, conversely, overwhelming fatigue (some CFS [Chronic Fatigue Syndrome] victims are experiencing Kundalini awakening)
- Intensified or diminished sexual desires
- Headaches, pressures within the skull
- Racing heartbeat, pains in the chest
- Digestive system problems
- Numbness or pain in the limbs (particularly the left foot and leg)
- Pains and blockages anywhere; often in the back and neck (Many cases of FMS [Fibromyalgia syndrome] are Kundalini-related.)
Emotional and psychological markers
- Emotional outbursts; rapid mood shifts; seemingly unprovoked or excessive episodes of grief, fear, rage, depression
- Spontaneous vocalizations (including laughing and weeping)—are as unintentional and uncontrollable as hiccoughs
- Hearing an inner sound or sounds, classically described as a flute, drum, waterfall, birds singing, bees buzzing but which may also sound like roaring, whooshing, or thunderous noises or like ringing in the ears.
- Mental confusion; difficulty concentrating
Spiritual or Mystical markers
- Altered states of consciousness: heightened awareness; spontaneous trance states; mystical experiences (if the individual's prior belief system is too threatened by these, they can lead to bouts of psychosis or self-grandiosity)
- Heat, strange activity, and/or blissful sensations in the head, particularly in the crown area
- Ecstasy, bliss and intervals of tremendous joy, love, peace and compassion
- Psychic experiences: extrasensory perception; out-of-body experiences; past life memories; astral travel; direct awareness of auras and chakras; contact with spirit guides through inner voices, dreams or visions; healing powers
- Increased creativity: new interests in self-expression and spiritual communication through music, art, poetry, etc.
- Intensified understanding and sensitivity: insight into one's own essence; deeper understanding of spiritual truths; exquisite awareness of one's environment (including "vibes" from others)
- Enlightenment experiences: direct Knowing of a more expansive reality; transcendent awareness"
Some of these experiences are ecstatic, some are dysphoric—and they certainly interfere with the functioning of your personality if they are occurring out of your control.
Karin Harrington cites Bonnie Greenwell (1990) in her article.  Greenwell details seven categories of symptoms observed during kundalini awakening:
(1) Pranic movements or Kriyas - includes a variety of involuntary muscle movements, and emotional catharsis
(2) Yogic phenomena - individuals may perform yoga postures or hand gestures (mudras), or they may spontaneously chant mantras
(3) Physiological symptoms - Greenwell lists a variety of psychosomatic symptoms that appear for many individuals undergoing the awakening of kundalini
(4) Psychological upheaval - kundalini awakening effects an emotional maelstrom as the ego's dominance is supplanted by emergence of the individual's authentic spiritual core
(5) Extra Sensory Experiences - various altered perceptions of the visual, auditory, olfactory and proprioceptive [sense of the body in space] senses arise as perception expands outside consensus reality
(6) Psychic Phenomena - Greenwell lists precognition, telepathy, psychokinesis, and the awareness of auras and healing abilities arising with the awakening of kundalini.
(7) Mystical States of Consciousness - a perception of union with the cosmos, with a profound sense of peace and wisdom accompanying this state
There are three major types of phenomena that occur when the kundalini won't come back down:
(1) Your personality shuts down. When this occurs, you cannot function normally. Your will doesn't work. Your sense of self is distorted, ranging from feeling you are a witness viewing your body and life from outside (depersonalization) to feeling you are an omnipotent godlike being (grandiosity). You can't think logically. You cannot form normal relational bonds with others. Your attention is locked or fixed in an altered state of consciousness and it is difficult, if not impossible, to return to the ground state of awareness. This state is frightening and overwhelming.
(2) You experience emergence phenomena. You may experience any of the physiological and behavioral, emotional and psychological, and spiritual and mystical markers described by El Collie (see citation 3). This experience is also frightening and overwhelming.
(3) You may enter samadhic trance. In samadhic trance, you are in a complete state of catatonia without; you are in ecstasy within. You cannot function, because your personality is shut down. You cannot communicate the ineffable beauty and majesty you are beholding. You may experience union with one of the higher nuclei of identity or ensouling entities in your Superconscious mind [for more information on this, see our description of these higher octave experiences in Reflections on Kundalini Shakti.]
You may find, however, that you cannot terminate this experience when you wish—you are trapped or locked in an ecstatic state of consciousness from which you cannot escape or emerge. This experience is both euphoric and terrifying. It is euphoric when you are immersed in the vistas of supernal bliss. It is terrifying when you can't come back.
There seem to be several helpful measures that we have noticed may assist you with grounding the kundalini energy. If you are at the stage Gopi Krishna describes where you are completely swept away, there may not be much that can be done; you just have to ride with it until the energy stabilizes at a deeper level.
You may wish to try these methods to help bring Kundalini back from a highly aroused state:
(1) Do a visualization: see the kundalini energy is drawn down to the base of your spine and is drawn down into the center of the earth.
(2) Bring the attention down to waking awareness and keep it there [at the medulla center where attention rests in the waking state of consciousness]. Stop meditating or altering your awareness until the kundalini is fully grounded again.
(3) Do some physical activity such as exercise, dance, or do heavy lifting to get yourself fully grounded in the body.
(4) Look at pictures of people that you love on the physical Plane (no Gurus or saints, please—the objective is to help you connect your emotional seed atom with your human relationships).
(5) Do some analytical work that engages your reason. Solve a puzzle. Read a technical book. Take apart a watch or fix something that is broken.
(6) Focus on just being a human being in your present body in your unique human life. Reflect upon what you have experienced in your life, and how blessed it is to have this human form. Appreciate your body, your ability to feel, your ability to move your body, to think. You need to draw the energy back down from the state of higher consciousness into your egoic state.
Once you have grounded the kundalini
- Stop doing striking of the chakras or squeezing them (bandhas)
- Stop doing any hyperventilative breathing (breath of fire, holodynamic breathing, rebirthing, Bastrika, etc.)
- Stop doing any mantras on the breath; avoid watching the breath as a technique until the kundalini fire subsides—this can be several weeks to months
- Stop doing any mantras that awaken the chakras (chakra bijas)
- Stop doing kundalini yoga (3HO) if you are practicing it
Take it slow. Basic hatha yoga is probably OK. Concentration exercises (Raja Yoga), contemplation of the inner Guru (Guru Dhyan), focusing on the spiritual heart with methods like bhakti yoga and Nada Yoga, sound current techniques, or surat shabd yoga, and prayer should not rekindle these fires.
Your deep intuition will let you know when you are healed from this ordeal. How do you know? Your sense of harmony will be restored. You will begin to feel peace. The terror will finally release. You will walk on the earth and feel grateful for every step, grateful for every breath, grateful just to be alive. You will appreciate the beauty around you, the miracle taking place within you.
Kundalini is entirely optional. You do not have to awaken the kundalini to get siddhis. They will come to you even if you don't want them. Let the Soul awaken the kundalini when it is time for you to cleanse the vehicles. You don't have to do this—and if it creates problems for you, please don't do it!
We do work with individuals having kundalini issues using kundalini syndrome readings. Try the suggestions above first. If they don't work, we can check you out and see what may be causing the problems. If we can help you, we'll tell you so. If we can't, we'll also tell you so.
You can e-mail us at George@mudrashram.com to request this kundalini reading, which includes an optional free attunement.
 Harrington, Karin. (1996) Kundalini and the awakening of spirit. On-line. This wonderful article was at [ http://www.geocities.com/jomahali.geo/kundalini.htm, but it has been taken down. Does anyone know where it is published, either on-line or in a book? Please email us if you can track it down… our readers and I would appreciate it.
 El Collie. (2000) Branded by the spirit. On-line. http://www.elcollie.com/st/branded.html.
 El Collie. (1995) Kundalini signs and symptoms. On-line. http://www.elcollie.com/st/symptoms.html.
 Cited in Harrington (see  above). Greenwell, Bonnie. (1990) Energies of Transformation: a guide to the kundalini process. Valencia, California: Delta Lithograph.
We've checked our links for these resources listed and removed the ones that are no longer working as of 8/26/15. We also have added some new ones. We suggest that you use the links for the ones that remain and the new ones we've posted to explore the kundalini resources that are on the internet and in your community.
If you know of some good kundalini resources from which you have received benefit and think they would be valuable to list here, please contact us.
|Name of Site (Sponsor)||URL||Other related resources|
|The Spiritual Emergence Network, founded by Stan Grof, PhD (a community service of the California Institute of Spiritual Studies)||Stan Grof's book on
The Kundalini Support Network (Bob Boyd)
This website used to be at http://kundalini-support.com: it has been discontinued.
We'd appreciate it if you would contact us if you locate Bob Boyd's new web site—this website was a wonderful resource.
|Facebook: Kundalini Support Network (Dr. Susan Carlson, BSN, RN)||Kundalini Support Network|
Shared Transformations (El Collie/
Sacred Transformations (Bob Manrodt)
Spiritual Emergence and the Awakening Process (Dr. Lynne Namka)
Kundalini Support Services (Kathy Woods)
|Kundalini Research Network (Bonnie Greenwell, PhD)||http://www.kundalininet.org/||Bonnie Greenwell's book|
If you are going through a crisis of spiritual emergence, and may have symptoms that suggest that you may be undergoing a kundalini emergency, do not hesitate to reach out for help. There are many people who have had a kundalini emergency and survived it; in many ways they are stronger and more gifted people because they have been opened to their own spiritual essence. There are trained mental health professionals, counselors and spiritual teachers who specialize in assisting those who are undergoing this crisis of inner growth.
Don't give up hope: as painful and scary as it is now you will find a way out of this. There is light at the end of this long dark tunnel, and it is the Light of an Eternal Life within you behind the veil, bearing the wisdom, giftedness and genius that is your living Soul. Perhaps these are just the birth pangs, the childbirth labor, of a new Wholeness that is emerging in you—and this is just the darkness before the Dawn.
I will begin this article by quoting from researchers and meditation practitioners who have studied the phenomena of kundalini emergency. I will give some definitions and identify the variety of symptoms that arise during a kundalini emergency.
I will then suggest some ways to deal with this energy when it is aroused and bring it back to its normal state of groundedness.