Kundalini is a Sanskrit word meaning coiled one and is often represented as a sleeping serpent that lies at the base of the spine, waiting to be awakened. In yogic theories, when kundalini, or primal, earth-force energy, awakens it moves up central channels along the spine to the crown of the head through energy centers called chakras. A kundalini awakening is often considered part of the spiritual enlightenment, or self-actualization, process.
While this is a gross oversimplification of kundalini in the context of yogic theory, I must state that while I have adopted the term - for complete lack of a better one - to describe my effortless and unplanned experience, my views vary widely from the yogic community, some of whom ‘try’ to activate this energy when to me it is about ‘allowing’ it to awaken. I do not claim to be a scholar. I only feel called to share my personal experience and what I learned from it. The below story is an unedited excerpt from my book in progress, Becoming Sar'h.
My consciousness began to expand inexplicably and un-coaxed about the time everything began to fall apart in my human life. I remember my 30-year-old self sitting in a cold, sterile hospital room in August 2011 watching over my dad who was in a coma, hanging onto life by a very thin thread, when the life force energy some call kundalini began to stir in the base of my spine and fill my sex organs with a pulsing electric energy. It felt as if someone had hooked an electric cord into my womb and the base of my spine and turned up the voltage to high. What a strange scene to think about now, sitting in the most unsacred of places holding the swollen, freezing cold hand of a near dead man, hooked up to every machine possible, who meant the world to me.
At the time I had no idea what it meant or what the feeling was, and I was too exhausted from trying to take care of my father, be a good employee as a lobbyist for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and to fulfill my wifely duties to figure out what was happening to me. I considered briefly that this is what grief might feel like as I watched my father’s physical body decline with no ability to communicate, my marriage crack into a thousand tiny chards and began to realize that my role raising government funds for cancer research was a worthless endeavor – watching modern healthcare in action will do that, but it’s another story.
The intense electric pulse would come and go over the coming months and years as everything fell apart. My father eventually crossed over in May 2012, while my mother was having a double mastectomy to remove her breast cancer. Four months later, in September 2012, I left the Lance Armstrong Foundation without warning and finally walked out of my marriage in June 2013. In retrospect, it’s easy to see the then unknown force was driving my decisions, which seemed entirely insane and reckless to the outside world. My human aspect was almost completely unaware what was going on. I only knew what I could not do. The longer I stayed in situations not in alignment with my soul, the sicker I got. In the end, it was only a choice to save my life as I was dying in my current situation.
As I began to clean up the rubble of my wrecked life, the serpent began to impose itself physically in my life. On a walk with my dog in October 2012, I came across an extremely thick, solid black snake coiled tightly on the sidewalk. I had lived along Shoal Creek in Central Austin for six years and never seen anything like it. I would have shrugged it off as a coincidence, but snakes kept appearing in record numbers.
A week later a snake slithered through my fingers while gardening. The next day a snake fell out of a tree and wrapped itself around my then husband’s arm. A sliver snake would cross my path on trails and then a water moccasin would swim across the surface of the water where my dog swam - all within the same week. By April 2013, my then husband was so used to my snake attraction, he did not even bat an eyelash when a six-foot rat snake came into my mother’s house through a dog door on Easter Sunday.
The following month – May 2013 – one year after my father’s death, my husband and I headed to Big Bend National Park with friends. Once again, a long black and white striped snake crossed our path. The last night of the trip I had a dream experience that would change everything. Over the last eight months - or the year of the snake as I like to call it - I had been dreaming of snakes nearly every night and seeing them while awake.
That final night in my West Texas dreams, I found myself in some sort of shamanic Native American ceremony. The drums rhythmically pounded while the natives danced and sang. In the middle of their circle, a mythic, almost cartoon-like cobra began to uncoil. At the height of the drumming, the cobra reached its full height, and its hood reached full width. It stared directly into my eyes, stuck out its split tongue and hissed with an indescribable intensity. I woke up in a panic and a sweat. I knew undoubtedly it was time to leave the marriage. As much as my human did not want to, I knew the natural and undeniable soul evolution I was experiencing could not take place within its walls, and that's a wound I'm not quite ready to write about.
By late summer/ early fall 2013, I was finally living on my own and finalizing the divorce. I had given myself the space needed for my soul evolution by freeing up the energies I had needed to work in an unfulfilling job and exist in an unfulfilling marriage. My human self continued to be pretty much blind as to what was occurring, yet everything was about to change.
On October 11, 2013, I attended my regular Friday night yoga class as I often did before going out drinking with my friends. At the end of class, I sat in a silent meditation when I began to feel my spine move involuntarily, slithering and spinning clockwise. The electric current was no longer active just in the base of the spine and the uterus but was slowly, yet with increasing intensity creeping up my spine. Once it reached the base of the neck, I began to experience a high like no other – and I’ve done a lot of drugs in my life – yet completely sober, aware and observing.
With my eyes closed, I saw every color in the rainbow and colors I didn’t even have a name for. Time and space no longer existed. My human aspect was aware enough to be thankful to be sitting in a dark room where people could not see my jarring movements. Even though my eyes were closed, I felt as is they were open, and I was seeing the world for the first time. I felt my third eye (or pineal glad) open to a 360-degree view, expanding like the hood of the cobra that had visited me in the West Texas dream.
I observed the experience both from inside of my body and as a fly on the wall outside of it. The yoga instructor began talking again (something about controlling the fluctuations of the mind, which made me want to laugh out loud) and just like that the experience was over. My body, led by my spine, spiraled counterclockwise as the electric current swirled back down into the base of the spine, exactly like that tightly coiled black snake that had first appeared to me one year before.
One month later, I would find myself in a beautiful retreat center in the Sacred Valley of Peru where I was completing an advanced yoga teacher training. On a break, I was sitting in a lush green garden meditating when I heard some fellow students playing music – various drum and tambourine beats were accompanied by guttural sounds of the women dancing and chanting wildly in a circle. I stood up from my meditation and went to sit in the middle of the dancing circle. The electric current begin to rise up the spine as my body moved rapidly in a clockwise motion. This time after my ‘hood’ expanded and I came into my third eye vision, the energy shot up through the crown of my head for the first time.
With it, my consciousness followed, and I began to see out of the eyes of the snake and feel an incontrollable urge to let the spine create a wave-like motion, mimicking the slither of a moving snake. Next thing I was aware of I was embodied in the snakes slithering body and writhing through the grass outside the room where the music was taking place. Again, time and space were suspended as I traveled through the lush gardens in my snake body. It was, in fact, as concrete as I describe and the only thing I have to compare it to is a DMT experience, which I will add is completely subpar to a kundalini experience.
After what seemed like hours but was really probably about five to ten minutes, I came back to my into my slithering body and felt the electric current curl back down into the base of the spine. I wouldn’t learn until a few months later that the experience was what is called a kundalini awakening – I had never even heard the term before. My kundalini awakening experience would change my life in amazing ways, provide incredible gifts and make me entirely ill all at the same. For that experience, you’ll have to wait for part two of the kundalini awakening story, which will be published next week.
Today, two and a half years into my kundalini awakening, I now work with clients going through similar experiences. If you feel you need a safe place to process your kundalini OR other type of awakening experience and/or assistance dealing with the after effects, please do not hesitate to reach out.