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Awakening the Kundalini Safely

by Swami Kriyananda
Summer 2006 No Comment

Kundalini is the energy at the base of the spine that pulls us outward and downward. Before we can achieve freedom in God, this energy must be awakened and united at the highest center in the brain.

This means, first and foremost, putting out energy with will power. Paramhansa Yogananda said, “The greater the will, the greater the flow of energy.”

People who are far from saintly but have a great deal of energy sometimes make very quick spiritual progress, while others, with every good intention, don’t seem to change very much over the years. The problem, usually, is lack of will power. To raise the Kundalini, we need to do everything with intensity.

We want conflicting things
Often our will power is weak because we want conflicting things. We’ve committed our energy to things we don’t consciously remember but remain in the subconscious mind.

People under hypnosis (which I don’t recommend because of its debilitating effect on the will power) have sometimes relived a past trauma and gone into paroxysms of grief. Some deep-seated negative experience had not yet been released. There are many such things in the subconscious that add up to a huge commitment of potential energy.

The death wish is another kind of conflicting energy. All of us have both a life wish and a death wish. It’s not that everyone wants to commit suicide, but this same consciousness can express itself subtly in unwillingness, in the use of drugs or alcohol, in too much sleep—in the many ways we seek to escape reality by becoming less aware.

This is why Yogananda used to say that “fillers” were the worst thing—turning on the TV or leafing through a magazine when you have a spare moment. They dull our concentration and awareness.

Anything that affirms our ego or moves us toward lessened awareness strengthens Kundalini’s grip on us. We need at all times to express more and more conscious living.

“I’m afraid to love people”
We see the death wish also in the fear of loving. One person was perfectly honest about it. He said “I’m afraid to love people because then they’ll love me and I’ll have to do more and more things for them.”

But once you do it, you realize there’s no strain in it. The more energy you put out, the more you draw, and as you feel more energy, you feel joy. The happiest people are invariable people of high energy.

When you have lots of energy, you feel that nothing can stand in your way, not sleep or fatigue or anything. A very high-energy yogi I met in Kashmir once asked me what time I got up in the morning and I said, “Four o’clock.” He said, “Ugh! That’s for householders! You should get up at one o’clock.”

We all fear that perfection
Fear of spiritual progress is another aspect of the death wish. On one level or another we all fear that perfection.

I once went through a time of being desperately afraid of peace. I longed for it with one side of my mind, but I was scared to death of it with the other. The ego thinks: “What if I go to bed at night and suddenly all I’m seeing is light and I can’t get to sleep?” The ego doesn’t like it, but the soul loves it.

We need to have enough faith to at least put one foot in front of the other and not worry about what cosmic consciousness will feel like. We need to think, well, since a little bit of meditation has made me happier, a little bit more will probably make me still happier —and let the future take care of itself.

It’s dangerous to raise the Kundalini by force
Some books say that it’s dangerous to raise the Kundalini and advise you not to do it. Well, you won’t find God until you raise it. The danger comes from techniques that force the Kundalini to rise.

I remember one disciple of Yogananda’s who was doing a certain Kundalini–raising technique for long periods every day. One day he felt this tremendous heat, like a red-hot poker, rising up his spine. It was frightening and very painful. He did everything he could to relieve the pain, including getting under a cold shower.

When Yogananda saw him, he scolded him. He said, “I told you not to do those exercises because they can be very damaging. If you generate an energy that you’re not ready for, it can burn up your nervous system.”

Raising the Kundalini by generating energy from the base of the spine, even when not dangerous, isn’t effective in the long run. There may be an immediate benefit. It may even give you a certain powers, but you’ll eventually fall from that.

Give supportive and loving thoughts
To raise the Kundalini you need to generate the magnetism in the upper part of your spine, and especially at the Christ center between the eyebrows, to draw that energy upwards. This happens automatically when you live a joyful life, a loving life, when you are completely positive, always saying “yes” to life.

A wonderful daily practice would be to support other people’s wish to grow spiritually by finding good things to think and say about them, even if they have faults. Mentally pray for a person if you’re in his company. If you see a person looking sad, mentally send him a prayer.

Don’t be concerned about their reaction. Give supportive and loving thoughts for your own sake. Be in that central core of love rather than on its periphery in the world of reactions. Make your service, your meditation, and your entire life a self-offering up to God and Guru.

Changing the direction of your energy
What will especially help in raising the Kundalini is to become more aware of the flows of energy in the spine. Every thought we have brings a corresponding movement of energy in the spine—a rising energy with the positive thought and a sinking energy with the negative one.

For example, when you see something beautiful and think, “I like that,” there will be an upward movement of energy in the spine. When you see something ugly and think, “I don’t like that,” there will be a downward flow of energy.

Often, it’s difficult to turn our thoughts in a positive direction, so another way to change your reaction is to change the flow of your energy. Drawing the energy up to the spiritual eye will cause your thoughts to flow in a positive direction.

In my book, The Path, I tell of an instance when I was able to pull out of a sudden and violent negative mood by changing the flow of my energy. Since I couldn’t reason or affirm my way out of this mood, I went to my meditation “cave,” and there plunged my mind deeply at the Christ center between the eyebrows. Five minutes was all it took. By the end of that time my mood was so positive that I no longer needed to affirm anything.

The link between the body and mind is energy. Controlling the energy and directing it upward changes your mental focus. When you raise your energy upward, that very energy clarifies the mind and brings understanding.

Kriya Yoga is such a very high science because it enables you to gradually gain control over this inner flow of energy. One of the ultimate goals of KriyaYoga is to awaken the Kundalini and draw it upward.

Feeling the movement of the Kundalini
As you learn to bring your energy into the spine and offer it upward to the Christ center, you will automatically begin to feel an upward movement of energy from the base of the spine.

You may feel spurts of energy going up. You may feel a rotating current. You may feel a surge of energy and joy. This is the Kundalini awakening. The more deliberately and consciously you live in the spine, the more that energy rises.

As that happens, you will find that Kundalini is not a” thing,” a phenomenon. It’s your consciousness. You are transmuting your lower self into your true Self, which is an expression of God.

Excerpted from The Art and Science of Raja Yoga (Crystal Clarity Publishers) and the 1984 talk, How To Awaken Kundalini. To obtain a copy of the talk, call Treasures along the Path, (530) 478 7656 or e-mail treasures@ananda.org.

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