Kundalini Meditation

Understanding kundalini meditation

What is kundalini meditation?

Kundalini meditation is a form of meditative practice which deals with a divine form of energy which, according to people of Hindu faith, is known as a Shakti. In Hindu belief, Kundalini is a feminine Shakti that resides in the base of the spine. Various tantric exercises are able to cultivate this energy in the body, including, most notably, meditation. To most devout Hindus, meditating in such a way that the Kundalini energy is released means invoking the most powerful divine being, Adi Parashakti, along with the goddesses, Kubjika and Bhairavi. Along with certain other practices, such as pranayama breathing, yoga and the chanting of mantra, so-called Kundalini awakenings are supposed to occur when people meditate. According to those who undertake Kundalini meditation successfully, there is a physical sensation that occurs in the spine, which is said to feel like electricity or a similar energy form running through it.

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 Where did Kundalini meditation originate?

As you might expect for a Hindu tradition, Kundalini meditation first began in India. Late Vedic Sanskrit texts, known as Upanishads, refer to Kundalini and meditating from about the eighth century BCE. It is thought that the ancient Sanskrit word for coiled or circular is where Kundalini takes its name. For this reason, the practice is sometimes associated with serpents since these are animals that can coil up on themselves around their spine and form circles. Nevertheless, the term Kundalini as it is now used only really fell into common usage in the fifteenth century. This is when Hatha yoga practitioners first started to use the word to mean something close to 'coiled power' in the spine. Since then, the serpentine metaphor for the circular nature of Kundalini meditative practices has sometimes been taking too literally by some.

When was Kundalini meditation introduced to the West?

The British High Court Judge, Sir John Woodroffe, was one of the first Westerners to talk about Kundalini meditation. He worked and studied in what was then the British Raj in the modern city of Kolkata. Woodroffe wrote 'The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga' under an alias. Although his literature focussed more on Kundalini yoga than meditation, it helped to fix the idea of the practice – in many Westerners' eyes, at least – of being one that was somewhat snake-focussed. Later, the eminent early psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, gave lectures on the subject, notably to his students in Zurich, who would often go on to spread his anthropological ideas just as much as his analytical psychology. In the 1960s, the American-Indian Yogi Bhajan, also known as Siri Singh Sahib, popularised Kundalini meditative ideas in the United States. His version of this form of meditation is now mostly associated with the New Age movement.

What is the purpose of Kundalini meditation?

Like other forms of meditation, the basic idea is to focus the mind and the body in a way that will help to clear out daily stresses and allow practitioners to not get swept up in minutiae but focus on what is most important. By practising Kundalini meditation, it is possible to rebalance yourself and to feel more relaxed. For some, there is also a more directly spiritual dimension to the practice, which means that they are more in tune with the universe and their place in it with respect to divine forces. By reconnecting their spine's energy to the rest of the universe, so they metaphorically uncoil themselves from their daily lives and become more attuned to the rest of the world. For others, though, it is simply a technique that helps them to clear their mind effectively.

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How do you do Kundalini meditation?

Opinions differ to some degree on the best way to meditate in the Kundalini tradition, so seeking expert advice may be useful. However, generally speaking, you will want to sit cross-legged in a place that is calm and devoid of distractions. Have some water nearby and clear your mind by closing your eyes in a relaxed way without forcing them shut. Set a time for the meditation session you can cope with. A few minutes is enough to begin with. Now focus on your breathing. Many people will recite a two-syllable mantra, one for the in-breath and the other for each exhalation. 'Sat nam', which means truth is my identity, is a popular choice. If your mind wanders, consciously refocus on your breathing and mantra. Those who feel they have been successful will often slowly increase their time spent meditating. Conceptually, the root chakra at the base of the spine will release energy leaving the mind and body feeling relieved.

Is Kundalini meditation safe?

Many people take part in Kundalini meditation sessions without feeling any adverse effects whatsoever. That being said, care should be taken. This is true with all forms of meditation since some people simply do not get on with it as well as others. If you are combining Kundalini meditative practices with yoga, then you will need to stretch and be warm so that no physical harm is done to yourself. Always wear comfortable clothing and get into a relaxed body posture before meditating so that you do not stress your joints. Bear in mind, too, that some people report very strong outcomes from this form of meditation, sometimes called Kundalini awakenings. Be prepared for them, so you are not overwhelmed by them. It is for this reason that beginners should start with only a few minutes of meditation before building up, so they know what to expect. It is also advisable that if you have ever suffered from a psychotic state that extra care is taken. Indeed, it is worth consulting a doctor before you try this form of meditation if this is the case.

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Can Kundalini meditation help with sleep?

Some people say that Kundalini meditations are good for getting better sleep. For this reason, some people choose to meditate before they go to bed. However, this does not suit everyone, and it is something that novices should not try until they have become accustomed to the practice. In other words, if you suffer from insomnia, then practising Kundalini yoga or meditation is not a good way to overcome the condition. Rather, it is something of a by-product of this form of meditation that better sleep can reasonably be expected. With a more clear mind and a body that is more in tune with it, so improved sleep patterns are likely to follow. Using Kundalini meditative practices simply as a supposed cure for insomnia is not advisable. Equally, feeling sleepy following a meditation may mean taking a few minutes to recover before you do anything which requires your attention afterwards.

Will Kundalini meditation help with anxiety?

Yes, for most people, it will. Although some people with specific disorders relating to anxiety may find Kundalini meditations of limited use in alleviating their conditions, many people say that they do, indeed, feel less anxious in their daily lives as a result of meditating. In fact, some scientific studies have suggested that this form of meditation functions at a physiological level to help modulate the brain's internal mechanism such that less anxiety is felt. Indeed, when levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, have been looked at among people who do Kundalini meditating as a part of their daily routine, they appear to be less common. Overall, people who partake in the practice tend to report feeling less stressed and achieving a greater level of inner peace. Some studies go even further and suggest that cognitive impairment is reduced among practitioners.

What does psychology say about Kundalini meditation?

For some, what is going on in Kundalini meditation does not need to be explained by the religious beliefs associated with Hinduism. Instead, they tend to focus on the psycho-spiritual growth that comes about from meditating in this way, especially when it is done with yoga helping to extend the body's potential for maturation. The aforementioned Carl Jung saw the practice as a way that people could consciously focus on their subconscious selves. He saw these two mind states as having a dynamic relationship which approaches to Kundalini could symbolise. These days, researchers in transpersonal psychology and related fields refer to certain complex behaviours and symptoms as Kundalini syndrome because the effects are thought to be similar to those that people who have Kundalini awakenings experience. These interpretations often equate such awakenings to psychotic episodes, however, something which some scholars would dispute as valid.

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Why is white clothing preferred for Kundalini meditation?

To be clear, white clothing is not required to take part in a Kundalini meditation session. However, some people prefer to dress in white while meditating. This is because Yogi Bhajan, who brought the practice to the attention of many in the West in the 1960s and 70s, also taught that colours had an important effect on the consciousness of people. He said that white was a colour that helped to expand people's auras when it was chosen for clothing. He also said that white, as a predominantly reflective colour, could protect people while they were meditating from the so-called harmful energies that surround them. Some people continue with this tradition and will wear exclusively white clothes, including white turbans, when meditating. That said, many people do not feel the need to wear white or any other specific colour, either.

What are the benefits of Kundalini meditation?

Various claims are made about the benefits that can be derived from meditating in the Kundalini tradition. Some people feel that they have an increased sense of mindfulness following a session, something that helps them to behave with a higher level of compassion way to themselves and others. There again, others report that they feel they have become better at communicating as a result of meditating, something that helps them with their daily interactions with those around them. As well as the aforementioned improved stress management and reduced anxiety, some people claim that Kundalini meditative practices result in a clearer mind that is both more inspired and inspiring. For many, this means feeling as though there is a greater purpose behind all of their deeds and actions, not to mention a more fully developed sense of self.

Which books on Kundalini meditation are worth reading?

First published in 2013, 'Kundalini Meditation: The Path to Personal Transformation and Bliss' is a useful book for beginners since it uses simple language that does not require a great deal of prior knowledge in ancient Hindu practices. Written by Kathryn McCusker, it covers purification rituals, breathing exercises, meditation styles, yoga poses and mudras, or hand positioning techniques. If you are looking for something that will help to explain the more mystical or spirituality based sides of this form of meditation, then' Kundalini Exposed: Disclosing the Cosmic Mystery of Kundalini' is worth checking out. It was written by Santata Gamana and was first published in 2018. Although its focus is primarily on yoga, 'Essential Kundalini Yoga: An Invitation to Radiant Health, Unconditional Love, and the Awakening of Your Energetic Potential' by Dharm Khalsa and Karena Virginia covers plenty of ground on meditation, too. It takes the form of a self-help book and first came out in 2017.

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Kundalini meditation in summary

Although it is often described in the West through a combination of psychological and yogic explanations, Kundalini meditation has a much deeper spiritual connection that is taken seriously by many practising Hindus. Although some people choose to dispense with the divine nature of the meditation technique, as Hindus see it, this is something that is inescapable in the history of the practice. Therefore, it is certainly better to be informed about the spiritual energy that is being released and controlled by practitioners before starting to experiment with this form of meditation. Even for people who do not believe in any gods or divine spirits, Kundalini meditation can unleash powerful forces of which it is better to have a rounded understanding.

In other words, playing with Kundalini meditative practices is not recommended. Short-term gains, such as feeling more empowered or relaxed, are not really what the practice is about. Even from a psychological point of view, dealing with what the subconscious might throw up as a result of partaking in this form of meditation can be potentially difficult to deal with. Consequently, care should be taken by anyone who wants to try it. Remember that the techniques involved are not for everyone and that stopping may be the wisest thing to do if it doesn't suit you. That said, many people enjoy it and feel various benefits from Kundalini meditation that help them every single day.

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