Let’s discuss the mystical energy of life and answer the question, what is kundalini? The word Kundalini’ literally means coiling, like a snake. In the classical literature of hatha yoga kundalini is described as a coiled serpent at the base of the spine. The image of coiling, like a spring, conveys the sense of untapped potential energy.
Perhaps more meaningfully it can be described as a great reservoir of creative energy at the base of the spine. It’s not useful to sit with your consciousness fixed in your head and think of it as a foreign force running up and down your spine.
Unfortunately the serpent image serves to accentuate this alien nature of the image. It’s more useful to think of kundalini energy as the very foundation of your consciousness so that when this energy moves through your body your consciousness changes with it.
The concept of kundalini can also be examined from a strictly psychological perspective. From this perspective the energy can be thought of as a rich source of psychic or libidinous energy in our unconscious. I would call it your life force.
In the classical literature of Kashmir Shaivism, — kundalini is described in three different manifestations.
1. The first of these is as the universal energy or para-kundalini.
2. The second of these is as the energising function of the body-mind complex or prana-kundalini.
3. The third of these is as consciousness or shakti-kundalini which simultaneously subsumes and intermediates between these two.
Ultimately these three forms are the same but understanding all three will help to understand the different manifestations of the energy and answer the question, what is kundalini?
Indirectly kundalini can be awakened by devotion, by selfless service, or by intellectual enquiry. In these paths the blocks to kundalini awakening are slowly removed. Occasionally, individuals on these paths will experience a sudden awakening of kundalini but generally because the blocks are slowly and gently removed kundalini-like experiences evolve slowly in these paths.
Broadly speaking there are two radically different direct approaches to kundalini awakening.
One approach requires initiation by a guru and relies upon a technique called shaktipat, or “descent of shakti.” It is variously called: Siddha Mahayoga, Kundalini Mahayoga or Sahaja Yoga (Spontaneous Yoga). The other approach uses intentional yogic techniques . The styles using intentional techniques include Mantra Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Laya Yoga or Kriya Yoga.
Fundamentally the approach of Siddha Mahayoga and the Kundalini Yogas are different. In Siddha Mahayoga the guru awakens the kundalini and after that the core of the practice is the inactive and non-willful surrender to kundalini. In Kundalini Yogas the will is used to awaken the kundalini and to guide its progress. Clearly these are different approaches. Nevertheless, elements of the each approach occur in the practices of the other. Siddha
Mahayogins may use asanas, pranayamas and other hatha yoga practices. On the other hand gurus in Kundalini Yoga may give infusions of shakti to their students to help them at particular points in their practice.
Signs Of An Awakened Kundalini?
According to classical literature the signs of an awakened kundalini can be grouped into: mental signs, vocal signs and physical signs.
Mental signs can include visions that range from ecstatically blissful to terrifyingly frightful. Vocal signs can include spontaneous vocal expressions that range from singing or reciting mantras to make various animals sounds such as growling or chirping. Physical signs include trembling, shaking and spontaneously performing hatha yoga postures and pranayamas.
From a more subjective perspective the more pleasant experiences associated with a kundalini awakening may include: waves of bliss, periods of elation, glimpses of transcendental consciousness. The less pleasant experiences associated with a kundalini awakening may include: trembling, sharp aches in areas associated with the chakras, periods of irrational anxiety, sudden flashes of heat.