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Even now, there are few universally agreed-upon definitions or descriptions of this mysterious power. Kundalini arrives in various kinds of packaging and affects each person in a highly individual way. For each, it carries its own scent and brings its own signature. However, a few observations may be made with some confidence. Those most informed on the subject hold Kundalini to be the bioelectrical energy of the physical body (and the creative energy of the universe as a whole). It also operates as a connecting force in the various layers of the subtle energy fields that enfold the physical body. For most people, this energy typically operates by itself, well below the threshold of consciousness. It is the elemental life force, what keeps us going for as long as we are alive.
Once the Kundalini “awakens,” bodily sensations and impulses come into awareness in a way not experienced before. We become incredibly sensitive to both pleasure and pain, as if the cells themselves are firing in awareness as small (or large) explosions of joy or discomfort. Generally, it is believed that pain results when there are “blockages,” that is, constrictions in mind, body, emotions, or psyche. People with major unresolved psychological issues, as well as those with serious physical challenges, may be especially at risk. As the Kundalini works through the system, it flushes out these hidden blockages, and presses on until they are cleared.
This process can be difficult and troublesome, even for the most seemingly balanced and normal person. There may be episodes of intense bliss alternating with periods of severe pain. Saints are said to sustain near constant bliss, but even these exalted ones undergo episodes of suffering. For almost all of us, the two states mingle and intermix. It all depends on the subject herself. It is almost as if the Kundalini has an intelligence of its own as it presses forward—its promptings may be strong or weak at various times, but it generally continues until the task is completed.
But Kundalini is much more than an ongoing series of novel sensations. For the committed aspirant, it awakens a deep sense of connection with the divine essence, the ultimate mystery of creation itself. Often, especially during the bliss states, we feel as though these visitations come from a heavenly source, almost as if the angels have descended and enfolded us in boundless love. As one observer remarked, “Kundalini is God moving through your body.” During this time, we may feel as though the Beloved Within is a real lover, who awakens each part of the self to sensuous, tender rapture or even ecstasy. We may feel hugely blessed, even though no one can say for certain what is actually taking place or where the process will lead.
As I was carried day after day into such blissful states, I had no spiritual teacher or guide to direct me or to explain what was happening. At that time, Kundalini was virtually unknown in the West, and certainly no qualified teacher or guru was to be found in the part of the country where I lived. In fact, I knew no one who had had such an experience or, for that matter, had even heard of Kundalini. I had one book on the subject, the famous work in which Gopi Krishna describes his own experience. As far as I knew, he and I were the only people on the planet who had undergone Kundalini awakening. I was on my own.
For me, this unforeseen event (in a process that continued to unfold day by day) was the holiest of holies, the most sacred of all possible human experiences. It told me that the divine was all, and that I was but a minute particle in an ongoing and unfathomable process of an unknown vastness, ultimate love itself pouring through and maintaining the entire structure of the cosmos.