What I know about kundalini comes mainly from my own experience. I unintentionally set it off in 1992 and it has been running more or less ever since. I tried to study about it but I found all the books unbearable to read (somehow it always surprises me how many spiritual teachers like to use 50 words where 10 would do), so I have a bit I picked up from reading, more that I picked up from my teachers at the time and a lot I picked up from having it run my life for five or six years.
There are differing opinions as to the nature of kundalini. Some equate it with vital force energy, which is also called prana – or chi or qi; name varies from culture to culture. More often I’ve seen it referred to as its own force, the spiritual energy that, when awakened, connects us to divine nature or our God selves. Some call every small burst of energy or muscle jerk kundalini and others say such things are caused by energy shifts that usually are not kundalini.
At the Temple of Kriya Yoga it was discussed as the sleeping serpent at the base of the spine. Hatha yoga is designed to create alignment in the spine and chakras that will allow the trapped energy to be released and move up the spine. A lot of people believe that you have to be completely cleansed (like perfect diet, balanced chakras, etc.) in order to release the energy. My experience is that it can be released long before you’re clear but the more issues you have and the more tightened muscles block the flow, the more uncomfortable the experience is.
Years ago when some of my teachers were arguing about what got to be called kundalini – one of them feeling that too many people were being told they had kundalini when they just had some extra chi – I finally started referring to myself as “energetically challenged” in order to stay out of the fray. The teacher who wanted fewer kundalini references just rolled her eyes and said, “YOU have kundalini.”
Many sites on the internet have lists of bad side effects to kundalini (i.e. http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/k/kundalini.html). The worst of them I never experienced but I’ve had many years of sleep issues caused by it. For a while I had an inner ear imbalance from too much heat in my liver as the energy moved through–at that stage my lower spine was so hot people could feel the burn through a couple of layers of clothes. The heightened energy often causes a buzzing sensation that can be unpleasant.
I also had a burst of creative energy in which I wrote a novel and some songs. Not all bad, but overall the uncomfortable buzzing energy and the lack of sleep have been sufficiently unpleasant that I’ve been asking for years, “Really, there are people who try to do this on purpose? Are they nuts?”
Recently, as more of my body opens up I am very aware of the energy moving through more easily and that it is heightened. I was banned from doing pranayama or certain meditations for a long time because they made the energy so crazy my head would spin but I’ve been back doing practices for a while and much more aware of the ways they affect my energy.
I’m curious about what it will be like when my muscles release enough that I can actually feel it all the way up my spine; will I suddenly feel my Buddha nature? Will I, like Gopi Krishna, see light around everything? Will the buzzing feel less intense when it can get through? Will I be chopping wood and carrying water accompanied by gigantic buzzing? I’ll let you know.