Kundalini Complications from Bob Boyd, Puran Bair, El Collie, and Hazrat Inayat Khan
Kundalini Complications by Bob Boyd [webmaster for HeartSeva and Kundalini-Support.com, neither of which are online as of August 2014.]
This is a partial list of the complications that can arise from a Kundalini awakening, particularly if one tries to force an awakening that their mind and body will be unprepared for when overwhelmed, or worse, by a premature Kundalini eruption:
1. An overload of one's nervous system with the potential to cause a break with reality, necessitating a hospital stay and medical treatment. In other warnings about Kundalini even madness is claimed to be a pitfall for a person who unwittingly forces an awakening without a guru (though having a guru is no guarantee of a trouble-free awakening: see Jerry's Kundalini Experience, A.D.'s When The Serpent Bites), and Kundalini And The Guru. I know from personal experience that if you force Kundalini you can overload your nervous system to the point that you feel like you are walking a tightrope between sanity and insanity for days, weeks, and in extreme cases, even years.
Many of the cases at this webpage in Sweden INVESTIGATION AND DIAGNOSIS OF 76 CASES OF KUNDALINI AROUSAL by Marja Savola also point out the hazards of a prematurely awakened Kundalini. More disturbing is the fact that many people taking meditation or yoga classes are not forewarned about the potential for Kundalini complications. When the fireworks start, the teachers, and most Gurus, are powerless to help (Spiritual Abandonment is more widespread than you would imagine) in spite of any assurances to the contrary. I have heard from many people who have found this out to their dismay.
2. Short or long-term disorientation where one spaces in and out of higher planes and is rendered unable to focus long enough to be able to work. I have seen a number of cases where people have been debilitated by Kundalini and struggle for years trying to correct the imbalances, often with no success and much despair.
3. Sexual dysfunction: I know of several people unable to have normal realationships with their partners due to the workings of the Kundalini current in the genital areas. I have read of others with the same conditions. This usually passes in time, but I know of indiviuals who have been burdened with it for years.
4. Gastro Intestinal Disorders: I once had a condition that a Guru in India said was caused by my raising Kundalini energy pressing upon the colon area. Other people, like Jerry (see his story in the link above), have suffered worse fates.
5. Severe anxiety: when Kundalini becomes overwhelming, it can make one feel as though they are on the brink of losing their mind, and cause constant fear.
6. Nightly dreams where one leaves the body; in some cases a person feels as if they are being tormented by negative entities that seem too real and cause one to wake up in total fear, thinking they are doomed to experience these hellish dreams over and over.
7. Excessive Kundalini building up in the head when one tries to study or read for extended periods of time along with waking up all through the night from the increased Kundalini energy flowing into the brain (this can put an end to a person's pursuit of higher education, as I can attest, and leave one tired all day from insufficient sleep).
8. Problems that surface years after the initial awakening: If you are having what you consider to be a flawless Kundalini experience, do not think you are out of the woods. I had what could be considered an ideal Kundalini awakening for about 7 years until things went awry; after 30 years of Kundalini rising in me I am still limited by my once flawless awakening.
9. Disturbingly, some peoples' egos seem to expand along with their consciousness when they have what they consider to be an advanced Kundalini awakening. I was somewhat shocked when I first came across this, being of the mind that Kundalini would purify any blocks within people and fashion them into human beings equivalent to the Mother Teresas and the Dalai Lamas of this world. Not so; some of the poorest representations of spiritual growth gone wrong have been people with advanced Kundalini experiences, or alleged to be fully enlightened, some of the finest have been those with the most challenging and problem-ridden Kundalini awakenings.
An Additional Cautionary Note from Bob Boyd
If you are feeling overwhelmed, or having doubts and fears about the dramatic upheavals a Kundalini awakening can trigger, I would recommend contacting the Spiritual Emergency Centre, or one of the Spiritual Emergence Networks in America and Canada.
A good therapist experienced in Spiritual Emergence might be able to help you; at least they could validate your experience. Ultimately, however, it is the individual who must come to terms with this transformative spiritual process.
For excellent guide books, get copies of 'A Farther Shore' by Yvonne Kason, M.D., 'Energies of Transformation' by Bonnie Greenwell PhD., and 'Living With Kundalini' by Gopi Krishna. I have found these books to be the most helpful with the most accurate information about Kundalini in the many books and articles I have read over the years.
Much has been said about what you can do for Kundalini problems in the Shared Transformation Newsletters and The Scandinavian Kundalini Network. You will find some of the best Kundalini information on the net at both these sites for Kundalini problems.
As you explore the many sites with Kundalini information you will discover quite a bit of helpful, but sometimes differing, advice. By the way, it is useful to try to examine all sides of the many opinions about Kundalini with a discerning but open mind.
However, to paraphrase an often quoted saying, 'if someone claims they have all the answers, run the other way.' Nobody; repeat, nobody has all the answers about Kundalini, regardless of all the claims to the contrary.
Beware of people trying to sell you high-priced courses or pressuring you to join their spiritual group. While in the throes of a Kundalini awakening, one can be vulnerable to people who may not have a person's best interests at heart, or dispense techniques that can worsen your Kundalini process.
Warning: Once Kundalini is up and running, healing attempts may increase it and potentially wreak havoc rather than decrease or effectively integrate it. On the other hand, for some people healers have been helpful, but for many of us, there are risks and resultant disappointments in subjecting our energy to healers.
El Collie, the highly esteemed founder of Shared Transformation, wrote: 'Whenever well-intentioned healers have given me energy treatments, in person or long distance, my Kundalini goes haywire. I've had my symptoms and pain get worse even when loving people with a lot of active Kundalini have prayed for me. (This has not happened when people with dormant Kundalini prayed for me). I get overly zapped by their 'gifts' of additional energy, when I've already got more than I can handle on my own. If high vibration energy could heal all bodily ills, every healer with awakened Kundalini would be in fantastic health, considering the levels of Kundalini energy flowing through them. Just something to consider.'
Generally, basic things are safe such as long walks, cutting back on meditation or prayer, including meat in your diet to weigh down the energy, etc. Sometimes stopping all spiritual work for awhile, or permanently, is the best course of action.
You may find the concentration involved in your daily activities is sufficient to stimulate Kundalini enough for growth without increasing it to uncomfortable levels.
Being in nature is wonderful for grounding Kundalini. I once read that sitting against trees to have excess energy absorbed is helpful; some Chi Kung practices work with the chi in trees as well. I don't have personal experience of trying to work with trees to balance Kundalini, but I do feel the grounding effect of being in nature.
Recently someone emailed me about how being near or in the ocean was helpful to his Kundalini process. I can see how this would be highly effective too. I have also heard of hot baths at night being helpful; some healers advocate bathing with salt as a way to tone down Kundalini energy.
Grounding methods where you visualize the energy going into the ground are often recommended to balance Kundalini energy. In my experience, this does not work. When I try to direct the energy into the ground, the focusing leads to more Kundalini energy flooding into my head right after the exercise. Other people have had the same problem with this, but for some it is effective.
You have to experiment to see what will work for you. Remember, what works for one individual will not necessarily work for another. There do not appear to be any across-the-board methods that heal Kundalini problems as aspirin helps most people with headaches. You essentially have to use the trial and error method; but with caution.
Having a support person, or persons, can be immensely beneficial; I have found this to be most effective, especially when nothing else works. Cultivating faith that the process is ultimately a blessing of the highest order is critical; I know this can be difficult to do when in the throes of a Kundalini eruption, or having Kundalini problems for years, but it makes a substantial difference in your process.
Thinking on an eternal continuum may be effective as well. It might give you greater perspective and patience believing that ultimately you will one day enjoy the glories that your soul is being inexorably drawn toward. Try to believe that 'all things work for the good' in time. Trust in yourself and the Absolute.
It may help to return to your religious roots. If say, you grew up in a Catholic setting with all the spiritual images of that tradition, practicing a Hindu-based meditation method and seeing inner visions of the images of that spiritual tradition like an Elephant-faced deity, or the fearsome aspect of the Goddess Kali, might be too alien to you, and frightening. Yet to an individual raised in that religion, it would be a blessing from the highest heavens. These experiences can get quite intense so it is important to be in a tradition where you feel protected, safe, and at ease with any unusual manifestations.
Service can be extremely helpful in smoothing out Kundalini and ennobling the heart and mind; I recently heard on the radio of a study of how volunteering had enormous benefits to the body and mind. Imagine the possible, unseen spiritual benefits of helping others in this world and the next.
I feel having a pet can be helpful too. I used to have a Labrador Retriever that I would playfully wrestle with on the floor; I always felt like this joyful abandon with my canine opponent toned down my Kundalini energy.
It is immensely important to strive to live an ordinary life with balance, optimism, and most importantly, a sense of humour. Try to laugh more and live your life to the fullest in spite of any Kundalini-related limitations. Try to cultivate a lightness of being in all things. Do not take the things of this world too seriously, but lead an orderly, harmonious life. View all adversity as opportunities for growth in your Kundalini process and in your life.
Don't get lured into being overly impressed or envious of the flashy experiences other people write or tell you about. These mean nothing except in cases like those of the rare, fully awakened beings who would tell you the same thing. You must realize too that not all you hear or read will be factual when it comes to spiritual matters.
Unfortunately, there is often a tendency to suspend critical examination of these alleged truths even among the most intelligent people. Many of us have been fooled more than we like to admit.
After over 30 years of seeking, and pondering the depths of the spiritual quest, I am convinced it is more important to have a loving heart than a resume of countless transcendental experiences.
I firmly believe the quality of your heart is more telling and important in the here and the hereafter. A large number of people with near death experiences have come back from glimpsing the other side, and been told this when they beheld the Being of Light at the end of the tunnel.
You will find that elaborate methods do not always work well with Kundalini. I believe Gopi Krishna once wrote that there were no secret teachings that would awaken you faster, that all the steps to take were already outlined in all the major religious teachings. I did not want to believe this in my earlier years of exploring everywhere for the fast lane to enlightenment. Now with the wisdom of more years, more research, and more experiences, I fully grasp his perceptive point.
Usually the more complex a method is, the more it will overstimulate Kundalini. I think Kundalini likes the 'keep it simple approach.' Cultivate compassion, and consider Service to others along with doing, or not doing, gentle spiritual exercises like prayer or just resting in the Presence. Even if you were bed-bound, you could still pray for others, and I believe on a divine level, make an enormous difference in their lives and in your own. Surrender to your concept of the Absolute; this can give you the feeling of the Divine at work in your Kundalini process and in every facet of your existence.
This way the Heart will balance the mind, and the ego will stay in check as you grow and make a difference in other people's lives. You will feel a more continuous blissful experience than just self-indulgently trying to pump up your spiritual muscles which unlike physical muscles will not respond well to trying to force growth.
In a word, the Love inside the heart is stronger and outlasts the power trips of the mind which make a person long for spiritual power instead of genuine spiritual growth. Seeking from the heart, most importantly for Kundalini, is safer and more favourable to enduring and overcoming Kundalini problems.
Lastly, believe from the depths of your soul in the power of Love, the power in yourself, and that all things will ultimately work to the good in your life.
Heart Rhythm Meditation by Puran Bair (pdf)
Many people who have meditated with insufficient instructions or who have deliberately performed upward meditation techniques such as Kundalini Yoga or samadhi, have suffered a variety of neurological problems. Kundalini is the natural flow of energy up the spine. Some meditation schools deliberately intensify kundalini through special breathing practices to create a transcendent, impersonal state of detachment or out-of-body condition. Consciousness tends to rise on the rising energy. But the physical body needs consciousness held within it to stay healthy, and detachment and indifference create aloofness, not relationships.
While some people are unaffected by Kundalini, for some others a single meditation has caused debilitating symptoms that linger for years. These Kundalini problems are not diagnosed correctly by medical doctors, who vainly try to correct them by drugs.
The best antidote for Kundalini, even after damage has been done, is the Water Breath, which is taught in the IAM course 102 and described in detail in the book, Living from the Heart (pdf). The Water Breath completes the fire of Kundalini and consequently, the most dangerous problems associated with meditation can be reversed by Heart Rhythm Meditation.
For examples of the symptoms that people have reported, see the public IAM Blog.
There are two general directions in meditation: upward and downward.
Upward meditation draws energy upwards and ultimately draws consciousness out of the body to produce Samadhi (pdf). Even simple techniques that are drawn from the Hindu or Buddhist traditions can lead to samadhi, for example "Transcendental Meditation" (TM) or Vipassana. In samadhi, the body enters a near-death state: the heartbeat stops and the heart begins to flutter, breathing slows dramatically, oxygen levels in the blood plunge, brainwaves go into low frequencies. Psychological disassociation follows.
Downward meditation brings energy down into the body, usually with the heart or third-eye as the focus. Heart Rhythm Meditation is a downward meditation focused on the heart. This does not lead to out-of-body experiences, but rather to a strong sense of responsibility for the biosphere and all the beings it includes.
Some practices combine both, for example in bringing energy up the spine, over the top of the head to the third eye and down the front of the body. Spiritual processes based on Alchemy also attempt to complete the upward movement of energy by bringing a transformed energy back down.
However, there is a great danger in raising Kundalini in the first place: it may not turn off or the state it produces may become addictive. Having taught upward meditation for decades, I have seen many cases of aborted careers, broken marriages, disassociated psyches and neurological illnesses that I believe were caused by kundalini.
We at IAM are committed to the safe and practical application of meditation to everyday life. Consequently, we do not raise the kundalini energy. It is not only dangerous to do so, but it is entirely unnecessary in creating personal growth and spiritual transformation. The alternative, which IAM promotes, is to expand consciousness outward horizontally, encompassing more and more space and beings in one's magnetic field. This is always done with a strong center on the heart, never with a dissolution of self.
To counter the fire of Kundalini, you should learn and practice the Water Breath. This simple meditation is described in the book, Living from the Heart (pdf) and taught in IAM's second course, "102: The Four Elements of the Heart."
This course is available in a weekend format (see schedule) or in a webcourse.
~ Puran Bair
The Secret of Breath by Hazrat Inayat Khan (pdf)
Since breath has such great importance, the greatest possible importance, it is clear that the way to bring order and harmony to our body, to bring order and harmony to our mind, to harmonize mind with body, and to harmonize body and mind with soul, is by the breath. It is the development of breath, knowledge of breath, practice of breath which help us to get ourselves straightened out, to put ourselves in tune, to bring order into our being. There are many who without proper guidance and knowledge practice breath. Year after year they go on and very little result is achieved. Many go out of their minds, and very often the little veins of the brain and chest are ruptured by wrong breathing. There are many who have experienced this by not knowing how to breathe. One has to be extremely careful; one must do breathing practices rightly or not do them at all.
One cannot speak fully of all that can be accomplished with the help of breath. If there are men living in the world today who while standing on the earth witness the inner planes of existence, if there are any who really can communicate with the higher spheres, if there are any who can convince themselves of the life in the hereafter and of what it will be like, it is the masters of breath, and not the students of intellectual books.
~ Hazrat Inayat Khan
KCT comments August 18, 2014
I bought a copy of Bair's book. He is trying to make a living with this whole kundalini, meditation, and breathing thing. He and his wife have seminars, retreats, audio courses and so forth. At least I paid just $6.95. I suppose I could have paid many thousands of dollars if I wanted to attend every course and seminar he offers. But I have a problem with people charging for these services. I am hostile to the thought that there is anyone, apart from the Eternal Self, who can provide accurate guidance in these matters. Having said that, perhaps there are people who are helpful and can provide some basic knowledge and support to people seeking to arouse Kundalini or manage the potentially startling effects of such arousal. Such instruction and guidance take time, and everyone needs food and a roof over their heads -- even spiritual teachers. Recently I received a request for guidance in a matter involving kundalini complications. While I shared some generic and pat information, I think what this fellow wanted was a real live teacher he could consult with regularly, and perhaps be in close physical proximity to. Maybe a living teacher in the form of a physical person is what such aspirants need. While I am not interested in performing such a role, someone like Bair may be. I do think there are ways of going about this that minimize the downside -- for example, deemphasizing the difference in status between "teacher" and "student," or "doctor" and "patient." The healing power -- the source of spiritual wisdom -- always lies within. Everything the teacher does should point to this fact. The teacher must not be an obstacle to the student's quest for liberation. When people are closely involved, shoulder to shoulder, so to speak, it is nearly impossible to avoid complicating entanglements involving money, sex, emotional dependence, and so forth. A "teacher" might have some profound insights into the nature of reality on the level of consciousness, but it doesn't follow that he or she knows anything that may be of help on a social or vocational level. For example, Gopi Krishna would be the last person I consult regarding achieving lasting sexual gratification with my marital partner. Such a consideration was simply not of interest to him. Plus, India's caste system and regimented gender roles in the household just don't hold any appeal to me as a Westerner.
Here's my response to a spiritual aspirant suffering from kundalini complications.
A reposting of Energy Shift Symptoms.
My response to someone suffering from kundalini and sexual dysfunction.
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