It was recently National Coming Out Day here in the United States (a day focused on LGBTQ issues), so this seems like a perfect time for me to come out of the spiritual closet, so to speak. Although I’ve never spoken about this publicly before, it’s become clear that it’s time for me to step forward and share what has been happening in my spiritual life for the last few years.
To be perfectly frank, I am quite anxious about airing this in the open as I am aware doing so will invite criticism, but I am confident that being forthright is the right thing to do. It is my greatest hope to be able to bring others comfort and validation for things they may be experiencing themselves, based on the hardships I have already dealt with and overcome. As anyone can attest, doing the right thing isn’t always the easy thing, but it’s worth the struggle.
What is Kundalini?
Before I describe my experience, I feel it’s essential to describe exactly what I’m referring to here. Kundalini is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning “coiled snake“, and refers to “energy and consciousness which has been coiled at the base of the spine since birth, and is the source of the life force (pranic energy, chi , bio-energy) that everybody knows.”
Recently, many of us in the West have become familiar with the practice of Kundalini Yoga, which has become a ubiquitous form of exercise in the last few years. Although the practice is a blend of many traditions, it was popularized here by Yogi Bhajan as a way to prepare the body to handle the energy of Kundalini Rising.
“These days Kundalini yoga is a synthesis of many traditions, and the kriyas and meditations in Kundalini Yoga are designed to raise complete body awareness to prepare the body, nervous system, and mind to handle the energy of Kundalini Rising. Many of the physical postures are designed to activate the navel, spine, and focal points of pressurization on meridians (energy points). Through breath work (pranayama) and the application of yogic locks of energy (bandhas), the release, direction, and control of the flow of Kundalini energy is achieved.”
The Lead Up
In traditional systems, people have spent years or even entire lifetimes preparing themselves for the introduction of this energy into their bodies. So what about me? Am I one of those enthusiastic yoga practitioners, decked out in Lycra, toting around a rolled up mat as I bounce around town? Well, not exactly. I tried yoga a few times in college with my friends and roommates, and occasionally I’d lay in corpse pose if I had a sore back. But that’s really it. I was vaguely aware that Kundalini existed as a concept, but all I’d ever heard were horror stories about how dangerous it was and how it messed up people’s lives who tried to awaken it. I can’t say I really had much interest in looking any deeper into it, so it just lived there in the back of my mind as an idea.
Towards the end of 2016, I had become completely burnt out with my stressful and demanding corporate job, and was feeling the collective angst of the world as events and politics became uglier each day. My overactive empathy reached its limit and I experienced what is called Compassion Fatigue: “a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper.” My usual boundless creativity and inspiration had completely dried up, and I felt like I’d simply become a consciousness piloting a meat suit without any sense of purpose or direction. I had nothing left to give anyone, especially myself.
Out of desperation, I started searching the web for ways to deal with my situation. I didn’t feel like I was in a position to fix myself on my own, and I knew I was going to have to find someone else who innately understood what it’s like to be an Empath or Highly Sensitive Person, without me having to explain or describe what either of those things meant. I happened across the YouTube channel of someone just like me, who had experienced many of the same issues I had with high sensitivity and absorbing other people’s energy. I couldn’t believe it! I spent days watching video after video, learning of his experiences, discovering a kinship with someone I’d never met, but who was so much like me it took my breath away.
Before long, I discovered that he had experienced a spontaneous Kundalini awakening back when he was much younger. At the time he had no support, and no understanding of what had happened to him, just that it was profound and something he couldn’t ignore. Many of his videos described his intense physical and mental symptoms and I watched in absolute awe. He had decided to become a life coach in order to help other people deal with a lot of the issues he’d struggled with as a young man. I signed up for his newsletter so I could follow his journey and hopefully learn something from him.
As synchronicity would have it, not even a week later he posted that he had some coaching slots opening up for one-on-one sessions. I submitted an application, and had a chat with him a few days later in which he agreed to help me sort out the issues I had been struggling with. I was overwhelmed with feelings of relief and joy.
Our sessions were scheduled to begin a week later, so in the meantime I spent quite a bit of time meditating as a way of clearing my head and relieving some of my horrific anxiety. I had made a habit of sitting or laying with an eye mask on so the outside light wouldn’t distract me. The only problem was, even with my eyes closed and the mask on, I was still seeing faint, undulating purple light patterns behind my eyelids, which was very distracting. Since I wasn’t able to tune them out, I decided instead to focus on them. That’s when things started to shift for me; meditation became really easy and I’d fall into extremely deep states of relaxation almost effortlessly.
Simultaneous to the meditation breakthrough, I noticed some weird sensations inside the center of my head. It felt almost like a bowl of Rice Krispies had taken up residence in my brain. There was this sort of effervescent “snap, crackle, and pop” action going on in there, which I could not just feel, but actually audibly hear. One evening as I was standing at the stove cooking dinner, there was a loud “POP!” which relieved some of the pressure and effervescence and caused things to calm down a bit. I suspected at the time that what I was feeling and hearing was the result of my pineal gland in the process of decalcification, which sounded absolutely ridiculous to me, but I couldn’t find another way to explain it.
The following Sunday afternoon, I lay down on my bed for a meditation session with the intention of focusing on the purple light patterns and see if I could “go deeper”. I didn’t know exactly what I meant by that, but I had this feeling that I would discover the answer if I just let myself do it. I donned the eye mask and put some Binaural Beats on my headphones. The light patterns were beautiful and as I focused on them, I easily found myself slipping into a deep meditation.
After some time, I could feel what seemed to be a sort of intuitive pull, as if something was telling me to “just let go”. Rather than fighting the urge, I chose to go with it. I began to feel my consciousness, my sense of self slipping away, and at the time felt this is probably what people must mean by Ego Death. Although I could sense that my body was still alive, I no longer felt connected to it, and let go of any attachment I had to my sense of self. The moment I let go, I felt an intense energy blast out of the top of my head, and it poured out like water from a fire hose. As the energy flowed out of my head, the purple visual patterns I’d previously been seeing intensified, and became an ultra vibrant, twisting, undulating tunnel of light and fractals with a pinpoint of light in the center. They moved and flowed gently but intensely, and some part of me felt a sense of familiarity with this experience, like it was something primal and ancient that I’d previously had an intimate knowledge of, but had somehow forgotten. I felt completely at one with everything in the universe!
I continued to watch the light show for an unknown amount of time, and slowly my consciousness began to fade back into the material world. I became aware of myself as a physical being, and I knew I hadn’t actually died during the experience, despite how it had felt. I took the mask off my eyes and after checking the clock, I discovered that 2 hours had passed since I first lay down. Based on my estimates of how long I’d been meditating prior to “the event”, I figured I had probably only spent about 15 minutes in the tunnel of infinity while energy blasted out of my head.
Afterwards, my crown chakra felt open, and the energy continued to flow gently out the top of my head, and my scalp felt quite sensitive, as if it had been subject to a session with a heated back massager that vibrates wildly for some length of time. I remember thinking to myself “Well, that just happened.” My mind was still quite astounded, but I felt pretty grounded about the whole thing.
Once I felt centered in reality again, I sat down at my computer and emailed my new life coach to tell him what I’d just experienced. I suspected that we were going to have to amend my upcoming sessions to incorporate this new stuff into my daily life, and that intuition turned out to be spot on. As I sent the message, I noticed the date was April 1. I couldn’t help but laugh. What a cosmic joke!
At first, the new energy flowing through my body was strong and quite noticeable, but not uncomfortable. My crown chakra was open enough that it just kept pushing upwards and out. But over time, the crown closed and the energy started getting trapped up there, resulting in waves of intense head pressure and feelings of ungroundedness.
Eventually I plan to write an in-depth article describing the symptoms and exactly how they affect my body, but for now I will keep it simple. The closest sensation I can equate this to would be a sinus or tension headache located from the center of the head roughly level with my eyebrows up to the crown, but without the pain component. It never HURTS, it’s just extremely uncomfortable. Since my crown chakra is not fully open, there isn’t a constant “pressure release valve” on my head, and the undulating waves and pulses of the Kundalini have no way to disperse, so it collects at the top. It wants to get out, but it can’t. There are blockages in many places throughout my body, and the Kundalini bumps into those during each wave, which can also cause discomfort and pressure. The intensity of the pressure varies a lot during the day, and can become stronger if I’m tired, if I’ve just eaten, or if I’ve ingested alcohol or plant medicines. Cannabis with high levels of THC makes it go wild, however CBD has a very mild effect.
Along with the intense head pressure, other physical symptoms include exhaustion, lethargy, insomnia, food sensitivities, foggy headedness, and major weight gain thanks to a somewhat forced sedentary lifestyle. The default state of my body is an all-over warm, buzzy feeling with a pulse of energy that travels upwards from my tailbone to my head at relatively regular intervals. When the pulse encounters a blockage, it can either stop at it and sort of “inhabit” the space for awhile, or it will bump up against it and repeatedly try to get around it, which can make my body tremble and spasm in that location (causing a kriya that is visible to an outside observer), until it finds a way around it and continues moving upward.
I haven’t seemed to find a tried and true solution to calming the head pressure, which has been my biggest frustration. Laying on my back and letting the energy do its thing helps sometimes. I can sort of force a pressure release valve to open up on either side of my head if I lay flat on my back and turn my head to the far right or left, but there’s no guarantee that will help. In fact, sometimes it makes it worse! Going out to the beach and wading around in the salt water has had the most grounding impact, but unfortunately that isn’t always an option when it’s needed. Soaking my feet in warm water with lavender epsom salts can approximate the experience. Reiki can help sometimes, but while that can calm the overall “buzzy” feeling, it can also ramp up the intensity of the energy, which returns with a vengeance after a short time. Eating dense, heavy foods does help a lot, while eating light, healthy, or “high vibration” foods makes it much worse.
Aside from the physical component, naturally there have been many emotional and psychological impacts on my life. I no longer can force myself to participate in things that I do not feel in vibration with, or that I feel have some sinister undertone. I ended up leaving my corporate job because I no longer felt in tune with it and could no longer work past the burnout I had been navigating for years. I lived on my savings until it ran out, then cashed out my retirement savings. I felt compelled to take time to get my mental and emotional health back in order before venturing back into the world, and although having no job was stressful from a financial perspective, it was absolutely necessary from a psychological viewpoint. There have been so many ups and downs: from feelings of elation to several rounds of the Dark Night of the Soul, but two years into this process my mental health is so much more stable and I feel so much more comfortable with myself now than I ever have before.
I couldn’t have done any of this self-growth work without the emotional support I received from the work I did with my life coach. He helped me understand that what was happening to me was a natural evolutionary process, and that I was not imagining things! Finding a person who understood what I was going through was the most crucial part of my process. Just knowing they have lived through this process and come out transformed is such a comfort in those turbulent times!
While I’ve been facing this enormous change in my life, I have deliberately been relatively silent about my journey. It is an incredibly personal thing and quite misunderstood in the skeptical Western consciousness. However, it seems these days that more and more people are waking up to their true nature and curiously beginning to explore more esoteric topics, so I feel it’s time to share my own experience with the world. And more than that, to help guide others through similar things they may be dealing with in their own lives. I know now that my purpose is not to help some multi-billion-dollar corporation make even more money than they’ll never use in a hundred lifetimes, but to help regular people become the best possible version of themselves!