In March of this year I packed my belongings, left my London job, career and life behind me and went to India to “find myself” and to “heal myself.”
As it turns out, I got a lot more than I bargained for.
While on this journey of healing and self-discovery I somewhat accidentally stumbled upon spirituality, and not only that, I became spiritual, in the truest sense of the word.
This was not a choice or a conscious decision. I did not read a lot of books on spirituality, nor did I do that much by way of spiritual practice except for yoga and sporadic meditation, which in retrospect was an important gateway to my awakening. But while I dabbled delightedly in this new world of mantras, mudras, asana, prana and dharma, I did not wake up and decide one day that spirituality was my new path. I did not even understand what any of it meant, really, until one day, while in Dharamkot, Dharamsala, the Universe decided to show me.
On 27th May, 2014 I met my true (spiritual) Self: the person who always has and always will reside within me, in all her manifestations. I had a Kundalini awakening. And it tore my world to shreds.
(In a good way!)
For those whom, like me before, do not know what I mean by Kundalini rising or awakening, this article by Ben Ralston suffices to explain a lot of what I experienced and the “theory” behind it. I Googled the keywords from it the day after it happened to me and I am grateful that I did. For although I understood innately at the time that I could not intellectualize what was happening to me, to know that others had felt the same amazement, terror and confusion was comforting.
Perhaps I will write in more depth one day about what happened to me that day, and for the days and weeks that followed, but for now I feel that while this is something I want to share, I simultaneously wish to protect and keep sacred some part of this experience, which blew to pieces everything I ever knew and believed to be true about the world and my place in it.
What I will say though is that it was the single most shocking, terrifying, fascinating, sublime and incredible thing I have ever experienced in my life. And unless I reach enlightenment, I will probably keep that trophy for the remainder of this lifetime. The Kundalini energy that awoke in me that day in Dharamsala embodied me with all its force, arousing me, consuming me, overwhelming me, delighting me, inspiring me, frightening me, elating me and leaving me with a thousand and one questions.
It made everything I had seen, done, believed in and been up until that point suddenly seem minuscule and trivial.
It shone light on my true being and on life itself, revealing a whole wealth of possible realities and truths beyond anything I could have ever imagined, and which I still cannot comprehend with my mind.
It opened up to me the wondrous possibilities for love, creation and beauty within me and outside of me.
It revealed the Universe as an impossibly complex but beautifully connected series of portals, dimensions, and forms; a vision of colour, shape and pattern that ebbed and flowed, inward and outward and into itself; an ever-changing, all-consuming, symbiotic “thing” that beggared belief, and yet, made utter sense.
I felt shattered and profoundly confused, but simultaneously filled with joy, love and an overwhelming sense of peace. It was like somebody had clicked their fingers and everything had just slotted into place: all the pieces of the puzzle of my life, before so messy, complicated and overwhelming, were now so obvious, so simple, so fluid, and so beautiful!
And I knew for the first time exactly who I was, why I am here and what I was supposed to do from that point forward.
It was a rebirth, for sure. I saw the (material) world, the Universe, and myself with fresh eyes. Like a newborn baby, I peered out at the wonder around me, in awe at all I saw, heard, tasted, touched and felt.
I felt vulnerable and yet safe, as if I’d just emerged from my mother’s womb, naked and screaming but protected in her arms and sensing through her heart the unconditional love she was offering me (Her being our mother, Mother Nature). This feeling of security, of Universal Love, gave me the faith I needed to surrender.
So, how did this happen?
Despite knowing that nothing I can read in a book or write here will ever compare to the understanding gained through direct experience, being the inquisitive person I am, I have given some thought as to how I arrived at this magical place. What follows is the how and the why if you like. But really, this is a rationalization of an incomprehensible event, because it cannot be understood by the mind—it can only be realized through the body, the heart and the spirit.
Prior to my experience “Kundalini” was just a word that I had heard bandied about in yogi circles and read about once in a book on yoga and the chakras. I saw it as a concept, much like the chakras were just concepts to me (until I began to feel those too). As I said, I hadn’t expected this to happen.
In retrospect however, I can see that in the build up to this event, I had been experiencing a gradual but quite intense heightening of consciousness over some time, in particular in those weeks spent in the Indian Himalayas.
Going first back though to 2013, there was the breaking down of my emotional self and my Ego, triggered by months of depression, anxiety, disillusionment and despair, which led me to abandon “the matrix” and opened my mind and heart to new possibilities.
Then there was the discovery and practice of yoga and meditation, which calmed my mind, helped me let go of fear, anxiety and the past, and taught me to trust my inner voice and be present in the moment, in turn guiding me towards my true Self.
There were also the drugs that I took in the months and years leading up to this date, which blew open my mind and broke down boundaries within myself and between those around me, reigniting in me my love for others, the world, connecting me again with my inner child, and opening up my long-suppressed creativity.
And then there was India, in all her magnificent glory.
It’s hard to explain what this country does to me.
Her energy is so powerful, so strong, and yet so maternal—so female. She is a She: Mother Nature at her finest, or “full power shakti,” as one friend put it. She holds you in her bosom and her energy pulsates through your every cell. From the mountains to the beaches to the dirty city streets, the prana is electrifying. And with each day I was there I felt more alive than I ever had in my life, no more so than by the sacred Mother Ganga in Rishikesh, and then up further into the Himalayan villages of Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama.
India poured life force into me with every breath I took. She showed me magic beyond my wildest dreams. And as I ascended further up into the mountains, the air cooler, the dal richer, and the thunderstorms more intense, I felt such a feeling of unity, of wholeness and of acceptance, inside and out—something I realise I had craved my entire life.
And so, in a country that I felt nourished by and cherished in, surrounded by nature, by friends, teachers, and soul mates, with an open heart and at peace with myself for the first time in my life, I allowed myself to be transported to this new realm of possibilities.
I surrendered. And really, that is the only “rational” explanation I have.
Well, I still have a thousand and one questions! But here are some things that I know for certain:
I know who I am.
I know my purpose on this planet in this lifetime.
I know that whatever happens from this point will be the right thing if I keep on following my intuition, if I keep listening to my heart and to my gut, if I keep my mind in check and fear at bay.
I know that I am finally on my path, following my journey, and living my destiny, not anyone else’s.
I know that I am honouring my soul (my true Self).
So, while I certainly didn’t ask for this (and I still haven’t read any books!) I am without a doubt, now, a “spiritual person.”
From that day in Dharamkot I knew that life would never be the same again. And I was so, so grateful. For this is the greatest gift I have ever been given: to finally be me.
I suppose you might be wondering why I am sharing this, and believe me, I have gone back and forth a hundred times in my mind on the subject.
Before writing this article I’d only told three people about my experience and wasn’t sure whether it was something I wanted to (or even should) share. First, it’s by far the most personal thing I’ve ever written, about an experience so intimate and sacred it’s out of my comfort zone completely to talk about. Secondly, the more I seem to find myself in spiritual cirlces these days, the trickier a subject I realise spirituality is.
While I believe there is a huge shift going on in our collective consciousness at the moment (if you’re reading this you can probably feel it too), we don’t quite know how to discuss spirituality. (Or at least that’s how I feel as a newbie spiritualist.)
But, something compels me to share. In a nutshell: my intuition—a gut instinct and a feeling in my heart that this is part of my journey.
Once we open up access to our internal life-force energy, and especially once Kundalini is activated, we cannot ignore our inner voices and inner hearts, in my experience. Since realizing my higher purpose, it has become almost impossible not to live it, breathe it and act on it. (To do anything less would be so untruthful, I would be consciously living a lie.)
My purpose, I believe, is to share my and others’ healing experiences, to spread knowledge about healing and self-development, to connect healers with those seeking healing, and ultimately, to help in any way I can to bring joy, love and hope to as many people as possible who are stuck in meaningless, empty, depressing cycles of existence.
We in the modern Western consumer-capitalist world have been conditioned to believe that we have no choice but to follow the status quo (get up, work, numb our brains with mindless entertainment, sleep, eat, and repeat).
We feel trapped in lives we don’t feel are right.
We are longing for something, lacking something (a “thing” or a “feeling” or a purpose), which we can’t quite put our finger on. We are afraid of dying, and of living, and of each other.
And we are so disconnected from ourselves and each other that we know no alternative than to obediently follow the rules and keep a system in check that by its very nature denies us access to the greatest gift we have of all—our true nature.
Most people will continue to live like this until the day they die (in a physical sense at least). And that makes me very sad. Knowing now the power that each of us holds inside I feel it is my duty to share my experience. Kundalini is not a concept; it is real. So why aren’t more people talking about it?
Having had the time since my initial awakening to “come back to earth”—to ground myself, reflect on what happened and integrate these huge energetic shifts into my physical realm plane of reality (the “real world” if you wish), I have kept my eyes and ears open to discussions around the topic.
To my surprise they are few and far between and largely confined to spiritual forums and communities. And I know that outside of my yogi-healing circles it’s unheard of. This leads me to believe (along with my gut feeling) that most people, like me before, have little or no idea about this incredible life-force energy that resides within us all, just waiting to be activated, to bring us to life, unlock our true potential and guide us through our lives with passion, love and integrity.
But don’t take my word for it.
If I learned anything from my trip away it’s that you cannot intellectualize spirituality. You can only experience it. We must go forth on our journeys of self-discovery in large part alone, as no teacher, book, podcast or documentary can answer the questions about our true purpose, our true power and our true nature.
Those answers lie within—in that vast expanse of darkness behind closed eyes; in the rise and fall of our chests as we breathe prana (life force) into our beings; in the stillness of our minds when we shut out external concepts, beliefs and habits that control our current plane of existence. In the peace and joy of discovering our innate goodness and that of others. In the challenging but overwhelmingly rewarding journey to the Self.
I should add a cautionary word here, as from what I have discovered since having my own experience, activating Kundalini can be problematic, scary and even dangerous.
In fact some people report losing their minds and experiencing excruciating physical pain if they are not ready. It would be wise therefore to have a support system in place (an experienced Kundalini yoga teacher for example) before undertaking any intense energy work. And if you are completely new to yoga and meditation then I can only advise to go slow—very slow.
Speaking from my own experience of the initial Kundalini rising event, aside from the joy and wonder I felt during and after, I was also left shocked and quite afraid. Had I not been in a safe and nurturing environment (a very spiritual area of India surrounded by close, non-judgmental friends and teachers), I could quite possibly have lost my mind. It’s a frightening thing to have your world turned upside down and to realize that everything you thought to be true may not be at all.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be talking about Kundalini and that we shouldn’t all be taking (gentle) steps to get closer to our true Selves by connecting with this powerful life force that resides within us all. Because, in my humble opinion, the evolution of our own consciousness is by far the most important journey we will embark on in our lives.
If you want to find out more about Kundalini I recommend reading Ben’s article as a very good starting point. I also came across this YouTube video recently which I find very relatable and true to my understanding of this energy and how we should be “using” it.
Beyond that the internet is your oyster, nature is your playground, and your yoga mat is your best friend.
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
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Author: Olivia Wood
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Author’s Own, Vinoth Chandar/Flickr, lucyrfisher/Flickr
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